Written by Stuart Hall
Jasmine Flood is a firm believer in the ways that timing can alter a life’s trajectory.
If, for instance, Flood had not been a sophomore sitting in her Greenville high school chemistry class when a representative from NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles spoke about the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) that she later attended, she might not have been so positively influenced.
“I went into STEP, and I fell in love [with NC State],” she said. “Literally, that was it.”
A few years later, if the company that created a position for Flood, who graduated with a degree in Textile Technology from NC State in 2012, had offered her the job a week or so sooner, she might not have decided to start her own company, Riada Adair.
Or if Flood, some 18 months after starting her own venture, had not received a fortuitous phone call that kept her from shuttering her start-up, she might be part of the corporate workforce today.
But the dominoes dropped in just the right way for Flood, 28, of Raleigh. Today, she is a successful entrepreneur, owner of a multi-faceted company that designs and creates stationery, lettering, men’s and women’s accessories, and public art.
“Quite honestly, it felt like a now or never moment,” said Flood of her career choice. “Sometimes you feel so strongly called to do something that you can’t say no, and that was one of those moments. There was a lot I was giving up. They were all top-name companies that [offered jobs and] if I had gone that route, I don’t doubt I would have been successful, but I don’t think I would be as fulfilled as I am now.”
There was a point, though, when Flood was at a professional crossroads. She was living with her parents in Greenville, struggling to make her start-up sustainable and on the verge of dissolving her business.
Just weeks before making a career shift, Flood received a call from Birchbox, a monthly apparel and cosmetic box subscription service that wanted to make her wooden tie bars a part of its men’s offering. That led to a product appearance on Good Morning America and later a partnership with Zulily.
Nancy Powell, emeritus professor, Wilson College of Textiles, served as Flood’s academic and design adviser, and is not surprised by Flood’s professional ascension.
“Her design work was always inspired not only by her experience and research, but also by her understanding of marketability with a keen sense of who her customer might be,” said Powell. “Her combined abilities in graphics, textile design and merchandising were unusual and she was aware of how each of those skills would be utilized in her career.”
Flood appears to come by entrepreneurship naturally. She grew up with an interest in art and design, making and selling her own jewelry while in middle school. Her father Merrill, a former assistant city manager for the city of Greenville, and mother Pansie, a former language arts teacher, also owned their own gift shop.
Flood received Park and Centennial scholarships to attend NC State and, as a student, her design talents shone in winning the 2011 Young Menswear Association and 2012 Cotton Inc. Tables for Two Design and Geoffrey Beene National Fashion competitions.
“The leadership and the connections gained from the scholarships helped shape who I am,” she said, adding that she grew to understand the responsibilities that come with such honors and awards. “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Flood’s most profound impact professionally, though, may be the Wall of Hope that she created for one of the main corridors at Vidant Medical Center in her native Greenville. The four-panel glass design, which features hundreds of intricately designed butterflies fluttering from a tree, serves as a memorial for organ donors and their families.
“It allowed me my first opportunity to combine design with a way to help others in a health-care component, so helping others in a different way,” Flood said.
Today, Flood employs interns from NC State and is a member of the Wilson College of Textiles Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council, which aids in alumni engagement and fundraising.
For all of the accolades and plaudits, Flood remains grounded by simple professional principles.
“’Finish what you start’ is huge,” she said. “’Patience is a virtue,’ because it is. And ‘Do it well or not at all.’”