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An Interview with Melissa Llarena

Mar 9, 2021

The perfect episode for a budding business owner or corporate leader responsible for rapid innovation and an easy to adapt strategy in light of recent seismic market changes. This is the story of a woman who takes mentorship seriously and knows how to adapt to change in a fast-paced world at the intersection of tech and fashion. Meet Adina Jacobs. She co-founded STM Goods back in 1998 with her business partner Ethan. They were early pioneers in developing protective backpacks and laptop accessories at a time when not everyone had personal tech. Getting their business off the ground took a lot of persistence and finding their audience.


Over the past 22 years, STM has expanded globally, undergone a major rebrand and launched a virtual AR app – which has given Adina lots of insights and business learnings she can share. Most recently, with many businesses moving to a remote setup, the demand for protective accessories for digital devices grew almost overnight, seeing a surge for the products STM had long been developing. There has been a big learning curve (albeit a positive one) for Adina and her team in agility and resilience.


Adina is also a big champion for mentorship, having co-founded the Australian chapter of Mentor Walks, which is a monthly event series connecting emerging female leaders on the cusp of success in their chosen area with established achievers.


Share this episode with three business owners who are poised to become pioneers in their desired markets and can use experienced wisdom.




  • Origins: With little overhead—save the cost of goods—Adina and her partner Ethan each chip in $7000 to launch STM.
  • Imposter Syndrome: Adina explains how she overcame imposter syndrome at a time she had few other personal responsibilities in her life and there was little competition in the market.
  • Mentor Walks: Pre and Post Covid.
  • How to Pivot Profitably: Stay on top of trends, maintain connections and relationships, surround yourself with people who know things you don’t, and keep moving!
  • Products: Where should products be produced? To figure out what project to focus on, observe what’s going on in the environment and talk to people. Products need to appeal to different demographics simultaneously.
  • Takeaway: Adina leaves entrepreneurs with sound advice about being open minded, thinking creatively and making decisions.


Links to quench your curiosity:


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