1. How did your experience of being Miss New York help you to launch SWAAY?
During my very first pageant, a judge asked me: “if you had to choose between being beautiful or being smart, which would you choose?” That question was carved in my head ever since. It was so astonishing to me that in this day and age, we are still telling women (and young girls) that you have to choose between being either or. That the idea of being multi-dimensional or multi-faceted doesn’t exist…And the more I looked around me the more I realized even the media is guilty of doing that.
Becoming Miss New York was the day it all began for me. The moment I was crowned, I realized that the title allowed me to have a voice and a platform to make a powerful change. So the day after I won the title, I launched my podcast “Entrepreneurs En Vogue” which focused on storytelling and sharing other women’s stories in leadership and the business world. I wanted content that celebrated intelligence while showing the multi-dimensional stories and personalities of these women. To my surprise, it landed on #2 on iTunes for a whole month right after launching and the content of the interviews was really resonating with women around the world.
Seeing that the podcast really did make an impact and helped amplify the voices of women in business, I decided to build a full media brand around the concept of creating a glossy and smart digital publication that speaks to and resonates with the modern female change-maker and trailblazer.
2. What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs?
Don’t lose sight of your vision but allow yourself to pivot and adapt to the changes in your industry.
3. How do you avoid self sabotage?
Meditating and removing myself from the situations that make me doubt my long term vision and mission. Keeping a vision board in front of my home office and work office allows me to keep my head in the game.
4. How do you overcome fear when starting something new?
The more experiences, failures and rejections I go through, the more fearless I become. I overcome fear by doing exactly what I thought I couldn’t do (or what people told me I couldn’t do). I had a major stage fear, but I went ahead and signed up for pageants because that was the only way I would overcome it.
5. How do you define the millennial generation in 3 words?
Fearless, Innovative, Impactful
6. What is your favorite social media platform and why?
I absolutely love twitter because I have made so many significant connections through that platform. It’s my best go-to platform for business networking, surprisingly it’s not Linkedin. I barely use Linkedin.
7. What is your anthem song?
What a Beautiful life by Ocean’s Four. I listen to it every day.
8. How many times did you fail before you succeeded?
I stopped counting a long time ago. I failed at finding the right business partner twice, which made me realize that I don’t need a business partner or a co-founder in order to launch a business. So the first two businesses I launched were a disaster because I was told I needed to find a partner in order to succeed. Not true!
I failed at raising money the first time around when launching SWAAY, which forced me to bootstrap and learn how to build a full brand and focus on the value to elevate our status to the point where investors come to you. And now I am getting ready to close my round which brought even better investors and partners that I could hope for.
And the list goes on….
9. Have you worked with a business with a coach or mentor? If so, how did it bring you clarity?
I have worked with a few (not on a regular basis or as a paid coach) advisors because they were aligned with my life and brand mission and they felt invested in helping an up and coming entrepreneur achieve the impact she wants to make. They are very helpful when I find myself running around in circles and not being able to focus and execute. They have helped bring clarity to my vision because they know far more than I do and they have had experience with different business models and different audiences, so they are able to provide constructive feedback that allows me to save a lot of time and money, and not make stupid mistakes. Building an advisory board for SWAAY has been extremely valuable, especially as we started fund raising.
10. Did you know how to financially prepare for starting your business? If not, what do you wish you knew then?
I knew absolutely nothing. I wish I knew that it took a LOT longer to raise money than I initially expected. Even when investors are interested and feel compelled by what you are doing, it still takes at least 3 to 5 months to officially close them. I wish I knew that I needed a lot more money in my savings account before I quit my job. I was one of those spontaneous people that decided one day I didn’t want to continue working for someone else and that starting my own business was a good idea, so I dove right into it without a solid plan. But I don’t regret it one bit. I have had the privilege of learning a lot about myself and about building a successful media brand and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.
11. What is your spirit animal?
Panther, I even wanted to adopt one!
12. What is your horoscope?
13. Do you feel that you have achieved work life balance? if yes, any advice?
Work-life balance is somewhat subjective in my opinion. At this stage in my life and career, it’s about what you feel invested in the most. For me, I don’t have a family to provide for yet so I truly do enjoy immersing myself in the work that I do. Even when I am home and I have some time, I try to read relevant content to help me with my business. If I want to relax, it’s usually gym, meditation or spending time with relatives or close friends. From my perspective, I think I have enough work life balance but from someone’s outsider perspective it may not seem like it. At the end of the day, it’s what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. I work a lot, yes! But I make time for family, health and wanderlust.
14. What is your motto/mantra?
I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful and too determined to be defeated.
15. At the peak of a stressful day, how do you remain calm?
By focusing on what’s important, and setting time to take deep breaths and visualizing the results I want.
16. What do you have coming up NEXT?
A lot! SWAAY is launching a daily newsletter for the go-getter gal. We are also planning our first potential Annual Award Gala to celebrate female entrepreneurship and leadership, and of course we are starting to strategize on our video content. To stay in the loop, definitely subscribe to our newsletter on www.swaaymedia.com