This platform is all about sharing the story behind a pretty picture. Through the interviews in our Backstage segment we expose what passion, confession, depression or misconception may hide behind the beauty we see on the outside, or the "finished product" if you will. This is how we like to focus on true, inner beauty.
We speak to anyone from friends, to artists and entrepreneurs from around the world to give a human face to the beautiful struggles of life.
Today: An inspiring interview with the stunning superwoman behind Club Manhattan; Judy Schoen.
In 2009, Judy started Club Manhattan; her very own jewelry brand.
The idea born in New York, her business raised in Amsterdam.
Prior to this, during years of experience in jewelry wholesale, she developed her sense for style and creativity to a point where she outgrew her position at the company; she wasn't able to put her passion and talent into it anymore.
It took one trip to the empowering energy of New York City for everything to fall right into place.
Read all about her inspiring journey below.
Also, don't forget to check out my selection of CM faves in the "Getting dressed with Club Manhattan" Story, shot by Quincy Engelhardt.
New York, New York! Please share your story with us.
I was 21 years old when I first visited New York. Oh, that energy, it's something in the air I just fell in love with the very second I stepped out of the cab.
At the time I had been playing with the idea of doing something more creative, because my job didn't allow me to use much of that. The energy I felt in this city confirmed my thoughts and told me tojust go for it.
It boosted my confidence to a point where I wasn't even thinking about what could possibly go wrong, I felt so empowered. Traveling more and more, this very energy continued to empower me in many different ways. I even found the courage to break free from a somewhat toxic relationship because of it.
When I returned to NYC a single lady, everything in the air said: you made the right decision and a part of you belongs here. Starting off with hair accessories, I had already taken the first steps. I could suddenly see a clear future for myself; from building my own brand to, one day, selling in New York. I'm forever grateful for these experiences, as I have completely found myself through them.
What does the name, Club Manhattan, stand for?
To feel what I feel, when I walk through New York; empowerment. By wearing my jewelry and knowing my story, I hope women can become part of that energy in which they dare to believe in their dreams and uplift each other.
Did you ever battle with doubt?
To be really honest, I never doubted whether starting a brand of my own would be a good idea or not. I strongly believed it was. It might not have been a safe bet, but I made the decision to take it step by step and put my all in to it. I like to think of myself as naïve in a positive way; I try to keep a positive outlook on every (business) situation, I dream fearlessly and I try not to compare myself to my competition. If I wouldn't be doing these things I think I would be struggling with a lot of doubt.
Would you say that's your secret formula for success?
It's a big part of it, yes! Especially the ability to dream fearlessly has given me the confidence to set and achieve some pretty intense goals. Also, a great deal of what determines my success, is the team of amazing people I get to work with.
Do you ever face any challenges?
Oh yes, I sure do. I have a hard time assigning certain things to others, like having sales agents be in charge of international sales for example. I prefer to have complete control and do all of this myself, but I know damn well that it isn't realistic, nor even possible, to do everything by myself now that I am growing internationally. Knowing that it's out of my hands is scary but exciting at the same time.
Can you name a pro and a con of being a young entrepreneur?
Pro: When you're young, you're likely to dream more fearlessly. As you grow older you tend to lose some of that energy because the real world is kicking in bit by bit. Dreaming and envisioning is still magic to me, though, so this is a great reminder to myself to get back in touch with my younger self a little bit!
Con: I wouldn't necessarily call this a con, but I think you're more likely to take things personally when it comes to business deals and let that affect your self-esteem.
As I was growing older I learned that losing a business deal was not to be taken personally at all, but at the time I was heartbroken. Oh, and schooling! Because I started my business at a pretty young age, I kind of skipped the opportunity to educate myself on certain skills. The older you get and the more you grow into your business, the harder it gets to find time to spend on schooling.
Where do you find your Inspiration?
I get most inspired by hanging out with creative people from different industries. They open up my eyes to different perspectives and ideas.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I really cherish my beautiful relationships with all of my retailers. Most of them are long-term associations, so we have the pleasure of watching each other grow.
Along with that, the fact that Club Manhattan will be available in New York soon is a huge deal for me!
What is your definition of beauty?
To me, beauty is hidden in everyday things. Sometimes I discover beauty in old buildings as I stroll along the Amsterdam canals, sometimes it's music or looking at older people. On a personal level, I'd say that working with such a great team and being blessed with such an amazing family, being grateful, is what beauty means to me as well.
What does a week in the life of Judy look like?
Well, the only consistent thing would be that I start my days with a walk around the lake near my house at 7:30AM, lol. Depending on whether or not I have scheduled meetings, I'm basically free to plan my days however I want. This usually consists of picking and sending off orders (yes, I still do this myself and, silly as it sounds, it's one of my favorite things to do!), mandatory inspirational walks in the city, or working on new items. I make sure to fit in as much fun time as possible, spending quality time with friends and family is very important to me.
How do you cope with setbacks and insecurities?
This is difficult because my business gives me confidence. If things don't go as planned, or if I lose a business opportunity, I tend to take it way too personally. I had to learn that it never really has anything to do with me as a person, it's strictly business. I now try to look at "losing" in a different light; I'm grateful for what I have had. As long as I stay positive and keep believing in my brand, I trust that new opportunities will arise.
As a boss lady, do you ever cope with down days? How do you stay sane?
I definitely do. What really works for me when I'm not feeling my best, is to play uplifting music to get in a happy mood. Also, my morning walk really helps me stay sane. It feels great to start my day with a clear mind and it teaches me discipline at the same time.
Do you want Club Manhattan to become a hugely successful, global brand?
I do, but I measure my success by the amount of happiness I experience in my work, not by money or fame. I will always seek and work hard for growing success, but I wouldn't easily trade being able to pick my own orders ;). I guess I want to stay true to my passion, the reason why I started.
What are your plans for the future?
Project New York is in the works right now. Club Manhattan will soon be available in The States! I am really looking forward to this. I'd also like to work with more sales agencies in Europe and focus on expanding there. My mind is always wondering, so who knows what else is next!
Any advice for young women who dream of becoming entrepreneurs?
Dare to dream and work fearlessly. Take small steps, but be eager. As soon as things start to become tangible, you'll never want to let go of it. I was working a fulltime job, back when I started my business. Slowly but surely, I was able to cut down more and more days at that job and make the transition to a business of my own. This prevented a lot of financial stress for me, so I can definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to start something new.
Judy's favorite song at the moment:
Shop the stunning CM items here: