Female Founders: Jackie Zuk of NEXTonSCENE Media On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
You need thick skin; your family and friends are not always going to support your decisions. You need to follow your heart and it will lead you. For so long my family believed I needed to be in Corporate as a safety net, I now make more money on my own then I ever made in Corporate. You need to SHOW UP. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions, don’t be afraid to put yourself in your content, website, attending events — the results come in the most unexpected places!
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jackie Zuk (Jackie Zukerman Delory) Founder of NEXTonSCENE Media.
A “bedroom closet to media mogul” story. Jackie Zuk’s (JZ) business is to get her clients ‘on scene’ where it matters. She has hundreds of thousands of social media connections and loyal followers all looking for the very latest trends, fashion, inspiring products, and cutting edge business ventures.
Originally from New York, JZ relocated to Boston in 2014 and has been blazing a trail ever since. Based in Everett, MA, she is the CEO of NEXTonSCENE Media LLC, Editor in Chief of NEXTonSCENE® magazine, podcast broadcaster for “NEXTonSCENE® with JZ”, and a producer of high-quality promotional events and PR campaigns.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
For sure! I am honored, I am originally from New York and had a background in Public Relations, Event Planning and Talent Management.
When I relocated to Boston from New York 8 years ago for my boyfriend who is now my husband due to my company I worked for closed I didn’t know a sole person here outside of my boyfriend and his family.
I applied to many corporate jobs and was rejected and or never heard back left and right and I think part of it was because intuitively I knew I wanted to run my own business.
As a very extroverted person my whole life, I became super introverted and was so intimidated to go out and network. Normally when you relocate you get a job and can go out with work friends, I never had that option- so everyone when I went out was from square one!
I look back and I really thank myself for pushing myself because everyone I came across led me to the career path I am on. I started at a start-up radio station, through a guy who eventually became one of my entrepreneurial mentors. It was a great experience, and I met a lot of people but there was no money to be made there.
I had just relocated, I needed to figure out how to monetize. I remember I went home one night while at that position and I started researching how to setup a podcast, edit all from YouTube 8 years ago before podcasting was a thing!
From my first show at home, I started at $50 and promoted my guests not only through interview, gave them social media promotion and a blog live within 24–48 hours. Everyone loved it and they were like “What else can you do?” I was like I guess I can do social media. So that started my whole funnel of my business!
From there, being an outside New Yorker in Boston, getting in media is VERY hard to get in unless you know people, so I decided to create a magazine to get my clients in originally for my podcast guests and social media clients — from there I had a print and digital magazine that is now even bigger than my clients- we are GLOBAL! ☺
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Yes! I threw my first magazine fashion show launch party and within a week I was threatened to be sued for the title of my magazine name. I was 27 I had no idea what that even meant, as when we all start businesses it is always with the best intentions! If I wasn’t going to change my name, they were going to file suit against me and that petrified me. I hired a trademark patent attorney who is still my lawyer today and from then on out I have been protected! Always ask questions and protect your brand/business. DO RESEARCH that you don’t have the same business name as someone else too!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Funniest mistake I made? Hmmm..I for sure have stuttered with excitement when I got to interview some people I really have always wanted to interview. Lesson learned is to meditate before- even that doesn’t always help though haha- getting star struck is for sure normal but they all want to be treated like everyone else. After my first butterfly of excitement/speechless moment then I usually warm up and am more myself ;)
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
YES, I could have NOT created this business without the support of my amazing and supportive husband. Always showing up helping me with events, being my biggest cheerleader, modeling in my fashion shows, writing articles in my magazine and even being in my podcast and one of my biggest client success stories!!
I also couldn’t thank enough to my dog for sitting in on every podcast show I had from the beginning in my guest room closet ;)
My mom helps me edit every magazine! VERY grateful for her help.
I also couldn’t thank my in-laws and my husband’s family enough for being supportive along this journey- always there to support and especially when I first moved, they were so welcoming and inclusive.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still must be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I think no matter man or woman it is hard to start a business and in the beginning you really don’t make a lot of money; you must TRUST the process if it really is your passion. You also should work part-time so you don’t feel like you must struggle to make ends meet. DON’T GIVE UP if this is where your heart lies — it means it is SUPPOSED to be what you are doing!
I think the financial piece and discrimination of being a woman founder still exists unfortunately in the workforce. It is definitely getting much better but I think it still exists and makes a lot of women feel intimiated.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
Meditate, reach out to people at higher levels for mentorship, and or to interview and learn from them. Push yourself out of your comfort as that is the only way to grow.
For every setback is a great comeback!!
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
I think women add so much value of nurture the workforce. When you see a woman who owns a business crushing it you know how much hard work and dedication of ups and downs went behind the scenes to get there.
We need to show young girls that they can create big dream and goals for themselves despite obstacles along the way!
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
There are ups and downs no matter how many years you are in business- no day is perfect- people will surprise you- people will disappoint you- take it in stride and you will ALWAYS come out on top!
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
No not everyone is cut out to be a founder.
You need thick skin
You need dedication
You need to be able to say NO and have clear boundaries
You need to let people go
You need to know that it will be hard but WORTH it.
You must be able to stickit out through the hard stuff because the goal achievement is unlike anything else!
I think if you don’t seek these qualities in yourself there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, just means you will do better working for someone.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- You need thick skin; your family and friends are not always going to support your decisions. You need to follow your heart and it will lead you. For so long my family believed I needed to be in Corporate as a safety net, I now make more money on my own then I ever made in Corporate. You need to SHOW UP. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions, don’t be afraid to put yourself in your content, website, attending events — the results come in the most unexpected places!
- You need to be able to TRUST the process and trust things will work out better than expected but NOT on your timeline. Being a Virgo, I am such a control freak and can take ownership in saying that. The more I trust, the more I have received, the more I didn’t obsess, the more I received.
- You need to be a LEADER. It is so important to be able to separate your opinions from others. As a business owner there are so many opinions and cooks in the kitchen when it comes to what they think is best for you — you know what’s best for you, trust that and STAND UP AND SAY IT.
- You need to be able to let people go to grow. I can’t tell you how many people in my life personally and professionally have come and gone over the past 7 years. Not everyone has their best interests at heart for you, they might not even be the best employees. By letting go it is better for you AND them.
- PAY IT FORWARD! To all the people who helped you out when you started , I always believe giving back comes back 10 fold when you run a business.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
The transformations I have seen in people and their business brands has been so inspiring to watch.
When I can transform a business owner/business they are able to do better for their clients and attract higher vibrations of people and opportunities.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to do a casting call with my talent agent background and bring more up and coming talent NOT just models but real business owners to a runway and share their stories. Give them makeovers, bring on mentors in their industries and change the way they see themselves.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Bethenny Frankel she is one BOSS and a fun mom. Being I am a new mom to be I would love to chat with her about the ups and downs to create the empire she has created from nothing while also balancing being a mom through it all. I also love how much she gives back too!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.