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Women Who Disrupt

Journey Into An Artist’s Life: Exclusive Interview With Jennifer Jean

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Meet Jennifer Jean. A hapa who grew up in Philadelphia and has been creating art for over 15 years. She attended Syracuse University and received her MFA from Boston University. She worked as a gallery director, operations manager, and fine art consultant, and has been an adjunct educator at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Jennifer Jean is currently the President and Founding exhibition chair of the National Association of Women Artists, Inc. MA chapter. Recently I got a chance to interview Jennifer, and we spoke about her journey as an artist. 

In this article, you’ll learn all about her story, her biggest influences, values and principles that led to her success and a lot more. This article is jammed with a lot of life-changing experiences. 

 

1. Tell me about yourself (a brief background story) and what you do?

My name is Jennifer Jean, and I grew up in Philadelphia. I attended Syracuse University and received my MFA from Boston University. Art and being an artist are therapy for me, not just physically but psychologically and spiritually. My dual Buddhist-Catholic heritage is reflected in my work. I think of my art as an objective homage to my Eastern and Western traditions and to the raw architecture and sounds of the city. My 2D work (primary oil on canvas and wood) is a reflection of what is beautiful and sometimes misconceived in both cultures. My use of color and creative texture lend harmoniously from the natural world and my heritage influences. 

Each piece I create is inspired by my own life, language, travel experiences, and poems. Poems have a way of speaking the truth, to empower and encourage the reader as 2D and 3D artworks affect the viewer. Conflict, balance, and harmony are reflected in each piece.

What do I do? My life is filled with creating, managing, mentoring, and communicating about modern and contemporary art. I worked as a gallery director, operations manager, and fine art consultant, and have been an adjunct educator at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I am currently the president and founding exhibition chair of the National Association of Women Artists, Inc. MA chapter. As one Gallery Director said ‘You are a character who is always smiling’. I know for myself I am unconventional but inspiring and outré at times — so what I do and create is a reflection of that. In short, I do artsy things.

 

2. Who were the biggest influences in your life?

My Mama has always been my creative inspiration, a safe and offbeat person. My first memory in the arts was being able to create a wall consisting of a large white or brown paper held by tape—my artistic Mama would say “wow me.” I thought this was the norm in everyone’s home. She would always hide my doodles from my Dad who feared the lack of security of being an artist. 

Other influences, include Philadelphia. Outside of school, I spent many hours exploring the 1300 Chestnut Street murals, sketching at the Rodin Museum, and sitting/drawing in the Arms and Armor room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In addition, I sketched anyone who would let me and sometimes people I saw at a distance—I still remember the glares and fingers of unwilling subjects.

Happily, both continue to be strong forces and inspiration to me. This year I started my COPA Artist in Residence ‘the Arts in the Court project 2020-2023’ for judge’s chambers where my 60×48 inches oils give us a glimpse into an earlier period of Philadelphia history where the city was the “workshop of the world”. The potential subjects include the manufacturing line at old industrial companies such as a Bergodoll brewery, the Tasty Cake Company, Philco Radio Company, and steel making at Midvale Heppenstall.  

 

3. What do you think about when you create art?

I always start by writing ideas. These thoughts lead to themes adding conflict, balance, and harmony to shape my work’s form and energy. 

From the written ideas, images are formed from quick sketches, and the work begins. Every piece in the series is a representation of an idea. I did this with my current theme: ‘Knots of the mind’ which explores the ongoing melee between the heart and the mind, complicated by love, hunger, power, doubt

 

4. What values and principles have led to your success?

A constant thirst for knowledge and determination. I’m lucky to have my Mama’s gift at following through with things. She would say “Listen to yourself as there is always another way,” Those words along with “one, done and move on” are constant reminders of why I love being an artist. 

As long as I am able to create art, write, and experience the joys of life—a hopeful outlook—then I have achieved some balance. Balance consists of always learning, experiencing, and pushing myself to reach for more—an ongoing narrative where I hope to always be surrounded by honest critics, and people who are inspiring and stimulated in their own lives. Laughing is a must, and being loved and respected by intelligent people. I want to be mind-blown and leave this world a little better.

5. Do you have a special ritual when you create art? 

I’m a creature of habit! My personality keeps me listening to the same album when creating a piece and ultimately a series. I sit on the ground a pillow covered with paint along with standing constantly when my bum is numb. I am able to close off the outside, which I am grateful for.  

6. Any other hobbies we should know about?

I love anything water-related especially vacationing on lakes where I can waterski and so forth. Other than collecting books, I collect shells from my travels. They are so beautiful and to know they were once a home that provided shelter for a beautiful or unsightly creature is incredible. 

7. What advice would you give to your younger self?

No preparation is enough to be a full-time artist. You just need to persist and dive in.

“I think a lot of making art is listening to yourself,” said Kiki Smith. This holds true to how you want to be perceived on social media. By listening to oneself you are never limited—it is your own vision. 

 

You can reach Jennifer Jean on IG: @jennyjean25

You can also check out her website: http://jenniferjeanart.com/

 

I've always had a knack for storytelling! Hi there, I'm Chukwuma Agugbue. I'm a copywriter and, a blogger. I Interview individuals who've achieved some sort of success in their field- Actively building a knowledge base for Millenials

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Women Who Disrupt

Rock Bottoms To Success with Veronika Abrams

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What’s your backstory? 

I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 10 years. 3 years ago I hit my personal rock bottom. I was struggling with depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug addiction in addition to a broken heart. It was a pivotal point in my life where I had the choice to either give up on my dreams or take radical responsibility and demand the best from myself and pursue my highest potential. I had to become my own Hero. I realized how I needed to curate my life in every way so that it was in alignment with my values rather than my feelings. I rebuilt my confidence and identity from the ground up again.

What made you decide to choose this career path? 

I decided to get into confidence and transformation coaching because I wanted to help others through their own rock bottom times too. I want them to understand that they can become the hero in their own story. That’s also the focus of my podcast – to highlight the hero stories of industry experts and the most successful entrepreneurs you see on social media. At one time, some of them had the water shut off, or their car repossessed. Your rock bottoms can be a launching pad to create a new identity, rather than it becoming a death sentence.

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?

Everything about starting something new is clumsy and ridiculous. The first coaching videos I created for IGTV on instagram, I was using a kitchen blender to prop up my laptop that I used to prop up my iphone because that camera was better – and that’s how I recorded my videos. The phone kept falling over and I’d have to start again. Thank goodness my laptop didn’t fall – I would have been really screwed! I’d have to record only at a certain time of the day, because that was the best lighting. I didn’t have a ring light or anything fancy. I’m really glad though that I took messy action like that though, because I can tell others that their imperfect yet consistent execution is worth 1000x more than waiting for that “perfect time” or doing it “the perfect way”, which never ends up happening. So just fucking do it – even if you suck. You’ll get better.

What do you think makes your company/personal brand stand out? 

I’ve very much leaned into that hero story narrative. That means telling the good, the bad, and the ugly. Things are not always great. Sometimes I even struggle with depression and I’m a coach. I truly believe that although people might aspire to is your highlight reel, what they actually connect with are your mask-off moments. The struggles. The pain. You’re doing your audience a disservice if you don’t tell them to the bad with the good. Heroes have weaknesses. Heroes fall. Heroes feel pain. And Heroes get back up again.

What’s a quote that you live by? 

Do it afraid – Joyce Meyers. I was such a shy kid growing up. I heard this quote when I was maybe 7 years old. I’ve done so many things I’m afraid of. Funny things happen though when you get in the habit of doing things that scare you – you become more resilient and less afraid of the unknown over time.

Veronika Abrams

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Women Who Disrupt

How a Cuban-American, 20-Something Woman Founded the First Female Business Coaching Brand in Florida, Isabella Silverio

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Isabella Silverio

When it comes to building businesses, investors tend to look for brands with experienced management teams. They choose ventures with a successful track record, carefully laid-out business plans, and great products and services.

That’s just how it was. But is it how it should be? While experienced entrepreneurs certainly have a lot going for them, I have been seeing a significant shift in the business community—one defined by creativity and out of the box thinking that usually, only the idealism of 20-something ingenues can deliver.

Yep—I said it: 20-somethings are fast becoming the rising stars of business.

Does that surprise you?

I first started my coaching business in my early 20’s. I was young, green, and idealistic. From a very traditional perspective, these weren’t qualities that would bolster business success. Yet I managed to grow my brand into a thriving, successful venture. I—a young, Cuban-American woman, founded the first business coaching brand focused on women in my city. And I can confidently say that my success is anchored on these qualities.

Going All Out

When you start your business young, you’re more likely to take bigger risks. That’s not to say that you’re not careful and calculated when you do, but you definitely are more open to the idea.

I grew up believing anything is possible. While studying, I was already involved in over ten tech startups, I gained solid experience in business through various programs that gave me a global perspective of business management, I learned graphic designed, mastered social media marketing—all the skills that would be a very attractive candidate for an established, blue-chip corporation. Yet I chose to start my own consultancy instead.

At the time, I figured I had the skills and experience to devote to my own venture. I was determined to ensure that my vision for my startup would become a success. And if I fell short of it, I had the time to gather my bearings and explore plan B.

In short, I had the option to go all out on my dream, and I took it.

Inexperience Breeds Creativity

We also have to stop seeing inexperience as a disadvantage.

While I may have a solid background in business, as far as the world was concerned, it wasn’t enough. That’s a big hurdle that a lot of young entrepreneurs have to contend with.

The truth is though, it was inexperience that allowed me to recognize opportunities in the business world that were largely unmet. This is the reason why I focus a lot on empowering women in this industry. For me, inexperience means you get to see things from a different perspective. I got to approach problem-solving from a totally different mindset because I wasn’t hampered by “how things should be” in business. I had the energy and the drive and it allowed me to be creative and consistent. Through the years, as I built my business, these same values continued to be essential pillars of how I run my company. Instead of following traditional strategies, my approach is recognized for bucking convention, for being innovative, and even groundbreaking.

Go For It

So if you had to take one thing away from this entire piece, let it be this: GO FOR IT.

There’s a lot of opportunities out there and if the only thing that’s stopping you is the fear that your youth is going to work against you, I stand as proof that it won’t. There will never be a better time in your life for you to take the leap and pursue that dream.

 

This is a guest article written by Isabella Silverio of Guava Empowerment LLC. For more info on Isabella be sure to follow her on Instagram.

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Women Who Disrupt

Isabella Silverio on Being a Woman in Male-Dominated Startup Culture

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Isabella Silverio

Did you know that only 28 percent of startups have a female founder?

While small, rest assured that it’s a number that’s about to rise steadily. According to the same report, “more women are joining startup boards and filling executive roles than in the recent past. […] we are moving in the right direction and need to seize the opportunity to expand inclusion of women—and other underrepresented individuals—across the startup ecosystem.”

It’s also worth noting that despite the modest number of women founders, they have consistently managed to make an incredible impact in their chosen industries. In fact, women-founded and co-founded startups are proven to yield 78 percent ROI per dollar spent.

Since my freshman year at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, I have been involved in over 10+ tech startups. And going into it, I knew the real value that women brought to the table. Still, being in a male-dominated industry felt intimidating and was generally challenging, especially as I tried to make my mark in my chosen field.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for me stems from expectations of women having to incorporate stereotypically “male” attributes when it comes to careers—aggressive and overly competitive. But my decade-long immersion in startups proved that embracing your femininity and staying true to yourself is the secret to finding your voice and making yourself heard.

Unfortunately, finding the confidence to do all that can be hard. In male-dominated startups, it can often feel like earning your place in the organization is a struggle. And despite your skills, training and drive to succeed, finding your voice can be more difficult than you can possibly imagine.

When I founded my consultancy back in 2017, I started it knowing that until more women found their voice and gained the confidence needed to really be heard, this would forever be a challenge we will have to face. To that end, one of the primary goals I had, when I started my company, was to empower women.

I started what was the first and only female-focused consulting firm in the entire state of Florida. My vision was to eliminate the stigma surrounding women founders, women in business, and women entrepreneurs. And not by changing their approach to business and entrepreneurship either, but rather by empowering them and building their confidence. I was given an opportunity to do this by showing them that pre-existing biases and prejudices against women’s ability to grow their ventures shouldn’t in any way affect their success; and that women are just as competent and driven, no matter what industry they choose to be in.

My process circumvents the uncomfortable pressures that women-owned businesses face—ones that people all too often, gloss over. But if my experience in startups has taught me anything, it’s that knowing how to transform these situations is the key to our success as women. We only need more women uplifting women to nurture the confidence that is already inside of us to make an indelible mark in whatever industry we choose to be in.

 

This is a guest article written by Isabella Silverio of Guava Empowerment LLC. For more info on Isabella be sure to follow her on Instagram.

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