• Hudson County Women to Watch {in 2019}

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    While we are in awe of many women on a daily and weekly basis, there’s nothing like a group of powerhouse boss babes to really bring it home and inspire us in the new year. And that’s exactly what you’ll get from our list of Hudson County Women to Watch in 2019 — curated by our team. Just a few of the things these unique ladies do on the reg: Balancing motherhood and work, leaving corporate to start a new entrepreneurial life, opening a huge commercial space, starting a non-profit, as well as upping the game and thinking outside-the-box when it comes to a business plan. These women inspire, mentor, lead — and of course astound us with their passion, creativity, and heart. So without further ado, here is the Hoboken Girl list of Hudson County Women to Watch in 2019:


    Neha Chawla {of Opnhouz}

    neha chawla hoboken

    Neha Chawla is the Founder and CEO of Opnhouz, a real estate brokerage based out of Hoboken that, according to Neha, is modernizing the outdated real estate commission model while also contributing to the communities we serve. Her office offers flat fees instead of commissions, and is already representing numerous luxury properties. Opnhouz is going to donate a part of our net profits to impact 5 chronically homeless neighbors in 2019.

    Most Proud Of:

    I gave birth to my first baby in June 2018 and officially launched Opnhouz soon after. In our first month in business, we successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign through iFundWomen and also raised a seed round of just under $500K much before our deadline. Being able to successfully Opnhouz while balancing my work and family makes me proud.

    Fun Fact:

    After a usual day packed with client and team meetings, on top of being a mom to my 6-month-old, I make it a priority to wind down and switch off every night so I can recoup my energy for the following day. For me, this nightly ritual involves having a bath, meditating and either watching a show, listening to a podcast or reading before I sleep.

    2019 GOALZ:

    My professional goals for 2019 are to ensure the growth of Opnhouz by increasing our customer base on the NJ Gold Coast and beyond while positively impacting the communities we serve. Personally, I hope to manage my time even better so I can stay organized at work and continue to enjoy time with my family.

    Best Advice:

    Create short-term goals and long-term goals, professionally and personally, and strive towards them every week, month and year. Don’t forget to celebrate the small victories!


    Marina Christmas {of Honey Punch and 201 Energy Yogurt}

    marina christmas 201 yogurt hoboken

    Marina works full-time in sales and product development for clothing brand Honey Punch. Her side hustle, however, is doing events and pop-ups for 201 Energy Yogurt, a new energy yogurt brainchild she started with her husband. Daily, she works to open new accounts and build the account’s social media with local followers.

    2018’s Biggest Feats:

    Managing my time without losing my mind! Juggling my full-time job, pushing our yogurt product, being a mom to our 6-year-old daughter, making time for my husband while still trying to work out 3x a week.

    Fun Fact:

    I’m not very outdoorsy (just kidding everyone knows that!) I took 8 years of Greek school. When I go back to Greece, the language comes back!

    2019 Plans:

    Keep growing our yogurt product! If you are reading this and haven’t tried it yet, I hope to fix that! Personally, I’d like to get more involved in our community, most importantly our public schools.

    On Giving Back:

    I love our Church, Saint Peter & Paul, we have been members for many years now, it makes us happy support them! Also, we are apartment people and donations are apart of our lives on a weekly basis. We send what we can to Hoboken Shelter, hopefully, we are able to make someone’s day a little better.

    Career Advice:

    Try to find a role that involves something you are passionate about; it makes working super hard A LOT easier! Also, never tell your boss you understand something if you don’t, ask the right questions until you are 1000% sure. Be clear of what is expected of you in your role so everyone has clarity and the same expectations.


    Djenaba Johnson-Jones {of Hudson Kitchen}

    djenaba johnson jones

    Djenaba is the Founder & CEO of Hudson Kitchen, a business incubator that enables food and beverage entrepreneurs to establish sustainable businesses. Hudson Kitchen provides the kitchen and storage rental, mentorship and coaching, networking events, and educational programming. {You may recognize her from a “Woman to Watch” in 2017 — and with good reason! Her empire just keeps growing.} This spring 2019, she’ll be opening an 8,000-square-foot shared-use commercial kitchen, storage facility and food truck commissary in South Kearny, NJ.

    Biggest 2018 Obstacle?

    My biggest obstacle was patience.  I tend to want to do everything at one time, and I want everything to happen on my timeline. Of course, this is not realistic so I have had to learn how to slow down, pace myself, work my plan and embrace the timelines–and other people’s schedules. Nothing will slow you down more than searching for commercial real estate in North Jersey!

    Proudest Career Moment:

    I am proud that I was able to take Hudson Kitchen from idea to fruition.  It’s fun (and sometimes crazy) to create something from scratch. It’s been even more rewarding to receive support from the local food community and to connect with so many people who all have similar dreams of growing their culinary ventures.

    2019 Updates?

    Personally, my husband and I will be in the throes of the college admissions process with our son, Mason. Professionally, I will open a shared-use commercial kitchen, storage facility and food truck commissary in South Kearny, NJ this Spring. The 8,000 square foot space will feature a communal kitchen, walk-in refrigerator and freezer storage as well as shared office and event space.

    Advice from Djenaba:

    Make networking with people in your industry a priority. It really does take a village to succeed.  Building and maintaining these relationships will be the key to your success.


    Tee Hundley {of Suite Tee}

    suite tee jersey city

    Tee Hundley is a celebrity nail artist that recently opened her beauty space in Jersey City {172 Newark Street} — Suite Tee. There, she provides waxing, nails, and spray tan services in a serene environment. In her “spare time,” Tee also performs nail services for celebrities, magazines, fashion shows, and events.


    Proudest Career Moment?  

    I am proud that I have positively impacted so many people to receive so much trust and support to continue being self-employed. As a single mother, it was definitely a risk and thankfully a success.

    2019 Plans:

    I am going to take better care of my health via diet, exercise, and meditation. Professionally I look forward to beginning my final goal of becoming an inspirational speaker.

    Her Most Passionate Cause:

    My love of the beach and the ocean inspires my life. I’ve committed to reducing my use of plastics and creating excess as well as showing others how they can do the same.  Soon, Suite Tee will donate a portion of profit to Ocean Clean Up.  I am also going to partner with organizations that help women trying to rebuild their lives.

     

    Best Advice?

    Take chances. Toot your own horn.

    Utilize your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.


    Kimberly Bueno {of The Cuddly Cottage and Women Entrepreneurs of Hudson County}

    kimberly bueno cuddly cottage

    Kimberley Bueno, originally a California native-turned-Hoboken resident, left her corporate job to run a pet care business called The Cuddly Cottage. She also recently formed a non-profit organization called Women Entrepreneurs of Hudson County {WE of Hudson County}. 

    The Biggest Obstacle Thus Far:

    The transition from corporate work to entrepreneurship was quite the shock! The Cuddly Cottage started with just helping a few neighbors when they needed it, I didn’t even realize I was starting a business at the time. Because we’re growing organically, I’ve learned by trial and error and am always researching how to better serve our clients.

    In 2019 — Personal and Professional Goals: 

    Women Entrepreneurs of Hudson County will begin hosting events, workshops, networking meetings in 2019 – so that is incredibly exciting! For anyone who is looking to start or build their own business, grow or expand their current business, want to network and meet other like-minded female entrepreneurs, check us out because we have a great supportive community and I’m so proud of it.

    As for The Cuddly Cottage, hiring new employees has definitely been something I’ve been avoiding (even though we really need too!!). In 2019, we definitely hope to expand, while maintaining our uniqueness and continuing to make families happy and stress-free when they travel without their furry family member.

    Charities She Loves and Supports: 

    There are so many causes I feel very strongly towards – Wise Animal Rescue, Lunchtime Ministry, NorthStar Fund just to name a few. I am a volunteer for Wise Animal Rescue and Lunchtime Ministry and participate when I can at NorthStar Fund.

     

    Her Best Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs:  

    Sometimes you think you can carry all the weight on your shoulders. Sometimes that weight can be exhaustively heavy and you’ll feel like you should be the only person to carry that weight. Don’t. Reach out to your closest friends and family and talk to them because you never know how willing they are to help you.


    Rachel Sieg {of Jersey City’s HDSID}

    rachel sieg jersey city

    Rachel is the Executive Director of the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District, and she manages and develops new relationships between the HDSID Board of directors, businesses, city organizations, City Council, and the Mayor. Chances are, if you’ve attended a ribbon cutting in Jersey City in the last few years, Rachel’s been the coordinator {she’s coordinated over 100 ribbon cuttings! — with many of them starting as vendors at the farmers market then expanding into a brick-and-mortar business}. She’s also responsible for the largest event in Jersey City yearly, the All About Downtown Street Fair with over 30,000 people in attendance. As if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she also acts as an intermediary between the City/Council and local businesses. 

    Proudest Moment?

    I started from the bottom in this job, didn’t receive any favors and worked my way up. I’m proud of every step along the way.

    Fun Fact:

    Contrary to what you’d think, I live in the Heights and not in downtown. I love both, but the Heights area is home.

    2019 Goals:

    The goal is to make the HDSID better, to evolve and keep things interesting. We want to make the [Newark Avenue] pedestrian mall better and improve the experience people have when they visit that area of downtown. An additional goal is to integrate feedback from the community into our events. Take constructive criticisms and change what needs to be changed. Lastly, for 2019, we want to make the Holiday Market a true shopping event and destination for people.

    Personally, I want to have more fun! I love going out to eat, going to the gym, and hanging out with my husband and my dog.

    Her Best Advice:

    Don’t be afraid to start from the bottom! Get your foot in the door, show you’re willing to work hard, and progress will happen.


    Ashley Feinstein {of Fiscal Femme}

    fiscal femme ashley feinstein

    Ashley is the Founder of Fiscal Femme and the creator and author of The 30-Day Money Cleanse. Her mission is to help women become wealthy, and this ideal stems from the belief that financial well-being is imperative to achieving equality.

    Proudest Career Moment{s}?

    When someone shares how my work has made an impact on their life, it makes all the hard work worth it! So keep the shares coming 🙂

    2019 Things to Come:

    My first book, The 30-Day Money Cleanse, hit shelves on January 1st – a huge professional milestone for me! I’m very excited to share this book and continue making understanding money more fun and digestible for people in 2019. Personally, I’ll enjoy spending my free time with family and friends!

    A Charity She’s Passionate About:

    Next Gen Face is an incredible organization created by Eli’s [Ashley’s son who was born with a cleft palate] amazing cleft team that provides a one-stop shop for the highest quality cleft care, as well as support for families and their cleft cuties.

    Advice from Ashley:

    Continue doing things and cultivating skills you enjoy, even if it doesn’t seem logical or important at the time. Things tend to make a lot more sense looking backward than looking forward.


    Niambi Cacchioli {of Pholk Beauty}

    niambi cacchioli

    Niambi is the founder of Pholk, an all natural vegan skincare line inspired by the folk beauty of the African Diaspora. She’s a local Jersey City resident that is dedicated to beauty in its purest form.

    2018’s Biggest Obstacle?

    Whew! Trusting myself.

    Proudest Career Moment:

    My career is always evolving, but this year I’m proud that in the rebrand from Bloomsbury Sq to Pholk I put so much more of my personality and the cultures that I love at the heart our narrative. The rebranding was no joke because a lot of my process was about self-acceptance.  But it’s so much easier for me to really connect with women when I let them see more of what I’m about. Before, I used to do that with events on the side, but now skin-care-culture is the core of the business.

    Fun Fact?

    At my college, I was the first student to graduate with a B.A. in Iranian Language & Literature. I was obsessed with the poet Forugh Farrokzhad!

    2019 Plans:

    I’m currently in school for my esthetician license and getting my space on Monticello Avenue ready. Expect to see some local events where we can talk about all things beauty.  I’m still getting my head around some of the opportunities for Pholk coming up in 2019. But, it’s going to be good.

    Personally, I just turned 45, and I’m using it as an excuse to try new things, go to new places.

    Go-To Advice?

    Align your career with your values at the get-go.


    Noël Fiorentinos {of Work it Out}

    noel work it out hoboken

    Noël is the Founder and CEO of the fitness lifestyle brand Work it Out and her newest venture is co-hosting and co-producing a new morning Instagram talk show entitled Wake Up With WiO.   

    On 2018’s Biggest Challenges:

    Understanding what it is to be a new mother and work full-time. Also, navigating being a leader on my own for the first time in 5 years. I had an operational partner up until January of 2018.

    Proud Career Moments?

    The fact that WiO EMPOWERS WOMEN of all different age groups; from young girls in our gymnastics program, to young staff that are finding their footing in life, instructors that are passionate about fitness, members of our community that are committed to being healthy, positive and hard-working, to other women who want to go into business and accomplish their goals in life.

    Fun Fact:

    There is nothing that satisfies me more in life than a great debate. I love to be challenged and to dive deep.

    2019 Plans?

    Expect a top-level work out experience when attending class at Work it Out, that’s for sure! The best instructors, the best music, the community, the best overall experience. You can also expect exciting female guests on Wake Up With WiO. We have a few more surprises I am not yet ready to share, but promise they will continue to grow the value, experience, and appeal of our brand.

    Causes She’s Passionate About:

    I am passionate about empowering women to be nicer to one another, to work harder for what they want in life and their careers, to encourage working together rather than competing with each other. I’m passionate about exposing the masked insecurities in women and uplifting the brave and vulnerable at the same time. I practice this with the WiO staff and community, as well as with my family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers.

    Noël’s Advice:

    Be instinctual, consistent and deliberate in your decision making. Do not compare yourself to other women, businesses, or situations. Stay focused on your goal and befriend women in your community for added support.


    Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez {of Sw3at Sauna}

    alyza sw3at sauna jersey city

    Alyza is the owner of SW3AT Sauna Studio in Jersey City and also a U.S Navy Reserve Military Police Officer {NBD}. In the civilian sector, she works for NY State in the security field but is on military leave. She’s on active duty status until the end of 2019 — where she’ll return back to the Navy Reserve and her civilian employer.

    Alyza’s 2018, in a Nutshell:

    In 2018, my biggest obstacles were opening SW3AT, purchasing a house and being on active duty all at the same time. My position in the Navy takes me away from home a lot but I anticipated being released from active duty in October 2018, so my plan to open SW3AT in November fell right in line with the plan. After I was not released at that time, I was forced to go along with my plan even though it was difficult to manage. Unintentionally, I also purchased a house that I stumbled upon for a price I could not pass up. I ended up closing on that house October 9th, only 1 month before my grand opening. So I wasessentially doing the renovation on my home (by myself), getting the shop ready for opening, and going to work everyday; all at the same time. Oh and to add to it, it was the holiday season and my grand opening date was on my wife’s 35th birthday; talk about pressure, haha.

    On Her Crystal Obsession:

    One thing few people know about me is that I actually carry rocks in my pocket. They are actually [crystals] stones but as an inside joke, I always refer to them as rocks. I mostly carry amethyst and amazonite for protection and anxiety. These stones keep me grounded, calm, and I always feel like I’m missing something when I don’t have them on me.

    2019 Expectations?

    In 2019 professionally, I want to achieve my goal of becoming a Naval Officer. Personally, I plan to become more involved with the community, participate in efforts that are giving back and share my story. I have started to realize that I can be a mentor in my community working with and being an inspiration for Jersey City’s underserved youth.

    Her Best Career Advice:

    Be resourceful and build relationships. I used to always say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That’s until a senior sailor said to me, “It’s actually not only what you know but also who knows you.” The same way businesses flourish from word of mouth more than any other type of advertisement, the same goes for people in the workforce. Your abilities, motivation, and work ethic will travel like word of mouth and pretty soon people will seek you out rather than you looking for them. 


    Ashley Hearon-Smith {of HudsonCounty60}

    ashley smith work it out hoboken

    Ashley is a host, producer, actor and mom, most currently a producer and co-host of Wake Up With WiO — a local Instagram show, along with her other full-time hustle, @HudsonCounty60, an Instagram show.

    Biggest Struggle in 2018?

    Balancing motherhood and work.

    Proudest Career Moment:

    I’m really proud of the commitment I’ve made to my passion, and creating my own work.

    Fun Fact?

    Despite my lactose intolerance, cheese is my absolute favorite food group.

    2019 Plans?

    I’m not going anywhere, and I’m going to hit the ground running. WUWW, and specifically working with Noel, has been such an amazing journey– I’ve learned so much about women, business and even myself.  It’s going to be more polished, have bigger guests and some really hot topics. @HudsonCounty60 is going to turn out tons of content, up the production value even more and introduce some especially unique businesses in our community. I’m so excited to see where it all leads!

    Charity of Choice:

    My family and I give to the Ronald McDonald House however we can. Additionally, I really try to give back in different ways to the community I grew up in, Hudson County.

    Career Advice?

    The new rules are: there are no longer rules. Create your own path and your own work!


    Emily Ball Jabbour {of Moms Demand Action, Leader of Hudson County Chapter + Hoboken City Councilperson-At-Large}

    emily jabbour

    Emily is a 10-year resident of Hoboken and mom of two daughters (ages 6 and 3) who attend the Brandt School. She works full time as the Performance Officer for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the US Department of Health & Human Services, volunteers as the Hudson County Leader for the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and was elected to be a Councilperson-at-Large for the City of Hoboken in 2017.

    2018’s Biggest Obstacles:

    Juggling it all!  As a wife and mom of two young children with a full-time job, part-time job as an elected official, and volunteer commitments, it’s a lot!  I also know the importance of taking time to take care of yourself even when things are crazy.  There are just never enough hours in the day.  It has also been a challenge to get used to the idea of being a Councilperson.  I was so frustrated with national politics in 2017 that it compelled me to get more involved at the local level.  I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my community as an elected official, but there are times that Hoboken is such the small town that I wish I could take off the Councilperson hat now and then!  I’m still getting used to this new role.

    Proudest Career Moment?

    I am so proud to be a mother of two incredible daughters who amaze me every day with their curiosity, energy, and intelligence.  I am also so proud that they understand my role as a Councilperson because I want them to know the importance of giving back and helping others.  I also want my daughters to know that they can do anything they set their minds to.

    An Emily Fun Fact:

    One of my favorite jobs ever was waitressing during high school and college.  I learned so much about food, wine, customer service, and people. Waiting tables meant working as part of a team and having the patience to manage hungry, cranky people.  It is multi-tasking at its best and taught me an incredible appreciation for the service industry.

    2019 Plans?

    I am excited to continue to learn what it means to be an elected official for Hoboken. For one square mile, there are so many issues and matters to learn about.  I ran for City Council out my passion for making a difference in my community.  With my perspective as a mom with two young children, I want to continue to bring my unique viewpoint to our governing body and then take that knowledge to share back with the community.  I want to make my family proud of the work that I am doing on behalf of the city and continue to do a better job as an advocate for my priorities – pedestrian safety, supporting the education community citywide, smart development, and improving infrastructure.  At the national level, I am hopeful that through the advocacy of organizations like Moms Demand Action and Everytown, we can successfully advocate for universal background checks.

    A Cause She’s Created a Position Around:

    The tragedy at Sandy Hook happened shortly after my older daughter was born. I was then volunteering at Brandt one day when she in Pre-K 3 and there was a lockdown drill.  My heart broke when I realized that we, as a society, now ask our three-year-olds to regularly prepare for the possibility of an active shooter.  I reached out to the organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and founded the Hudson County Chapter. Gun violence prevention is something I care deeply about, both as a mother and policymaker.  There is such widespread agreement when it comes to common sense policies such as universal background checks and yet our legislators at the national level refuse to take on these issues.  We can do so much more as a country to protect our children when it comes to gun violence, especially when it comes to vulnerable populations disproportionately impacted by violence.

    Her Best Advice:

    Admit when you are wrong or have made a mistake. It is tremendously difficult to admit and can sometimes be embarrassing, but it can become so much worse if you don’t learn to own those mistakes. It is a sign of maturity to own those mistakes and learn from them. No one goes into a new job knowing how to do it all and the process of admitting error can help to strengthen a relationship with a superior.


    Safe to say 2019 is going to be off to a good start with these ladies at the helm. Thank you for sharing with us!


    Want more inspiration? Click here for some of our Hoboken Girl{s} of the Weeks of 2018.

    Know someone who’d make an amazing Hoboken Girl of the Week in 2019? Email us! hello@hobokengirl.com their/your story and contact info. xo


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hoboken Girl. She started the site to discover and share the wealth of things happening in Hudson County. Her roots in the area extend to her maternal grandparents, who owned two textile factories in Weehawken and North Bergen. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event/volunteer project or editing her life away, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog + rescue pup, or watching the latest murder doc on Netflix with her husband.