Meet 9 Young Entrepreneurs Who Risked Everything — & Won

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We get it. You want to do your own thing. Start a business. Be your own boss. But, while it’s easy to complain about your current secure-but-not-so-satisfying position and ramble fantastically about an ingenious invention or innovative business idea you have, one daunting question always remains: Where would you actually start?

In our latest installment of Beauty Nation's The New Provocateurs, we teamed up with Revlon to track down nine brilliant young entrepreneurs who once arrived at that same crossroads and asked them how they found the courage to make the leap. Below, they talk openly and honestly about going into debt, getting fired, and becoming power players in brand-new fields. Their stories are equal parts empowering and unnerving — but that seems to be the guiding principle when it comes to successful entrepreneurship.

And, these sharp, fearless women have made it work. They share how they keep it all together, from defining a work-life balance to perfecting their executive-level beauty moves. So, grab a memo pad and put on your thinking cap. It’s time to draft that business plan.

The Power Publicist: Sydney Reising

PHOTOGRAPHED BY GEORDY PEARSON.
Though the world of fashion PR certainly has its cutthroat stereotypes, Sydney Reising — the 26-year-old CEO of her eponymously named PR company — doesn’t subscribe to any of that. Instead, Reising’s rule of thumb is refreshingly simple: no BS, thank you very much. And, this straight-shooting, yet sweet, approach is something that even The New York Times took note of last year in a feature, calling Reising a true “wunderkind” whose persona was notably different from the vibes given off by her peers in the industry — exactly what Reising had set out to achieve when starting her own company.
And, Sydney Reising Creative is already reaping the rewards of its unique approach to PR, with a host of influential brands (like RVCA, Cast Eyewear, and Kokon to Zai) jumping ship from mega PR houses to join Reising’s barely two-year-old company. Right now, she’s representing the cool, creative souls of downtown NYC, but she’s not done yet.
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How I got my start in fashion
“I’ve never been very good at doing things in a traditional manner or at following the rules. I’ve always wanted to do things my own way. When I was in high school in Ohio, I sent a handwritten letter to designer Tracy Reese. She invited me up for a Fashion Week internship, and that’s how I first came to New York.”
The anti-PR agency
“I actually hate PR people. I hate them. I didn’t even want to call my company a PR agency and call it Sydney Reising Creative for a reason. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to start my own firm: because I couldn’t find an agency where I thought, I like the way these people do their job. If you don’t see anyone doing it the way you think it should be done, you might as well do it yourself. We’re no bullshit. There’s no generic PR push. Everyone that we work with is part of our family, and it’s a creative, collective mentality.”
How getting fired was the best thing to happen to me
“I started my own company when the people I was freelancing for fired me. They didn’t like the way that I worked — no one liked the way that I worked because it wasn’t money-driven. I’m creatively driven. And, I’m someone who won’t jeopardize the quality and the caliber of my work, whether it’s a $1K client or a $10K client. I’m going to work just as hard for both, which [some people think] is fucked up. So, in terms of a money standpoint, my boss wasn’t thrilled with me, I guess. But, there was a fashion show to do, so I thought, I might as well start my own company now.”
Learning from my employees
“Being a boss is a challenge, for sure. I’m learning how to be a good boss. I think it takes practice, and it’s something that I have to work at. I’ve always had employees who are older than me, and it’s better that way. I need to be surrounded by people who are wiser than I am.”
My PR motto
“I think people appreciate a sense of authenticity in an industry that’s not known to be authentic whatsoever. A lot of it is noise. I just want to give a voice to young, talented creatives, and it turns out there was a business opportunity in repping those people.”
The biggest risk I’ve taken
“Going out on my own was a huge risk. When I started my company, a lot of people were like, ‘What is she doing? She’s 25 years old.’ But, sometimes you just have to jump. If you fail, you fail. You pick yourself back up, and you go again. I 100% did not think this would ever be me. I don’t think my family understands what I do any more than I really do.”
What empowers me
“The thing that empowers me the most is the success at the end. You work really hard, and once you see the results manifest themselves, there’s a sense of empowerment that comes from seeing a direct result of your efforts that’s hard to compare to anything else.”
Sophia Webster shoes, H&M skirt, Nour Hammour leather jacket, Jennifer Fisher earrings, model's own jewelry.
Photographed by Geordy Pearson; Makeup by Sophie Haig; Hair by Michiko; Styled by Laura Pritchard.