Recently JDS Development Group and Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group hosted a panel discussion celebrating female entrepreneurship in Brooklyn at an event called Well-Built, the ethos behind JDS’s new Park Slope development Baltic.

Guests enjoyed pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds as they listened to words of wisdom on how to make the leap to working for yourself and balancing it all from some of Brooklyn’s top female entrepreneurs- Rubi Jones, a top hair stylist and author, Linsey Laidlaw, a graphic designer and illustrator, and Kelsey Nixon, host of “Kelsey’s Essentials” on the Cooking Channel and author. Additionally, each woman spoke about how they defined success, what helped them along the way and what they hoped to contribute to the community. After the discussion, the speakers took questions from the audience, with the women sharing additional advice from subjects like how to work with a mentor and handling finances.

Highlights of the conversation with
Rubi Jones, Linsey Laidlaw, Kelsey Nixon, and Penelope Stipanovich.

May 11, 2016 | 6:00PM
303 Bond Street, Brooklyn NY


Penelope Stipanovich:

“I’m going to start with a couple of general questions for all of you about what inspired you to start your businesses or to get into the business that you’re in. ”

Kelsey Nixon:

“What inspired me? I grew up in a home where food was at the center of all my happy memories. My mom had a job and loved her job, but she came home and she entered the kitchen and that was where stress relief happened for her. It was always a joy for her to be in the kitchen. It wasn’t a chore. ”

“I think that just my mother’s attitude and approach towards cooking is something that really inspired me and allowed for cooking to become a passion.”



Rubi Jones:

“For me, I wanted to take a different route and teach women that aren’t hairstylists. The hair industry is really big and there are so many little pockets of it. And the big one for professional hairstylists is teaching other hairstylists kills just to better their craft. Be on top of what’s the latest trend. I want to be able to give women little tips that are basics and that I find so easy and I know will take five minutes that they can then use for themselves.“

“I just want to make everyone beautiful.”


Penelope Stipanovich:

“Linsey, how do you set yourself apart from other graphic designers and illustrators? ”

Linsey Laidlaw:

“I really like to think about a visual situation outside of the visuals first. I really enjoy writing. So any time I’m starting a project, I like to write it all out. I think that helps me think about things strategically… Typography, typography, typography. I think if there’s one thing that maybe sets me apart it’s an OCD attention to type.”


Audience Member:

“I would love to know what is the biggest risk you took in your career?”

Rubi Jones:

“When I first moved to New York, I worked at a really big, prestigious salon. I had to learn so much through a really intense assistant program. You’re literally just sweeping hair the first month or two. And then you’re doing blowouts…And I spent six hours a day just doing a ponytail. I did that for about two years. Then I started to do assistant work for photoshoots and recognized that’s what I really wanted to do. Eventually, I was getting more and more assisting jobs. And someone finally told me that if I want to do this fashion work, I can’t be in a salon full time. I finally quit and I started just doing my own freelance work…I remember leaving and being so happy. But that was a huge risk for me.”



Penelope Stipanovich:

“How has living in Brooklyn helped shape you and your business?”

Kelsey Nixon:

“Brooklyn has had much presence within my primary business. My show Kelsey’s Essentials on Food Network, the cooking channel, has done a great job of highlighting small businesses based in New York. Ironically, at least 80 percent of those businesses we feature, are found in Brooklyn. I think that really speaks to the culture of Brooklyn, the incredible ideas and artistry that’s coming out of Brooklyn, especially industries like food.

I don’t know that there’s another kind of hot bed of just incredible culinary innovation that’s happening anywhere more so than Brooklyn.“

Linsey Laidlaw:

“[In Brooklyn] you’re just constantly surrounded by people doing really cool things. I love to just sit on my stoop and start up conversations with people. There’s so much happening. And getting to be surrounded by people doing that is endlessly inspiring.”


Kelsey Nixon:

“For me, success was more about an inner voice of acceptance with where I was at within my career as opposed to accolades or awards or whatever it may be. It was more about just being satisfied with where I was at that given moment.“


Penelope Stipanovich:

“What do you hope to give back to the community through your business?”

Kelsey Nixon:

“It is extremely important to me that I try to remain as authentic and genuine as possible.

In doing so, I really am just hoping to share with viewers or readers the solutions that are working in my life and hope that they work in theirs. I want to make everyday life when it comes to food a bit easier and a bit more fulfilling.”


Audience Member:

“How do you get more creative ideas and feed yourself so you have more to give?”

Rubi Jones:

“I think it’s really important to look outside of your immediate industry. For me, it’s tempting to just, you know, plop on the Pinterest and see what’s being regurgitated over and over. It’s easy to do that. But it’s a lot more rewarding and inspiring to go to the Met. “

Kelsey Nixon:

I’ve had a very difficult personal year the past year. I felt creatively exhausted. I’m approaching food completely differently. And it’s serving a different purpose in my life now than it previously served in my life. That in itself is inspiring to me. It also allows me to be genuine and authentic, which is important to me. It’s been kind of rediscovering a relationship with my subject matter through a different lens that has really been the most inspiring thing to me this past year. So take care of yourselves.

Linsey Laidlaw:

“In the early phases of figuring out or staying motivated, I used to feel like there was more a sense of competition among people, among women. And it intimidated me to reach out and to ask questions

What I found is that people, and especially women, are so generous. And so eager to support and help each other.

I’m trying to align more with friends and clients that are really trying to make responsible choices. Like working with companies who are trying to paint in ways that are sustainable.”