Exclusive Q&A with Debra Chen, Founder of Vanity + Trade

No matter how much you want to argue about diversity in business, studies still reveal, and trends still show that women are still being left behind in C-suite level positions, even in entrepreneurship.  Things are looking up, however, as studies revealed that women entrepreneurs are proven to be more adept than their male counterparts in term of spotting and seizing the opportunities in the market.

To facilitate their endeavor, they need business resources that are specifically targeted to women – the ones that offer tips and tricks on how to strike a balance between pursuing their dream and keeping them in-tune with their lifestyle and responsibilities.  Unfortunately, resources are not aplenty when it comes to catering the specific need of business women; we need more of them.

In response to the need, Debra Chen, with her experience on Wall Street and her own consulting firm, launched Vanity + Trade, an online publication that acts as the platform for businesswomen to learn about business, career and lifestyle.

Debra Chen, Founder Vanity+Trade

We have a great opportunity to converse with Debra Chen, the Founder of Vanity + Trade, about her online magazine and vision for women in business.

Ivan Widjaya (Q): Hi, Debra – please tell us about yourself and your website, Vanity + Trade

Debra Chen (A): I come from a Wall Street background, first at JP Morgan’s Global Derivatives Group and then on to the trading floor at Lehman Brothers before going on to advising CEOs and CFOs on their corporate communications strategy. In 2009, I founded ICON Media Communications, a global consulting firm aimed at bridging the gap between the U.S. capital markets and foreign investments.

From my experiences as a businessperson and as a woman in business, I’ve amassed so much life experience and amazing stories (some I can share, others I wished I could) that it became an organic transition into launching Vanity +Trade in 2014. This was inspired by the birth of my son Tyson, as I was freshly inducted into motherhood, a full-time executive and had an entrepreneurial itch that wasn’t going away.

I began to do more research and saw how little resources there were for working mothers and I wanted to fill that void by providing a platform on career and lifestyle secrets between women. Today we host curated content aimed to educate, inspire and celebrate female executives and creative entrepreneurs and conduct weekly interviews with movers and shakers of various industries and walks of life, to reveal their trade secrets to success in life and work.

Q: V+T is an all-female content initiative aimed at female executives and creative entrepreneurs. Can you tell us a little background story of V+T?

A: The content is currently driven by all-female related issues so this is really part of a #WomenAtWork initiative. Regardless of sex, we all experience struggles in our professional and personal lives however the statistics conducted in studies of women being left behind in C-suite level positions are profound and staggering and need to be addressed in a comfortable narrative.

My role in speaking with women who are taking leadership positions within their industries and making strong headway is to essentially bridge the gap here as well, and share success stories with others who need the inspiration and positive reinforcement.

Q: V+T features industry influencers. Who’s the most interesting/meaningful V+T feature so far?

A: I’ve been so fortunate to meet so many incredible, intelligent, interesting women throughout this process and all of them have inspired and impacted me in many ways. What I admire the most is their uncanny honest, raw, unfiltered stories, but also their positivity and strength through the adversities. Needless to say, I learn from each and every interview I’ve conducted.

One that has touched me personally was with Mel Lim, CEO and CCO of Mel Lim Design. Perhaps it’s her Asian background and her mother’s strength that I find relatable, but her personal story is both heart-wrenching and triumphant. I really felt it. You can access her interview  here: http://vanityandtrade.com/influencer-branding-powerhouse/

Mel Lim, CEO of Mel Lim Design - featured on Vanity+Trade

Q: Growing a content site is challenging (yes, I can relate to that!) – any tips on how to get more eyeballs to see your content?

A: When I first launched Vanity + Trade, I made it a mission to stay authentic to the voice and content of the site. Not long afterward, I found myself overwhelmed with where it needed to go, what it was lacking, and it began to take the fun out of the process because I was so focused on the wrong things.

I have found that producing good content and staying consistent has brought the most visibility to the site. I also ask my #Influencers to help drum up traffic on their social media handles once our interviews are posted and that helps to drive engagement.

Q: Finally, any practical tips to share with our female audience who want to achieve great things in their professional or entrepreneurial career?

A: I like how you prefaced the question with the word “practical.” During this journey in studying and observing successful people and their path to success, I have come to the realization that a majority of the ones who have achieved great things have the following traits:

  1. Clear vision;
  2. obsessive drive;
  3. fearlessness;
  4. ability to bounce back from a failure;
  5. a level of foolishness (in which I find admirable).

Of course, there is a balance in order to be content and happy with where you are in life, but these are the recurring theme of what I’ve witnessed in my observations. Whether they are practical, I will leave that to the discretion of your readers.

Many thanks, Debra, for your time!

Now over to you: What do you learn from Debra in this Q&A? Please share your thoughts with us.