Women of Wall Street; relentless in our pursuit of fairness
“When powerful women create alliances, it creates a lot of opportunity for all of us,” Jaclyn said in an exclusive interview with Publisher Vernell “Vee” Burris of Palm Beach Magazine.”
In a world of handouts, trust funds, and quid pro quos, Jaclyn Milford stands out as a self-made woman – a byproduct of vision casting, discipline, grit, and talent. In other words, she got it honestly.
Jaclyn has risen to the top as a result of her willingness to question the status quo and pursue creativity and innovation by merging two industries that have previously been off-limits to one another. And now, as the founder and President of Women of Wall Street, she’s helping a growing, yet tight-knit group of female executives, entrepreneurs, and influential business leaders empower one another to amplify their success and pave the way for the next generation of ambitious women.
The Women of Wall Street Are Here
If you aren’t already familiar with Women of Wall Street, it’s only a matter of time. It’s a society of powerful women from different industries – finance being the focus – that come together to build strong alliances with one another in an effort to combine resources, simplify challenges, and provide meaningful support and encouragement in a business world that rarely caters to their needs.
The goal is to make life simpler for women in business by providing the resources and connections they need to thrive. In fact, you could say the underbelly of Women of Wall Street is comprised of powerful alliances – an intricately woven fabric of relationships and resources that’s intentionally designed to usher in a new age of what it means to be a woman in business.
Unlike the dozens of other “female empowerment” and professional women’s groups throughout the country, Women of Wall Street doesn’t try to cater to everyone. The objective isn’t to be all things to all people. Jaclyn has a clear purpose, distinct vision, and an executable plan that starts at the top.
Whereas most groups start at the bottom of the ladder by providing educational opportunities for young girls, or mentorship programs for young female professionals in the workplace, Women of Wall Street is different. The goal is to target women who are already highly successful. This includes women who are in the C-suite – those who are already extremely connected leaders in their niches. The idea is that by empowering these women to continue growing, it creates a trickle-down effect.
Women who are already at the top can foster powerful change right now. The aim of Women of Wall Street is to attract them so that women – as a whole – accomplish more and carve out channels for success for tomorrow’s leaders.
There’s no question about it: Women of Wall Street is an exclusive group.
The beauty of this private society of influential women is carefully rooted in its multiplicity and diversity. You’ll find successful writers, CEOs, VPs of finance firms, media personalities, award-winning producers…even scientists. The goal isn’t to pigeonhole women to follow a particular path to success. Instead, it’s the recognition that every woman in a position of power and leadership has a unique backstory that led her to where she is today. Women of Wall Street is the place where she comes to embrace her story, share it, and celebrate it with a group of like-minded women who subscribe to the same ideology.
Exclusivity With a Purpose
Women of Wall Street has grown tremendously over the past couple of years. When there are live events, they’re always sold out. People come from all over the country to gather, engage, listen, and nurture. And while these events are made up of decision-makers, thought leaders, and entrepreneurial influencers, the ambiance feels more like a girl’s night out. Women are never asked to be anyone other than their true selves. Show up, be who you are, and build relationships – that’s the message to attendees.
As the Women of Wall Street website puts it, “This is the heart of our brand. A family style concept that feels intimate and personal for the modern power woman. We want to re-energize leaders and shake up their thought process; finding connections where they didn’t expect they could have them.”
There’s no question about it: Women of Wall Street is an exclusive group. It’s not designed or intended for everyone. However, this exclusivity is driven by a strong purpose and desire to help elevate all women. And in order to do so most efficiently, they have to be very intentional with how they leverage resources.
More recently, the exclusive society has launched a membership arm of the group to provide even more opportunities for members to stay connected. And while most other executive groups for women merely give out templates, host happy hours, and offer simple resources, Women of Wall Street focuses on elevating women in three very specific ways:
- Media representation and PR. How can she get her message out in a way that empowers her, elevates others, and creates a greater degree of fairness for all women in every professional field?
- Branding. How can she brand herself and her businesses in a way that’s both genuine and indicative of who she is at her core – not cheap reflections of what society wants her to be?
- Messaging development. How can she clarify and develop her message to become the most powerful version of herself possible?
Ultimately, the Women of Wall Street membership is designed to elevate women personally and professionally. It’s all about enhancing her personal brand and professional brand. At the same time, it gives them access to other high-level events so they can be around people who are the same caliber of people they want to network with.
In addition to the empowerment, education, and networking opportunities, Women of Wall Street also partners with other brands to offer lifestyle perks and conveniences to make their lives easier and breezier on a daily basis.
“The membership is very intentionally thought out and tailored to the modern working woman, what she needs, what’s going to help her move through her day a little easier,” Jaclyn said. “Plus, we’re always thinking about what’s going to help continue to elevate her message. At the base of it, we’re really looking to work with legacy-driven women who want to build their legacies.”
From Vision to Reality: Jaclyn’s Story
Women of Wall Street may be exclusive, but it’s not pretentious. There’s nothing fake or forced. It’s the direct embodiment of everything Jaclyn is passionate about.
With a background in branding development (specifically in beauty and fashion), Jaclyn has always been skilled with helping brands with campaigns and launch parties. But at some point, she lost some interest in what she was doing. She hadn’t given up, but the passion had left the building. And around 2017, she reached an inflection point of sorts. This is where the idea for Women of Wall Street was born.
Jaclyn saw this opportunity to merge the world of fashion with the world of finance.
“I was at this point of feeling like I didn’t have much purpose. I was burned out and really wanted to shift my direction,” Jaclyn recalled. “I had put on a really big launch party for a Swedish company in Palm Beach Island and I remember meeting a woman who worked in finance. She was a partner of a capital investment firm in New York and in my conversations with her something inside of me clicked.”
After speaking with this woman, Jaclyn realized that she wanted to do something more meaningful than just work in fashion. She saw an opportunity for the world of finance to collide with the world of fashion – and she wanted to help spearhead the movement.
Believe it or not, Jaclyn says many women in finance actually leave their jobs to start fashion brands. This happens for a couple of different reasons. First, because they’re savvy businesswomen who have the ability to innovate, lead, and adapt. Secondly, because Wall Street has always held women down.
Jaclyn points to Wall Street’s strict double standard as one of the driving forces for the fashion boom among current and former finance executives. For years Wall Street has held women down and told them that they have to dress a certain way, that they can’t stand out, and that they have to blend in. So while men are walking around in their three-piece suits, pocket squares, and watches, women often feel very dull.
Jaclyn saw this opportunity to merge the world of fashion with the world of finance. And when she started approaching some of the major fashion brands in the industry, they thought it was an intriguing idea with lots of potential. It was a very untapped world at the time.
“What I realized is that by combining the world of fashion with the world of finance at an executive level, it gave these women an outlet for expression,” said Jaclyn. “That was powerful because it encouraged them to be vulnerable with one another. And with that vulnerability came the relationship.”
Women of Wall Street takes a different approach to networking than what other companies are doing by putting women in a room together and forcing them to mingle. With the traditional approach, most women only meet one or two people at an event. But with Jaclyn’s approach, all women have a chance to naturally bond over shared interests and belief systems.
If she’s honest, Jaclyn says the society was created because she, too, wanted to find a place where she could connect with other incredible women without it being too “networky.”
As she put it, “It’s hard to stay connected when you’re traveling, running a business, and juggling your schedule. Nobody wants to have 15 coffee meetings. So the challenge is, how do you bring everyone together in one space where it’s fun and you’re experiencing luxury and meaning?”
Contrary to what some might say on the outside looking in, Women of Wall Street isn’t designed to be “anti-man.” The focus isn’t on pushing men down – or even about elevating women to a greater status. The goal is to lift women up. It’s also to recognize why it’s important for women to have men in their lives who are allies and support systems. The aim is not to alienate or isolate.
The 3 Qualities of a Woman of Wall Street
Women of Wall Street believes there’s power in numbers. But growth must be intentional, so as not to compromise the integrity of the mission. Thus, when they accept new members, they’re looking for three specific qualities.
First and foremost, the women they want to attract are women who want to support other women.
“What you learn in our world is that it doesn’t matter how successful a woman is. If she’s not willing to support other women, then it’s not going to help anyone,” Jaclyn explained. “We want supportive women who want to give. Because when every woman gives, every woman receives.”
Secondly, they look at experience. They want to know what she has done in her life (not just what her career is right now). Jaclyn and her team consider questions like: What kind of jobs has she had? What is her backstory? What sort of expertise does she have?
Women of Wall Street is focused on bringing women’s stories forward. Jaclyn has found that many women don’t talk themselves up as much as they should. As she puts it, “They’re always under-sharing.” They look for women who have something to offer in terms of wisdom.
Finally, Women of Wall Street loves women who love fashion.
“We do a lot of expressive activities and have fashion brands join us. We want women who want to have fun and are willing to jump into the water with us,” said Jaclyn.
Support, experience, and expression – those are the three pillars. Women who bring these three elements to the table are usually a good fit for membership.
In a world where women have platforms but are rarely allowed to have a voice, it’s important to come together and lift one another up.
“We can’t be timid in our pursuit of equality,” Jaclyn said before catching herself. “Actually, I don’t even like the word equality in this case. More than equality, we want to be relentless in our pursuit of fairness. I don’t want to be treated like a man. But I do want to be treated like the woman that I am. We need to stop being empowered and start acting like we’re in power.
Women of Wall Street is growing, and it’s no surprise to anyone who knows the woman behind the movement. Because Jaclyn Milford is a fearless woman. She’s not afraid to get real…fast.