The best thing about this job is getting to hear people’s inspiring stories of how they found their life’s purpose and how they are living their dreams. I truly believe each person was put on this earth for a specific reason and I was put on this earth to tell the stories of those who figured that out.
Nick and Stephanie and partners in life and in business and have built an incredible life and business for themselves. I sat down with them recently to talk about how they got to where they are today and how they were able to pivot their business during this weird time in the world.
What are your names?
We’re Nick and Steph Nwoke.
You guys are partners in crime and in life.
What do you guys do?
Nick: We are full-time business owners. We run a marketing company online, and we also coach and mentor other people to run and operate their own businesses online, as well.
How long have you guys been doing it?
Stephanie: Since 2009. It’s about 11, 12 years.
How did you guys start?
Stephanie: Funny story! I knew that Nick was not happy. We were heading for very corporate careers. He was going to be a Physician-Scientist, my plan was to be a lawyer. Deep down, I knew he wasn’t really happy. I could tell he wanted to do something that was not cubicle or lab-based, so I started networking around and I ended up at a business event. I met a couple there who were in business and they eventually connected us with our mentors. They taught us how to build a business from the ground up at a very young age. It was kind of like a chance meeting that led to that.
That’s awesome. So how did you guys meet?
Nick: My best friend was dating her best friend when we were in high school. I was interested in speaking to girls at that time and she was in an all-girls school, so I told her best friend, “Hey, hook me up with one of your friends.” And the rest is history.
Stephanie: We should’ve met years before we met, but it worked out because I feel like we would’ve been too young. Eventually, they connected us, and ever since then… We found out he did Early Decision to the college that was right next to the college I was going to, so it really worked out.
That’s amazing. And you guys just had a baby, right? Congratulations! You guys work heavily together and you’re partners in life. How has that experience been for you?
Stephanie: I think in the beginning, because we were so young – we got married young, we were in business – it was a transition period but we love it. I think the reason why we chose each other as partners is that we wanted to spend time together and I feel like if you can build a business together, you can do anything together. Even as new parents, the transition was difficult but it wasn’t as hard because we’ve done so many things already together.
Nick: Because we got married young, I don’t really know the difference. We got married when we were 21 so I honestly don’t know the difference. We were full-time business owners together when we were 20 years old, anyway. I don’t know any other world outside of just working together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I agree with what Stephanie mentioned – if you’re able to build something together and really, our career paths coincide together, it’s kind of easy to build a life together in a way.
Stephanie: We have very similar dreams in terms of what our mission statement is for life, so I think that really works together.
What is your mission statement for life?
Stephanie: To impact people. We have a saying, that success is only measured by how many lives are better off because you lived. Even in our dying breath, we want to be helping somebody and serving the world.
It’s funny because my motto is, “Success is measured by how many times you fall and get back up.” Like, your failures make you stronger and more successful.
Stephanie: That’s so true.
I feel like part of life – people fear pain, they fear rejection, they fear failure because it’s uncomfortable but those moments are what make you learn from them and make you stronger.
So you guys motivate other people. How did you get from where you started to where you are now?
Nick: When we were in college, as Steph mentioned, we met a couple of great people who took us through the process and took us under their wing and taught us how to run a successful company online. We were fortunate because they taught us– they had 360 mentorship, in a way. They not only taught us how to be successful in business, but overall in our lives, and I think that’s something I needed because I didn’t really have a father figure in my life. A good basketball coach does a good job of teaching you the game of basketball, but a great basketball coach teaches you everything and also how to live off of the court, and that’s what my mentor did with me. If it weren’t for him, I don’t know if I’d really be fulfilled right now. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be living the life I’m living right now and be blessed with the lifestyle that we have. At a point, the only way I can pay him back is to pay it forward. The way we got to where we’re at is mentorship and hard work. We’ve been very blessed through it all.
Stephanie: I think what you said was key, about getting back up every time you fail. When we got into business, we were 19 and broke. We had massive college debt, I didn’t know how to handle credit cards so I had massive credit card debt. I remember the first 5 years of our marriage, we slept on an air mattress at this rat-infested house in Greenville. We went through a lot of struggles, but having somebody tell you and teach you how to manage your finances really helped. We both come from broken families. Between my parents, I don’t even know how many marriages and divorces have happened so we couldn’t find guidance there. But we’ve always knew what we want to create in our lives. We want to help other people. We want to be an example. So when dealing with life’s adversities, the regular rejection of business, and the highs and lows of our journey, we stay strong and seek mentorship.
I love that. How has COVID impacted your business and the businesses of the people you mentor?
Stephanie: We’re online-based, so we’ve been blessed that people love online shopping more than ever. People right now are looking for ways to make money, so the coaching aspect has been really kicking in. But I think for us, from the beginning when it started, we had to be very proactive and checking in on people’s mental health and making sure that people were feeling good. A lot of people shut down and there was so much that was happening, so we had a lot of calls. I remember the first month of COVID, Nick was on Zoom – we both were, but especially him – from 9AM to midnight just talking to people and checking in, making sure they were good and coming up with game plans to make sure their businesses were striving. It’s been a lot more work, but the blessing has been that the work has led to some growth for us.
Nick: Everyone that we’re working with that has online companies, they all grew them so it’s a blessing on their part. There are people who we work with who also run their families’ businesses that are more of a mom-and-pop store or they kind of need more physical presence. Unfortunately, they all took a hit, but everyone that works with us on an online basis is pretty solid. I’d hate to say it’s been a blessing, but we did see an increase in business.
So specifically for online businesses, what do you help them with?
Stephanie: We help them set up their own online company.
Nick: They have an online storefront and market everyday products, consumable goods.
Stephanie: It includes some exclusive brands and some major retailers.
Is it like Shopify?
Stephanie: Somewhat similar.
If people want to work with you guys, where can they find out more?
Awesome. And you guys are from Jersey City, right?
Nick: I used to live in Greenville. I lived on Linden and Ocean, in the hood. I was raised there. I moved to Jersey City back in 1997 and now we currently live in Droyers Point right near 440 and Acme.
Nice, and how do you feel Jersey City has changed in the last 20 years?
Nick: It’s nowhere near the same. Newport used to be a place for all the adolescents to go hang out and get into fights, hang out, and cause a ruckus. Newport is “high end” now, it’s high end-quality people and I think it’s a good thing. Everything that’s happening with the development and people moving out of New York to come here, people realizing what’s possible and the potential in Jersey City has been a big blessing for Jersey City.
What are your 5 ultimate tips for success?
Stephanie: My first one is to get a dream. You have to sit down and write down what it is you want in life and what you want to accomplish. If you don’t sit down and think about it, it’s like a GPS – it’s going to take you nowhere. Sit down, write what you want to accomplish.
Nick: A burning, passionate dream that you can be obsessed with that wakes you up in the morning and keeps you up at night. The second thing is you need to find a coach and a mentor who has created results in their life that’s similar to what you want in your life. Personal training is an example for someone who wants to go to the gym or wants to get fit. Three is, they need to be very intentional with the crew they surround themselves with. Sometimes people who you can hang out and be drinking buddies are good acquaintances, but you can’t confuse those kinds of people with people who can elevate you in your life and elevate your business.
Stephanie: Four would be, consistency beats intensity if intensity is inconsistent. It’s not about how hard you go at something, but what you can do day in and day out to accomplish big goals. Every day, you’ve got to grind. Even if it’s a small grind, as long as it’s consistent, it will beat out anybody who’s throwing bursts of energy.
Nick: And if you fully really believe in what you do, never ever ever quit.
I love that, those are sold tips. 100%. I have all of those except for a mentor.
Stephanie: If anything, you’re the mentor for a lot of people.
You guys are heavily online. Do you deal with trolls?
Stephanie: We have people who made fake pages of Nick and my son, and they hit up our network saying negative stuff about us. They’ve literally stoop as low to use my 18-month-old son’s pictures on their profile.
Nick: Yeah, we’ve had Instagram pages made of us, I’ve had fake pages made of us, YouTube videos made about us. We’ve had it all. But my favorite super-hero was Batman. So it’s like I am what you need me to be for you to live life however you think you’re supposed to live life. If I’m going to be a good guy in your story, I could be a good guy. If you want me to be a villain, then whatever. I just do what I think is right and ultimately, I know I’m having a positive impact on families, in the city, and in this world.
Stephanie: After a while, we stopped explaining ourselves to people who want to misunderstand us. If you want to misunderstand us and not even get a chance to learn our heart and what we’re about, then that’s on you. I am not going to waste energy on people that don’t deserve it.
Nick: They’re not doing anything themselves, really.
Stephanie: Like, what change are you making? Are you even trying to do something?
Right. Trolls are trolls. I always say, I’ve never seen anyone more successful than me criticize me. People who are more successful are too busy to think about what I’m doing. They might not fuck with me, that’s cool, but they don’t have time to comment and criticize.
Nick: If anything, they’d uplift.
100%, and it’s fine. If I see something I don’t like, I don’t follow, I don’t subscribe, I don’t comment. I think when people are doing what they love and what they’re put on this Earth for, it upsets people. When you’re living authentically, it upsets people. The key is that not everyone is going to like you. It’s not about numbers, it’s about quality. You attract your tribe.
Anything else we didn’t cover that you want people to know?
Nick: We just want to put our story out there. If there’s somebody like myself or Stephanie out there questioning their goals or dreams, or a person of color where times are tough, I know as a person of color from Jersey City that it is possible to leave the hood and make your dreams come true. It might seem like the world is against us, but there’s plenty of opportunities out there if you really do desire to know and put your heart into it. There really are great people out there, you just have to reach out and work hard enough. If my story can somehow impact somebody else, whether to directly work with us or live their life on their own terms and they accomplish their goals and dreams, then I feel like I’ve done my job.