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Chicks We Love: An Interview With Casey Dworkin, Founder Of Sylven New York & Her Advice For Female Entrepreneurs

Welcome to Chicks We Love! Here at Chip Chick, we love inspiring women to follow their business dreams while giving them the tools they need to make it happen.

Chicks We Love is our new series showcasing, well, chicks we can’t help but just love! Get ready to meet some of our favorite exciting female entrepreneurs and hear all about their wisdom for helping you to succeed too.

In this article we caught up with Casey Dworkin, Founder of Sylven New York. Casey makes some fancy footwear, and she has one incredible story for how she got here.

She always knew she wanted to be a shoe designer ever since she was little, and after an apartment fire tragically left her with nothing but the clothes she wore that day, she set out to build Sylven and follow her dreams.

Here is Casey’s inspiring story and her wisdom for you!

Image courtesy of Casey

What was your inspiration behind starting your company?

I have always dreamt of having my own brand, but I think it wasn’t until I had an apartment fire a few years ago that left me with only the clothes on my back that I was really pushed to do something on my own. I thought about how short life is, and can be, and I was reminded of how important it is to just take that leap.

I also had to build up my wardrobe from scratch, and I approach my footwear and my brand really similarly to how I make my own purchasing decisions. I wanted to create products that are just as functional as they are beautiful.

What is your favorite aspect of the brand or product line?

As a city girl, I personally love that all my shoes are not only comfortable, but can be worn regardless of what’s going on with the weather.

I do a ton of walking, and I love that I can wear my leather or suede in the rain and even snow.

What do you aim to accomplish in the next year?

This upcoming year, I have a hefty goals list, but I think at the top would be having a more permanent retail space, and working with more celebrity clientele.

I currently have a pop-up happening in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and I am trying to speak it into the universe to extend our lease and stay a bit longer.

Image courtesy of Casey

What’s the most difficult part of being a female entrepreneur?

I feel very fortunate that the fashion world is full of female entrepreneurs and trailblazers that have set a strong precedent for newcomers like myself. But I think it can definitely be difficult sometimes for some people to shake the stigma that women can’t be serious businesspeople.

I think it’s just important to show that knowledge is power, and if you take yourself seriously, so will everyone around you.

What advice do you have for other women who would like to start their own company?

I think first and foremost, it’s about important to think about ‘why’ they’re doing anything. If you’re really clear on your own message, and why you’re setting out to do what you want to do, just go forth with conviction, and probably most importantly with patience.

It’s a long process, and if you’re willing to put in the work, then go for it!

Why and how did you end up an entrepreneur? Was it a path you always envisioned pursuing?

I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset. I am the kind of person that likes to push the boundaries and sometimes bend the rules to figure out how to do things my own way.

I think it makes sense that I am now doing my own thing, and without realizing it, it was always something I set out to do.

What tools do you recommend for women who would like to be entrepreneurs?

I think a willingness to learn will always prove helpful. But maybe the most important ‘tool’ is knowing when to ask for help.

We all need to lean on others at times, and casting your ego aside and admitting when you can’t do something on your own is super important.

How do you overcome failure or fear?

I typically overcome failure or fear just by trying as many things as I can, even if that means knowing I’m going to fail at something.

The more I try, the less scary any one individual thing seems. And once I’ve failed, I’ve learned that it’s really not such a big deal.

What habits contributed to your success?

Most of the things I feel have the most ‘successful’ were things I went about non-conventionally. I think following my instincts, and just being tenacious have been things that have only served me well.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I’ll let you know when I figure that one out! I do try and put my phone away for a few hours at a time (when I can.) I try to do my best to remember to take breaks, and to take days off.

It can be hard when you don’t follow a typical weekday schedule, but I really value mental health, and know that if I’m not taking care of myself that it ultimately reflects in my work.

What does your typical day look like?

Recently, my schedule has been a bit more structured since I’ve launched my pop-up and am spending most of my days at the store. But some days I spend completely behind a computer answering emails and other days I’m behind a camera or art directing for a photoshoot.

It’s funny how little of my time actually gets delegated to designing shoes, but I do my best to be creative and to take ‘creative brainstorm days’ where I make sure to sit down, take a step back, and think about how to infuse a bit of whimsy and creativity into what I’m doing. 

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

It might sound a bit bleak, but after losing all of my personal possessions all at once, I’ve learned that it’s fairly simple to live without almost everything. I place the highest value on my relationships, and the people in my life that lift me up and have become my support system.

At the end of the day, my loving and supportive partner and my family are what can help me get through anything.

Image courtesy of Casey