Jane Hong is the CEO of Paintbox, a boutique nail studio on the Upper East Side in New York City and a direct-to-consumer proprietary nail polish line. She is also the mother of two.
If this past year was a color, I would say it’s red. Red is inciting. It can read as angry, but it is also motivational. I think red is how a lot of people are feeling right now, myself included. I feel its chaotic energy, but also its embers of potential.
Today, most of my professional life revolves around color, but I’ve always been aesthetically oriented in the broadest sense of the term. Growing up, I was a classically trained violinist and also a pretty talented drawer and painter. So, I think I’ve had an artistic inclination somewhere in me all along.
Despite my creative passion, I started my career in finance. I went to Princeton, where the career office shared a statistic at the time that something like 80% of all graduates went to Wall Street. The financial industry was booming, and type-A, hard-working masochists were willing to sign up for the 100+ hour weeks in order to get the proper "foundation" for their careers. I was one of those people, and I eventually took a job with Goldman Sachs. My timing wasn't the best – my start coincided with the ’08 financial crisis – but I learned so much in the first few years about grit, resilience, and hard work.
After I got my MBA from MIT in 2014, I moved into more creative industries, first with a job at the design-forward ad agency Huge Inc, and then at the luxury and antique marketplace 1stdibs. My creativity has served me well in business as it’s helped me come up with fresh ideas, different approaches to problem solving, and new revenue streams for a company like Paintbox.