Even though she was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in several cities around the states, Joy Ruffen will tell you straight out that at her core she is a die heart New Yorker. As a Professional Speaker and Signature Style Specialist, Joy has channeled her passion for fashion and a desire to help women feel their best into a special and unique business several years in the making. What initially started as a hobby has turned into a full-fledged business empowering women to pursue their dreams and accomplish their goals. Ruffen shared the story behind her entrepreneurial journey and how time spent volunteering with young juvenile girls has impacted her business and plans for the future.
“All of my work started in Manhattan,” Ruffen said. “Before moving to Port Saint Lucie in 2000, I spent time in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. When my husband and I moved to Florida, I originally thought we might retire together; however, I still had too much energy and drive and wanted to continue to be impactful in the community. That’s when I started volunteering with young girls. I also spent time as an interior designer for a large furniture store. During my time volunteering, I realized there was a need for women to improve themselves. That’s when I started putzing around on the computer and looked into starting a business.”
Ruffen established her business and began meeting and greeting, networking and telling as many people as possible about her new venture. As she explained, the biggest challenge with gaining traction wasn’t internal – it was working with women to allow them to see things differently. Joy is a big believer in women blending the old with the new and adhering to the true essence of femininity and their innate heart-centered power.
“It’s hard for some women to open their minds and to really see and feel how they can do better,” she said. “I’ve gotten through to them via my speaking and by using my background in fashion. I tell everyone that it’s never really about fashion. Fashion is fickle. I focus on getting to the core of what works best for each woman I work with. I’m interested in the woman that wants elegance and class and who knows her presence is strong and commanding.”
Ruffen has reached her target market through a variety of ways including, webinars, seminars, interviews and a live streaming show called Leading Ladies Leaving Legacies, where she interviews and features ladies that have gone through internal and external transformations. Topics include empowerment and signature style. Along the way, she’s also made changes to her title that have impacted how she identifies herself and who she works with.
“I started out by labeling myself as an ‘Image Consultant’,” Ruffen said. “However, I observed that with most women, that wasn’t what was needed. After meeting a woman who spent time with a stylist and spent a lot of money, but then discovered that most of the stuff didn’t really fit her style, it changed things for me. Now I call myself a ‘Signature Style Specialist’. I help women that want to be real and authentic with themselves find what fits them the best and what showcases who they are as an individual. Almost all women love fashion, my assignment is to get them inline and in tune with their bodies and lifestyles. It’s about finding a style that projects them in the best light.”
Looking ahead, Ruffen is focused on meeting and helping more women in their “second act” and those smart enough to know that something is missing, helping them to find their style and empower their confidence and presence. Long-term, Ruffen would like to open an after-school center dedicated to helping young ladies with etiquette, manners, and grooming. She envisions a blend of “the old and the new” to develop girls and help them discover their talents and identify their goals.
What advice does Ruffen have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Contingent upon the type of business you want to start, align yourself with the people who are doing what you want to do as much as possible,” she said. “Get into their tribe and understand what they’re doing and then develop a plan of action. Also, know your strengths and, maybe above that, know your weaknesses. I’ve discovered weaknesses of mine, such as computers, that I wish I would have known about earlier. Lastly, find people to help support those weak points.”