Fly Female Entrepreneurs
Fly Female Entrepreneur
Jai Jai Greenfield: Nectar
With the energy of a 20-year-old and the wisdom of a seasoned business woman, Jai Jai Greenfield, co-owner of Harlem’s hot spot, Nectar, makes fly female entrepreneurship look like a walk in the park. The Memphis native, wife, and mother of two welcomed me to Nectar with a huge dose of Southern hospitality to chat about her transition out of Corporate America, balancing career with family, and the importance of Harlem’s re-education. Here’s where the conversation went:
In Her Shoes: You left your job as a trader with Morgan Stanley to focus solely on your two businesses, Nectar and Harlem Vintage. Describe to us how you felt on your first day as a full-time entrepreneur.
Jai Jai: Being in the store for the first time without the safety net of a paycheck every 1st and 15th was scary. When you’re the employer, it’s a completely different ball game. I had to get comfortable playing several roles, making deliveries, helping guests and simply put – doing whatever the business needs.
In Her Shoes: Located in the heart of Harlem, Nectar is nestled in a community rich with culture. How has the neighborhood responded to new businesses like Nectar that are changing the face of Harlem as we know it?
Jai Jai: For the most part we’ve been embraced throughout. We opened our first business (Harlem Vintage) in 2004 so the launch of Nectar doesn’t seem as brazen. There are so many other amazing lifestyle businesses in the area now.
When Harlem Vintage was new we had a few people in the community who thought we were only here because of the new condos and developments popping up in the neighborhood. No, I’m doing it because I have history in this community. My grandmother lived here and my father was raised here so I know Harlem and created Nectar for everyone! The changes taking place in Harlem have sparked a re-education on everyone’s part – those who lived here previously and those who are new to the area. Harlem, just like any other neighborhood, can and should have retail environments like this.
In Her Shoes: What’s your current favorite food and wine pairing?
Jai Jai: My preferences change frequently. Wine is as much about food as it is about season and mood. This trio sets the stage for what I’m going to have. I really don’t have a favorite and that’s the beauty of wine. I go through phases so right now I’m really into Italian wine – whites and reds.
In Her Shoes: Tell us what a day is like in Jai Jai Greenfield’s shoes.
Jai Jai: As you can imagine, with two children I’m never going to have a “typical” day but there is a pattern. I go to bed between 1 and 3 a.m. every night and wake up around 7 each morning. I get some quiet time with my four-month-old as I nurse him then I get the three-year-old ready for my husband to take to school. I get anywhere from one to three hours of paperwork, emails, and phone calls in then I’m off to meetings, lunches and back to the store. I don’t have a set schedule but in the new year I’m trying to be more purposeful with my time, realizing that everyone’s time is precious.
In Her Shoes: What has been your biggest challenge in this business venture and how did you overcome it?
Jai Jai: There was a four year lapse between the openings of Harlem Vintage and Nectar. Our biggest mistake was thinking that wine is wine whether you’re buying it for home from Harlem Vintage or drinking it here at Nectar. What we learned early on is that Nectar is a completely different animal. There are so many different issues to consider when running a restaurant vs. running a retail store. We’re aware of our customer’s special needs and overall people dynamics – both staff and clientele. We have to balance all of these factors daily to run a successful business.
Jai Jai Greenfield and business partner, Eric Woods
In Her Shoes: How do you keep up with the ever-changing wine trends?
Jai Jai: I read the trades a lot, continually taste wine, and study it. Interaction with our distributors is also very helpful in keeping up with industry trends.
In Her Shoes: If you could sit down and share a bottle of wine with any celebrity or public figure (past or present), who would it be?
Jai Jai: It would have to be Oprah Winfrey. In high school I was voted most likely to have my own talk show. I’ve always admired Oprah, she’s such a dynamic lady. We would definitely share a bottle of champagne – it goes with everything or with nothing at all!
Jai Jai Greenfield from Renae Bluitt on Vimeo.
In Her Shoes: What words of wisdom would you share with an aspiring entrepreneur ready to follow in your footsteps?
Jai Jai: Whatever your venture is be prepared for almost every aspect of it to take longer than you expected. Know that it will also cost much more than what you anticipated. It always does!
In Her Shoes: What’s next for Nectar?
Jai Jai: This summer we’ll be offering outdoor sitting so we’re excited about that. We look forward to accommodating more guests and taking the Nectar vibe outdoors!
Ready for your Nectar fix? Visit www.nectarwinenyc.com for additional information including store hours and location.