Meet The FW17 #HoughtonGirls | Cyndi Ramirez

February 22, 2017

Meet The FW17 #HoughtonGirls | Cyndi Ramirez

Meet Cyndi Ramirez below, one of the inspirational women featured in the film, as she speaks candidly to Katharine and opens up about education, confidence and starting your own business.

Cyndi Ramirez The Houghton Girl

Cyndi: "I run a website called Taste The Style, an editorial website, which talks about all sorts of stuff life style, we feature amazing women and we talk about style, beauty, home and travel. Additionally I’m also the first lady of Den Hospitality, my husband and I own three bars and one restaurant with partners and I have a really exciting project on the way actually."

Katharine: "Whats the story with Den Hospitality and what's it like to be the only woman involved in that team?"

Cyndi: "My husband was working  on opening up the bars when we were dating, and I was like how can I help? So I just kind of  started getting involved in however I could and was handling a little bit with the brand direction, figuring out what our identity was, and from there it kind of turned into the only female role in the business and being that voice within the company, helping the guys get that female touch. We’ve been at it for three years now, we have two Garrets- one in the West Village and one in the East Village, and then we have a bar in Jersey City called Dull Boy which was actually recently named one of the best bars in America by Esquire. Super exciting! Everyone always talks about the Garrets and I’m like I love our Jersey City bar, it’s pretty special. And then we have a hidden restaurant through the Garret East and that’s a secret restaurant. It’s super special, cozy and warm.

"I’ve worked in hospitality for over 12 years and I mean the sexism in that space is just tremendous. It’s a little nerve racking not really knowing who everyone involved is gonna be, but the other day everyone who came on board were really awesome human beings. I never felt like my voice would ever get shut down, or like my opinion doesn’t matter, and I think my opinion is one of the strongest of the bunch you know, so they’ve been great. I know I may sound like I’m sugarcoating something, but honestly this in comparison to all the shit I’ve dealt with in the past, it’s been a really really great experience and I think because I’ve been in the industry for so long, they value my opinions and they know that I have the experience to back it up even though I never even realized I did."

Katharine: "Tell me a little bit about how you got into nightlife and how that affected your schooling."

Cyndi: "So I was kind of a lost teen. I mean me and my girlfriends would get into so much trouble, like the biggest trouble makers! Our poor mothers, all of us had single mothers basically, and it was like our core group of girlfriends and I think just having grown up in Queens with girls who were equally as crazy as I was, I kept that going even when I moved to Manhattan .I moved to Manhattan when I was 17, I would just commute back and forth from Queens to the city in my senior year, I didn’t know where I was gonna go to school I just knew I wanted to stay in the city and I was just kind of like okay fashion is my thing- that’s what I’m gonna do. But I had no real guideline to what was that gonna be. I only worked in retail, in Queens but kind of grew up acting and modeling. I was a child model, all my teen years, who the hell knows what they’re gonna be when they’re super young, all I know is that I really enjoyed partying and I really loved Manhattan. I was like basically I’m just gonna go to school and at the same time I was starting to work for this club promoter... it was the craziest job ever actually, I was 17 years old! I wasn’t even allowed to be in the nightclubs right? I mean I was 17, I was partying in the city too way before so I was kind of used to it, it's kind of wild."

"My job for him was to basically collect emails from girls in the bathroom and just be friends with them and then the next day we would call them and bring them in. That’s what I was doing when I was 17 and then I was like all right what’s next? I started hostessing at Tao back when it was super hot blah blah... and at the same time I was going to college and I kept missing classes because I could not stay out of trouble when I was partying every night. At one point it was going to be my 4th absence, I was obviously not doing too well, and I basically allowed myself to fail out. Fast forward 2 years later and I was doing the same shit, bartending you know, and I was like okay I have to go back to school, what’s my goal here? So I basically begged them to let me back into school and they let me back in, which I thought was really nice of them and I just fucked it all up again. I just could not fully stay out of trouble. And yeah I basically flanked out twice."

"I mean I think I really never coped with my feelings about that, because I always maintained the social life that prevented me from addressing these kind of issues and I kind of self sabotaged all that but at some point I was like something's gotta give. So fast forward many years, I was still doing the same shit and I was like I have to do something about this what am I gonna do? And that’s the time I started dating my husband again. He was obviously influential on how I got my shit together. Really. I think we both helped each other out in different ways, he was way more disciplined than I was, he kind of helped me have a better focus on reality. And the reality was that I needed to figure out what I was doing with my life."

"Not having that diploma and knowing how irresponsible I was during that time period really played into a ton of my insecurities. I still didn’t know my place in fashion world, I knew I didn’t want to be in corporate America either. I didn’t like the idea of going to 59th St. working in a stale corporate environment, like this wasn’t for me..."

"I was lucky enough I found this very interesting looking internship and she hired me full time.  I helped her kind of grow that business, I helped her maintain it. I did  everything across the board- helping people with their business plans, running social media, putting on monthly meet-ups with 150 attendees. I was consulting, telling entrepreneurs, like these Harvard graduates how to run their businesses and there was a point when I thought what am I doing? I don’t compare education wise to some of these people... who am I to tell you?  But I started to kind of realize the more face time I had with these different entrepreneurs, the more I found I knew about the industry, and I did have a lot of clout in the space. So I think that job was  the beginning of everything, it helped me form the confidence that I was lacking."

Katharine: "It obviously gave you confidence. We feel like a fraud until we come to a realization that everyone feels that way..."

Cyndi: "Yeah I think that we all do, I think everybody has that same feeling until you make it, it’s supposed to feel like that.We're in an age where social media obviously plays into your life and the perception of your life is almost more important than the actual life you live- and thats kinda scary. You're always comparing yourself to someone else, I mean I try not to, I think we all try not to... but even the most prepared educated people with the best talent are kind of measuring themselves against somebody else. I'm just lucky that I think I've gotten past the point where I don't have to feel bad about my lack of education or experience, I've carved a space for myself and I built this platform. I'm proud of what I've accomplished but I don't think I'll ever fully feel like I've made it. I don't ever stop innovating and producing so in that sense it's kind or hard to feel that you've made it... right?"

Cyndi Ramirez The Houghton Girl

Katharine: "What insecurities do you have now?"

Cyndi: "As a publisher, constantly worrying that your content isn’t strong enough, writing isn’t good enough... I’m not a journalist, got D's in English class... so I’m still very insecure about having typos. When you open up your platform for a bunch of contributors and writers, some of them which are really really strong writers, it’s a little scary. I’m like every day I feel like a fraud and I’m like I need to hire out  someone else to be editor-in-chief... like I can’t possibly give myself that title but like why the fuck not I mean I built this platform!

I’m an editor-in-chief and if there are typos then so be it you know? Hire a copy editor but maybe they don't have to take my title away from me. So learning how to embrace this, saying fuck it to the traditional titles and the traditional perceptions of what these roles and career paths are. This is what I deal with, every day, mentally."

Katharine: "Describe your self-confidence."

Cyndi: "Having a strong team behind you to support you really helps keep your confidence going and yeah there are times when I'm like what would happen if none of these people were around me? What would I be doing? I'm lucky enough to have my husband who has really made me feel confident in addition to peers supporting me, but I'm still working on what gives me that inner confidence where I don't need to hear validation from other people. I think it will stem from years of experience, from having gone through ups and downs, and I'm still going through my ups and downs. I think going through the motions of knowing that its ok to fail is whats gonna make you confident."

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Katharine: "Why did you want to share your story and be a part of this project?"

Cyndi: "I wanted to do this film because I wanted to share and I think its important to be open about your insecurities and to put them out to the women that do kind of look up to us via social. We all go through growing pains and none of it goes away. You just have to learn with those insecurities and learn how to grab on and use them to your advantage. That's what I think I've done- any insecurity that played into me I said I'm just gonna take it and run wth it and push through. But it's not all driven by ambition but also a little bit of fear. And it's okay to be scared if it means that you are going to do something very special with that fear."