“5 things I wish someone told me before I became a CEO” with Nazlia Yunus
Your background does not define you, it is what you make of the situation that does. You can have all the resources in the world to succeed, but the factors that truly take you there depend on your mindset, determination and will power.
As a part of our series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nazlia Yunus. Nazlia is the founder and CEO of Chvker Jewelry, a jewelry brand that is loved by celebrities and Instagram influencers alike. Her jewelry has been worn by influential names such as; Ciera Ramirez, Alissa Violet, Erika Costell, and Bella Thorne. With zero experience and no funds she has been able to build a successful jewelry company all out of the passion that she has for her hobby.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is it about the position of CEO the most attracted you to it?
What attracted me the most about being a CEO is the fact that I can be my own boss and make my own rules. It is funny, I am actually not one to follow directions, I’ve always broken the rules. I kind of like things to be my way, and not even in a bratty type of sense. I think I am too independent to be a follower, I tend to think outside of the box and find solutions on my own.
Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO does. But in just a few words can you explain what a CEO does that is different from the responsibilities of the other executives?
CEOs handle pretty much everything! Everything you can think of from top to bottom. I handle all aspects of operations and oversee all employees in their tasks to ensure operations are smooth. Being a small business, I make all executive decisions no matter how big or how small.
What were your biggest struggles throughout your professional life and how did you overcome them?
Balancing college while growing a business is hands down one of the most challenging obstacles I have faced. I was constantly torn between the two– it was either focus on the business or focus on making good grades, but never both. I wanted both options to be a part of my future but every semester that went by showed me this wouldn’t be the outcome. I pulled through my studies until the day of graduation and now focus full time on the company.
What are the biggest challenges faced by women CEOs that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I definitely think that women are often underestimated and treated without the same level of authority and respect as men. Women are just as powerful, driven and talented as males…if not more! When a woman is in power, men feel as though the woman still has to prove her worthiness and earn their respect, but when a man is in power, they immediately get the respect they deserve.
What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being a CEO?
I absolutely love to make my own rules. I’ve worked in environments where bosses or coworkers were not so friendly and it made the work place a nightmare, so to be able to control that has been relieving. I want to create a fun work environment where my employees enjoy coming to work and I want to get work done without being scary or pushy. A safe and comfortable work environment aids in the success of my company overall.
What are the downsides of being a CEO?
The stress! I am not a person that handles stress very well, I stress over even the tiniest details and it takes a toll on me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I am always so surprised and in awe when a celebrity or an influencer is interested in receiving my pieces. It’s such a gratifying moment to be recognized by such big names as an insanely small business. Such exposure can help immensely with growth! It sheds light that there is hope no matter how new or small your business is. Making those first couple of pieces in my dorm room after a $20 trip to the craft store, I never would have thought it would turn into an influencer-loved brand.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Figuring out shipping at the beginning was horrifying but hilarious when I look back at it. I stood in front of a self-service kiosk for at least 30 minutes my first time trying to figure out which method of shipping and other details to select. Weeks later, those packages returned as I had chosen the wrong method of shipping and more postage was needed. I walk into the post office confidently now, and even offer help to those that have trouble at the kiosk. It’s tricky at the beginning but we all get the hang of it sooner than later.
Specifically, what is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
Honestly, I did not know what to expect starting a company out of my bedroom. I have to say it is much more difficult and stressful than I would have ever imagined. My work days are every single day at all hours of the day. I am working whether I am at a family event, a girl’s night out or even my own birthday! I would not have it any other way though, this lifestyle was meant for me.
Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be a CEO, what specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful CEO and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be a CEO?
A CEO to me is someone that is driven. I cannot imagine a CEO that isn’t willing to make sacrifices for success. A lot of time and care is required to manage a company, and a CEO needs to be able to put in effort at all times.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Be kind and fair to everyone, kindness goes a long way. Treat everyone with the same ounce of love and respect. Stay true to who you are and remain honest. Be positive and smile often, it is truly contagious! Encourage yourself and others, there is always room for improvement.
Who inspired/inspires you and why?
My mom all the way. She is a single mother that raised her three kids with absolutely nothing as an immigrant in this country. She’s overcome so many obstacles and made countless sacrifices to give us a better life. I have never met anyone that works as hard without a single excuse or complaints. She’s been so positive throughout so many ups and downs in life. She inspires me to be successful and remain positive no matter how difficult life may get.
Being first generation American, success is the only way to re-pay your parent(s) for the sacrifice they made to give you a better life. I work hard because she worked hard to give me an opportunity.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My boyfriend, Sean, has helped me in so many ways. I can’t image where I would be without him. He’s kept me sane all these years, throughout all the highs and lows. He has been my shoulder to cry on and someone to laugh with for hours. He provides the comfort and feeling of home I need to get my head back in the game when I’m feeling down. He’s reassured me time after time when I’ve had numerous doubts. None of this may be directly work related, however it is extremely important to take care of your mind, body and soul no matter what field of work you are in. Knowing he’s in my corner gives me a feeling of unconditional support that trickles down into everything I do.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I was taught to give back to those that are in need, even if you are in need yourself. I try to give back in any way possible because what goes around comes around! It’s super important that we take care of one another no matter how big or how small. Kindness is free to spread and you never know when someone is having a terrible day.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- I don’t know if it was just me who thought this, but life just makes it seem like those who come from better circumstances are more likely to succeed. You don’t need the most money or the best connections to make it somewhere. Coming from immigrant parents as a first generation American, I can say that this is not the case. Your background does not define you, it is what you make of the situation that does. You can have all the resources in the world to succeed, but the factors that truly take you there depend on your mindset, determination and will power.
- Not every day will be a good day! There are and will be plenty of ups and downs. Some days you may feel like quitting, but in the end, the results are always worth it.
- Patience is key; therefore, success does not happen overnight. It sounds cliché, but it’s the truest cliché you’ll ever hear. Success takes time and countless effort, it is something that is earned not given.
- Sacrifices will be made. I’ve lost many friends along the way because I didn’t have the time to spend with them anymore. Sometimes people don’t understand that you may have a hectic schedule and they just give up on you. Many nights I spent working alone while my peers enjoyed themselves. I didn’t get that typical college experience. I went to school and studied then worked during any spare time I had. I lost time and memories I won’t ever regain but it has made me stronger and showed me who is there at the end of the day.
- It is okay to take time out for yourself. Your mental health comes first always. Managing a company can be especially stressful sometimes, and its super important to take a break so that you don’t end up dreading work.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to inspire kindness in people. We need to realize that we are all the same, we all love and feel emotions the same. I don’t believe in hate– it is just so wasteful. Humans are such intelligent creatures, can you imagine what we could accomplish by helping each other, mother nature and animals alike? We should always spread love and offer a helping hand, it can go such a long way!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Dita Von Teese said “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” That quote really puts life into perspective. People will always talk no matter what you do or don’t do. Not everyone will like you. You can’t please everyone, someone will always have something negative to say. I’ve seen this happen to both myself and even my brand. You have to just move on and accept that, you can’t let negativity bring you down. As long as you like what you’re doing and it makes you happy without hurting others, then you might as well do what you want.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
I would love to have breakfast with Elon Musk! He’s such an innovative individual that has the potential to revolutionize our lifestyles through technology. He is such an intriguing person, any conversation with him would be absolutely fascinating! People like him only come around once in a lifetime