Jennifer Gefsky and Niccole Kroll wanted to rewrite an old story. You know the one.
impressive woman wants to re-enter the workforce—she’s well-educated, previously
successful, and, well, basically a wonder woman—but she couldn’t get a job," says Gefsky, who with business partner Kroll created Après, a digital recruiting platform for women looking to restart their careers.
"We understood this woman, because she was a lot like us," continues Gefsky, pictured above left, who has three children. She and Kroll, who has four kids, took time out from their own careers—as VP and deputy general counsel for Major League Baseball, and a registered dietician, respectively—to focus on their families. From that, they recognized a need to connect women to companies who wanted to hire female talent—full-time, part-time, for maternity fill-in positions and more.
And in July 2015, the idea for Après was born. The platform, whose name means "after" in French, launches May 4. Gefsky and Kroll talked to mom.me about what moms generally take for granted on their résumés, how the entrepreneurs teach their kids about "girl power" and what advice they'd give their younger selves.
Your business is powered by
women. What are some ways you're teaching your kids about "girl power"?
Jennifer Gefsky: We have an entire section on the site dedicated to
girls/young women called “Inspiring Our Girls” because we believe so strongly
in helping women give positive messages to their daughters. One of our recent newsletters featured a piece we both
love about how we, as grown women, have to learn the same lessons we teach our
girls about self-confidence and taking risks. One of the best ways to teach
girls about “girl power” is by example.
We started a company because we saw a need in the market, and our
daughters have enjoyed being a part of this journey with us!
Niccole Kroll: I think by modeling behavior our
daughters and sons recognize that it’s empowering when a woman owns the
decisions about her career and family life.
I recently asked my 11-year-old son what he would look for in a spouse,
and he said: “Smart with her choices and cares about working hard, whether it’s
for her family or for a company.” I
think it’s just as important to educate our boys about female empowerment.
think it’s just as important to educate our boys about female empowerment. —Niccole Kroll
Describe the moment when you
first felt successful.
JG: In terms of my career, I felt incredibly successful when I
received my first “offer letter” while I was still in law school! I felt like, “I did it!”
NK: Success is a tricky word. I fear success because it can indicate that a
goal has been achieved. I tend to always move the goal post. I prefer small wins. My first professional small win was landing a
summer job at a local coffee shop before I ever made a cup of coffee—let alone
What's your advice for moms
who are looking to get back into the workforce?
JG: We have plenty of advice, which is why we created the
"Inspire" section of Après, where we highlight all of our original content. If I had to summarize some of the best
advice, it would be: believe in yourself; know you’re not alone; don’t be
afraid to tap into your personal networks; and understand that re-entering the
workforce is a journey. Oh, and most
important, don’t be afraid to fail.
What sacrifices have you made
as a mom and an entrepreneur to keep everything in balance?
JG: It certainly is an adjustment for the entire family when
the “mom” re-enters the workforce or starts a new business. For me, it was all about prioritizing and
learning to not be so hard on myself when things aren’t “perfect.” It’s OK if everything doesn’t run according
to a well-designed plan—the world will continue to spin.
NK: This last year has been challenging in
terms of taking care of myself. I have
worked hard to take care of my family, my business and my philanthropic
obligations. But this specific
challenge is temporary, and I recognize that this coming year will be about
finding internal balance.
If I had to summarize some of the best
advice, it would be: believe in yourself. —Jennifer Gefsky
What are your goals for your
first year of business?
JG: We have worked incredibly hard the past year getting ready
to launch Après and are really excited that the fun part is getting
underway. Our goal is to reach as many
women looking to re-enter the workforce as possible and help them find
jobs! We also want to continue to grow
our corporate partner community.
NK: We want to listen and learn from our
community of women as well as from our corporate partners and make business
What surprised you most when
you were coming up with your business or business plan?
JG: I think it’s surprising to learn that nothing is
easy. Everything is a challenge,
especially when you’re doing it for the first time. But perseverance is key—you have to just
keep forging ahead!
What qualities do you find
moms take for granted when they're drafting their résumés?
JG: I think moms have incredible qualities that actually
translate really well to the workplace—
the ability to handle pressure and stress, the skills of listening,
having patience, encouraging others and building a team. Women re-entering the workforce are also so
re-energized about working! Employers
love these qualities.
NK: Their ability to navigate through all the
BS. Moms have this ability to stay laser-focused on what’s important in order to move the ball forward. That translates beautifully to the
What would you say are the
most important skills and experiences you've brought from previous positions
to your current post?
JG: As a lawyer, I spent a significant amount of time writing,
and that’s a skill I use every day. Also,
I tap into the experience I had building a team, supporting co-workers and
listening to colleagues.
NK: I am a serial entrepreneur, a big-picture
thinker, a problem-solver and I tend to think outside the box. I tap into these qualities on a regular basis
while launching and running our new company with my business partner Jen, who
complements my skills beautifully!
What advice would you give
your younger self—experienced businesswoman to rookie businesswoman?
JG: Wow! How much time
do we have? There’s quite a bit of
advice I would love to give my younger self.
Here are the biggies: Don’t be
afraid to ask for what you want. Don’t back down. Stand up for what you believe
in. Be a mentor. And, most important, take care of and be kind
NK: Don’t just hear what the other person is
saying—listen. Then make an educated
decision when the time comes. Know how
and when to speak up. Sometimes simply listening is more valuable. Don’t let competition be discouraging. Let it