Becca Goldberg has never been keen on the word “No.” Not in college, where she invented her own major. Not in romance, where she handed her phone number to a guy she met at summer camp, who now plays the role of husband, top chef and Dad to their two young children. And not in business, where she waded into a city running amok in graphic designers and started her own firm – at the ripe old age of 22.
Despite her plucky insouciance, do not be fooled into thinking Ms. Goldberg, the founder of Suite Paperie, had it easy. “My first job out of school sucked the life out of me,” she said. The hint that she might want to go entrepreneurial? “Nothing specific,” she recalls. “Except when my art director ripped up my work in front of me. I sat down and cried!”
Exhausted from four years of college graphic design classes and a career that was shaping up in front of a screen, she took a stab at flowers, working at a florist in Harlem. “I killed everything I touched,” she said. “One night they let me take care of the hydrangeas and lock up for the night. The next morning they were all dead. I still don’t know what I did wrong.”
It was then that she decided to grow her side hustle, which was designing and producing high-end wedding and bar/bat mitzvah invitations. Through referrals, 20-hour days and sheer determination she got through her first full season and decided to go out on a limb and hang her own shingle. “Making your mark in New York City as a 23-year old know-nothing is not easy,” she said. “My first real office was a gorgeous Tribeca studio with floor to ceiling windows and cockroaches. Lots of cockroaches!” Still, she persevered. Her A-ha moment was the realization that her studio was not in her home and she had a full-time employee. “We were busy. And then I started bringing in corporate work. And I haven’t looked back since.”
Today, thanks to a booming business and two young kids, Goldberg has moved her home and her studio to suburban New Jersey, where she operates out of a converted warehouse attached to a neighborhood theatre. She employs a junior designer, a freelance production person, and two interns from the local community college. She toggles between a lively luxury paper design business and a burgeoning corporate clientele. “Corporate can lock you into a color palate or brand look that is already developed. You can’t really stray far, but it sure pushes your creativity. Weddings, on the other hand, are a major life event. The client is going to strangle you, chew you out, cry like a baby and then hug you because the emotions are running so high.” Does Goldberg have a preference? “Depends on the day,” she replied. “On a Monday morning when you have 800 invitations going out the door for three different events, corporate looks pretty darned good.”
Goldberg, whose card reads GIRLBOSS/DESIGNER, only gets to work at her business a mere 12-14 hours a day, because she is hellbent on being a hands-on mother to daughter Layla, aged 5 and son Ozzie, aged 2. “I have eight hours a day to kill it, then I have to go home and become Mom. My husband is an amazing chef, so I get to feed the kids, bathe them, play checkers, have a dance party and try not to go too crazy ignoring my emails.”
After the children have been coaxed to sleep, her husband Ian, who also goes to an office job, in finance, in New Jersey, has ownership for dinner on the table by 8 or 8:30 p.m. Despite the rigors of a two-career family, it is a mostly regular occurrence. “We have a drink or glass of wine, and a good catch-up on the day,” says Goldberg. “Then I work until 11:30. That’s my time for design work, proposals and catching up on emails.” Until it starts up again the next morning, because Goldberg clearly has a hunger for her business and the customer almost never waits.
Morning musts: Coffee, contact lenses and a good song.
Adult beverage of choice: Tequila on the rocks with a splash of lime and soda.
No. 1 thing husband does to support her: Cooks amazing food! His seared steak in a cast iron skillet and home-made creamed spinach are to die for.
If you were not an entrepreneur: Pediatrician. Except I never could actually be one because I’m petrified of blood and vomit.
Energy snack: Dark chocolate.
Go-to device besides your iPhone: Bluetooth Shower Speaker. I dance in the shower and sing. Really loud!
Spotify or iTunes: Spotify, but I also go for good vinyl. Kinda on a Joplin kick these days.
3 things that keep you sane: Yoga, yoga and spin.
Favorite New York City eaterie: Old Homestead steakhouse.
Next Great Escape: Tokyo. I’d leave this minute.
Person you’d most like to hang with at a bar: Jerry Seinfeld. If design and the doctor thing didn’t work out, standup comedy was next.
When you find time to cook, sweet or savory: Savory. I make a killer grilled cheese.
Becca’s Killer Grilled Cheese
1.) Go to pantry and grab bread. Standard split-top wheat or white.
2.) Open fridge for amazing Amish butter we got at the Allentown farmers market. We have four pounds of butter in parchment paper in the freezer.
3.) Slather both sides of both slices of bread with butter.
4.) Lay on 3 or 4 slices of American cheese in middle of sandwich.
5.) Fire up nonstick pan with a little more butter.
6.) Lay sandwich in on high heat for a minute.
7.) Turn heat down and put a lid on it. Wait. When it’s gooey and the cheese is oozing out the sides, game on. We’re a squares family. Triangles work, too.