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September 27 2016

Welcome to the Fit List, Tonia Steck, Founder of FO40.com

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Do moms really want to know what to wear on campus or get tips for rushing a sorority? Well, we kind of do , just so we can annoy you with our helpful advice! But seriously, we, and you, would much rather look at something else online. That is where the totally awesome, Tonia Steck comes in!  She knew there was a need for a virtual place to go for women past the college stage, but who were looking for amazing advice on the latest and greatest in fashion, fitness, food and more, and so FO40.com was born (P.S. We all need a velvet jacket this fall). Message to all aspiring entrepreneurs great ideas are born of identifying something you wish existed, and then making that thing a reality.
What inspired you to start FO40?

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been into fashion. Like boys with their baseball cards or sports posters, I remember having pictures of models taped all over my wall. Now, as an adult living in New York City, fashion, home décor, great restaurants, and memorable trips with my family are all a big part of my life. I somehow started to become a “go-to” resource for my friends when they needed a place to book for dinner, a cool hotel in the Caribbean, a hair stylist  you name it. I was a “connector,” but didn’t feel like there was a centralized place for all of this great information. I started following some fashion and lifestyle bloggers, and it was clear that most of them catered to a fairly young, mid-20’s audience. The approaching and over 40, upscale female demographic was very underserved and underrepresented.  




With some prodding from my husband to “give it a go”, I came up and trademarked the FO40 name, hired a web developer, and started to build a pipeline of pictures and stories that I wanted to feature. This was almost a year ago, and I’ve had content on my blog and social media for several months now.

What were you doing before you founded FO40? 

I have worked on Wall Street for 20 years and still do. FO40.com is a side/free-time venture, and I’m having quite a bit of fun with it.  

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What did you study in college?

I graduated from NYU’s Stern School where I studied Finance and International Business. I was always very driven, and I knew I was going from NYU to Wall Street. 

Is there anything you wish you did in college?

I wish I didn’t take myself so seriously! I worked 20+ hours a week while going to school so had to be pretty disciplined around my time. No regrets about my college years- NYU/Stern got me on a path I’m happy to be traveling. 

Do you hire interns?  What do you think makes a great intern?

In my professional life, absolutely. And at one point during college, I was the intern! So I think I have some perspective on both being a good intern as well as hiring good interns. The best interns are great listeners, follow directions, and can eventually anticipate the needs of their managers or mentors. While of course it’s important to be hard working and smart, of critical importance is an intern’s drive and adaptability.  A great intern is an almost extension of me. I hope to take on an intern at FO40 soon.

I’m thinking maybe social media should be the “no mom” zone.  What do you think?

Kids are going to be on social media, there really is no avoiding it anymore. It’s very important to have ongoing dialogue with your children about etiquette and “dos/don’ts” on SM. A post can be forever. There’s a saying on Wall Street – “Don’t write anything in an email that you wouldn’t want to see on the cover of the Wall Street Journal”.  

As for myself on social media, I find it’s a great way to connect and network, especially with people I don’t see or speak with regularly. It’s an easy way to stay in touch and know what people are up to, what interests them.

tonia6-credit-coverd-photo-jpgWhat do you think is a great must have piece for Fall for any age woman?

This season you need a velvet jacket in your wardrobe. Velvet is very hot this season, and adding a velvet jacket will elevate your look. So many different styles are available which can cater to different ages. Here is a recent post on my favorite fall trends!

How did you spread the word about your site?

I am using social media, word of mouth, and am also working with a PR agency. I am trying to tap into the “right” audience. It’s a work in progress, but I’m slowly getting there!  

What has the most challenging part been so far?

Time management. There is a lot that goes into the content I’m posting on FO40, and I am a bit of a perfectionist. Every interview or post takes time. Then there is photography, editing, and then upload of the actual story/posting. When I posted for the first time without the help of my web developer, I was practically in tears! Thankfully I’ve got the hang of it now. 

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What’s your message for aspiring entrepreneurs?  What do you wish you knew?

I think its really hard to go from an idea in your head to putting a plan in motion. I was scared about the time commitment, about “putting myself out there”, but I’m SO glad that I fought off these doubts and charged ahead.  As advice- just start. If your “to do” list has 98 items on it, circle 3, tackle them, and then take on the next 3. One foot in front of the other. Also, read a self help book. I read and re-read “You Are a Bad Ass” By Jen Sincero for some inspiration. Remember that every great company started as an idea. Look at Soul Cycle, which was an idea by two women who started with one cycling studio on Manhattan’s Upper West side. You’ll achieve nothing if you don’t try.  Having now taken FO40 from idea to reality, I see how passion plus hard work you can have yield results. It’s a great feeling! 

About She's Fit to Lead

She's Fit To Lead is a community for the next leaders of our generation. We believe the simple act of connecting with one another is a critical step in building confidence and a successful future. Our community connects young women at college campuses and starting careers across the country, challenging and empowering them to unlock their true potential. ABOUT SFTL

2 thoughts on “Welcome to the Fit List, Tonia Steck, Founder of FO40.com

  1. What an amazing post!
    Tonia Steck seems to have it all:

    Chicness
    Originality
    New York savy
    Class accompanied with “savor vivre”
    Stellar Intellengence
    Good common sense
    Know-how to the extreme
    Genuinely simplistic
    A “real” Mom,spouse&
    Career woman

    With all certainity, she is
    Fit to Lead

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