EXCLUSIVE: Financial Fitness Is About to Become the Most Talked About Movement

With inflation a key topic in nearly every conversation of late, discussing personal (and professional) finances may be losing some of its stigma. And according to Daniella Pierson, founder and chief executive officer of The Newsette, and Kristin Lemkau, chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, it’s about time.

Talking about finances has typically been a bit gauche, both Pierson and Lemkau admitted in conversation with WWD.  The duo’s partnership, they said, was “accidental” starting with a meeting set up through mutual friends which turned into a full afternoon of brainstorming and bonding over shared experiences. “It was love at first sight,” Lemkau said of the meeting that turned into an instant connection.

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It’s hard to believe now that Pierson, who invested her first million dollars with J.P. Morgan at just 25 years old and has founded a handful of successful businesses, including The Newsette Media Group (valued at $200 million) and Wondermind (which raised capital at a $100 million pre-launch valuation), can point to a list of reasons why she “should never have been successful” and what makes her the “poster child for who not to invest in.” Named the youngest, wealthiest self-made BIPOC woman, she’s broken barriers and now she wants to help others do the same.

“I told Kristin I am starting a movement called ‘Be a Breadwinner’ where it is all about being your own breadwinner, whether that means making $50,000 a year, $500,000 a year or $500 million a year,” Pierson said. “What that really means is that money equals freedom. It’s been almost 10 years now for my business and I didn’t have a dollar amount I would say, but I always said I wanted to be free from any circumstance. I wanted to be free to do what I loved every day.”

Acknowledging the many organizations that have put forth initiatives, especially during Women’s Month, Pierson and Lemkau said their motivation for starting Be a Breadwinner comes from the belief that “it’s the right thing to do.” The movement will promote a world where financial health is seen as a daily practice just like fitness, where men and women everywhere can learn to make it a daily priority.

“It’s not about how many users we are going to acquire, it’s about sharing this [amazing] message,” Pierson said. “For the first month, it was just Kristin and I working on the project and it’s truly a passion project that became Be a Breadwinner.”

Daniella Pierson, founder and chief executive officer of The Newsette, and Kristin Lemkau, chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan Wealth Management.
Daniella Pierson, founder and chief executive officer of The Newsette, and Kristin Lemkau, chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan Wealth Management.

“Daniella brought to life an idea that I’ve had for a long time and have tried to build my business around, which is that for people in general, but women in particular, they aren’t even sure what they want,” Lemkau said. “If you ask them in conversation about goals, the thing that they want, you have to have a plan to do that. We’ve invested a lot in making sure that our business is planning-focused, not just investing-focused and you have to earn the money to get there. The ability to earn your own money will give you more freedom than any other option that you can have. We all have personal stories. I have a personal story and I love my job. It enabled me to marry the man I love, not just the rich guy which I saw a lot of my friends do and regret. [People] need to understand that if you want to own your future, you have to have your own income stream because that’s what’s going to help you define your dream.”

Notably, while the timing of the Be a Breadwinner launch is tied to Women’s Month, Pierson and Lemkau agreed that their message is truly for both genders — a mindset for all. The Be a Breadwinner movement will offer a variety of resources to both inspire and direct action.

To formally launch, Pierson and Lemkau will cohost the Be Your Own Breadwinner Summit held at J.P. Morgan’s headquarters in New York City on March 20. Programming for the event has been curated to inspire and educate attendees to build their own financial future and freedom. Speakers will include Diane von Furstenberg, poet Rupi Kaur, Danielle DuBoise, cofounder of Sakara Life, and Lo Bosworth, founder of Love Wellness.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to win prizes in the form of mentorship sessions with industry leaders including Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA, Diane von Furstenberg and Katie Couric, among others.

Following the event, the Breadwinner newsletter will continue the movement by providing inspirational, informative and actionable content as a daily guide to building a financial future and freedom with exclusive interviews with notable breadwinners.

The magic of Be a Breadwinner agreed Pierson and Lemkau, is that it gives people actionable means to make plans for financial health and the resources to do just that. J.P. Morgan Wealth Management’s team has committed significant resources to helping people reach their goals and developing plans. Chase customers have access to the company’s ‘wealth plan’ product through the app where they can develop goals, get an asset allocation simulation and even meet with J.P. Morgan advisers.

“Investing is intimidating, achieving your goals is not and I believe that, and the research shows it,” Lemkau said. “We’ve been trying to find a way to make it sound sexy and so when Daniella came to me about Breadwinner, that to me was the glue between how you make defining a goal with ‘everyone needs a financial plan.’”

“It could not have been a better partnership because I’ve always said I hate inspirational quotes, and those things, but what is the actionable tool?” Pierson said. “At the Be Your Own Breadwinner event people won’t leave asking how they get to their goals, they’ll know it’s there for them.”

Looking ahead, Pierson told WWD that she looks forward to growing Be a Breadwinner into a financially focused lifestyle company. In addition to its newsletter, Pierson has plans to create a podcast series, ongoing events, a book and a venture fund.

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