Get to Know: Jayma Cardoso – the Brazilian-Bred Self-Made Queen of the Cultural Cool Factor

These days, the word “self-starter” or “self-made” has taken on a slightly different meaning. However, I feel its definition still holds true: “a person who is sufficiently motivated or ambitious to start a new career or business or to pursue further education without the help of others.”

Jayma Cardoso, the Brazilian born and bred Biology major is, to us, a prime example of a true self-starter who has used her ambition and passion to pursue a path far from what she was familiar with at the time. After moving to Newark from Curitiba, Brazil with her mother to enroll at Fordham University, Jayma was looking for ways to pay for her college tuition. So, just like all true trailblazers, she put herself to work and became a part-time hostess at a swank Soho restaurant. From there, she became a cocktail waitress at Lotus, a nightclub in the meatpacking district where she met bartender, Jamie Mulholland, and realized there was a hole in the nightlife market that they could fill… and fill it they have.

With some of the best and well-known social and nightlife spots to hit Manhattan and beyond in many years (Goldbar, CAIN, Lavo, and of course, The Surf Lodge) Jayma has become THE queen of cultural cool and we have her grit, grace, kindness, and savviness to thank.

We get personal with this badass woman and with every response, our respect for her grows deeper. Read on below to get inspired by this woman we love and admire.

Plus! Find our her style picks in our interview with her HERE!


The Tidalist: Can you tell us about yourself? Where did you grow up and how did you end up in NYC?
JC: I grew up in Curitiba, Brazil. I came to New York to study Biology but I'm Brazilian... so, my heart I guess was designed for hospitality.

TT: When you look for potential partners/employees (and vice versa), what would be the most important thing you would look for?
JC: I think most important is to find partners and employees that naturally fit with whatever experience I'm trying to curate. For me, I'm about making and having guests active participants in creating "wow! memories". So, I guess I'm looking for "wow!"

TT: You are such an inspirational businesswoman to both females and males. Is there a particular experience you went through or piece of advice that you received that has served as a strong motivator for your admirable work-ethic? What about your ability to balance your work and personal life so well–what helped you accomplish that?
JC: I've had so many mentors who I feel blessed to call friends. It doesn't matter if it was Rocco Ancarola, Jason Strauss, Noah Tepperberg (so many other people) but I assure you they all had no problem rolling up their sleeves and outworking everyone around them. There is no advice, there is just "Do" as hard work is the key to success. In regards to personal life, it's about prioritizing. I feel bless to have had a baby. It really helped me evaluate what was really important in my life and organizing myself so I could spend more quality time with Family and Friends.


What is it about New York that you love the most? Where is another place you feel most at-home?
JC: I really love the energy of New York. There are people from all over the world here in NYC to accomplish their dreams. You can feel it and it's inspiring. But to be honest, I always feel at home in Montauk. It reminds me of Brazil and the beach towns I grew up in.

What would you say is something most people don’t know about you?
JC: I'm actually quite shy.

Your business ventures always perfectly meet the mark when it comes to giving people what they really want in the event/nightlife space. Are you working on any new projects? If so, can you give us a little taste of what is to come?
JC: I'm really working on expanding The Surf Lodge into different locations, but with it's own unique personality for each location. I can't say where yet, but it's in the works.


If you could tell your 25 year old self something, what would it be?
JC: It sounds trite... but follow your heart. Do things you love. No one regrets following their passions.

Dreams for the future?
JC: Calling Paris one of my homes. All in good time, I love New York and what I do... But I'd like to master speaking French and joie de vivre!