This month we observe International Women's Day on March 8th and we would like to spotlight someone near and dear to us, our Vice President Jacky Clyman. Jacky is an inspiration to many that work at Cockpit USA and a role model to women who are veterans in the workforce as well as those starting their journey. We recently asked Jacky a couple of questions during her never ending day, and found her story to be one of passion, focus, and defiance.
Jacky Clyman is known to her family and colleagues not only as a devoted mother and EVP of Cockpit USA but most importantly a strong businesswoman who is a true force to be reckoned with. Prior to joining her husband’s vision of launching a brand that would replicate historical flight and military styles, Jacky worked as an Executive Director of Pro Musicis, a not-for profit foundation sponsoring outstanding classical soloists and bringing their talents to those who would have very little chance to hear them. “While I was working as the Executive Director of Pro Musicis, my husband Jeff decided to launch a brand that would recreate all of the iconic flight and military styles that were only available at that time in surplus stores. Remember that the A-2 jacket, for example, had not been issued since 1943. It was also during the turmoil of the Vietnam War, when Americans were feeling that the whole world thought poorly of them, that Jeff wanted to create “real American icons” and remember those who fought and wore these pieces. Thus was born the first mail order catalog for the brand”. Jacky decided to leave the non for profit world, joining forces with Jeff Clyman to fulfill their vision of what is now Cockpit USA, quoting that she would be the “administrative” arm of the business.
Jacky Clyman’s venture into the apparel business began out of passion for aviation. Being an “Air Force brat”, Jacky understood the pilot and military lifestyle that ultimately became the business module that is Cockpit USA. Throughout the years Jacky confronted challenges of being an entrepreneur, especially as a woman. “Learning how to work with foreign customers whose language I did not master was one of my fondest memories” said the multi-lingual woman who’s first job was as an interpreter for the U.S. State Department. “While in negotiations with a Japanese company for a whole day thinking we were on the verge of signing an agreement, only to realize that what I had been interpreting as acceptance of “terms” was just an acknowledgement that they had understood what I had been saying, not formally agreeing to it”. These are just some of experiences that shaped Jacky’s career.
For Jacky, the apparel business is no different than any other sector as it always involves politics and egos. “Telling men what to do especially when I was in my 30’s, realizing that a woman in a position of power was considered a ‘bitch on wheels’ while a man would simply be considered assertive” became one of the obstacles Jacky had to face in 42 years in the industry. According to Jacky through many changes have advanced women in the work place, the one thing that has not changed has been the perception of others while entering the room with Cockpit USA’s president Jeff Clyman; and still being considered the designer and not the administrative arm. Today Jacky remains a strong figure in the business aspects of Cockpit USA, providing her employees with support and feedback in design, sales, and marketing, as well as superb customer service. When asking Jacky what she would say to young women joining the workforce today she simply said “I wouldn’t just give advise to young women but to all women joining the business: it’s a tough business and a real roller coaster, so be prepared for it”.