Meet Rae Bellefountaine: Turning Bright Ideas into Brilliant Realities

Rae Bellefountaine

BusinessValkyrie Design


 

What is at the heart of your business?

My business has two hearts, like a timelord! First, I offer design and branding service for businesses that are creative, progressive or spiritual. I’m pro small business and anti big business and I like to work with people who think outside the box. Secondly, I want to start a non profit that makes building a business more accessible to autistic and neurodivergent individuals by creating support groups, networks, programs and events that help give them the ability to turn their bright ideas into brilliant realities. Right now it’s just a Facebook group but I want it to be so much more!

 

Why did you join a women’s coworking and wellness community?

What does thriving look like to you?

Having the freedom to travel and be financially independent, and to be able to fund my non profit and creative projects. I don’t want to be rich but I do want to have the option to be location independent and I don’t have that as a person on disability support. (We can have a whole conversation on that sometime, if you are ever up for it!)

 

 

Shecosystem’s core values are openness, community, collaboration, accessibility, sustainability, feminism, and wellness. Which of these resonates most with you and why?

Absolutely all of them resonate with me.

 

What do you wish to give and/or receive from this community?

Looking for support, friendship, collaboration, feedback and advice. Doing this alone was stressful, depressing and isolating. I can offer much of the same, especially when it comes to branding, graphics and websites. I also love to give hugs!

 

Tell us one way you integrate self-care into your working life: 

Walking everywhere when possible! In the summer I want to be able to walk from home to work everyday.

 

What’s your top piece of advice for other women entrepreneurs?

Don’t do it alone, even if you are solopreneur. Establishing an understanding support network and finding mentorship and guidance is crucial for the well being of anyone trying to pave their own way in the world.

 

Anything else we should know about you?
I’m awkward but friendly! My face defaults in a way that looks like I’m frowning but don’t let that fool you. I’m very approachable and love to make friends!

 

CONNECT WITH RAE!

Website: Valkyrie Design

Twitter: ValDesignHQ

LinkedIn: Rae Bellefountaine

Making magic with The Coven

Shecosystem thrives on diversity and interdependence, and we live these values in the way Shecosystem is managed. Last fall we welcomed seven women on board as part of our Energy Exchange program – otherwise known as The Coven – to help make Shecosystem’s voice, vision, and vibe a truly co-creative offering
The Coven members are making Shecosystem their home base for the next few months, using their professional expertise to further Shecosystem’s mission and foster a comfortable, productive and welcoming space for our community.  

 

We’re gathering around the cauldron and making some magic…meet the West End Witches who are part of this year’s Shecosystem Coven!


 

 Erin Conway is a freelance producer, community builder and philanthropist. Until recently she spent 9 years as the General Manager of The Second City Training Centre, the largest school of improvisation and sketch comedy in the country.  Erin is also the Executive Director of The Big City Improv Festival in Toronto.

Erin is Shecosystem’s Program Coordinator and oversees the Coven. She also hosts our monthly Improv for Entrepreneurs workshops, bringing in the city’s best improvisors to teach us how to say “Yes, and…” in business. She is empowered by seeing women pushing themselves out of their comfort zones at Shecosystem and inspiring change.


 

 Leyla Razeghi is a consultant, trainer and speaker who has worked with both Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. She helps conscious businesses build plans for sustainable growth that are grounded in strong foundations – check her out at Leyla Razeghi Business Strategist

With her years of expertise, she helps out with Marketing and Business Development, helping us build a financially sustainable business while keeping our pricing accessible. She loves that Shecosystem allows her to be productive while having a true work-life balance and having meaningful conversations.

 


 

Annisha Lashand is an accomplished writer, brand builder and content strategist for startups in tech, travel and lifestyle. Annisha’s words can also be found on Electrify Mag, LiveFAST Mag, Toronto Life, The Culture Trip, Darling Magazine and more – check her out here! Like a house cat, you’ll usually find her in the sunniest spot in the room. 

 Annisha acts as the Coven’s Social Media Coordinator, creating  beautiful content that helps us tell the story of Shecosystem and our members.

 


 

 Tasha Jade Banate is one of our three Directors of First Impressions, bringing her friendly healing vibes to the space with creative Opening and Closing Circles and BS-free card readings.

She and Annie work together on our monthly Red Tent women’s circles, and she’s got some exciting event plans coming up for 2018! 

When she’s not helping out as part of the Coven, Tasha is a Professional Noise Witch at Daily Magic, specializing in energy work and sound healing. She works with clients through holistically-minded music lessons and mentorship to awaken the magic within.  Her favourite thing about the Coven is getting to meet the empowering and inspiring women in our community!

 


 

 Lindsay Johnson is another one of our Directors of First Impressions, and she’s got a helpful connection for literally everyone who walks through the door! She is the Radical Connector: an entrepreneur and networking coach has spent 20 years in marketing, sales, and leadership  development roles as well as facilitating professional and personal development workshops.

Lindsay coordinates our monthly Potluck & Perspectives event and hosts several of her own groups here on the regular, including her Use Your Words Content Collective meetup.

She has trained teams, coached individuals, developed sales and training systems and travelled all over North America to work with hundreds of people of all levels.

 


 

 Annie Matan is the Founder and Spiritual Leader of Matanot Lev (Gifts of the Heart), Jewish community in Downtown Toronto. Annie specializes in creating and facilitating meaningful Jewish experiences for people of all backgrounds for life spiral transitions, in workshops and in Shabbat and holiday unservices. 

She is one of our Directors of First Impressions, and her Opening and Closing circles – often involving soulful chanting, candles, and deep intention – are always an uplifting, sacred break in the midst of a mundane workday.  

Her favourite thing about Shecosystem is that she feels free to show up as her whole self in community with others who show up fully too – with our joys, our grief, our complications, our yearnings and our goofiness! Annie says, “This is the sisterhood and community model I have longed for and until now didn’t believe could really exist!”


 

Marla Raymundo is an intern at Shecosystem, as part of a University of Toronto co-op placement. When she’s not here, she’s studying Women and Gender studies, Diaspora and Transnational studies and Sociology at U of T.

Her favourite thing about Shecosystem and being a part of the Shecoven is being in a space which allows the feminine to thrive as well as being around positive, empowering and motivational women who pave their own way to success!

 


Meet Julia Petrisor: Awakening Change through Hypnosis

Julia Petrisor

Business: Hypnotist at BeLoved Minds Hypnosis


What is at the heart of your business?

Waking people up and helping them change through hypnosis

 

Why did you join a women’s coworking and wellness community?

I greatly value being in circle with women, and I am also a big proponent of wellness. The way Shecosystem is set up seemed like a natural fit. I also found that working on my own for the past few years as a freelance writer and editor left me a bit lonesome at times for real live community interaction.

 

What does thriving look like to you?

To me, thriving is when I am living in balance, giving more of myself and participating as deeply and fully in the human experience as possible.

 

Shecosystem’s core values are openness, community, collaboration, accessibility, sustainability, feminism, and wellness. Which of these resonates most with you and why?

Hard to pick just one! I’d say openness is quite key; I’m a fan of inclusion and breaking down barriers to separation.

 

What do you wish to give and/or receive from this community?

Positive energy and being clean and tidy are probably my best offerings! I’m also passionate about money and always open for frank conversations about money and how it affects our lives. I’m also hoping to pass on the power of hypnosis to people and offer illumination and education there.

 

Tell us one way you integrate self-care into your working life: 

Interestingly, I was once a pro at my self-care and had a solid and steady yoga and meditation practice. Once I began working remotely and freelancing, self-care went out the window. Now, it’s returning, and it involves self-hypnosis, a jade egg practice, and, more importantly, listening to the rhythms of my body so that I design every day to attune to my energy that day. I also always have several projects on the go, so instead of losing productive time if I stall on one thing, I can just move to another project for a while.

 

What’s your top piece of advice for other women entrepreneurs?

Face the fear and do it anyways! I’ve been terrified for months. 

 

Anything else we should know about you?
I’m a lot of fun and I’m always up for a good conversation!

 

CONNECT WITH JULIA!

Website:www.juliapetrisor.com


Meet Violeta Cobo: A healthy body in a healthy mind

Violeta Cobo

BusinessCommercial Manager at HealthTech IUNE


What is at the heart of your business?

Cervical Cancer Prevention Made Easy

 

Why did you join a women’s coworking and wellness community?

The level of empathy you can receive from a community of hard working women like me who face and overcome work challenges everyday in a world where women are still proving themselves equal to or wonderful male peers.

 

What does thriving look like to you?

Many things look thriving in my life. Singing on stage is thriving.

 

Shecosystem’s core values are openness, community, collaboration, accessibility, sustainability, feminism, and wellness. Which of these resonates most with you and why?

Openness, Community, Collaboration and Wellness

 

What do you wish to give and/or receive from this community?

Support, company and human contact.

 

Tell us one way you integrate self-care into your working life: 

I try to exercise almost every day of the week. Men sana in corpore sano- A healthy body in a healthy mind!

 

What’s your top piece of advice for other women entrepreneurs?

Do not overwork and don’t take all failures personally.

 

Anything else we should know about you?
I love to cook, sing and making people laugh.

 

CONNECT WITH VIOLETA!

Email: violeta@iunehpv.com

Website: https://www.iunetest.com/

LinkedIn: Violeta Cobo

Youtube: IUNE

 

Meet Nikki Brown: A Sociologist with soul

Nikki Brown

Business: PhD Candidate


What is at the heart of your business?

Knowledge, understanding, music

 

Shecosystem’s core values are openness, community, collaboration, accessibility, sustainability, feminism, and wellness. Which of these resonates most with you and why?

All of the above resonate with me. As a female academic and sociologist many of these align perfectly with my own core values

 

What do you wish to give and/or receive from this community?

Support and motivation

 

Tell us one way you integrate self-care into your working life:

Through art and taking a walk everyday

Meet Lori Francescutti: Who fills her cup with deeply rooted spiritual practice

Lori Francescutti

Business: Lori Francescutti


What is at the heart of your business?

Radical, heartfelt support for freedom in birth and parenting.

 

Why did you join a women’s coworking and wellness community?

Because I love serving and learning from other women!

 

Shecosystem’s core values are openness, community, collaboration, accessibility, sustainability, feminism, and wellness. Which of these resonates most with you and why?

Community, openness and feminism resonate most for me, though I connect with all of these values. Community is so important for us as humans, and I especially see this now as a solo parent. Openness is how we learn and grow. Feminism is the future!

 

What do you wish to give and/or receive from this community?

Sisterhood, community, support, brainstorming, networking.

 

What does thriving look like for you?

Feeling freedom, being grounded, filled with love, and honouring myself and serving bountifully.

 

Tell us one way you integrate self-care into your working life:

I *try* to take time to ground myself during my work, I am learning how to find balance and know when to turn the work off. My business is just starting and I am struggling to get it off the ground, so I often feel stressed out by this. I have a deeply rooted spiritual practice that fills my cup, but I could really use some better examples of self-care specific to work from the women in this community. 

 

What else should we know about you?

I love to cook, sing and making people laugh.

 


 

CONNECT WITH  LORI!

Linkedin: @LoriFrancescutti

Website: http://www.lorifrancescutti.com/

I’m a feminist, you’re a feminist, the Wing is feminist…let’s get to work.

This weekend Shecosystem was mentioned in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times – a brief mention but a cause for celebration nonetheless!

Unlike The Wing, the main subject of this feature, we may not have (or want) a primping room or a partnership with Chanel, but our members are just as thrilled as Wing member Tavi Gevinson, who is quoted in the article saying, “It’s crazy that this place exists in real life.”

I spent the day on Saturday as a committee member at the first ever Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum, and that experience in combination with our mention in the Times article was powerful validation that feminist businesses like Shecosystem are gaining momentum.

Because to me, women focussed coworking spaces are part of a movement, not a trend.

There is a need for spaces where women and feminists of all genders can gather to do business their way. We are forging new models, experiences, strategies and definitions, and we are doing so in the spirit of collaboration and with values embedded in the creation of ventures that drive positive outcomes for women and girls.

We are innovating in ways that, as OCAD Dean Dori Tunstall said, succeed when we can show that we have “created more compassion and harmony with each other and with the environment”

Shecosystem is not The Wing, but we respect what they’re doing to raise the profile of women’s spaces, and we are equally proud of sister spaces like Make Lemonade here in Toronto, Hera Hub, The Riveter, Working Ensemble, Rise Collaborative Workspace and so many more worldwide, each with their own vibe and values to serve the needs of their unique communities.

As Feminists at Work’s CV Harquail said yesterday in her opening remarks, “I’m a feminist. You’re a feminist. We have 100 different feminisms in the room and we are working together.” 

Let’s hope one day the Times runs a feature on this emergent movement: Entrepreneurial Feminism.

In the meantime, here are a few resources to check out:

Feminists at Work

Liisbeth Magazine

Feminine Capital

Feminist Business Model Canvas

 

 

Mother F#@ing Business: The Start of a Big Conversation

A few months ago, one of our community members shared a blog post called Motherhood and the Feminist Dream in our closed Facebook group. In her post,Snjezana Pruginic shared that she was having a hard time reconciling her desire to have a child with her identity as a feminist and entrepreneur:

“I feel like I am standing at the  floodgates of mixed messaging that we are given as women throughout our lives. The need to fight for being extraordinary leaders, change makers, the desire to live our life doing what we love, having the kind of social life we want, the pull to have (biologically or otherwise) a child and raise a human being, etc. All these different aspects of ourselves come into play at the same time and due to the social constructs of the time we are living in, often times feel like they are pulling against each other.” 

The post sparked an active thread of comments from business owners thinking of having kids, people who delayed having a family while they started a business, moms who launched or closed down their businesses while raising kids, and everyone in between.

In typical Shecosystem style, we decided we needed to take the conversation offline. One of the reasons we exist is to serve as a purpose built container for women to come together in a safe space and have open conversations about issues like this.

And so Mother F#@ing Business was born.

Around 15 women gathered on an autumn night at Shecosystem to meditate, reflect, and discuss the tensions between motherhood, feminism and entrepreneurship. We mapped women’s identities and explored what it means to be a woman if it’s uncoupled from motherhood, and we explored how women who don’t have kids can still have creative, nurturing, generative roles. We looked at our external and internal narratives around motherhood. We shared personal stories about setting boundaries as a working parent, suffering from gendered roles in home-life, facing the judgements of colleagues and relatives, and contemplating alternative family arrangements. 

The conversation was fiercely honest, non-judgemental, and productive. Women left feeling seen, supported, and less alone. One thing was for certain: we need more of this.

We will be hosting another conversation on January 17 (save the date!).

In the meantime, here is a Resource List sourced by the women who participated in our first Mother F#@ing Business Circle.

If you have something you’d like to see added to this list, please send a short description and link to admin@shecosystem.ca.


Resources for Motherhood, Entrepreneurship & Feminism

Amy McCready- “If I have to tell you more time…” : A Fantastic parenting book for various types of challenges

Working Ensemble: A Toronto coworking space with onsite childcare 

TellentAn online community and resource for professional women to pursue flexible careers. 

Canadian Government: Information about Special Benefits for Self-Employed people – including maternity leave.

Today’s Parent: An article about planning for parental leave when you’re self-employed Mat leave for self-employed.

Snjezana’s original blog postMotherhood And The Feminist Dream

Ann Davidman.  “Is motherhood for me?”:  Online course + book for people unsure if they want kids.

Womb Wellness 101: Clare Kenty’s workshop “The Power of Sound” (November 4th) Connecting to the power of our voice for  womb healing 

The Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum: More conversations about feminism and business (November 11)

Vania Sukola:  Feminist Therapist and with a focus on perinatal and postpartum themes like thinking about becoming a parent, birth trauma, the transition to parenthood, grief and loss, and supporting couples. 

One Part Podcast: Episode #84- Not having children by chance or by choice with Jody Day, the founder of the Gateway Foundation.

 

If you have something you’d like to see added to this list, please send a description and link to admin@shecosystem.ca.

If loneliness is an epidemic, Shecosystem is good medicine.

The table was set with salads and sweets, the lighting in the studio was low and the last rays of the setting sun filtered through the windows. More women arrived and we squeezed in two, three, four more chairs. Our first monthly Potluck + Perspectives began with a question:

 

What is community to you?

      • Community is where souls gather to be seen.

     

      • Community is ubuntu, interbeing, coming to know ourselves in relationship with all that surrounds us.

     

    • Community is hard to find when your friends move into different life stages

 

As we stuffed ourselves with vegan chilli and homemade truffles, we moved through topics from community building tips for online entrepreneurs to the challenge of honouring your boundaries as a community leader. We wrapped up with everyone lending a hand washing dishes, lingering in the kitchen chatting before going out into the autumn night.

 

Western society is starting to feel the impact of our fragmented, digital age in very real ways. Vivek Murthy, a former US Surgeon General has called loneliness an epidemic. Loneliness is associated with health risks from cardiovascular disease to anxiety, and this month’s Harvard Business Review cover story explores how it impairs our performance at work, limiting creativity, reasoning, and decision making.

 

Connected workplaces can be part of the antidote to this epidemic.

 

“Designing and modeling a culture that supports connection is more important than any single program” says Murthy, adding that “real connection requires creating an environment that embraces the unique identities and experiences of employees inside and outside the workplace” and citing kindness, compassion and generosity as the foundations of these relationships.

 

At Shecosystem, we are creating a workplace that is centred in a sense of belonging and supportive of genuine connections.  In a recent survey, 55% of our members reported feeling less lonely and 67% said they felt an increased sense of belonging.

 

Here are five ways we do this:

 

      1. We gather daily for Opening and Closing Circles where community members and guests reflect on what is going on in their lives and how it impacts their work

     

      1. We model vulnerability, even at the leadership level. Members know that they can ask for help with their businesses and are open to receiving it.

     

      1. Our events are not about passively learning new skills but about coming together to actively exchange information and perspectives. Events like Potluck & Perspectives let members and guests step up, share wisdom and ask each other questions about business. Our monthly Red Tents are co-created circles where we can be emotionally open, spiritually connected, and present for each other in a compassionate and generous way.

     

      1. The small size of our space creates a safe and intimate environment, while shared tables and open spaces allow for spontaneous connections to happen.

     

    1. Touch is important for connection, and you’re likely to get a hug – or five – every time you come in.

 

As we approach one year since the doors opened at Shecosystem, these genuine connections continue to deepen. And I know that they will sustain me as I prepare for a long, cold winter.

 

If loneliness is an epidemic, Shecosystem is good medicine.


Join our coworking community for as little as $30/month.

Check out our memberships here.


Emily Rose Antflick is Shecosystem’s founder and Chief Community Cultivator. With an M.A. in Education, Emily spent a decade teaching and creating transformative educational journeys in Canada and internationally. After experiencing a pervasive sense of depletion in her personal and professional life, Emily turned her attention to helping women like herself get unstuck and cultivate heart-centred communities that empower them to be their best selves. Emily proves that having a singular passion is not the only way to succeed: in addition to being an entrepreneur, she is a Rite of Passage facilitator, Permaculture Designer and dancer. Emily was a winner of the Startup Canada Women Founders Fund and has been profiled as a Woman of Influence and a local feminist to watch.

Sanj Takhar: a Coworking Woman in STEM who knows her power

Sanj Takhar

Business:  Marketing Lead at Mindset


What is at the heart of your business?

Focus

 

Why did you join a women’s coworking and wellness community?

To be a part of a community of strong women.

 

Shecosystem’s core values are openness, community, collaboration, accessibility, sustainability, feminism, and wellness. Which of these resonates most with you and why?

Community. Its so important to surround yourself with likeminded people.

 

What do you wish to give and/or receive from this community?

I look to give and receive support, encouragement, insight.

 

Tell us one way you integrate self-care into your working life:

Yoga, sunshine breaks, time to laugh.

 

What’s your top piece of advice for other women entrepreneurs?

Know your power.


 

CONNECT WITH  SANJ!

Website: thinkmindset.com

Email: sanj@thinkmindset.com