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

 

Join the Coven! Apply today for the Shecosystem Energy Exchange

October 2017-March 2018

Shecosystem Coworking + Wellness is a women focussed coworking and wellness space in Toronto that values the feminine in the entrepreneurial journey and makes self-care a priority. With a growing membership of over 60 entrepreneurs and a busy schedule of programs and events, we are a hub for women and feminists of all genders to gather, grow and learn.

 

We’re cultivating a thriving feminine entrepreneurial ecosystem by planting budding entrepreneurs in our nutrient rich soil!

 

Through the Energy Exchange Program – otherwise known as The Coven – we are on the search for people who want to make Shecosystem their home base for the winter. As an Energy Exchange member, you’ll be invited to use your professional expertise to help promote Shecosystem’s mission, and help to foster a comfortable, productive and welcoming vibe for our community.

In exchange you’ll have full-time access to our space to grow your own network and passion projects.

Download Program Details

 

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

This program provides an experiential opportunity for career development in an environment that nurtures personal growth, fosters a strong community, and values innovation. Successful participants complete this 6-month part-time Energy Exchange Program with:

Training and professional experience operating a small business, collaborating with teams, and maintaining client relationships

An understanding of the importance of holistic wellness in your work-life

Six months of free Unlimited Coworking membership

Visibility as a pivotal person in the Shecosystem ecosystem and opportunities to connect with our network of feminist entrepreneurs

 

GENERAL PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

 

6 month availability: October 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018

8 hours a week dedicated to Shecosystem projects – onsite requirement dependent on role

Be a Shecosystem Ambassador

Regular reports to Shecosystem Founder and Programs Associate

Attend monthly Energy Exchange Program meetings

Completion of assigned projects within the time allotted

Provide occasional onsite admin or events support when needed

 

WE ARE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE:

 

Entrepreneurs or Freelancers: In other words, you’re not looking for placeholder while you look for a full time job but already have your own hustle and a reason to spend your time at Shecosystem.

Self-starters: you can work and play with minimal direction and are willing to learn as you go. You think opportunities, not problems and are willing to jump in where needed.

Great at first impressions: making everyone who walks in the door feel seen, supported, and engaged. You take a genuine interest in getting to know people and the things that make them come alive.

Smooth operators: you have exceptional organizational skills and a mind for efficient systems.

Feminists: You believe the power of a diverse, heart-centered sisterhood and in equality for all genders.

 

ROLES + RESPONSIBILITIES

Roles and program projects may vary depending on Shecosystem’s needs.

Download the descriptions of the roles we are looking to fill for this cohort of the Energy Exchange Program here, and scroll down to apply …

Download Program Details

 


What people are saying about The Coven…

 

Being a part of the Coven allowed me to support a community that has been so important to me. I got to work with a fantastic group of women  and build meaningful relationships – both personal and professional. I feel honoured to have played a small part in Shecosystem’s growth.”  

 – Joyanne Howell

 


As a self proclaimed workaholic, the Coven gave me the opportunity to slow down, and focus on what’s right in front of me and what’s important.  I was able to bring my whole self to the table and give back to a growing community that I so strongly believe in.”

– Erin Conway

 


 “I loved my experience at Shecosystem as part of the Coven. Working with such incredible women has been a true inspiration. Giving back, being part of this community has been the highlight of my time in Toronto. Sheco helps entrepreneurs and women professionals in so many ways over and above providing a great workspace with wifi. It is a beautiful environment that nurtures and supports your business endeavours and personal wellness. Actively participating in that mission is a wonderful opportunity.

– Pat Kack

 


Good luck!

If you have any questions, contact us at programs@shecosystem.ca

 

 

Amanda Laird: Feminism + wellness are connected for this menstrual mogul

Amanda Laird

Communications Consultant/Menstrual Mogul

AmandaLaird.ca


What is at the heart of your business?

On the communications side, it’s helping businesses achieve their goals and objectives through flawless execution of communications and events.

On the wellness side, I am passionate about body literacy and smashing taboos to increase everyone’s access to wellness.

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

The entrepreneurial journey can be lonely!

What does thriving look like to you?

Being able to ask myself “what do I need today?” instead of just mindlessly jumping into my task list. Sometimes that does mean getting down to business bright and early, other times it looks like taking the long way home from daycare drop off and going out for breakfast before I start my work.

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

It’s a tie between feminism and wellness. These are two important facets of my work and I don’t see them as separate.

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

When I sit down at my desk I always start with a quick journal to check in with myself and clear out any blocks that might inhibit my productivity.

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

ASK. Anything I’ve ever achieved in my career is because I have literally asked for it.

CONNECT WITH  AMANDA!

Check out Amanda’s new podcast, the Heavy Flow Podcast. Each week Amanda Laird, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, has casual conversations with guests about the health and wellness topics we’re not supposed to talk about: menstruation, fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, birth control, sexuality, mental health, hormonal health and reproductive health, through the lenses of feminism and body politics. We are not truly empowered until we all understand the bodies we live in. Listen here!

 

YCDBSOYA: Wednesday Wisdom from Francine Dick

Back in the days when men wore tie clips, my father had one with the letters, YCDBSOYA imprinted on it.  My father worked almost all of his adult life in the insurance business.  Shortly after his marriage to my mother, he left working in his father’s jewelry store and became an insurance salesman.  In the early years, he would leave my mother in Toronto and spend the week driving through small towns in the Ottawa Valley selling policies.  Eventually he was able to open his own brokerage.  I remember many nights when he would go down into the basement’s multi-purpose room to call clients.  Often he would have evening appointments.

 

My father was an amiable no-nonsense man.  Before there was LinkedIn, Twitter or any social media, he knew instinctively how to network and most importantly, how to work hard.  My inbox is filled with promotions on ways to get clients, how to network, how to use LinkedIn to generate hundreds of prospects and how to uncover my emotional relationship with money.  

 

I am not denigrating any of these ideas, but sometimes growing a business just comes down to hard work.  There is no magic formula.  In sales, you need to genuinely like people and want to help them.  You need to go out and find those people, you need to commit to doing whatever is needed to grow your business.  You need to sometimes take risks and you need to sacrifice.

 

My father grew his insurance practice into a successful business, allowing for a comfortable, although not wealthy, life for his family.  Despite his hard work, my father led a balanced life.  He volunteered in his community, took fishing trips with his buddies, and vacations with his family.  He was there for me with good advice when I asked for it, and sometimes when I didn’t. I am delighted that I inherited his strong work ethic, his sense of humour and his easy going nature.  

Oh, and YCDBSOYA? It stands for you can’t do business sitting on your ass!

Kailey Gilchrist: Sauce Boss

Kailey Gilchrist

Business:  NONA Vegan Foods Ltd.


What is at the heart of your business?

The desire to share delicious and healthy food with people!

 

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

I find the entrepreneurial journey to be so lonely at times and finding a place to call my business ‘home’ felt so necessary.

 

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

I feel that wellness is so often overlooked in this business world where we put ‘hustler mentality’ and the 80 hour work week on a pedestal. Why can’t we celebrate the 10 or even 4 hour work week? Wellness, especially in my line of work, needs to be integrated into my lifestyle. ‘Community’ also speak to me as solo-preneurship can be a lonely path. Openness is something I appreciate in many aspects of life.

 

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

I hope that by sharing my experiences and stories it might help other folks going through similar struggles – I love helping people and hearing them out when they need empathy. I am most excited just to be surrounded by the energy here of others working away at their own passions.

 

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

I have started taking some evenings and weekends to myself to recharge and connect with friends and nature.

 

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

Find ‘your people’, your community early on – Don’t fall prey to the myth of being able to do everything on your own.


 

CONNECT WITH  KAILEY!

Website: nonavegan.com

Facebook: NonaVegan

Twitter: NonaVegan

Instagram: @NonaVegan

 

Keeping this Heart-Space Beating

Shecosystem was a heart-space before it was a coworking space. It was a vibe, a tribe, a set of values and visions that we shared of entrepreneurship done differently. And it still is all those things.

 

As time went on the mission got diluted and impossibly huge in my mind. I got overwhelmed with the things that I thought I should do to grow the business. I started to feel like in order for Shecosystem to attract new members and take up space in our city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, it had to be an event promoter, an incubator, a mentorship program, a vehicle for accessing funding, a platform for feminist activism, a business training centre…ALL THE THINGS.

 

Carrying all of this was too much.

 

Last week I took some time up north to reflect. Alone, surrounded by nature I tuned out the noise and listened to my heart.

I reflected on all of the things our members and visitors have said in our circles, surveys, meetings and casual conversations. I finally let it all land.

Instead of seeing everything that we’re not, I was able to see what we are.

 

Our members told me in a recent impact survey that Shecosystem is…

 

  • My safe haven in a crazy world 
  • A space where like-minded people come to work and be in community 
  • A community. Feeling held. Support at every stage of my journey. 
  • A place I need in my life to help me feel connected and a part of. It’s also a place I need to make connections to move my business forward. 
  • A place where I can be productive without compromising my health.

 

It’s that simple: Shecosystem is a safe, productive, wellness-focussed workspace that values the feminine, where a community of like-souled people connect and support each other in our work and in our lives.

 

That’s enough. That’s significant.

 

((deep exhale))

 

Shecosystem is not for everyone, and it’s not going to be everything. But for those of us who truly get it, it’s powerful.

 

That’s why I’m calling out to you, our community, to invite other people who get it. I want to see our community grow – organically, with the right people – for the benefit of us all. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the nine months Shecosystem has been open is to ask for help. So I’m asking you to help me reach out to people who you think belong in this quirky and diverse tribe of heart-centred entrepreneurs.

 

On August 9, we’re opening our doors for the day so your networks can experience our space and get to know our community. 

Thank you for keeping this heart-space beating.

With gratitude,

Emily Rose


Let’s make it easy-peasy for you to invite other people who get it!

 

Here’s a sample post you can share with your friends:

Check out Toronto’s women-centric coworking space for @Shecosystem Coworking & Wellness on August 9! I’ll be celebrating International Coworking Day with this tribe of  heart-centred entrepreneurs. Join us for a free day of coworking, wellness, and community!  Sign up at http://bit.ly/opensheco

 

Here’s a sample tweet:

Join the @shecosystem community for a free International #Coworking Day Open House on August 9 http://bit.ly/opensheco

 


Emily Rose Antflick is Shecosystem’s Founder and Chief Community Cultivator. She operates her business straight from the heart – and occasionally from the stern of a canoe.

The Main Pricing Mistake Entrepreneurs Make

Pricing means more than we think it does. It tells your potential customers if what you offer is truly valuable or not.

It is the answer to the question: Are you a commodity or a luxury item?

Our brains trick us into thinking that we’ll make more money if we have a lower price we’ll get more sales…WRONG.

Would you really purchase more of a product that you care about just because it is cheaper? What if it was an important beauty product (like shampoo)? What if it was a medication that you need for your migraines?

As you can see in the examples I gave you above, when you truly care about the value being offered, you won’t think that price is the most important or the only thing that matters.

If you have worked on your business plan and foundations, you have made sure that you have identified your ideal client: the one that truly wants and understands the value of what you offer. If this is true for you, those people will be happy to pay a fair price for it.

When you are getting price objections you are either talking to the wrong market or you are not doing a good job at explaining the value and benefits of what you offer.

What does truly happen when your price is too low? The truth is that you won’t automatically get more sales, in contrast, these 2 things can happen:

  • You’ll need to sell a lot more product to make more money. This means that you have to do a lot more work.
  • People associate a lower price with less quality, less value…less everything. This means that they will start doubting your quality and potentially go for your competition instead of you.

I’ve worked with probably 30 different categories of products at small stores, pharmacies, and supermarkets. Never the lowest priced product made more sales in $. The only exceptions were commoditized items such as toilet paper, that was sold around 80% on promotion.

The implication of being a commodity is that your focus on price vs. value makes your clients expect just that: the lowest price at all times. Your true price is no longer the regular one because like toilet paper, that is being sold 80% on promotion, the price that people buy at is lower than the regular one.

I talk a lot about pricing in my work because it’s one of the most important parts of your business, especially if you have a product since there are a lot of costs associated with this and it is a lot harder to change or adjust than with services.

People pay for what they value, period. They will pay more for what is offering them a better solution for their problem or a bigger opportunity.

The truth is that a lower price not only makes you automatically make less money, but it will also be associated with a lower value.

Instead of thinking “what a good deal” people will think “hmmm, there must be something wrong with this”.


This post was originally written by our member Leyla Razegh on her blog. Wisdom Wednesdays is a collection of content submitted by our members.

Leyla Razegh is a Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker known for her high energy, sense of humor and for her unique delivery that combines unapologetic honesty with kindness. As a Business Strategist, she believes that it’s possible to make money while making a positive impact on the world and society. To learn more about Leyla’s visit her website here.