A full circle moment

I’m having a full circle moment today…and ugly crying at my laptop, letting waves of of gratitude and grief wash over me.

Two years ago I shared this photo of our first ever circle at 703 Bloor. And this morning I sent out an invitation to our final “Closing Circle” celebration.

 

In between, we’ve had literally thousands of circles with fierce-hearted souls from near and far. I had no idea how powerful these daily rituals would be and I think I will miss them more than anything.
 

Our circles have many functions:

 

Tuning in to breath and body

 

Giving ourselves permission to slow down and take a break

 

Noticing what we’re showing up with on a whole human level every workday

 

Sharing and connecting with a non-judgemental community

 

Holding space for each other

 

Making networking feel less icky

 

Keeping each other accountable

 

Prioritizing and goal setting

 

Tuning in to messages from the universe

 

Witnessing each other and being seen and heard

 

Noticing cycles, patterns and synchronicity

 

Creating a strong community

 

Thank you to everyone who has held space for and with me. I love you.

XO Emily Rose

 

— Original Post —

The glow of the setting sun streaming through the windows of Shecosystem’s new home could not compare to the blazing love in this circle of Shecosisters who showed up last night to fill this space with positive intentions.

Thank you for helping me become my vision board.

Thank you for redefining August 2.

Thank you for being my tribe.

And always, thank you for dancing with me!

I can only imagine how much more, much much more, we will create in this space with this community of brilliant & soulful people.

Why I’m Choosing to Close a Successful Coworking Space

I’ve been exploring edges, the overlapping spaces where one thing ends and another begins. Meadow and forest, lake and shoreline. In ecology, an edge, or ecotone, is a zone of incredible biodiversity.

 

It is neither, and both, and something else altogether. Edges are rich with life and potential for novel combinations.

 

This summer is Shecosystem’s edge – not yet closed, but not business as usual. On September 1, I’ll hand back the keys to 703 Bloor and close Shecosystem as a coworking space.

 

Since day one I have been trying to model vulnerability and emotional authenticity in my leadership, and in the same spirit, I want to share what’s behind this transition. This is not an easy lesson in “failing forward” or an announcement of a bold pivot. Simply a story of a very human entrepreneur trying to live her truth.

 

In a business that is all about work-life integration, the decision to close the space is not just about finances. I’ve gathered wisdom from many sources, negotiated, talked to members, and carved out quiet time with nature where I can tune in to myself and to the earth’s lessons.

 

Here are a few of the factors involved in my decision:

 

The rent is going up and my store of energy is running low.

I have things to say that have been drowned out by the noise of daily operations, and values that have been stretched thin by hustling to pay a monthly overhead of nearly $10,000.

I have a sensitive temperament, deep emotions, and high anxiety.

I have a radical vision that is not lining up with the reality of running a brick & mortar business in Toronto.

And I have 36-year-old ovaries a longing to make room in my life to focus on relationships and start a family.

 

There have been offers of help from fierce-hearted people who believe that we can all benefit from this shared vision. I want so badly to lean in to the power of community, but as the sole shareholder, I know that the risks and the responsibilities ultimately fall on my shoulders, and that feels really heavy. So does the thought of radically restructuring Shecosystem’s ownership and governance before this deadline imposed by the lease is up.

 

I have learned to listen to my body’s wisdom, and have noticed how my chest and throat tighten when I feel into what it would take to keep the space open. I felt it even as I typed the last paragraph.

 

One of the core ideas behind Shecosystem is that entrepreneurship is a soul journey. Creating a business is one of the channels through which our culture enables us to deliver our soul’s gifts to the world, in service of the world. It’s a space of inspired creation, mystery, and intuition. It’s also a space where we have to enter the underworld to do battle both with our own shadows and with the cultural constructs that undermine and rob us of joy and wholeness.

In this moment I have been forced to ask myself: will continuing to run a coworking space help me walk further down my soul’s path?

 

Over the last three years, this business has compelled me to work on my inner critic, as well as on my issues with money, privilege and deservedness.

 

It has forced me to grapple more deeply with messily ingrained patriarchal capitalist values like competition, relentless growth, and individual achievement, all the while learning to ask for help and surrender control.

 

It has allowed me to honour my full range of emotions, accept enoughness and imperfection, and value rest and flow.  

 

It has taught me to trust the unknown, work with cycles, and listen to the wisdom that doesn’t come from my head, but from my body, my intuition, and my dreams.

 

But these lessons have been hard won. My identity is getting lost and my energy is stagnating. I do hear notes of my soul’s song in this coworking space, but they’re getting more and more faint.

 

At this pivotal moment, letting go is a test of my ability to untangle my self-worth from the roles and the status that Shecosystem has afforded me. It’s a test of measuring success not just by scale or profit, but by impact and inspiration. It’s a step toward heeding the subtle but persistent call to a quieter, slower, and more embodied life lived in closer relationship with and in deeper service of the natural world.

 

I’ve given the process of shutting down Shecosystem’s coworking space a very glamorous title: Shecompost.

This summer is the breakdown period of the birth-death-rebirth cycle.

 

I’m starting to think that in the metaphor of business as an ecosystem, I care less about the flowers than I do about the soil. Shecosystem as a coworking space at 703 Bloor is a flower  – bright, alluring, and ephemeral. It’s been growing in thin soil, demanding heavy inputs and constant attention.

 

Composting is a transformative act of turning decaying matter into nutrients that are readily available to feed new life. Whatever iteration of Shecosystem sprouts next – if anything – it will grow in richer soil. I have no idea what that will look like yet: breakdown takes time and happens unseen.

 

Shecosystem is an unsustainable business model, but it is not a failure. This is an important distinction.

Nearly every day, someone tells me wholeheartedly that they are grateful this place exists, that it has changed their life, that there is nothing like Shecosystem out there. Member surveys show that we’ve had an impact and have served a unique need in a population that has been marginalized, underrepresented, and not taken seriously by mainstream entrepreneurial culture. We’ve won awards, been recognized by the media and by thought leaders in our field, brought thousands of people together, and helped launch businesses, friendships, and collaborations. It has been a success, and I feel proud.

 

Shecosystem stands for things people believe in and want to rally around:

 

Self-care as part of business strategy.

Showing up with your whole self at work.

Bringing feminine balance and feminist values to the working world.

Building meaningful communities in the workplace.

I can rest in the knowledge that there is no undoing the connections that have been made, the projects that have been initiated, the waves that continue to ripple outward from Shecosystem.

Compost demands a mix of elements, water, oxygen, heat, insects, fungi, plants, and time. I invite the community to join the heap and help release these nutrients!

 

If you love what Shecosystem is, what it has meant to you and to the world, please reach out and let’s talk about how this richness can live on in a different form.I’d love to hear your reflections and stories. Or come spend these last couple of months with us soaking up all the good vibes before we close – there are more memories, connections, and discoveries to be made! Scroll down to learn more about our $100 Unlimited Monthly Membership for July and August.

 

There is a lot to be grateful for, and the chord Shecosystem has struck will continue to resonate with our community’s heartbeat. I invite you to explore the edges with me.

 

With love and tears of gratitude,

Emily Rose 

 

The Summer of Shecompost

We’re closing in September but in the meantime, We have a few months of long and dreamy summer days and I want to make the most of them together. My intention (and I always frame them as questions) is: how can we collaboratively celebrate and evolve Shecosystem as we prepare to close the coworking space?

To honour our core value of accessibility and openness, we’re offering a $100 Unlimited Monthly Membership for July and August – let us know if you’re in!  

 

In addition to regular coworking, this membership includes more programming…we want to seriously raise the vibration before the space is gone! Join us to fill Shecosystem with joy, important conversations, unlikely cross-pollinations, all of life’s realness, and things that you can’t imagine happening anywhere else.

 

We’ll be offering:

 

  • Monday motivation meetups
  • Family Friendly afternoons every Tuesday
  • Wellness breaks and a pot-luck Salad Salon on Wednesdays
  • Member happy hours every Thursday
  • More damn dance parties!

You’ll still be able to focus and get work done, but we also want to create more opportunities to socialize, move, and welcome in our whole selves. After all, most of you have told us repeatedly that you’re here for community first.

 

If there is something you want to offer, let us know!

 

There are lots of places to get quiet work done, but there’s only one Shecosystem and we want to make the most of everything that it is above and beyond being a coworking space.

 

See you this summer!

 


Emily Rose Antflick is Shecosystem’s founder and Chief Community Cultivator. With an MA in Education, Emily spent a decade teaching and creating transformative educational journeys in Canada and internationally before opening Shecosystem. 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 guide, Permaculture Designer and dance facilitator. 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. Contact her at emily@shecosystem.ca.


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

 

 

How are you showing up for yourself?

It was dead quiet here on the morning after the buzz of International Women’s Day, and it felt like a hangover. Instead of appreciating the peace and letting my introverted self regroup after expending so much energy on Wednesday, I panicked and decided that Shecosystem is doomed and I may as well quit now. I anxiously scrambled to take action on scattered projects, and in no time was overwhelmed by the number of to-dos on my list.

 

From being on top of the world and flushed with gratitude I plummeted into fear and exhaustion.

Sound familiar?

 

The beauty of having moments like this at Shecosystem is that there are people around who truly empathize, and we don’t have to hide our emotional reality from 9-5. That’s one of the reasons I started Shecosystem: because I know I am not the only one who wants to be able to show up completely authentically at work.

 

Heather, the only member working at the space that day, went out for lunch and came back with a donut and bottle of Kentucky bourbon and we took a break to drink and cry together.

 

As we sat there getting buzzed at 2PM, a woman I’d never met before walked in the door. She apologized that she hadn’t made it the day before for the Open House and wondered if she could have a tour. Sure, but first would she like to have a drink and experience what Shecosystem is really about?

 

Without shame, I let this stranger witness and join in this very vulnerable and “unprofessional” moment. We talked about life and business, and it turned out to be exactly what all of us needed. For her: a moment to slow down, reflect, plus some pretty real insight into how this coworking space is unlike others. For me: validation that there is a purpose behind what I’ve created, and a gift that has helped me stay centered since Thursday. She asked me ‘a very coachy’ question:

 

“How am I showing up for myself?”

 

I have not been showing up for myself very well lately. I push, over-commit, eat saltines for lunch at my computer, book meetings during times I promised to keep open, prioritize networking over working out, and say yes to things I know are “shoulds”  while my personal projects shrivel up.

 

How do you show up for yourself differently than you would show up for anyone else: a friend? A colleague? A child? I have no problem committing to other people’s standards and timelines, serving and loving others, but struggle to do the same for myself.

 

Here’s how I want to show up for myself this week:

 

  • Being compassionate and forgiving myself when I say no to invitations.
  • Keeping appointments with myself. Firm.
  • Not shaming myself when things don’t go as planned or when I feel crappy
  • Accepting offers of support – and asking for help when it doesn’t arise spontaneously
  • Being committed and disciplined in personal development projects that I know will have a positive outcome in the long-run
  • Practising what I preach and sticking to my core values

 

I love that it’s a question, not a statement like “I will show up for myself”  (too much pressure!) because in some moments the answer to that question is, “not very well.” I can lovingly accept that in the moment.

 

I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it on my laptop, and over the last couple of days, it has disrupted some of my negative mental habits and helped me make better decisions. It will stay there, on my keyboard and on my mind, as I try to re-fill my tank this month. And as that tank fills up, I know that I’ll be showing up better for others.

 

How are you showing up for yourself?


I want to invite you to show up with us this Spring.

I’m offering 10 Day Passes to use at your leisure between now and June 30.  Grab yours here.

Get the 10 Pack before March 31 for only $180 – that’s $18 a day instead of $30! 

A Brave (and Tentative) Manifesto

Report from Shecosystem’s first All Member Meeting


 

We Are

Coming from the feminine paradigm as a STRENGTH

Fierce, compassionate and heart centred (like a combination of Beyonce + Oprah)

Brave and tentative

 

We Value

Creativity and the positive flow of ideas

Diversity and inclusiveness

Our feelings, all of them

 

We are creating a world where

There is enough for everyone. And everyone is enough.

Success is defined as much (or more) by how you treat yourself and others as it is by money, followers, or prestige.

Unique identities can coexist with each-other harmoniously, all while being productive and achieving our goals and aspirations

 

On Saturday morning, a circle of women sat on cushions and benches in the sunlit Shecosystem Studio drafting a manifesto. In bold all-caps and in soft scribbles, they added their voices to sheets of poster paper taped around the room reading: “We are,” “We value,” and “We are creating a world where.” The statements above are a small sample of the identities, values, and sense of purpose that unite Shecosystem’s members. (Full Shecosister Manifesto coming soon!)

At our first All-Members Meeting, Shecosisters – from full-timers who work in the space every day to Community Members who drop in once a month – came together to socialize, give feedback on our first couple of months here, and examine ways that we can improve in order to make sure that this a sustainable space where all of us feel welcome, productive, and engaged.

As I read over the statements that make up this draft manifesto after the meeting, I started to problematize the whole experience. Were critical or dissenting views silenced by the feel-good, inspirational tone of the exercise? How do we determine whether these statements are truly inclusive and representative of the community we serve – and is consensus even the goal? Are there things that we take for granted that nobody thought to put up there but that a guest would need to see in order to really get what Shecosystem is about?

The best answer I can come up with is, as one of the members wrote, be “brave and tentative.” In the circle, she went on to say that everyone knows that I have no idea what I’m doing, everyone knows that I’m afraid, but I’m doing it anyway.

From attempting to craft a co-created manifesto to writing a press release to designing events and programs, it generally looks something like this:

 

    1. I get fired up about an exciting idea or possibility
    2. I think about what doing the thing would involve
    3. I freeze in fear and sit on it for a week, lose it in my inbox, wake up with anxiety dreams about it – you get the picture.
    4. I tune in to that fear and ask if it’s keeping me safe or keeping me small
    5. I turn to the community and ask for feedback, advice, accountability or help
    6. We get the thing done

 

 

The more practise I get and the more I give myself permission to go ahead with the imperfect and the unknown, the shorter or less intensely paralyzing #3 gets. Enough to keep me humble. Enough to keep it real. But not enough to stop me from getting it done.

 

And after yesterday’s meeting, I feel more supported than ever in this mission. Even members who rarely – if ever – come here to cowork feel that they are part of something valuable. They are prepared to take on more responsibility for stewarding Shecosystem as it grows. They want this business to flourish as much as I do.

 

So together we will keep moving forward, bravely and tentatively.  


Want to join us? Try working here for free for a week.

women founders fund startup canada

WE WON! Startup Canada’s Women Founders Fund

I’ve been watching Marissa McTasney’s Facebook feed over the last few days. The founder of Moxie Trades and pink work-booted sh*t kicker is a little bit pissed off about how things are going for female entrepreneurs looking for capital:

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-28-18-pm

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This is no surprise to me. Over the past year I’ve been talking to a lot of women about what the greatest barriers are when it comes to building their businesses. Accessing capital is ALWAYS near the top of their lists – again, not a shock considering less than 5% of venture capital goes to women owned businesses.

It’s why I became a SheEO Activator, committing $1000 to build a million dollar pool that will be divided among ten women-owned ventures as an interest-free loan.

It’s also why I am so grateful to  Startup Canada and Evolocity Financial Group for choosing Shecosystem as a recipient of the Women Founders Fund grant.

Launched in August 2016, the Startup Canada Women Founders Fund aims to alleviate some of the financial barriers women face when starting up by providing micro-grants that can be leveraged to support operations and access to growth opportunities including trade missions and skills development.

McTasney, who also happens to be the Startup Canada Women Entrepreneur Fellow and one of the Fund adjudicators, says, “The Startup Canada Women Founders Fund provides opportunities for women to start-up strong and prepare to scale. We look forward to seeing the recipients grow their companies and create meaningful impact in their communities.”

I am proud to join three other recipients of the Startup Canada Women Founders Fund. These women are innovators who share a commitment to improving the wellbeing of the people they serve, from the hearing impaired to the elderly. The other winners are:

 * Spreza, a transcription company that provides automatic speech to text and live captioning for greater information accessibility.

Welbi, a platform that helps families take care of their elderly loved ones using uses smart watches to monitor and analyse the health of seniors.

YUMiBOX by YUMiTRITION, a subscription box company that sells whole grain products to support diabetic blood sugar control.

With Shecosystem only two weeks away from the official opening of our coworking and wellness space, this funding will allow me to strengthen my operational capacity so I can focus on serving my community of women entrepreneurs. It’s not sexy, but this moolah is going straight into systems and tools that will help me be a smooth operator, spending less time on admin and more time serving my Shecosisters.

Thank you to Evolocity Financial Group for supporting women founders across Canada, and to Startup Canada for giving us the tools, networks and resources to create meaningful impact in our communities. 

Help us tear down this barrier

Women owned businesses are still under-financed, and most funding decisions are still made by men. I encourage anyone who cares about supporting women – and our world changing businesses – to join me as a SheEO Activator and commit an act of Radical Generosity. And if you are a woman running a business that takes in over 50K in annual revenue (we don’t qualify yet, but someday…) apply as a venture to have a shot at your share of this $1,000,000 pool.

They’ve just extended the deadline to November 30! You can become a 2016 SheEO Activator here and apply to be a 2016 Venture here. 

 

Financing is not my area of expertise, but I hope that Shecosystem will become a platform and hub for women seeking capital – and for people with capital who want to support female founders. It’s up to our members and partners to cultivate this seed.

Does this sound like something you could contribute to our community? If so, let’s talk.

 

 

Getting the dance floor started

Shecosystem is officially 1 year old today! My celebration began last night at Nuit Blanche, and I want to tell you all about it.


Under a warm down blanket of clouds, I wandered out with my coven of Good Witches to feel the pulse of the city. First stop: the Wiggly Street party on Queen Street out front of Osgoode Hall where some friends were performing.

We approached and saw a crowd in the standard Toronto Nuit Blanche pose: standing still, head cocked to slightly to the side, wondering through their cellphone screens if this is Art. I figured there must be a live performance going on in front of the DJ booth. I peeked over the crowd and saw that, no, actually they were just watching an empty dance floor. Some minor head bobbing was detected, but zero bodies moving to the beat.

I edged my way through the crowd to the empty space in the front, waved to my friend Yossi on the decks, and let myself be moved. 

Sheco_benefit1Erika and Sabrina joined in. Corinne spotted us and joined in with a few of her friends…and then there were six women, giving ourselves permission to bounce, to be seen, to make the most of this moment. (Here’s the video the DJ captured of these first minutes)

Within 5 minutes, it was a dance party full of smiling strangers, warming up the misty October night. And it didn’t stop until sunrise.

 

Later on in the evening (or more accurately, morning) I recounted this moment to my friend Zohar, an inspiring entrepreneurial community builder whose new hub, Black Rock Coffee (our Koreatown neighbour!) has partnered with Shecosystem to provide member discounts on their goods. His reaction was something like,  “I’m not surprised. That’s exactly what you’re doing in your business.”  

And so as I danced to celebrate Shecosystem’s one year anniversary, Rosh ha Shanah, and this powerful new moon, I embodied that intention: to put this business into action in service of getting communities moving, connecting, and feeling http://alwaysvaltrexonline.com good.

Entrepreneurship is a dance floor – we feel awkward at first, we don’t know the steps, can’t find the rhythm at times. But we harness the positive energy of the people around us, push our comfort zones, risk being noticed…and finally our soul finds its way into our feet and we are in flow.


 At Shecosystem’s new home at 703 Bloor Street West, the feeling of flow is beginning to set in. The anxiety of waiting – for the right space, the right contractor – had been replaced with a positive momentum and the space is under construction and poised to launch within the next month.

Shecoseedstem_4Like most things in nature, Shecosystem started with a few small seeds budding in a dark, tight place. You can read the full story of these seeds – and the very vulnerable ‘dark place‘ where they were planted – for context.

 

One year ago today, Shecosystem became a registered business. It was an intriguing concept, some official looking documents, but on the whole a formless entity. Still just a few scattered seeds. I’ve written before about how important it is to mark little milestones, so today I am celebrating this anniversary with not one but two big announcements:

The unveiling of a new website that makes me smile so hard

AND

The official launch of our Founding Membership packages that get you up to 25% off your membership.

 

So check it out, and get in touch if you have questions or feedback as I continue to shape this space (online and on Bloor) to serve all of our needs. Or ask them live – we’ll have a series of these but the first one is next Tuesday October 11:

[add_eventon event_count=”1″ ]

 


 

Whatever new moves you’re celebrating this month in your own work-life wiggle, may you dance them with intention, with gratitude, and with joy.

 

xo

Emily Rose

What I learned from 3 days of Coworking + Wellness

Shecosystem recently collaborated with the Gladstone Hotel to host a coworking + wellness popup. It was my first opportunity to see this concept in action for three whole days: a big change from our usual two-hour meetups.

Close to 60 women joined us to work, connect, and make self-care part of their working lives. We gave intention to the workday with opening and closing cirlces and took mid-day wellness breaks to refresh our bodies, minds and spirits. Women shopped at a mini-market, treated themselves to reiki, massage and Saje aromatherapy treatments, and took advantage of onsite mentorship provided by Women in Biz Network.READ MORE

Celebrating milestones….even when there are miles to go

My brother and sister-in-law just had their second child, and as I look at Maya Juliet I remember that Shecosystem is an organization in its infancy, having just passed the six month mark.

Parents celebrate every little growth milestone, and the first six months are full of them! In her first six months, Maya will double her birth weight. She’ll be finding new ways to take up space – sitting, rolling over, creeping toward a crawl. She’ll be starting to use her voice to shape new sounds.

This Coworking + Wellness community is the only baby I’m nurturing at the moment, and I want to celebrate Shecosystem’s growth. I hope it doesn’t resent me in 12 years for posting these milestones all over the internet!READ MORE