“I would like for Becky from Beautycounter to come to the office and talk about safe body care and beauty products — what do you think?”
My response? Ab-so-lutely! Supporting female entrepreneurs who run socially responsible businesses is my THING.
And in the true form of women hatching a grand plan, a waterfall of ideas ensued that tumbled out so fast we couldn’t stop ourselves:
”Wouldn’t it be fun if we had not only one but several vendors who are female and run B Corp-like businesses?”
“Yeah! We could even other women who work at some of the other B Corps in town and care about this kind of business!”
“You know what would be REALLY cool? If we hosted it on International Women’s Day on March 8th!”
“And we could have a panel to talk about what it’s like to run a socially responsible business!”
RVA Women’s Day was born. We looked at each other slightly nervously, there was no going back now. This was going to happen! Initially, we hoped for an intimate setting and planned for about 50 attendees. Instead of any fees, we would ask vendors to contribute to the snack bar and/or to bring a bottle of wine. Everything seemed pretty reasonable. We gave away 30 tickets and felt good about our inaugural event. This was going to wonderful, we thought. And, then, the ticket numbers went up. And up. And up. By March 6th we had reached capacity, and, yet, people kept emailing to ask whether they could still “drop by.” We increased the capacity to 120. Colleagues who’d received complimentary tickets were offering them to others. We wanted to open our doors to everyone who wanted to attend. This event was not supposed to be one of those exclusive invite-only things, we wanted the vendors to sell — the more people in the room, the better!
Two local TV stations reached out to inquire where we stood on the “A Day Without A Women Campaign”. We explained that this was our effort to celebrate women business founders who were choosing to change the world, one business, one customer at a time. What a better way to explain the power of women! A day to convene and collaborate to crest our challenges as Women Business Owners.
The day of the event arrived and it was incredible! We had a photo booth, more food and drinks arrived as people poured in; they mingled, chatted, and walked around the vendor aisle. But, it was the panel that stole the evening. It was one of those moments that the most accomplished event planner could not possibly plan for: that moment where the participants become the event itself. The power of the panel was the cohesive conversation. Everyone listened attentively, shared, inquired and learned. It was simply amazing.
“I am most proud that I have finally given myself the OKAY to celebrate what I’ve accomplished with Love This. It’s just a quick high five in my head to give myself a little credit for my success. […] I am so much more confident and comfortable in my words because of telling myself I believe in you! I don’t think women do that enough, (at least I NEVER did), we are always thinking about what more we should be doing and not looking at what we’ve already done.”, Rupa Singh, Love This
Hearing from women first-hand how hard it can be to pursue a demanding career while raising children and running a business that aligns with their values was powerful. The room was engaged as these ladies unpacked their truths and experiences about business, family, self-respect and dedication to making a difference:
“Hearing others tell their version of your own story creates such camaraderie. It is edifying knowing that others have accomplished goals in spite of obstacles. It’s encouraging.”, Vida Williams
“As a personal stylist, I don’t sell a product or a thing people can just buy and take home with them. I work one-on-one with women to help them create a wardrobes that works for them, not against them, that exudes confidence and that is an authentic representation of who they are. As such, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this event, but as I explained my philosophy to each woman who came to my table — in short: buy less, but better — it resonated. I came away from the event with a lot of contacts, a renewed feeling that what I’m doing has purpose, and yes, even a few new clients (yessss says the the business owner in me!). I also loved meeting so many amazing women who are working in Richmond and love that we all support, buy from, and champion each other.”, Sydney Lester, Chic Stripes
“As a nutritionist and natural foods chef, it’s important to me that my clients are not only confident and equipped to cook and eat healthfully, but they also learn how to make better food choices that go beyond themselves. I teach them how to minimize food waste, eat local, and support the future of small-scale farms with sustainable, humane practices. It’s so much more than just nutrition, you know? It filled my heart to the brim to meet and be in one room with so many remarkable individuals that care about these types of details and their social responsibility, too. These are the types of clients I most enjoy working with!”, Shelly Rose, Pure Roots Nutrition
We have been asked when our next event would take place and while we would love to repeat this type of night, neither of us currently has capacity to continue. However, I am encouraged to see how much interest and camaraderie I felt in that room on the night of March 8th.
A quick thank you to Impact Makers who hosted us free of charge and to those who helped put this event on! And a shout-out to Kaytee with Badass Booth for showing up! You should book her for your next event!
Whoever wants to learn more about running a socially responsible business, sign up for our B Corp newsletter, join our B Local Series and monthly B Corp coffee, and pop into our next Introduction to B Corp on March 31st, 2017.