Lessons Learned from New Women Space

Reflections on building an experimental community

New Women Space (NWS) is a vibrant and affirming community-led event space located in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn centered on gender equity, creative expression and celebration of identity.

The mission of the space is to build strong relationships, create economic opportunity and inspire possibility for self-identified women, femme, queer, transgender and gender nonconforming individuals in an accessible, supportive, safer space.

Outside of NWS — 188 Woodpoint Rd. Brooklyn

I have been meaning to write this over the past two years.

I told myself that I wasn’t getting around to it because I was too busy actually starting and running a business to spend the time writing about starting and running a business.

It’s possible that I didn’t write about the lessons I’d learned because I simply hadn’t learned them yet.

It’s also possible that I didn’t write about them because I was afraid. What if I didn’t say the “right” thing and ended up offending someone? I didn’t want anything I wrote to reflect poorly on the space.

My friend Alice and I spoke on the phone last week. She wanted to know about my writing process as a part of her personal inquiry into how writers write.

I told her that I usually just sat down and wrote the bulk of a thing, did one round of edits, and then published — pretty straightforward.

The part where I get blocked sometimes is just sitting down to write in the first place.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I found the time and motivation to write out these lessons learned soon after talking to Alice about my resistance.

Early days of creating NWS

One of the biggest lessons I learned from starting New Women Space is that the line between thinking about doing something and actually doing the thing is very thin.

Many people came to Sandy and myself during this project asking to get advice about how to start their own space or project.

While we could share a few tips about running a crowdfunding campaign or signing a lease, the perplexingly simple answer is that the secret is to just put your ideas into action.

I got the sense that people are looking for a secret tip or trick that only some people have access to: What was the trick to opening a space? What was the trick to writing?

This “trick” is frustrating because it’s not something you can check off a checklist or read in a book. The trick is to… just do it. Start and move step-by-step. Soon you’ll b able to turn around and see progress.

So how did I end up getting over the block to writing these posts? I just decided to sit down and do it.

What had been something I’d talked about doing for months, I ended up doing in one sitting over a few hours on a bus trip.

Construction Phase of NWS

These are by no means all of the lessons I learned. But I’ve always found that starting somewhere is better than not starting at all.

Culture creation begins “at home”

Breadth vs. Depth

Variability

Ask people for help

Turn Lemons into Lemonade

Operate from a place of Abundance

Cross Pollination

You never stop learning

I leave NYC and NWS in just a few days to reunite with my home state of California to try my hand at UX design and Bay Area living.

NWS remains open, willing, ready for new hosts.

Read my full letter to the community here.