Launching The CoLounge last year, a place to bring people together when the opposite was being advised across our world, I often felt alone. As I dreamt of providing an opportunity for the small business professionals and side-hustlers to have an office of their own, our government was mandating that everyone worked from home. I was ready to host community events, entrepreneurial presentations, celebrations, and pop-up shops to bring people together – then we were all told to isolate, avoid gatherings and large groups, even family get-togethers. I couldn’t get that old saying “timing is everything” out of my head, but persevered nonetheless. Honestly, it’s the only path my stubbornness would allow me to take.
Owning a brick-n-mortar in any economy is tough and so I applaud all my small business, hustlin’ brick-n-mortar peeps. But as we can all likely attest, regardless of thorough planning and preparation, factors outside your control occur and it’s those times you have to keep pushing forward, hoping that one day there will be a breakthrough. You stay optimistic that the day will come that you can take a deep breath and maybe a long nap, but then it happens…the breakthrough appears – maybe not how you envisioned it, but in a symbolic way and you grasp ahold of it as confirmation.
I met my person. A new friend who could completely relate to the hamster wheel of ideas, the desire to do more yet being forced to pause. A person with a passion for their community and a strategic mindset to pivot. Someone willing to stress-test the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ thinking. Smart, witty, and down-to-earth, she was just as crazy as me – demonstrated by the fact she launched her coworking space weeks before a full-scale societal shutdown and I opted to jump into the launch in the middle of that shutdown. Welcome to our crazy idea club!
Most women feel intimidated by those who may think or resemble them. But not me, and not us. We could’ve easily viewed one another solely as competitors, racing to outdo the other. Suspicious of having our ideas stolen and fearful of one succeeding at the others expense. Instead, we locked arms and shared without judgment, both knowing that this is a game that can have more than one winner. We talk almost daily and through it all, we also are doing our best to juggle motherhood. We haven’t done it gracefully but at the end of the day, we know the example we are setting for our children.
It’s not unlike when I started my virtual eCommerce skincare business, with the #1 dermatological dream team, in 2015. There was a long line of skeptics and critics, so when I came across people who shared my vision or at least were willing to support me in its pursuit, it was inspiring. I felt this community ~ even if we had never met.
The success of that business brought a host of obstacles and challenges which, over time, played a role in the creating The CoLounge. First, could I find solutions to my own challenges by developing another business, and second, are there others like me seeking out these solutions? As our society claws its way back to some normalcy, I still believe the answer to both of those questions is YES – and that’s reinforced when I have the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs.
In many ways, the relationship with my new friend, Maureen, owner of The CoLab in Lakewood, embodies what I initially envisioned The CoLounge to be and what I hoped it would represent. A place to connect with people who were looking for help, but were also eager to help others.
The thing is, a big part of The CoLounge mission is collaboration – I just didn’t know going in that my collaborating with another coworking pioneer would reward me the way it has. She’s given me hope and a swift kick when the days are hard and I am grateful for her friendship above all. After all, you can have a strong, competitive drive to succeed without just running over everyone else. Find your tribe, lift them up, dig deep and celebrate their wins – and enjoy when they do the same for you!
If you are seeking a group to feel connected to, then come visit the CoLounge or connect with us socially. We are all about strong, authentic connections in our community.