I want to talk about this, and other topics, here on the äventyr blog because both Kurt and I believe strongly that äventyr is not just about bicycle bags. äventyr is about sharing knowledge and experiences, helping people feel empowered and motivated, and creating community. For us, our ultimate expression of our knowledge and experience has culminated in starting a company that sells bicycle bags, but this is about so much more, and bicycle bags are just a start. We believe very strongly in this mission and will continue to share here on our blog. Now on to the post...
“What is the worst that can happen - they say no. But what is the best that can happen? And the best HAS happened.” ~ DeAnn
Below is what precedes what I was talking about above when I was at Gyst a few weeks ago, sitting in a room full of women in the middle of what I would define as an extremely invigorating and motivating few weeks. What I would define as A Moment.
In my life I have had distinct moments of clarity I could probably form a book around (I like to write…). As it relates to this post, I remember two such moments.
Moment 1: I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing (on a busy Ohio interstate on the way to a customer meeting at my old job), when I knew I had to find myself again and let ‘me’ out. Always listen to those moments…
Moment 2: Standing at Shaping Fashion (above), it hit me like a bolt of electricity when after being at the event a few hours I looked around the room and realized - I am at an event organized by women, all the entrepreneurs here are women, and 99% of the customers here are women! I am part of a FEMALE ECONOMY that is VERY REAL and VERY EMPOWERING ~ for all of us.
All the women I have had the pleasure of meeting, before and during this moment, have helped me roll forward during a moment in time for women in history that I believe we women have taken for ourselves collectively, and are using to propel each other forward together. Let’s back up a little on how I got to Moment 2…
Over two years ago at the beginning of a very cold January I left my job and found myself standing alone in the silence of my living room telling myself “I did this to myself”. It was a great impetus for me to start asking people to meet for a fika, that has continued to this day. Could people have said no? Of course. But they said yes!
A month ago, after two particularly great fika’s, I received an email from a woman named Ashleyn about an event called Shaping Fashion: “With your businesses [sic] mission in mind, we would love to invite you to be a vendor to sell your products and showcase and share your mission with the fashion community.” Of course we said yes, but it took a bit of self-building before the ask for me to give myself permission to do so.
When we launched äventyr I had a clear vision in mind of the type of business I wanted to run, but it was not until I had a fika with Lisa and Erin at Hackwith Design House that I really felt I had ‘permission’ to say we were a Sustainable and Ethical business. I shouldn’t need permission, but the truth is I felt I did. And once that happened, it was like the doors opened to a new room I hadn’t thought I could enter before. Light bulbs were going off all over for me after this fika, and I really owe these two women so much gratitude and thanks. Without them, I would have not been at Shaping Fashion having a moment, they began a chain of events by introducing me to Emily, who introduced me to Ashleyn (thank you Emily!).
Additionally I would have never considered myself a part of ‘the fashion world’, or given myself permission to participate in a fashion week event. Nor would it ever have occurred to me that people ‘in that world’ would be supportive of what I am doing. But this ‘world’ here in Minneapolis is so completely different than I would have thought as an ‘outsider’ never aspiring to get ‘in’. But it is also SO Minneapolis. Being part of this community of women entrepreneurs here in Minneapolis, a number of which have businesses tied to fashion, has been one of the biggest influences in my thinking about our business differently, and with ‘permission’. These women have been game changers for äventyr, and also my biggest supporters. With each passing day I feel lucky to have found myself in such good company.
So there I was at Shaping Fashion, having a profound moment. Yay!
A few days later I was at Gyst and this MOMENT, continued to impact me. I found myself in the midst of another room full of women full of ideas, opinions, and journeys. The evening per Gyst was for a Book Signing for Work Wife, but so much more: “We will get to hear about their story as well as share our story as sisters and entrepreneurs of GYST. It's a night for us to gather, connect and celebrate our strong community of amazing women and the friendships we have cultivated.” I have purposefully sought out events like this for myself that in addition to my fika’s, are another way I get to know people in the entrepreneurial community, and particularly as it relates to this post - WOMEN in the entrepreneurial community. This event was so timely for me personally, coming right after Shaping Fashion - and added to this moment I was having.
As we went around the room and I talked about how I was at Gyst a year ago for another event and introduced myself at that time as having a “fake business”, and that now a year later I was sitting here having launched äventyr, I was unexpectedly taken aback when every woman in the room applauded me and cheered me on (thank you to every single woman in that room!). It can be easy as an entrepreneur trying to figure out how to sell your product and your brand, to dismiss your successes and focus on your failures, but sometimes having the mirror held up by other women can be THE MOST beautiful thing. I so needed that moment, but we also all needed that night. I am so thankful for Mel and Ky Guse for taking the risk to move to Minneapolis, traversing the entrepreneurial journey ahead of me, and sharing their stories and experiences. I am thankful to Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo for coming to Minneapolis and hosting this special night to share their stories and hear ours, and for having new ideas and new ways of looking at how work gets done. I left with more stimulation, more empowerment, more moments in my moment!
A week after this night at Gyst, I was at Lab to learn about SEO (ah the glamour of being an entrepreneur). Rolling into the room on this wave of a moment the last two weeks I was really not expecting what I would say was the punctuation mark on this three week time period. But as the room began to fill before class, I realized that once again ~ here I was in a room with all women. And as we went around the room to introduce ourselves I was profoundly moved by these women who came to educate themselves in order to help move their dreams, their businesses, and themselves ~ forward. Here we women were again, gathering together, doing for ourselves what no one else can do for us; being engaged, listening, caring, supportive.
The last moment in this story will definitely not be the last. Every woman I have been in a room with prior to, and during this period, has a story. These stories women have are what has always intrigued me, before äventyr and now with äventyr. In those moments as a new entrepreneur, when I have felt intimidated, or not equal in a room, I remind myself that these are women, like me. Real women, in real life, with real stories. We all have a story, and we can all share our stories to help enrich, engage, and empower. My story continues as I work to create a life for myself that is truly mine, and a bicycle bag business I truly believe in. And although the only woman who can continue to believe in me and move myself forward on the äventyr is me, I know I am definitely not alone.
And I also would not have this great new tag line from Emily...
"Bags for bicycling, and WHATEVER...!"