Here at the Essex Hub we have heard the same story over and over again...
In fact it's our own story: women working from home trying to get their great idea off the ground, usually working in between the obligations of caring for family and keeping everyone else organized and satisfied.... sometimes being able to sustain their business but often times not. We know that endeavors stagnate or sometimes fail, not because of lack of love, but because of lack of community, encouragement, efficient access to critical information and support that accommodates for all of our obligations and divided time and attention. We want to help change that!
When it came to our attention through the work of Change the Story, that "women owned businesses have the potential to add $3.8 billion to the states economy" we started to wonder "What would need to happen in order to create that kind of transformational change?"
As part of the innovation and economic development conversation happening here in Essex, we realized that as we think about building a thriving, creative and innovative economy we might be overlooking what is already happening in our community. We realized that there is an invisible economic fabric being woven by women who are "Kitchen Counter Entrepreneurs" and we honestly don't know very much about them.
But what we do know is that many women seem to use a "gatherer style" of business development because of their unique relationship to time. Accessing relevant information, gathering resources and saving them until, between their other daily obligations, they have time and space to put them to good use and move their business forward. However we have also noticed that sometimes finding the necessary information to take the next step, large or small, can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack and that can be overwhelming and detrimental. So here at the Essex Hub for Women & Business, we not only aim to be a co-working community but also a resource that weaves and connects women with amazing and encouraging organizations who are all trying to solve the same problem of getting women the information that will make a transformational difference in their business.
However, it doesn't stop there... We also know about the need for shared and wrap around supports and we are actively looking at ways to partner with other businesses, social organizations and facilities that prove to be convenient, helpful and affordable for women at work in our local communities. There are so many more questions that need to be asked and so much more information to be learned about what will support the amazing women in our communities that have the potential to transform our economies.
So we have designed the W@W (women at work) community engagement and story-finding campaign to reveal the invisible fabric of women in our local economies. We believe we need to Identify, Acknowledge, Celebrate and Support women doing amazing work, women who freelance, work from home, have a side gig, an Etsy shop, own a business of any size (small or large) or women who may not resonate with the phrase "business owner" at all but who are nonetheless part of this economic fabric.
We are incredibly excited about bringing color to this invisible economic fabric, and we need your participation to make that happen. In our W@W campaign we will begin to elevate the conversation and Identify women and their businesses in our community. We'll create local recognition and Acknowledge women-owned businesses and the work they do. We'll come to together to Celebrate our creative and innovative community and begin to ask the question "What does a thriving community that supports women and business look like?" With that question we can begin to design and deliver on being able to Support the transformational change we originally wondered about.
We would love for you to introduce yourself and what you are doing by adding yourself and your business to the map. We are excited to see this map populate with amazing Women at Work.... not just in the greater Essex area but all over our amazing state. If you find an interesting W@W population in your community and you are curious about starting a Hub for Women & Business, let us know we'd love to help!
Kristin and Elissa