By: Otiena Ellwand
Talking business over scissors, collage paper and glue isn’t the traditional way to go about things. But that’s exactly why these five women started what they call, “creative picnics”.
Every two weeks for a year now, they’ve spread their art supplies out on a table at the The One in The Only Espresso Bar (966 Danforth Ave.) and let things flow.
“It changes the way you talk [about business]. It’s more casual, more intimate and much less intimidating to throw something out on the table,” says Jamie Ridler, a creative self-development coach.
Together they talk about the issues they face as entrepreneurs— ranging from pricing, marketing, leveraging social media, and discussing the things that don’t work and why.
“I move in a world of women entrepreneurs and I’m so inspired by the women I know. When I’m flagging they give me a good push and keep me moving. Whoever said women can’t work well together because they’re too catty was wrong,” says Ridler, who says she has only experienced the utmost generosity and kindness while working with women.
“It takes something unique [to be an entrepreneur] with as much rejection as there is,” says Jennifer Hicks, 36, a speech-language pathologist and Nia fitness instructor. Trying to attract the right kinds of clients, selling your services short, and inconsistent cash flow, are just some of the challenges she and the others face.
Many of them work alone, so this group provides a comfortable place where they can relax, be themselves and commiserate with the others.
“It’s stimulating to see that much power in a group of women, living lives that are unconventional,” says Hicks. “The group honours the individual spirit of being an individual business person. If you have the joy and the passion, you’ll be able to show that and attract happy customers,” she says.
Ridler recommends getting together with women from your program/industry and others, to form a group like theirs.
“It’s not a big deal, but it makes a big difference,” she says. “I kind of think in these times, everyone’s an entrepreneur. You’re navigating your career, your professional identity, taking calculated risks and finding the best way to make your contribution. Besides, almost everyone I know who has a ‘day job’ also has their soul-gig, the work they do as a writer, filmmaker, artist, volunteer, activist,” she says.
“When you choose to create something that doesn’t exist, it’s like creating a child and you are proud of it,” says Hicks.
She quotes a magnet on her fridge: “I would rather go naked than wear the coat the world has made for me” (Dorothy Allison).
She and the other four women in the creative picnic group have done just that, and will continue to do so.