New Coworking Space for Women Opens in River North to Fuel Your Passion

Collaboration over competition is a popular hashtag on Instagram and it’s the mantra for a new women only Coworking space in River North, evolveHer, that wants to fuel your passion.

From the moment you walk into 358 W. Ontario St., 5,000 sq. feet open concept workspace, you can’t help but feel like it was made for you. The founder and CEO, Alicia Driskill, wanted a Coworking space exclusively for women so that they could collaborate and build businesses and succeed in their career goals.

A Coworking Space For Her:

There is so much to love about this Instagramable space. The first is the artist, Laura Leigh Bean, who created a stunning wall filled with paintings of women when you first walk in. It’s something spectacular when you see a diverse wall of stylish and successful women in a business space. I seriously stood in awe for a good 10 minutes.

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Wallpaper Vibes 😍 by member @lauraleighbean

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Then, in the next room, she created wallpaper with women’s faces that is so chic. Bean has been working with other female empowering spaces like the new, Ezza Nails salon, which is having a hair and nails glam night event on March 7, 2018 that you can sign-up for here.

Beyond the artwork at this women only Coworking space, it’s simply inspiring and inviting. I love the comfortable office chairs, the long and vibrant couch, and extensive bookshelves with empowering books and cute trinkets. It simply feels like a second home.

Coworking Community:

One of the best aspects of this women only Coworking space in River North is the community. When I attended the launch party in January, I recognized so many Chicago female entrepreneurs like Michael Donnelly, who runs the FWD Collective conferences in Chicago and San Francisco for diversity. Then there was Lisa Nation who founded the Lisa App for businesses to offer beauty services to their employees. And then there was Silvana Favaretto, who founded the Tulle Project, making skirts for women to feel feminine and empowered in the workplace. And then Ari Krzyzek, who founded The Creative Women’s Co., a podcast, event series and community for female creatives and entrepreneurs.

Beyond faces I did know, I also got to meet the funny, charming and extremely talented Grace Lee of Love, Sugar, and Grace bakery. She made the most beautiful and delicious cake pops and macaroons but I have to admit I commented on her style at first when I met her. You can follow her witty and beautiful bakery bites on Instagram here.

Branding and Business Events for Women:

I think one of the best aspects of this women only Coworking space is the events because I love events and how they inform us and bring people together to share ideas. EvoveHer has an extensive events calendar including branding workshops and how to use Instagram for business. But they also have fireside chats like the She Did That documentary sneak peek on March 10, 2018.

Lastly, as a social media queen and blogger, I love the hashtag #fuelyourpassion and that they have a wall and glam light for women to take pictures and post on social media. I feel like women connect when taking pictures and commenting on Instagram and this was a nice added touch to the inspiring Coworking space.

Women’s Coworking Space Pop-Up:

EvolveHer is the first permanent space for women only. But I’ve been going to the Ladies Room, which is a weekly Coworking space inside the Coworking office, Coalition Impact, also in River North. That too, is a great area for women to collaborate every week and learn from graphic designers and writers and founders. The mains difference is that it’s only available on Wednesday’s and then a special free dat once a month (which if you follow my Insta Stories has amazing snacks and cocktails as well as good community.)

One of my favorite Chicago PR companies, Exclusive PR also has a space there. Once a month they offer free Coworking and then a mixer immediately following.

I really appreciate the community in Chicago that helps women succeed and having a space that can be girly and empowering and also inviting and propelling. It’s really exciting to see in Chicago.

How to Find The Right Coworking Space For You:

There are so many Coworking spaces in Chicago and the industry is only expanding. I would suggest to sign up for some events, see who you want to connect with or which area in the city that is best for your commute,and then explore. As a blogger who has spent way too much time at Starbucks, a Coworking space is truly valuable to grow your brand, find a mentor, and learn while your building your empire.

You can see a map of 50 Coworking spaces in Chicago that was created by Vertabiz.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Chicago Women Talk Social Media, Charging Clients, and Why They Pursued Entrepreneurship

Six female entrepreneurs shared their stories of success at Kristin Ford’s first LevelUp – Building a Stronger Her event at The Frontier in Chicago, IL in October 2017. 

This was better than a Forbes article – it was the real women – all young, all successful, all entrepreneurs sharing their stories about how they – well, how they got terribly ill, how they were under-resourced, how they were deemed too young, how they failed and how, despite all of those things, they made it. They built the businesses they said they were going to build. And some went on to build more businesses.

Kristin Ford, a successful entrepreneur, who has extensive work coordinating and running events for Nike Inc., and then in LA where she’s assisted with big events like LA Fashion Week and movie premiers, decided to break out on her own and start a company.

For her first event, she gathered strong, female entrepreneurs for a ladies brunch in Chicago at The Frontier in October 2017.

After a mimosa and some of the freshest and decadent food, including beignets, we all gathered to hear from these six women.

By the end of the luncheon, the bartender turned to me and told me about his dream to start his own company.

Female Entrepreneur Panelists:

Samantha Frontera- A former morning news producer at KQTV and television news reporter at WFFT-TV, Samantha didn’t want to be told she wasn’t good enough every day. She decided to take her talent and build her own PR company, Exclusive PR. Windy City Cosmo has worked with her agency on several occasions including this female entrepreneurship story and this Grateful4Her campaign. 

Chrishon Lampley – Despite several setbacks, Chrishon followed her passion for wine and in 2013 founded Love Cork Screw wines. She also has six wine scented candles in Target. As she’s built her brand with 20,000+ social media followers, she’s been recognized for her brand. Chrishon was awarded Fifth Third Bank’s Entrepreneur of the Year and is a tastemaker for Mariano’s. 

Chrishon Lampley, a sommelier who founded Love Cork Screw in 2013 and partners with grocery store chain, Mariano’s. Photo: Love Cork Screw

Chiara Graham – Chiara believes in creating a lifestyle with multiple forms of revenue.  She is the co-owner of Graham Financial Mall. She is also a realtor in Atlanta at Keller Williams. On top of that, she founded iGoalDig, where she helps others become an entrepreneur and tap into their passion. From Chicago, Chiara now resides in Atlanta.

Theresa Siaw – Theresa is a serial entrepreneur. She is currently directing Omni Healthcare, a multi-location Chicago health clinic for the underserved. One of the projects at the  Omni Healthcare Division Street location is to launch a program to reintegrate former gang members back into the Humboldt Park community in a positive, productive way. You can read about one of their back to school initiatives here. 

Theresa Siaw, Chicago Entrepreneur in the healthcare sector. Photo: Omni Healthcare

Dominique El Jones – She is Miss. Illinois United States 2016. She is also a project engineer at Reed Construction.

Jessica Zweig Fisher – Jessica is one of Inc. Magazine’s  top digital marketers to watch in 2017. She founded SimplyBe Agency where she does content development and content growth and much more. Prior to that, she built Chicago’s largest magazine for women.

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THIS IS A PVA: (Positive vibes announcement) Yesterday, my team and I went out for cocktails at @thechicagodelta for a Friday happy hour. (My new favorite bar in Chicago, PS.) The guy who sat us was named Eddie, and as he passed out our menus and filled our water glasses, he casually asked us how we were all doing. "Great, thanks. You?", we casually replied. His response: "Living the dream. I get to wake up every day, breathe, live this life, work this job, be in this cool city, hang around new people all the time. Living my best life." He meant every word of it, I could feel it. It wasn't cheesy, it was 100% sincere, and it shell shocked me. It made me super present to the language I use when describing how I am. It reminded me that we can ALL "live the dream," in any moment, of any day, no matter what it is we think we are chasing. The fact that we get to wake up to a life that let's us breathe, connect, work, do and meet people like Eddie IS the dream. So next time someone asks you "how are you doing?," consider that your answer could change someone's entire perspective, and that genuine positive vibes are not only effective, they are essential. Happy Saturday, guys. 💛✌🏼#positivevibes #livingthedream . . . . . . . . #liveyourdreams #followyourdreams #liveyourbestlife #spreadlove #kindnessmatters #positivevibesonly #vibes #vibesdontlie #youareloved #sincere #ootd #stylesaturday #styleinspo #igstyle #connection #girlboss #bossbabe #ladyboss #dreamteam #dreamwork #hustlehard #bareyoursoul #realtalk💯 #happysaturday #saturdayvibes

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What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?

“Entrepreneurship was always in me,” Chrishon Lampley. 

“I think I got turned down a lot of times in the job market. I started my own business. It was very hard to get my first client. I saw a check for $5 one time. I loved being my own boss. I started with one employee and now we have 20. Everyone has it in them – you have to find your own passion and what you’re good at,” Theresa Siaw.

“Right now I still work for a corporation. I think it’s important to understand your own goals. Yes, you’re working for someone else but it’s going to benefit you. Never lose your dream while serving someone else’s dream.  I started my first company when I was 26,” Chiara Graham.

“I did what a lot of entrepreneurs did – I solved my problems. I launched Cheeky Chicago,” Jessica Zweig Fisher.

“I feel like I fell into being an entrepreneur. I was a broadcaster and it’s not glamorous. In small markets, you don’t have your family and the women are very competitive. I didn’t love going into the cornfield and hearing I wasn’t good enough for the news director. I worked at an agency who fired everyone a week before Christmas…Someone just said, ‘why don’t you try to do this and go for this?’ Having that one person who believes in you, helps you take that step forward,” Samantha Frontera. 

When Do I Start Charging Clients? And When Do I Start Charging Them More?

“Money. I have none. It has to move off the shelf. And consistently move off the shelf. You always have to feed profits back into your business,” Chrishon Lampley. 

“When I started iGoalDig, it was just a t-shirt line. I wasn’t charging people for picking my brain and for consultations. I was talking to strangers for 30 min. I realize the value of just talking. Everything costs. Someone asked if I can sit down with a stranger about business. I thought, ‘You want to have lunch? You have to pay,'” Chiara Graham. 

“A year ago a couple came to me who owned a restaurant. Again, my company is a re-launch. So, I was willing to take smaller clients…Now, people try to low ball me, I just say ‘no.’ Know you’re worth. It’s okay to have a lower price contract, but once you have several case studies, you need to keep going,” Samantha Frontera. 

“When you feel that fear rise up that you’re going to ask for more money than you’re used to, lean into that,” Jessica Zweig Fisher.

Social Media is All About Me: A Wake-Up Call to Turning Likes Into Dollars:

“People aren’t picking up magazines like they use to. They’re looking at Facebook. Tell people to like your Facebook page,” Chrishon Lampley.

“Social Media is no longer social media, it’s the Internet. I’m in branding. They don’t call it ‘talk media.’ They call it social media because it’s about socializing. You want to inspire, entertain,” Jessica Zweig Fisher. 

She encouraged everyone to read, “Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World.” As a branding expert, Jessica shared that people don’t really care about you, it’s more effective when your social media comes from a place of service or value.

Resources to Pursue Entrepreneurship:

This LevelUp luncheon addressed several questions, but one of the main ones is how to start a business. We all have ideas. We all wish that things existed that don’t. But, there’s only a select few that pursue their dreams every single day. So, how do you get started?

I encourage everyone to take these three steps:

  1. Find a group: there are so many female groups and resources out there to help you get started and to introduce you to the people you need to know. There are these professional networking groups and then there are groups like Ms. Tech, SheSays Chicago, and pop-up events like this panelist discussion: Chicago Female Entrepreneurs and ArcLight Partner to Discuss ‘Joy’. Get to know the women who are raising over $1 million for their startups or those who are building their empire in Chicago. We all need people to bounce ideas off of, learn from, and encourage us on the journey.
  2. Write down your goals. Write out your ideas. And put them into a business plan. Do some research about the industry. Find out how you can make a profit. Think about how much money you will need. Consider how you will bootstrap or raise money.
  3. Start. After you have thought about everything that could go wrong – the money you don’t have, the knowledge you don’t have and every other fear or doubt – start, despite it all. Don’t quit your job. Don’t do something irrational. But where you are right now, you can start working on your passion.  



Friendships Drive Uber and Lyft’s Race to Self-Driving Cars

Lyft has made it’s next leap forward in the ride-sharing economy – they are becoming self-driving, and they are doing it with the best in the business.

Everyone who has ever had an idea they believed in knows the feeling of needing friends more than they need you. (If you don’t believe it, look at Instagram and see all of the bloggers helping bloggers). It’s not balanced. But, it also doesn’t mean that the person with the idea doesn’t bring something of value to the table. And furthermore, it doesn’t mean that they can’t grow to usurp the market share in the industry. Lyft has long been the lesser ride sharing platform, and by lesser I mean less in-demand than Uber (and also I believed in Uber’s future through partnerships and still only use their ride-sharing platform). Nonetheless, that is of course in testament to dollars and cents – Lyft is valued below $10 Billion and Uber is valued at $68 Billion (or $50 Billion depending on which shareholders you ask).

One of my favorite innovative newsletter, The Hustle, talked about the Underdog, Lyft this in this morning round-up. Lyft has in many ways been far behind, but just because you’re behind, doesn’t mean you can’t catch up. It just means you may need your friends more than they need you right now. In Lyft’s greatest round of catch-up, they are striking into the autonomous car business – a future technology that will make car’s safer, but on the other side, has undergone a lot of setbacks during recent testing  – particularly Uber’s beta test in San Francisco and the more relevant news – Uber’s lawsuit with Waymo, the former Google self-driving car project, over the self-driving technology.

This piece of news changes it all – for Lyft that is.  While the lawsuit continues, shade can still be thrown, and that’s exactly what Waymo, “the friend” is doing by partnering up with Lyft. It’s not because they’re such good friends. It’s because the big player didn’t play fair. Lyft is Uber’s arch nemesis. It’s another blow to Uber, and it’s another necessary partnership that is quite frankly keeping Lyft in the game.  Will this new investment in self-driving Lyft fleets be a good move for Waymo? And will this actually pay dividends for GM – the giant that’s been investing in Lyft all along when they needed it the most?

Lyft has a vision – a four year vision – that by 2021 self-driving Lyft cars will make up the “majority” or it’s network. And while that sounds noble, I think it’s also interchangeable. Autonomous cars are the future even if some may believe that the technology is better suited for trucks on highways than stop and go cars in cities. The technology is set, it’s being tested, and by 2025 self-driving cars will be built and sold by Ford. There are of course other players in this game including Daimler, Tesla, Volvo and Apple.

Uber and Lyft’s face-off is interesting. Uber drivers are Lyft drivers. They must know this. While the brand is remarkably different (and that does change some things like reputability and users and even the bottom line re: #DeleteUber campaign), maybe as long as the face is the same, the game isn’t going to change that much until there’s no people – there’s just a car waiting for you. The destination is clear: autonomous cars, but the vehicle to get there will be the real surprise.

What do you think about Lyft’s new friendship circle?


Why Emma Watson Was Wrong

We all get really excited when there is a trending topic. It’s an opportunity to become known. To be liked and shared.

But, far too many times, businesses and people use the opportunity to desensitize the issue at hand and further their own agenda.

They don’t even mask it. They wholeheartedly use someone’s name or someone’s death to bring greater attention to their cause.

Alan Rickman, a colleague of Emma Watson’s for the Harry Potter series, died at the early age of 69 this month.

Emma Watson tweeted the below tweet as her first message on the platform concerning Rickman’s death:

This was the FIRST tweet she mentioned Alan Rickman. She of course retweeted a few others and posted more tweets about his death that have no relation to feminism or her political agenda.

To start, what Emma Watson is doing with the United Nations as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador is amazing. She is making feminism a forefront topic. Her 2014 HeForShe speech is truly exceptional, not only in its delivery, but in changing the essence of what feminism means for men.

This is a perfect tweet of Alan Rickman for her HeForShe campaign, which invites men to advocate for feminism.

However, there is a time and place to talk about your political agenda or marketing material.

Yes, this is a quote from Alan Rickman.

Yes, it shows that both colleagues supported each other.

But, yet, it’s distasteful. It’s self-serving.

Examples of Brands Responding to Sensitive Issues:

This happens a lot when brands and brand ambassadors create content around sensitive issues like Martin Luther King, Jr., The 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as hot topic issues like politicians, gun control, and abortion.

9/11 Terrorist Attacks and MLK Day:

Adweek posted a great article “Brands Miss The Mark with 9/11 Tweets,”  critiquing how brands respond to the 9/11 terrorist attack anniversary.

With Martin Luther King, Jr.’s day of remembrance, celebrities took the time to Instagram a few pictures of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Thank you, #MLK

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And, that’s truly the right move. In Adweek’s article, author Lauren Johnson says that the best brands were the ones that kept is simple with pictures of the American Flag and the words “never forget.”

Deciding to speak about a sensitive issue or not speak is always a tough call for brands.

Subway and Jared Sex Scandal:

Handling sensitive issues indirectly associated with your brand is tricky. It’s something Subway had to deal with in August 2015 when its previous brand ambassador, Jared Fogle, who was involved in a sex scandal.

The Beancast, a weekly podcast produced by Bob Knorpp about news and issues affecting marketers today, had a conversation about how Subway should respond to the matter in the episode, “The Circle of Strife”. Guest speaker, Nicole Kelly, CEO of Social Media Examiner suggested that Subway donate money to causes against pedophilia. However, other panelists including Jeff Jaffe, CEO of Evol8tion and David Spark, President of Spark Media Solutions disagreed. Host Bob Knorpp had the argument that Jared has everything to do with the Subway brand, while brands who post content about 9/11, have nothing to do directly with 9/11 attacks. David Spark argued that Subway should say nothing.

For an article by Momentology, the study of consumers and the digital media they use and engage with across the entire consumer decision journey, 33 branding experts  were asked how they would respond to the Jared/Subway PR crisis. Some branding experts agreed with Nicole Kelly, like Rebecca Brooks, who said Subways should donate to charities and speak about the issue—not ignore it. Other branding experts said to ignore it and focus on the food.

Subway ultimately handled the PR crisis by removing Jared from the brand. 

Will Smith and The Oscars:

Then there are sadly, everyday issues in America, like racism. Trevor Noah spoke with Ice Cube this week in his show, “The Daily Show” about movies like “Straight Outta Compton” not being recognized for an Oscar.

On Tuesday, January 19, 2016, “Will Smith” was trending on Twitter over Jada Pinkett Smith’s announcement that she is boycotting the Oscars. She asked other actors to boycott the award show as well. This is because her husband, Will Smith was not nominated, along with fellow African Americans.

This is the second year that all of the major nominees for the Oscars are white. US Magazine reported that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion.”

Some actors reprimanded the Smith’s for asking actors to put their careers in jeopardy for the cause.

The New York Daily News started their article with “Take note Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith: Getting political has its risks.”

Some may argue that Jada Pinkett Smith is making this issue personal—about her, while others think it’s a broader statement. You can watch Jada Pinkett Smith’s video on Fox News.

“Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” Pinkett Smith said. “And we are a dignified people and we are powerful.”

In this case, I applaud Jada Pinkett Smith. Her message is relevant, especially with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Yes, it’s a personal issue to her, and yes, she would like her husband to be nominated, but she is bringing light to a much greater issue. It’s not only about her.

How Brands Can Be Part of Sensitive Issues:

The key about sensitive issues is to not make them about your agenda or your brand. While each case is vastly different, there are a few things to consider in your brand’s message about sensitive issues.

  • Have Empathy About The Issue

Events like the 9/11 terrorist attacts have a profound impact—a direct impact—on Americans. A death of a colleague and of a favorite childhood character, like Alan Rickman, has a great impact on a lot of fans.

The first step is realizing that you are responding to a sensitive issue and what you as a brand says or doesn’t say will have a deeper impact than the average social media trolls who are flippantly creating negative comments.

  • Recognize That It’s Not About You

Your legacy and your brand’s legacy does not need to be associated with the event. Feminism is not part of Alan Rickman’s legacy. It is part of Emma Watson’s. P.S. This is Alan Rickman’s legacy according to The Atlantic.

  • Don’t Provide a Self-Serving Call to Action

This is tough. In blog posts and in marketing, the call to action is the most important piece. But, sometimes, we need to stop trying to make brands relevant to every cause and every issue when it’s not.

  • Keep The Message Simple And Respectful

Don’t turn a sensitive issue into an advertisement. A simple “never forget” for 9/11 or the image of the Eiffel Tower during the Paris Attacks last fall does more for your brand.

Overall, if a brand is going to participate in conversations around a sensitive issue, they should be respectful. There are always innocuous trending topics to be apart of (i.e.).