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 ūüėć by member @lauraleighbean

A post shared by EvolveHer (@evolveher) on

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.


Tortoise Supper Club Creates Cocktail For a Cause This April
River North Restaurant & Lounge Raising The Infant Welfare Society of Chicago During the Month of April 2017.

What if you could make the world a better place just by heading to a bar and ordering a drink? ¬†Well, it’s a start.

Chicago’s Tortoise Supper Club (350 North State St. in Chicago, IL.  ) is helping diners do just that through their Cocktails for a Cause program.  Every month the metropolitan supper club, known for its steaks, chops and fresh seafood, partners with a Chicago non-profit to help raise awareness and funds for that organization.  The River North restaurant creates an original limited edition cocktail and donates $3 of every one sold to that month’s non-profit partner.

In April, Tortoise Supper Club is working to support The Angel Harvey Family Health Center РInfant Welfare Society of Chicago, a community health center that serves more than 13,000 patients from the city’s most vulnerable and medically underserved populations.  In honor of their April partnership, the team at TSC created Angel’s Elixir, a modern twist on the popular Brazilian Batida cocktail. This beverage combines Cachaça, Fresh Lime Juice and a housemade Strawberry Shrub (strawberry, apple cider vinegar and a touch of black pepper) to create a refreshing drink. The Angel’s Elixir is finished off with a sprig of aromatic Rosemary and some Candied Strawberry.

The Angel’s Elixir cocktail will be available through April 30th; $3 from every one sold will go directly to IWS.

Weekly Specials:

Weekly specials include Half Priced Signature Cocktails on Wednesdays, Saut√©ed Frog Legs and Buttermilk Battered Cod on Fridays, Northwoods Dry Rubbed Prime Rib on Saturdays and $1 Oysters / $1 Shrimp Cocktail from 4:30 ‚Äď 6:30 pm on weekdays.

Happy Hour Cocktails:

Tortoise Supper Club does an awesome Happy Hour that includes $1 Oysters and $1 Shrimp Cocktail MondayFriday from 4:30 pm Р6:30 pm.  They also offer Half-Priced Signature Cocktails on Wednesdays from 4:30 pm Р6:30 pm.
Live Sinatra-style jazz music is played in the lounge every Friday and Saturday night.

Osteria La Madia Italian Sunday Brunch in River North

Can I get an egg on top of that?

There really was nothing that I didn’t enjoy at a recent media brunch at Osteria La Media (59 W. Grand Ave.) ¬†in River North.

Something about a flower on every table, ready to serve Bellini, and background music that isn’t show tunes, makes me feel zen and happy on Sunday mornings.

The eggs were sensational, as was Chef Jonathan Fox, as was the ambiance at Osteria La Madia.

But most importantly, as all brunch spots should be, it was perfect for discussing what happened last night.

The Italian way is to sit and eat and talk for hours. And  Osteria La Madia has a special Sunday brunch from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm for you to get into all of the details of your Tinder dates, the new posh restaurant that we all will agree to try, and the height of the new guy at the table.

Italian Appetizers:

To start, our table received three appetizers for a family styled Sunday brunch in the city.

I’m Italian. So, when I saw prosciutto and melon on the table, I knew this was going to be an authentic Italian meal. Prosciutto is like special ham. You can eat way too much of it and it goes well wrapped around sweet melon or paired with bread.


Prosciutto and Melon. Photo: Amanda Elliott

The second appetizer we tried was seasonal fruit with house-made yogurt. I think everyone who has tried to eat yogurt for breakfast can agree that not all yogurt tastes the same. This yogurt was rich and thick and tasted fresh from the farm like the food I tried at Farmhouse. The oats and surprisingly, the grapes paired well with the house-made yogurt.


Seasonal Fruit and House-Made Yogurt. Photo: Amanda Elliott


The last part of our appetizers was the winter kale citrus salad with pineapple and house-made farm cheese. The dressing was light and the cheese paired well with the pineapples.

Honestly, when I think of brunch I think of bacon and eggs and maybe pancakes, but I really appreciated how the food at Osteria La Madia is flavorful, carefully prepared and most of all healthy.

Winter Kale Citrus Salad with Pineapple and House-made Farm Cheese. Photo: Amanda Elliott


When I think of Osteria La Madia, I think of eggs. The Italian restaurant recently added Sunday brunch to their menu, so the chef has been experimenting with a few dishes like the Chicken Rillette hash over Acabiatta sauce (pictured below).

My personal favorite creation is the breakfast pizza.¬†Osteria La Madia¬†¬†offers seven different pizzas like the Egg and Prosciutto di Parma and the 3 Hour Roasted Grape. ¬†I would show you a picture, but it doesn’t do justice for how delicious it tastes. Osteria La Madia is known for its pizzas, and they did a great job transitioning a night-time favorite into a daytime must.


Chef Jonathon Fox is creating new dishes for the brunch menu. Photo: Amanda Elliott


Another one of my favorites was the Fried Egg Bruschetta, which is an¬†Italian favorite with a breakfast spin. The bruschetta included ciabatta bread topped with garlic spinach, lemon aioli, bacon, house-made fennel sausage and fontina. For a savory brunch, I highly recommend Fried Egg Bruschetta. Plus, there’s always a Bellini to give you a touch of sweetness in the morning.

Fried Egg Bruschetta Photo: Amanda Elliott

Bellini Please:

At this media tasting, out table of six had a few Bellinis and mimosas.

Osteria La Media offers different juices including: peach puree, apricot puree, pineapple juice, pomegranate juice, fresh squeezed orange juice,  and grapefruit juice. I am a Florida girl, so I naturally love the standard orange juice mimosas, but this time I tried something new.

Our table enjoyed the pomegranate Bellini and I spiced things up with a half orange juice and half pomegranate Bellini. Respectable people also had a cup of coffee on the side.

Bellinis at Osteria La Madia. Photo: Amanda Elliott




CDM Media Moves into Google’s Previous Chicago Office and Seeks Rock Stars

CDM Media, a leading B2B technology marketing and media firm, producing C-level executive events globally, has moved a long way to make Chicago home and headquarters, which was previously in Hawaii.

“We chose Chicago definitely for the opportunity, said Amanda Miller, Corporate Recruiter at CDM Media, “We needed a central hub closer to our client base.”

While the company has made Chicago its home for eight years, it most recently moved further into the city, in the heart of River North at 20 W. Kinzie, a Class A Business building,¬†into Google’s previous work space.

Miller and her fellow coworker, Bianca Medici, Corporate Recruiter at CDM Media, gave me a tour of the office to talk about work life balance, rock stars, and their work hard, play hard mantra.

CDM Media’s Open Office Divides Work and Play:

Three times the space of their old office, CDM Media is actively recruiting new employees at its Chicago office to fill the added sales desks. A global company, CDM Media has offices in New York City and Cardiff, UK, as well. At the Chicago location, there are about 50 employees.

Upon arrival, CDM Media still has vibrant colors like orange and green and open office space with glass conference rooms, like most work spaces.

The space is evenly divided between business and pleasure.

To the left, is a sound proof conference room. The chairs swivel, and are prefect for intense meetings or starting relationships.

Past the glass doors, is the infamous kitchen and play space. It’s a wide open area with an orange couch, foosball, shuffle board and air hockey tables, and two massage chairs. There are complimentary snacks, as well as wine and beer kegs.

“We have a family feel,” Medici states, “On multiple Friday’s we have stayed until 8:30 and 9:00 pm hanging out, and then go to Siena Tavern across the street.”

Just a bit further is a separate open, oval conference room. It has the octagon shape and it feels like IBM left it there from the 90s.

On the opposite end of the office are workstations‚ÄĒlow-rise cubicles that provide head shots of each employee‚ÄĒwith HP monitors on top.

Conversations take over as the background noise for the day.

Adjacent to the open chairs are colorful rooms. There is one top to bottom (including the ceiling) blue room, and two orange rooms  for breakout sessions and flex conference rooms.

Towards the very end, is the CEO’s office, which also has clear paneling.

CDM Office Culture

Who is a Rock Star?

“I think that anyone can be a rock star,” said Medici, “I don’t think it’s only a Millennial.”

Medici offered that a rock star is not defined by an age bracket, but a state of mind.

“I really want someone who comes into a job and puts all that they can into it. They have self-motivation to achieve.”

We came up with a list of rock star buzz words at CDM Media:

  • work hard, play hard
  • results-driven
  • drive for your own success
  • focused
  • determined
  • sets goals

While we hear buzz words of “work hard, play hard,” and “results driven,” we are still left wondering what those attributes mean. Does it mean coming in early and working late? Does it mean adding x amount of clients?

I dug a little further and asked for a concrete example.

At CDM Media a rock star consistently reaches out to perspective clients. As a caliber, Miller and Medici said 10 pitches per week is a good aim.

While the company doesn’t provide goal setting applications, they expect you to have them. The work culture runs off of personal accountability rather than micro-managing tactics.

“I think I was raised to work my butt off,” said Medici,¬†“At the end of the day, I want to know that I am doing a good job.”

CDM Media puts employees in the driver seat of their own success, providing opportunities for those to advance, who strive for it, as well as guidance from upper-management to direct them there.

The Perks of Being a Rock Star:

Rock stars have perks. So if you are going to call a rock star, do you have to include a massage chair?

“It’s not expected that we provide extras,” said Miller, defending the notion that rock stars don’t need perks.

But, she adds that there is pressure from another source to add perks to the job.

“A lot of times competitive pressures provide [employees] with the little things like the Facebook’s and Google’s of the world who say ‘we have the best talent,'” noted Miller.

Many companies realize that salary and location are not enough. Employees, or rock stars, seek the perks.

Crain’s Business recently had a post in the October 5th weekly edition,¬†“Can’t bankroll a 401(k)? Try Free Yoga or Profit-Sharing,”¬† where author, H. Lee Murphy sheds light to the perks driven workforce. Extra vacation, on-site health classes, and profit-sharing are just a few ways that employers are gifting rock stars with extra goodies in their employee stockings.

In the article, President of¬†Metaphrasis Language & Cultural Solutions, Elizabeth Colon, said, “It seems that a lot of the perks we offer are appreciated just as much as a raise or a 401(k) contribution. They show that we care.‚ÄĚ

Office perks are more like the goody bag at the end of an event. You don’t know what’s in it, but you really want one.

Though the office is divided between desk space and literally, beer and games, the company culture offers structured breaks and times to collectively take a moment to relieve themselves from a rigorous work day. Because, as a rock star, you know you are hard-working.

“The CEO doesn’t have to have the games, the massage chairs,” Miller says, “It makes us feel like we are being rewarded for everything we put in.”

Work Life Balance:

“It’s not like we make you stay later than five if you get your work done,” Medici¬†opens up about CDM Media’s work life balance.

Kyle, an employee at CDM Media, plays in a band. His band just released their first album and everyone went to his concert.

“It’s really cool how much we embrace each other’s passions,” said Medici.

CDM Media is Hiring:

CDM Media is hiring. They recently changed to customer relationship management (CRM), Salesforce from an internal, external list management (Elm), to track sales and data.

“We are a small company creating a lot of traction,” Miller¬†informs.

CDM Media especially seek applicants with a positive outlook, effective communication, leadership, and a go-getter mentality.


From Farm to Table: Farmhouse Chicago

Taking in the framed farm paintings and fresh flowers, we waited at the bar after work.

Upstairs, we met the owners of Farmhouse (228 W. Chicago Ave.).

The Ambiance: Authentic

We looked up.

“Eighty-five percent of what you see is recycled,” Ferdia Doherty, one of the owners of Farmhouse,¬†said pointing to a piece from an old bar on the northwest side.

“We try our best to take care of things from old worlds.”

From the recycled and re-purposed decorations to the cloth napkins, each component of Farmhouse was carefully curated for a farm to table appeal. Though we were in downtown Chicago, it felt like we were eating in the countryside.

From Farm to Table:

“In the winter it’s tough,” divulged Doherty.

Farmhouse is a city restaurant known to locally source fresh foods. When we say locally source, these foods come from Chicago and neighboring states. One of the owners, TJ Callahan, owns a farm in Mineral Point, WI.

“It’s the hardest job he’s ever gotten himself into,” Doherty said.

Callahan began to share the basics of farm life beginning with a story about a well-known country song.

“Johnny Appleseed was not about apple pie,”¬†Callahan¬†said. They were actually singing about apple orchards that produce cider. One of those apple orchards in Wisconsin makes the in-house cider at Farmhouse.

“Cider apples are inedible,” said Callahan. He compared using regular apples to make cider to using grapes from the supermarket to make wine.

Five Course Midwestern Meal:

It was time for the first of five specially prepared dishes for the Midwestern tasting.

“It’s like a PB&J sandwich‚ÄĒa little dancier than that,” the owners described.

Ellis Family Farms Green Grapes and Ham Market Amuse.

Ellis Family Farms Green Grapes and Ham Market Amuse. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Our first bite of Ellis Family Farm Green Grapes and Ham Market Amuse tasted nothing like a simple PB&J. Though bite-sized, each ingredient was finely chopped and placed for an inventive savory pairing. Along with the first course, we tried the Free Priscilla Cider made fresh from the Wisconsin Farm.

With each dish, Executive Chef, Eric Mansavage, surprised us with inventive pairings.

For the second dish, Mansavage treated us with melon¬†soup. The servers placed a bowl of fresh greens in front of us and then separately poured the bright orange melon soup from a jar. The soup was paired with Floyd’s “Calumet Queen’, which helped to balance with spicy aftertaste from the melon soup.

Melon soup from Farmhouse.

A special Green Acres Farm Chilled Melon Soup, Summer Bread Salad, Spiced Yogurt, Crispy Njuda, Mint. Photo: Amanda Elliott

The rainbow trout topped¬†with black bean relish and Swan Creek Bacon Lardon surprised us. It was moist and flavorful and paired well with local brewery, Revolution Brewing’s “Rosa.”

The best main course dish was the combination of BBQ Braised Grassfed Shortribs and Butter Poached Indiana Shrimp served alongside Hazzard Free Farm¬†Pimento Cheese Popcorn Grits and sweet corn. To round out the flavor, the chef paired the beef and seafood with Dark Horse Brewing Company’s “Smells Like a Safety Meeting.”

The final dish of the night did not disappoint. It was as intricate and finely flavored as the amuse-bouche. The Peaches and Cream Ice Cream Sandwich, sounds simple, but it was layered with Mick Klug Farm Michigan Peach Marmalade, Milk Jam, and Ice Cream Vanilla Bean Shortcake. Farmhouse presented it with a flower on top and the semi-sweet “Deminimus Mandarina” from Penrose Brewing to drink, a limited quantity cider which also had fruitful aromas.

Farmhouse Rooftop Garden:

As we ate, Chef Mansavage spoke with us about the food. Some of the ingredients were made right here in Chicago, on top of Farmhouse’s roof. Chef Mansavage took me to the back of the restaurant and showed me the ladder to the rooftop. This was not your typical Chicago rooftop. We actually had to climb a ladder and pull ourselves up. When I reached halfway point, climbing in heels became a bit cumbersome.

Mansavage said, “Come back next time when you are wearing proper shoes.”

Click on the photos below for more details about the dishes and conversations from Farmhouse.