One of the things I love more than anything is launching a brand.
I like conceptualizing, working through the process, sharing the story, getting people excited. I love communication; effective communication. I like the idea that people are brands and we all get to create our own brand. Sometimes it can be off-putting, but when you ask “what’s your brand,” it’s basically asking “what are your values you want to show the world”?
When I biked across America in 2012, I had the opportunity to share the simple statement that $1 provides one African clean water for an entire year. One dollar! I spent two months sharing that story, over and over and over and over. Pedal, share, eat, sleep. And it worked. We raised over $40,000.
And then I came home and launched The Water Ride, where strategic branding, positive media and a solid team helped us raise over $20,000 in just a few years. Not to mention a worthy, important cause that has allowed us to build wells and begin construction on a school in Ghana.
I helped give life to Viva East Bank! by focusing on user-friendly websites, finding a kick-ass designer (she’s really amazing) and building an e-newsletter system that ensured every partner, no matter how involved, stayed informed.
PLEASE PAUSE AND HEAR ME OUT: This is not a humble brag session. This work requires effort from all parties and if I didn’t have wonderful support systems like co-workers, volunteers, motivated residents and a city full of amazing people, success would be much harder to achieve. I am eternally grateful for these people and it is my hope that every single one of them has felt that from me & knows I would help them in a heartbeat.
All of this is leading me to a pivotal moment. A moment where I can turn and run or face my insanely real fears. So, I’ll just say it because I want to see what it feels like when it enters the depths of the interwebs.
I feel destined to start my own business and build enough financial capital to help other women do the same.
When I read about Iowa being ranked last in the nation for businesses owned by women, I had a reaction that surprised me. Emily, what are you going to do about it? You have a voice. You have the skills. You have the connections. Get to work. And within days, I stumbled upon a female coworking space called The Hive Philly. It inspired me. I poured over the website, sent an email to the founder, talked with her on the phone and realized I had to do something similar in Des Moines.
The particular coworking space I envision embodies a place where people collaborate and learn from one another; it encompasses space with big white boards, tables that move around, a couple conference rooms that open up to the community, big open windows. It creates an atmosphere for teens and senior citizens to flourish, to be creative, to challenge themselves. It allows for all-day trainings, visioning weekends, meeting space, coffee breaks and dance parties. It says, come as you are, you beautiful creature. The space makes a statement; no matter what your race, your weight, your income, your style is, you belong.
And I want this dream. I want it so badly. But I need help. I can brand it, share it, get people excited about it, but I certainly don’t know anything about renting space, renovating a space, ensuring I make money, legal agreements, yada yada. I know where I excel and I know where I need the expertise from others. I spent years identifying why my skills matter and here I am, fully aware and tuned in.
Some of you are on a similar journey. You so desperately want to be a part of something bigger than yourself, but where does it even begin? For me, it begins with putting it out there: flawed, imperfect, loosely put together, but full of passion. And maybe stars align and you decide you want to pass this onto your friend, family, coworker, whoever. And maybe it’s a total bust this time around.
If you never try, if you never ask, you’ll never know.
Consider this my attempt, my ask. Fill in the five blank spaces if you feel so inclined to do what Taylor Swift would do. <3