This month’s Badass Business Woman is a sheer force to be reckoned with. Quite possibly the best writer I’ve ever come across, she’s insanely intelligent, proactive and gutsy; something I love to see in women. Emily is someone everyone should have in their life. She brings raw emotion and talent to any situation and has been an integral outlet for me regarding life, business and creating my own path in the entrepreneur avenue. Ladies, meet Emily.
Please state your name and where you live (at the moment!)
Emily Rose Antflick – In a Victorian attic with a sick rooftop patio on the border of Kensington Market & Little Italy, Toronto #The6
Tell me the story of Shecosystem and how you started your business
Shecosystem is a coworking and wellness community that brings together female entrepreneurs, freelancers and mobile professionals who share space, resources, a sense of sisterhood, and a commitment to integrating holistic self-care into their working lives.
The idea grew out of a few seeds – let’s rewind to a little over a year ago. It was a brutal winter in Toronto, and my first back in the northern hemisphere after a few years living in Bali and Australia, and travelling in India and Nepal. I was working as a high school teacher at a school that was a terrible fit, and was engaged to marry an Aussie guy I’d met abroad. I was emotionally and energetically depleted, but still had to show up every day and fake it at work. At the same time, I was running an organization called G Day for Girls that brought together over 250 people to empower and celebrate girls’ transition into adolescence. While I couldn’t let on at work that my life was falling apart, I tried being honest and vulnerable with my steering committee – and saw how they galvanized, how we suddenly became more productive and more cohesive as a team.
Which leads to the second seed: through G Day, I connected with an incredibly diverse and powerful ecosystem of women creating the lives and businesses of their dreams. At G Day, I saw how thrilled these women were to be in the same space and co-create – and how rare and powerful it was for them to connect in person.
After I quit my job, a coach was helping me identify what I wanted to do next. She asked me, “What delights you?” And I realized that it was helping women like myself get unstuck from whatever is keeping them constrained. I started getting involved in women’s groups and networks, ran a retreat, and trained to facilitate a conscious freestyle dance modality. I realized that I loved, and was good at, holding space for women to connect with each other, themselves, and their environment.
I also realized that I could create a safe and engaging workplace where I would want to show up every day – authentically, vulnerably, and empowered to take risks and grow beyond my comfort zone. I also want to give value to the feminine in our working world. I want to show that a feminine way of doing business can lead to abundance.
I registered the business and started building a community of women whose input and experiences over the last seven months have helped me identify what the coworking space needs to look like.
What have you learned in the process that will stay with you forever?
I’ve learned that when you create a container for women to connect, magical things happen in those spaces between us. Over and over, my community has shown me that everything I need – whether it’s tips on the best accounting software, compassion when I’m overwhelmed with self-doubt, or a volunteer for an event – is right there if I can just be open enough to ask for help.
I’ve learned to find a balance between setting clear goals, but also trusting the unknown. It’s important for the process to set timelines and strategic plans, but you can’t let them cage you in or cause anxiety. Be open to revisiting and modifying everything. There will always be unanswerable questions and you can’t agonize over them too much.
Finally, I’ve learned how important it is to be guided by the core values of your business, and to model them in all areas of your life. When you are your brand, your clients know when you’re not being authentic. Shecosystem’s core values – collaboration, community, openness, accessibility, sustainability, and self-care – guide my decisions, help me create relationships and build a team, and generally keep me in alignment.
Do you believe more women should become solo/entrepreneurs? What do you think women bring to the table?
Women are leading an entrepreneurial groundswell at the moment. Feminine entrepreneurship is picking up momentum and legitimacy – just follow any of the hundreds of hashtags out there #femalefounder #girlboss etc. Shecosystem celebrates what women bring to the table: a holistic perspective, a desire for connectedness and collaborative spirit, a sense of power based on responsibility rather than domination, and a deep well of creativity. We need these skills for our economy and our planet.
Can you dish out some advice for women who are thinking about starting something on their own?
As I said before, trust the unknown. Trust that if your business sings your soul’s song, your will attract the people who want to sing along. Trust in nature’s patterns – cycles, networks, waves – these patterns apply to human systems too; they have an effect on us and be helpful metaphors for what’s happening in your biz and your self.
What are your plans for Shecosystem?
I plan to open a space in fall 2016 – madly searching for real estate now, which is not easy or cheap in downtown Toronto. But I’m going to find the perfect spot to put down the roots of the Shecosystem. I’m looking forward to hosting all kinds of individuals, groups and events that celebrate the creativity and drive of the women in our community. I want this to be a hub where women connect with themselves, each other, and the human and natural ecosystems that we’re a part of.
What makes you the happiest about what you’re doing?
Being self-directed. It’s that simple: being responsible for making my own decisions and guiding the future of this organization. Being able to put my vision out there – and finally really teach – without the constraints of institutions, curriculum expectations, and hierarchical staffroom politics.
What’s something that you’re proud of yourself for doing? Being? Learning? Realizing?
I’m proud of myself for becoming more intentional in my daily life and for cultivating a better friendship with the universe. I guess I’d say I’m living more soulful than I was a year ago, when I first planted those seeds.
To gain more insight into Emily’s Shecosystem, visit the site here: Shecosystem