Denver felt like the public coming out for the community, and cofounders Iris Kavanagh and Laura Shook Guzman shined a brilliant light on their vision and the small-but-growing community.
Since Denver, Women Who Cowork has absolutely taken off. There are now more than 750 members in the online community and 114 women-owned coworking spaces listed on the Women Who Cowork map.
A Vital Part of the Coworking Movement
At the recent GCUC Canada conference in Toronto, Women Who Cowork felt less like a fringe coworking organization and more like an increasingly-vital part of the coworking movement.
Women have always been at the heart of coworking, and now many more women—workspace veterans as well as newcomers—are stepping forward as leaders.
Women are leading and growing communities in coworking spaces, small towns, mid-size cities, suburbs, big cities, virtual platforms and everything in-between.
What a thrill to hear conversations in Toronto between superstar new community managers and coworking pioneers; to see small town community builders who are considering opening a space talking with women who have shaped this movement; to watch women go from strangers to collaborators in an afternoon; to witness (and experience) women being held up and supported by each other through the challenges and joys of wrangling together coworking communities.
The Women Who Cowork Experience
The Women Who Cowork Toronto experience started on Sunday, when a handful of us arrived at the Women Who Cowork mansion. We dropped into conversations, laughter and problem-solving mode almost before our luggage hit the ground.
Early the next morning, attendees of the Women Who Cowork retreat trickled in and were met by the open-hearted love that Iris and Laura bring to every gathering.
Throughout day one, we shared, connected, laughed, cried a bit, moved, ate delicious and nourishing food, unwound, relaxed, slowed down and connected with our deeper selves and visions.
It was magical.
We ate the most amazing, nourishing food, prepared by a personal chef. That night, we headed over to The Workaround, a parent friendly coworking space founded by Amanda Munday, for a meetup and panel discussion with Amanda, Iris, Laura, Acme Works founder Christine Andrews, and GCUC Canada producer Ashley Proctor.
The women gathered included the coworking curious, recent additions to the global community of workspace operators, and visionaries who helped create the coworking movement. It was a fun night packed with powerful women committed to supporting each other and the evolution of coworking.
Day two of the retreat, which overlapped with GCUC Canada Camp, was mastermind day—an opportunity for attendees to ask questions, share challenges and clarify our vision and strategies, in collaboration with all the other women.
Personally, I love mastermind day. I could strategize and problem solve all day, and day two of the retreat gave us that chance.
Mastermind topics included scaling, growing a virtual community, finding balance between work and self, reconnecting with meaning in our work, boosting revenue, creating entrepreneurial hubs, hosting satellite events and pop-up coworking, succession planning, negotiating commercial real estate opportunities and more.
Off to GCUC Canada
The day after the retreat, most of us headed to the Toronto Reference Library for GCUC Canada, where the women of the movement—and the values that power us—were well-represented.
GCUC Global is run by Liz Elam and Stormy McBride, GCUC Canada is produced by Ashley Proctor, presenters and panelists included Charlotte Kirby from The Village Hive, Christine Andrews, Tanya Malcolm from Ground Floor Coworking, Covo CEO Rebecca Pan, Amanda Munday, me, Samantha Hulls from The Melting Pot, Nancy Fornasiero from ACE Coworking and Nikki Mobini from Thinktank Workspace.
All in all, the Women Who Cowork were in the house in a big way.
Canadian Women Led the Way
Liz reminded participants that, despite all the noise about the men behind the early days of coworking, it was actually two women—two Canadian women: Tonya Surman and Ashley Proctor—who opened the first coworking spaces.
The Women’s Circle
As GCUC Canada grew from a room full of friends and acquaintances into a pop-up community, Women Who Cowork continued to shine.
The group photo taken at the end of the conference shows the size and power of this vital dimension of the coworking world—the women’s circle.
Together we grow, heal, learn and support, so we can go back to our work stronger, clearer and more connected—to ourselves and each other.
I can’t wait to see what’s next for Women Who Cowork.
Whatever it is, count me in.
Ready to find your people? Join the Women Who Cowork membership platform, which includes an invite to join the WWCO private Facebook community, exclusive access to their monthly Master Mind, as well as an opportunity to add your coworking community to the online searchable map.