Power of She
Beautiful, powerful, and inspirational. These are just a few words that I would use to describe the feelings I had after attending ChickChat's July, Power of She event. These events are organized by Tracy Klinkroth, founder & CEO of ChickChat, a community of like-minded and engaged women that work to improve the world they live in. ChickChat gives women a platform to voice their stories, share creativity, and exhibit their passions in a setting that is authentic, supportive, and collaborative.
Before the event got started, we had an opportunity to mingle and see the event space - The Collective, which is a breathtaking new space in the heart of Seattle, perfect for virtually any occasion, equipped with a full restaurant/bar, lounge area, stage for live music, and even a rock climbing wall. If you haven't had the chance to check it out yet, I highly recommend requesting a tour and going to see it!
Prior to the panel discussion beginning the ladies had a chance to walk around to different female-owned pop-up shops, visit with each other, and learn about the featured non-profit that was there. I am amazed with the work these women are doing. Take Christine Mackay, co-founder and executive director of the featured non-profit, Crooked Trails, an organization that believes in traveling with a purpose. Crooked Trails was founded in 1998 by Christine and her business partner Tammy, the organization puts together trips around the world to help broaden people's understanding of the impact that travel can have on the world's cultures and ecosystems through community development and sustainable travel programs. Their next trip is coming up in September where they'll be visiting Mumbai and working with more non-profits there to help rescue children born into sex-trafficking. Park Lane Jewelry also had a booth at the event, with gorgeous, fashion-forward pieces – they were also donating 20% of all retail sales from the event to Crooked Trails. That’s the kind of support and sense of community that you see at these events.
As the panel discussion was about to begin everyone finds a seat and Toyia Taylor walks out. Acting as the moderator for this event, Toyia is an absolute powerhouse. She is founder and CEO of We.APP, which means "We Act, Present, and Preform." We.APP is a public speaking organization focusing on authentic conversations. They are the only public speaking program that is offered as an elective or language arts course in the Seattle public school district, and her vision is to take scholars from the back of the classroom that are silent, and make sure they know that they can become leadership in the front. Toyia said she is less focused on presentation and more focused on "how to have authentic conversations that impact people" making her the perfect moderator for this panel.
Toyia began with a nice ice breaker to kick things off, and I was in awe of everyone at this event, and the panel of incredible women business owners which included Risa Blythe, founder and CEO of Girlie Press, a full-service commercial print shop. Risa bought her first printing machine for $3000, it didn't run and it weighed 10,000 lbs. - but part of what fuels Risa's passion is her love for learning how to do these things. She fixed the machine and started running it, she built her business up from there and never looked back, adding in, "I take big risks and I sleep fine at night doing it. When everyone else is holding back, that's where there's opportunity." Now, Risa is running a print shop with over a 100,000 lbs. of equipment and 15 employees!
More inspiring women on the panel included Kathy Tuan and Katrina Romatowski. Kathy is the co-founder and CEO of NASTEA & CO, a bottled beverage company that started just last year as part of a capstone class project at UW. Kathy was actually a pre-dental student studying micro biology and recalls the day that she had her crisis, “I was sitting there studying for my midterms, crying, not because it was hard but because I didn’t care. I realized that my heart was somewhere else, I just didn't know where.” Kathy decided to take a couple of entrepreneurial classes to see what they were all about, shortly after is when she realized this is where her heart is. About a year in, and Nastea & CO is currently selling 2 flavors of white coffee bottled beverages. She said the most valuable thing she's learned as a business owner is learning how to really listen.
Katrina Romatowski is the founder of Katrina Eileen Real Estate. Katrina's firm is made up of about 20 brokers and is the first real estate company in the state of Washington that is recognized as a social purpose organization; they are in line with the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development goals to end poverty globally. For them it is important to remember that "doing good is just as important as doing well." Everyone in the company chooses a purpose they'd like to focus on. For Katrina, she provides housing for foster children that have aged out of the system, and for one of her brokers, Kim, who helps create education for children in a country in Africa. Everything they do, every transaction, and every client they work with, they're also helping put a child through school, put a roof over a foster child's head, and a number of different things to make a difference and work towards a common goal. As her company grows and Katrina looks to bring on more brokers, she said the biggest thing she pays attention to is "how people treat the people they think don't matter.”
These women are seriously sensational. It is the perfect environment to get inspired, put a voice to your creativity, and seek mentorship. ChickChat hosts Power of She events once a month around Seattle – and be sure to mark your calendars and join us on November 14th to see Knack's Co-Founder and CEO Catherine Bye join the panel of marvelous women!