It seems like just yesterday Chanel and I were sitting down for our brunch and mimosa tradition that we had now made a weekly thing, and she said to me…”Okay, so I have this idea and I’m only going to do it if you will do it with me.” Then she proceeded to pitch me the concept of “Dames Collective”. Of course at this time it had no name, and it consisted of getting brunch with a couple of San Diego business owners and talking about our companies over Champagne. Fast forward one year later and I am blown away by what Dames Collective has become — Over 40 consistent members, a second chapter in Phoenix, five other chapters on the way, and the opportunity for Chanel and I to run Dames full-time.
Here are a few important lessons I have learned in the last year of running Dames Collective:
It is possible to build something from nothing.
It is always more fun building it with your best friend.
Having a strong mission is the most important aspect of any business venture. We’ve always known our “why”, but not always our “how” and our mission kept us on track.
I’m not as good at remembering names as I thought. (Sorry)
Effective networking isn’t about selling your business to as many people as possible. It’s about being 100% yourself, attracting people who are ok with that and building lasting relationships with them.
When Chanel and I set out to do this, we had NO IDEA what it looked like and what/who it would attract. We knew there was a need for this type of community in San Diego, but we had no idea how much we would need it in our own lives. Thank you to all of our incredible members. We feed off of your energy. We are inspired everyday by your passion and your drive. Thank you for giving us a reason to do this, and thank you for making it worth it.
Thank you to all of our sponsors and the companies that believed in our mission and partnered with us when all we had to show for it was a one-page website and an idea.
Chanel — Thank you. Thank you for making me do this with you. Thank you for disagreeing with me even when I don’t like it. Thank you for helping me grow as a person in business and in life. Thank you for knowing when we’ve done enough and forcing me to have a glass of wine and relax the rest of the day. Here’s to our first year — It was a bit bumpy, but we learned a lot and we will only move up from here.
WOW! We are at one year already? When I look back, it doesn’t feel like the time has passed quickly or slowly. Does that even make sense? When Brittney and I embarked on this journey together in early 2017, I didn’t realize the potential or the impact Dames Collective would have. I had an idea that stemmed from a selfish need of my own. I wanted to find new gal pals that also happened to own their own business and understood the trials and tribulations of what it meant to be a business owner. I wanted to be able to reach out to any one of them with questions, concerns or even just victories that one of my 9-5er friends wouldn’t personally understand.
Fast forward a couple months and we were DEEP into planning our launch party. We had originally hoped to get at least 50 people in the room to see if they gravitated towards our idea and saw our vision, so we set sail to find vendors, venues, sponsors, caterers, photographers, etc. I remember so vividly being on vacation in Michigan that summer, right before the launch party, taking calls and sending emails whenever I had spare time when all of the sudden I was hit with that “WOAH” moment. I sat back from my computer, smiled, and said to myself… “this is what people talk about. This is what it means to have a job that doesn’t feel like work. To truly LOVE what you do”, but I had no idea how much more was in store for us or how much more my passion would grow for this little community of ours.
September 14th, 2017: Launch Day. Brittney and I are running around like chickens with our heads cut off when we get a call from the local news wanting to do a segment on us that morning. So, naturally, I run over to the mall and ask a girl at Sephora to make me look human, throw on one of the largest shirts Brittney owns, make my way back to the venue and made that shit happen! Everything was going as planned… till the sink hole. For those of you that weren’t in San Diego that day, there was a very random, very large, sink hole from the depths of hell that opened up on the freeway, directly in front of our venue. Brittney and I looked at each other and said, “cool.” We didn’t know if this was the universe’s way of saying, “Nope. This wasn’t a good idea. Quit while you are ahead.” Or it saying, “This is your first test.” Though it may have taken everyone a lot longer to get to the event as planned, it happened and it was INCREDIBLE! Remember how we wanted to get 50 people there? They came! And so did 150 more people on top of that!! It was one of the most incredible and proud moments of my life.
I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to our absolutely incredible members who have created the community Brittney and I always hoped for. To our hard working and always inspiring Main Dames for being patient with us as we figure things out along the way. To our friends and family that have stuck by our side and constantly encouraged us to never give up on an idea that turned into a community that turned into a business. To all the businesses and sponsors that have believed in us enough to work with us, even when we had nothing to show for ourselves other than passion and a simple website. And lastly, and most importantly, thank you to my beautiful best friend and business partner, Brittney. You totally get me. You challenge me, you say no when I just want to hear a yes and you remind me to relax when my stress is at an all time high… which usually happens to be before every event! One day you will want to get rid of me or get sick of me BUT NOT TODAY!!
For my finale (after this long ass post), I want to give a cheers! “There are Tall Ships and Small Ships and Ships that Sail the Sea But the Best Ships are Friendships So Cheers To You and Me!