Women With Moxie wasn’t just a project I started; it was a business I founded, grew and ultimately sold. I started it because I longed for connections with other creative, entrepreneurial, bad-ass women. And boy did I get it!
Using my email list and the email lists of two friends (a boutique shop owner and a psychiatrist turned café owner), I invited hundreds of women to an inaugural meeting of… something! I wasn’t really sure at that time. I just knew I wanted to get these women together.
Fifty three women showed up at Metro Coffee & Wine on that summer evening in Sarasota, FL. That’s when I knew that I was onto something.
Having already had a radio show in the area and being friends with a bunch of other crack marketers, Women With Moxie soon outgrew the café. With 700 members and monthly mixers of 120 women, we became our own force in Sarasota. Women With Moxie represented the underrepresented: solopreneurs who were overlooked by the Chamber of Commerce. I partnered with WQ Magazine, a quarterly women’s magazine to exchange great content for great coverage of our events and membership. Photos from our events ended up in just about every Sarasota publication, and I was honored to be featured in three full pages (including the cover) of the business section of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, along with my co-founder and roll model, Laura Gale. Everyone wanted to cover our success.
The Women With Moxie motto was “Good friends. Good fun. Good business.” and I described our mixers as “Ladies night out with a business twist.” They were meant to be fun and not feel like awkward networking events. In addition, I didn’t want women to look at each other as competition – even if they were in the same business. In the name of cooperation and collaboration, I added a second event each month called a “Member2Member” event. This event was put on by members and marketed by Women With Moxie. The idea was to get at least two members to cooperate on an event, and some of these events were the most fun we had. With retail chocolatiers, wine distributors, liquor distributors, dance instructors, and restaurants among our members, our events were always fun and fabulous.
With an interactive and informative website built by yours truly, along with on-brand, consistent marketing, we attracted lots of attention. Among the places we held our monthly mixers were Horsefeathers (now McCurdy’s Comedy Club) and Rustic Grill (now Darwin’s). We didn’t pay to hold our events in any venue because they wanted us. We regularly got free happy hour spreads and drink specials from our incredible venue partners, and I made sure the staff was well compensated for accommodating our large group during our 2-hour mixers. Our one-year anniversary party featured Melanie Massell’s band and food by Cosimo’s.
I made space for many people to be part of the Women With Moxie experience, and I had endless volunteers. We had “Mixmasters” at the door running the sign-in table – a great chance to meet everyone who attended. We had door prize donations. We had event sponsors. And we had Member2Member event planners. I even found hostesses and started chapters in several other cities, including Venice, Tampa and Portland, OR.
I met some of the most incredible women throughout this experience and cherish every moment of it. In the end, I sold the business to a fabulous friend in Portland, but not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for the community I built and the women I brought together. It is one of my proudest accomplishments.