Mission Completion!

I want to start off by saying that I am really proud of how this semester turned out. The beginning was a bit slow paced with my late start, but I have to say, things are ending on a really good note. I am so thankful for this experience, not only has it taught me so much about non-profits and working in communications, but I’ve also learned a great deal about myself as well. I’ve learned more about my work ethic, and areas in which I want to improve professionally. I’ve learned more about my career possibilities and what direction I want to head into after I graduate this semester. Working for a non-profit has shown me how important helping others is to me, and I believe it will be a big part of my path.

My skill set has flourished since I began working at Frenchtown Heritage Hub. I found myself having to really put myself “out there” a lot, walking up to people and talking to them, doing business, interviewing folks, and even the simple stuff like introducing myself as a professional was something I was able to work on constantly. If it wasn’t for this internship, this Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, Bruce and Olie, I would not have gained the work experience I needed before I graduated college. My only wish is that, I wish I could have done more, social innovation in college, because the experience is invaluable. All in all, I am truly grateful for this opportunity. Thank you ❤

 

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A Day of Hellos (Never Goodbyes)

As one can probably tell by now, the Women of Woven (also known as WOW) are cheesy and sentimental. With that being said, I will do my best to keep the cheese to a minimum for my final blog post. As we bring the semester to an end I’d like to take the time to truly reflect on my time spent with Woven and this team of #girlbosses; the story, the start up, and the sometimes silliness. This semester has been both tough and rewarding. I came into this opportunity knowing I wanted to learn what the start up life is like and I got that and two of my new favorite people. Its been amazing to see Woven grow as much as it has and know the potential it will reach. Without further adieu, here’s what working with Woven taught me…

  • Finding your voice

As Hannah’s first set of interns, Mack and I had the creative freedom to discover how best to work as a interns to best fit Woven’s needs while having a high sense of independence. I’ve has internships before where I’ve had a faux voice given to me and internships where we weren’t allowed to give opinions. Woven gave me the realm to voice what I thought and use my experience and expertise to best serve the company. It was very empowering to do that and eventually feel comfortable with my voice and as close to an equal as temporary interns can be. I will definitely take away that confidence with me to any new place I may venture in my future.

  • Starting up in the start up world

Domi Station, Catalina Cafe, Mack’s carport, and our beds are just a few of the places Woven work has been done this semester and I love that. Would designated construction crew members be nice? Absolutely. But you have to work with what you have and a lot of times, you have less than you think you do. This is where the start-up community comes in handy. The start up world is all about knowing those who can help you and finding your voice as a business before you go big. I loved seeing the collaboration and creativity shared with so many different workers from so many backgrounds. Being small and brings people together in a community of doer and shakers.

  • Find your tribe

Life is tough, things get hard, especially when you’re trying to change the world. You can only bang you head against the wall so many times before you need some one to bring you a pillow. Have those people in your corner that will critique your work with no qualms, put you to bed when you’re too sleep deprived to get home, and surprise you with coffee in the a.m.. I was so lucky to find this with Mack. I don’t think either of us would’ve stayed sane this semester without each other to lean on and push.

  • Self-care

You can only go so hard for so long, and with a start up (especially in the civil sector), burn out is real. When trying to help others constantly, you have to sometimes be reminded to help yourself. The three of us we’re constantly checking up on one another and sometimes forcing each other to take care. “Hannah have you slept lately?” “Mack, when is the last time you ate something fresh?” “Gaby, have you been home this week?” We have to create a positive and healthy balance between giving wholly to others and taking care of our needs.

  • Always, always, always believe in yourself

I have never seen Hannah waver in her confidence that Woven Futures will succeed. Even though Woven is hardly a year old, she had never doubted that the impact will be long-term and sustainable. Even in my own work through social media and content creation, I’ve learned to create work that I’m confident in even if it means multiple iterations. Being a perfectionist has made this difficult at times but its one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. Go forth and have the confidence to make it in a mans world, be the best at what you do, and make a difference.

Weave Your Path,

Gaby

IMG_0605Our “goodbye” surprise breakfast, always coordinated, never on purpose

 

Broadening My Horizon

This weeks marks the final week for my internship at Frenchtown Heritage Hub. After establishing very good relationships and rapport with my team, I must admit that leaving is partly unexciting. Feels like I was just getting into the swing of things.

This week we had our first neighborhood canvasing in Frenchtown. We walked over 6 miles and handed out over 200 flyers around the community. We talk to many of the Frenchtowner’s and informed them about our programs at the Hub. They were excited to find out that we existed, and we were even more excited about telling them about us, and getting hands-on with our work. It felt really good to be apart of such a positive movement. One day the Frenchtown community will be completely transformed into a success story and I wish that I could witness the magic. This weekend at the Farmers Market my assignment was to capture the liveliness at the market. So I had to turn myself into a photographer. This turned out to be really enjoyable. I was able to get really creative and have fun with my work. I can’t wait to give my photographs to Frenchtown so that they’re able to use them for their website. Even though I do not consider myself a photographer, it was nice to practice and find that I have at least some skill going for my amateur self. All in all, I just wanted to help. I knew we needed more pictures for our web content so I wanted to do what I could, even if it meant I had to try at something new. But I am happy with the results, I hope my team is too.

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Domi is a Paintbrush

While my time at Domi Station as an intern is winding down, there is a whole lot to reflect on. One thing that I have not highlighted enough during our meeting or may past blogs, was how exactly Domi fits into the social entrepreneurship picture. I think for my final blog, it would be poetic to tie how what we do here to that big picture. In terms of the Greek methods of persuasion, this piece will be almost exclusively Pathos, the art of connecting to emotion. If you are looking for measurements or statistical figures, this is not the blog for you.

Domi Station is quite different from most of the the other internship opportunities in my opinion. Where Woven Futures empowers marginalized artisans in less developed countries, and Be The Solution helps stray and owned animals alike, Domi does has a much more abstract purpose. We do not have a name or person or thing we can point to and heroically claim “this is who we are helping, this is what we are about”.  Some may say our target audience is entrepreneurs. I would disagree, because the people who walk into our doors often do not have “Entrepreneur” or “CEO” in their LinkedIn profile. No, Domi is not the hero of one person or one faction, but instead the hero of the community itself. You see, while we most certainly do impact individuals everyday, but our mission is not for the success of one person but of the city they live in. We promote and cultivate a grassroots, bottom-up, bootstrapping, blue-collar attitude towards community development. Our mission is not to attract investors or build the next startup that will take over the world, but instead grow businesses and entrepreneurs who will go on to make the world around them better. I will quickly highlight two different cohort members briefly to paint this picture for you. While we do have a social innovation in the cohort, I think using different examples will emphasize my point that our impact may be more collateral than direct.

The first member we will call Rachel. She is a junior at Florida State, she is a black, and she is a woman. These are not the ingredients the traditional “business owner recipe” calls for. Her idea is to use a hair analysis test to  send a subscription hair care box to women of color. The second member we will call Mark. He is a younger man, probably in his thirties. His parents moved to Boston to have him after living in Syria their whole lives. He is an accomplished chef, being the personal chef for Governor Rick Scott and being the designing chef for The Edison Restaurant here in  Tallahassee. He wants to open a Middle Eastern casual restaurant. When you look at these two people, they do not have a ton in common. In fact, they probably have little or no similarities besides being in the program.

That is where the beauty of Domi lies. Who we help is eternally varying and fluid except for one thing. Both of these people want to help others. What can possibly be more valiant than that? Domi Station is not the hero of a specific community, we instead train the heroes for a plethora of communities. Think of the greatness a city like Tallahassee could have if we trained 50 community heroes, or 100 community heroes. Every nook and cranny of the city would be enveloped in a sense of purpose and growth. The businessmen enjoying their authentic Syrian meal in downtown will be helped just as much as the young women of color with healthy and pristine hair are. The endless possibilities of job to be done are being answered by the endless list of empowered, encouraged, and inspired community heroes being pumped out of Domi Station. We are the tool that helps turn average people into heroes. That is how Domi connects to social entrepreneurship. We do not fit specifically in the big picture because we are the paintbrush. We transform a person into an artist and together we paint a picture for a brighter tomorrow.

Starting out in the start-up world

It is never a dull moment working with Woven Futures. We are constantly building, creating, innovating. The ideas flow as much as the coffee does, and I mean we drink coffee like it’s going out of style. Whether we are trying to be quiet at Domi Station (it is communal and I am LOUD), using the new facilities at Innovation Hub, finding photo-ops around Railroad Square, writing up goals while munching on breakfast at Catalina Cafe, selling and speaking with customers at a market, or under my carport constructing various displays, we are always doing something new. Each week is completely different than the last, which is definitely a unique interning experience. You can always expect a surprise, and sometimes a complication. We are continually adapting to whatever situation is thrown at us, a cancelled event, wood that doesn’t quite fit the way you wanted it to. Sometimes you put a ton of effort into something and it turns out awful. But more often we are surprised by how well projects go, especially when it is undiscovered territory for us. It is an incredibly rare feeling that I get to experience: my idea came to fruition, that is the work that I did, and it is AWESOME! Woven is the embodiment of start-up culture. The newness of the brand and the adaptable social-business model proves to be lively and creates an ever-changing environment. Everything we do for Woven is with intent and the understanding that we are putting positivity and change out into the world. The small, tedious tasks that must get done, like packaging tiny bracelets, are just as important as the big, exciting events like Discovery on Parade. Every day I am learning what it takes to be part of a start-up company and I am falling in love with the feeling of creating, changing, bringing something brand new to the table. It makes all of the hard work and obstacles so worth while.

As I’ve mentioned in our cohort meetings, we wear many hats at Woven Futures. And as is the student start-up life, we have very varying agendas, time-sensitive tasks, and busy, busy, BUSY schedules. We are a company of three; wherever Hannah needs an extra hand, another set of eyes, a different point of view, Gaby and I are there to pick up the slack. The three of us work together on what I will call “big-picture” projects, bouncing ideas off of each other, and divvying up the work amongst ourselves. We have time where the three of us are together, and time where Gaby and I work by ourselves on different projects. I have the honor and pleasure of working side by side with my joint-intern. And although we do Woven team and individual work, most of the time we are working together. Gaby and I have become exceptionally synchronized. Whenever we are working on a project, we are constantly helping each other out; one of us will forget a small part of something or there is an aesthetic detail that goes unnoticed, and the other will be able to correct it. Even when there is nothing to correct, just having two sets of eyes on the job makes the quality improve immensely. We actually have an inside joke for it: “This is why there are two of us.” And we habitually say it as we complete various tasks. It’s funny, the other day at the market, Hannah set up an initial product display. I added a missing piece and arranged it again. Then, Gaby added a final piece and arranged it once more. The three of us looked at the display and then to each other and said “This is why there are THREE of us.”

We Woven Women have created an incredible ecosystem. The three of us really do compliment each other in ways we had no idea would be possible. We all have drive, that is for sure, but it is our individual qualities and charismas that make our experience so exceptional. I definitely bring A LOT of energy to the team, always bouncing around and keeping the two of them laughing at something I do or say. Gaby never ceases to amaze me with her dedication to generating the most positive change she can muster. She is our glue; she keeps Hannah and I organized (we are alarmingly similar in our undeniable passion and ambition but sometimes not-so-put-together approach). And of course Hannah is the backbone, the foundation, the motivation, the heartbeat; her passion for Woven and the work we do is absolutely inspiring. We are always pushing each other to do bigger and better things. It isn’t just about the interning experience, it is the friendship we have formed that will last us our lifetimes. These girls amaze me every day. I am so thankful that I am able to work on this incredible team. And this is only the beginning.

 

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Hard Work Pays Off

 

SHSK Welcome Sign

On Thursday, April 5th was the Children’s Campaign’s long awaited 25th anniversary celebration (so long awaited that we were actually in our 26th year, but who’s counting). We held off on the event for so long so that we could combine it with some other very exciting events. The event was entitled the “Super Heroes for Super Kids” celebration, as we were able to honor 10 individuals and organizations whose work has been especially impact-full to children in the state of Florida over the past 25 years. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE. We were also very excited to officially debut our new logo, brand and Made in FL campaign.

I had been working on designing, drafting and planning content for this event all semester and to see it all come together in one room was a really awesome experience. I ended up doing a lot of graphic design elements for the event including the event program, welcome sign, invitations, and more, so see it all come together visually was really rewarding. I got to be in a room with over 150 very important people and observe peoples reactions to the content I created without them knowing I created it – kind of next level people watching, which I enjoyed. It was also just very empowering to be in a room with all of these amazing people who work and dedicate their lives to making Florida a better place for children. I definitely left the event very inspired, humbled and a bit relieved that everything had gone so smoothly!

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Domi Update

A decent amount has changed since my last blog post. As I mentioned before, I asked Dominick and Ido to submerge me deeper into the ocean of activity we have here at Domi, and they have done so with great success. I help with not only Domi’s Get Started Program, I help with Dominick’s projects outside of Domi.

While I can not spill all of the secrets, I am sure they would be happy for me to report about this one. For a long time, Tallahassee has had a ton of resources for Entrepreneurs, from coworking spaces, to accelerators, to mentoring networks, to financial services. However, finding how each of these resources can help you or even being aware of them in the first place can be difficult. Ido David, our Entrepreneur in Residence and who I shadow the most, came up with an idea for a platform for two target audiences. First, for established entrepreneurs and investors coming to Tallahassee to see the already built start-up community; for this purpose we are trying to show off. Second, for young or new entrepreneurs who need a direction to sprint in. Often the hardest part of starting a business is knowing how to start. Our hope is that this platforms is what turns this fantastic entrepreneurial fabric into a beautiful tapestry (or maybe an artisan bag @WovenFutures). We drew inspiration from FoundedinHolland and MappedinIsrael as excellent resources and to form them into our own. Our landing site will be “FoundedinTally” and in the future we will help establish “FoundedinFlorida”. Within that landing page, there will be map similar to the previously mentioned one that shows where all of our resources and current start-ups are. Those resources can be broken down by categories, such as investors, accelerators, or Research and Development centers. They could also be sorted by phase of your business, from Idea Phase all the way to Mature business. We worked on this platform for 11 straight hours on a Saturday, and while the day was exhausting, it was extremely rewarding to see the progress made and inspiring to see what can become of Tallahassee.

Other big news is how close we are to the end of the semester for our Get Started Cohort. They have 3 months of us holding their hand. We go through an entire semester of class work and cohort meetings with them, but at the end of 12 weeks, we let them out of the nest and see how well they fly, with three months of access to our mentors and coworking space. Ido really wants to remake and revamp the implementation phase of our program and wanted me to help develop the framework for it. I have been reaching out to different Get Started Alumni about what they wanted to see improved and how they would develop the three months. I am definitely trying to apply what I have learned in both Bruce’s and Ken Baldauf’s classes and gain as much empathy and as many perspectives as I can before really prototyping anything. I am very excited about this project because it will be the first time I can really be the brains or the designer of a framework we use at Domi, and while I do feel the pressure of that mission, I am confident in my abilities as both a facilitator and an innovator to make something impactful.

One last piece of exciting news for us me to close; Domi actually invited me to stay on after my internship to be an employee. While we have not figured out the logistics of what my job title will be or how I will be used, I am honored to be a piece of the Domi puzzle and excited to continue my growth there.

FSU Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation interns blog about their experiences.