In honour of Women's History Month, we wanted to feature women who inspire us. These entrepreneurs turned problems and passions into a successful business. We hope their stories inspire you to create or grow businesses and lives that you can truly love.
In our second installment we interviewed Rachel, the Founder of Make Lemonade, a co-working space for women to dream, create, collaborate and get sh*t done.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m 27 and I decided to create Make Lemonade in October 2016 because life handed me a lemon. I had a job opportunity and it kind of kept getting dangled at me, it was this full-time position for this company that I was working for as a freelancer and they offered me a full-time position and then the day before I was supposed to work for them they told me the position was no longer available.
So, that’s what drove me to open Make Lemonade. Before that I was freelancing and I worked for a lot of companies doing remote jobs, which opened my eyes to a freedom lifestyle and creating [my own] balance. In between all of that I would define myself as a traveller - in 2015 I took 25 flights. I would explore and just always wanted to be [heading somewhere] on a plane, visiting another place. So, I feel like I’m taking the long way around but with Make Lemonade my goal too is to be able to give myself that balance and that freedom to eventually be able to jump on a plane and go wherever I’d like to go.
What was the moment when you realized you wanted to open up your own business?
I’d always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur - my parents were entrepreneurs and they ran their own company for 33 years. They provided a lot of inspiration for my brother and I and that was just something I always wanted to live up to.
For a long time I felt like I wanted to create something that was mine that I was in charge of, I wanted to be my own boss, I just didn’t know what exactly it was that I wanted to do. So, when the lemon happened it provided me with the space for all this self-reflection and that’s when I had the lightbulb moment. That’s when I was like, “Why not now?” I may as well just give it a go. I’m able and I’m young and I kind of just didn’t really have anything to lose.
Rachel styled The Nomadic V-Neck with black jeans, patterned scarf, and boots.
What would you view as your biggest success and your biggest challenge?
I think one of the biggest challenges was logistical - it took forever to find a space. I knew what I wanted to do and I knew I wanted to open this space but I just [didn’t] know when that [was] going to happen. So, I think the biggest success was just being able to persevere through all of the hardships. First, it was looking for a space, then it was negotiating the lease, then it was dealing with contractors, then dealing with deadlines, then opening the space and then making the sales. I think it was continual - there’s no one thing that’s made it successful. We just keep growing and evolving. I think that we’re only as successful as our entire community.
“I’d always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur - my parents were entrepreneurs and they ran their own company for 33 years. They provided a lot of inspiration for my brother and I and that was just something I always wanted to live up to. “
What would be your favourite part about opening Make Lemonade?
Rachel: One of the coolest things when I opened was that, for a long time, I was anonymous on Instagram. So, I would be connecting with a lot of people on Instagram but we’d kind of just have little conversations and one of the coolest moments was just being able to actually connect with, they almost seemed like fictional characters. You only know people by their Instagram handles and then you meet them in real life; those were really some special moments.
I also really love how every day is a little bit different. One of the most exciting, and recent things, is that we also launched our blog so that’s been really cool to have that out in the world and the coolest thing about that is that it’s actually completely managed by our team here at Make Lemonade!
What would be a piece of advice that you would give someone looking to start their own business?
This is something I’ve said in so many interviews but it’s a quotation from Pablo Picasso and it’s something I saw in the early days of Make Lemonade when I was looking for a space and I actually pulled out on an offer. I thought I’d found the space but then when I met the owners of the building I just felt that I [couldn’t] do this with them. Then, I was walking through Indigo and you know how Indigo has prints of quotations? There was this one quotation by Pablo Picasso and it said, “Everything you can imagine is real’. It’s just always stuck with me and I just keep using it to remind myself that even if this is a dark day, that what you can imagine is already real. It’s nice now because we’re open but there’s still days where you’re like, “oh my gosh, what am I doing? Is it working?”
Where would you say that you find inspiration the most?
I really hate to say it because it makes me sound like such a product of our society but I think Instagram is such a great source! I do try to make a conscious effort when I’m walking home to like, look around and there’s so many murals and graffiti and art.
"So, you can always change, you can always switch, we’re curious beings and we’re allowed to do more than one thing at once. We’re allowed to switch jobs, we’re allowed to move countries, we’re allowed to keep on changing and growing."
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Rachel: This is something that I haven’t shared but I’ve thought about it a lot! Almost 10 years ago I was at a family Christmas party and I met this old neighbour and he was asking me what I was doing now and I said I was studying New Media at Ryerson and his response was, “Oh, well you can always switch.” At the time, I was really offended by that and I was like, “I’m going to show him! I’m going to create something so good and be like ‘look at what I did with my degree!’” and what I’ve learned from what he said is to stop thinking that just because you’re doing this one thing right now, doesn’t mean you need to do it forever.
So, you can always change, you can always switch, we’re curious beings and we’re allowed to do more than one thing at once. We’re allowed to switch jobs, we’re allowed to move countries, we’re allowed to keep on changing and growing. I know that’s not what he intended [when he said that] but I really held onto it.
What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?
Rachel: I don’t really know that I have one of those things yet that I just love to do but I do love to just be able to hang out with my friends. I have this nerdy beer-club with a couple of my friends and that’s one of my favourite things and we don’t do it often enough. I love riding my bike too.
About Make Lemonade
In October 2016 life threw Rachel Kelly a lemon, and Make Lemonade was born. Make Lemonade
is a co-working space for women in downtown Toronto, Canada. A beautiful space where women can dream, create, collaborate and get sh*t done. Learn more at their website
or find them on Instagram
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