BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
What would you do with a chunk of cash and an idea? Would you use the cash and make the idea happen, or would you be responsible and pay off college debt or something else equally as adult?
I’ve never been a fan of fully adulting. I made the idea happen.
The idea was Fearless Winston-Salem.
Fearless started with the idea is that there is no right or wrong way to woman. If you want to learn more about putting your makeup on or decorating a cake, you can – and if you want to learn about the local government or self-defense – you can! You can even learn both on completely different nights, in the same space. Because that’s the key to true feminism: it leaves space for people to have different opinions, views, and beliefs.
You also can get out of the coffee shop and take a meeting in a beautiful space that’s full of plants, light and color (and snacks!) Or work away from your “work” couch (guilty) if you need to get something done, or meet someone outside of the office, or just read a book in peace – or borrow one from our lending library that is, indeed, color coded.
When I started the space, I had no idea of the need. The group has grown astronomically: we have programming 5-6 days a week, have open hours for coworking – or meeting, hanging out, reading, coffee or just space to breathe – and it’s become so much more than the skill share and coworking space I thought it would be. It’s a community of women that will rally so hard around one another, stand up for each other, love, fight, argue and celebrate. It’s a community that wouldn’t exist without all of the women who offer their time to teach, all of the business owners that give discounts to members, and the paid members who sustain the space. It’s a new thing every day, for better or worse. But that’s the fun of following an idea though, isn’t it? You have no idea what’s going to happen.
And that’s the awesome part: I still don’t know what’s going to happen next.
One day after hitting our one year, we released the very first open access women-owned business directory in the country – every other directory is pay to play – that is, as a business you have to pay to be listed (whether it is dues or a one-time fee) or if you’re a user you have to pay to access. Not this directory: it is all user submitted and completely free to use or be part of. Our future, as I see it, is littered with member-driven projects that better our corner of the world here in Forsyth County, all for women and by women.
I can’t say that I’ve always been as true to mission as I have been writing this: I’ve made assumptions about people based on my beliefs and made judgments on theirs. That’s the other beautiful part that’s blossomed in Fearless: a space for people to make mistakes, try new things, fail in plain sight, and still pick yourself back up for the “What next?”
Fearless isn’t for everyone: I know we aren’t pizza, and will never, ever please everyone. I do know it’s for anyone, and anyone can come in and join the Facebook group, come to headquarters (just look for the blue door with the white lightning bolt) or visit our programming calendar and give one of the classes a try. People ask all the time, why a lightning bolt? It’s power – together, we’re creating it.
Before we opened, I wrote a mission statement. Now, over a year later, it’s truer than ever:
We believe that each woman is an individual supernova of power with the ability to change the community around her.
We believe that anyone is welcome, and everyone has something amazing to contribute.
We believe in the power of collaboration – that, as women, we are stronger together.
We believe in breaking the rules, breaking the ceilings, and breaking ground.
We believe that women are unstoppable when we’re lifting each other up.
We believe that together we ARE Fearless.
See you where the lightning strikes.
Fearless Winston-Salem // 1002 Brookstown (at the corner of Brookstown and Burke) // fearlesswsnc.com // Find us on Facebook and Instagram.