Whether you are a female entrepreneur with a brick and mortar business to your name or a woman with a great business idea but not a clue how to launch it, SHEvents is here for you.
Devin DuMond and Deb Kalsbeek are area mompreneurs – entrepreneurs operating their individual businesses (branding firm Hatch Creative and photography service Snap Studio, respectively) from their homes while raising young children – who teamed up to throw a Galentine’s Day brunch in February and before they knew it, the pair had launched a new business venture, SHEvents, together.
“The mission behind SHEvents is to create events and an online community that inspire, empower and educate women in business, and we use the term ‘women in business’ broadly, because it’s not just people who own a business or entrepreneurs. We define it as anyone out there working trying to accomplish something,” DuMond said.
“We also are trying to make sure it’s inclusive to anyone who identifies as female or non-binary. We want a place for all of us. We specifically don’t want to be narrow or exclusive. So this shared experience of a woman in business with that broad umbrella.”
Kalsbeek added, “I feel like there are already niche groups for ‘this type of woman’ or ‘this type of business,’ whereas when we had the Galentine’s brunch it was a huge range of people.”
Since its first event in February, SHEvents has attracted women from all walks of life, including those with side hustles and passion projects to startups, home-based businesses and brick and mortar shops. The group also welcomes women who aren’t business owners but are leaders within businesses or community organizations, who need similar resources and support to achieve their goals.
In addition to near-monthly events, SHEvents operates a private Facebook group, #GRbossbabes, for Grand Rapids women, which is over 600 women strong, and an Instagram page that is closing in on 1,000 followers.
DuMond and Kalsbeek review prospective members to make sure they are located in Grand Rapids and fit within the mission of the Facebook group – namely that they have a project or business idea they are working on and looking to connect with others.
DuMond and Kalsbeek said the goal of these social media communities is to connect more people and hopefully serve as a platform for collaborations.
“One of the beautiful things about having the online community is how many collaborations start to happen,” DuMond said. “People start posting, ‘I need someone to do this with’ and then you get people who suggest connections and those collaborations start happening, whereas maybe they weren’t at the same capacity beforehand.”
DuMond said another unique thing about SHEvents and #GRbossbabes is that it allows women with smaller scale ventures and direct sales endeavors to gain exposure that they otherwise might not get.
“If you are a craftsperson or you’re selling stuff online, or even if you just have that idea and you’re not sure where to go with it, those people don’t get the same exposure,” she explained.
SHEvents creates an environment to ask questions and creates opportunities for growth among its members.
It also offers a different take on networking. DuMond and Kalsbeek are sensitive to the introverts out there as well as the go-getter extroverts.
“We plan out the timeline with the introvert in mind,” said Kalsbeek. “When people come in, if you are an introvert, you are going to go to the wall and you are going to wait for the event to start, but we start the events with an introduction from us and an ice breaker – a networking game – to get people comfortable in the space and help them meet people.”
SHEvents has three events on the calendar currently and is planning additional events for the remainder of the year.
On July 25, SHEvents is hosting Ice Cream Social Media at Furniture City Creamery, which will include a social media workshop presented by DuMond.
On Sept. 14, SHEvents is offering #GRbossbabes University, a full day conference focused on business skills. The conference will include keynote speaker Tara Jones, of Your Pretty Pennies, and Nicole Flier, of Launch Salon, will lead the panel discussion.
“We feel like we really have been doing a good job with the ‘inspire and empower’ part of our mission . . . we wanted to focus on the educational component and stressing the idea of professional and personal development,” said Kalsbeek.
The pair is currently accepting applications for local speakers and workshop leaders, and are looking for the “best of the best” in Grand Rapids.
In October, SHEvents will officially launch – that’s right – DuMond and Kalsbeek said they initially thought launching in October would give them enough time to amp up the organization, but after the first event, which drew 60 women, SHEvents took on a life of its own.
As a result, the official launch party, scheduled for October 19 at Lions & Rabbits, 1264 Plainfield Ave. NE, will be focused more on #GRbossbabe members. “We want to do an awards show of the #GRbossbabes, probably in different categories,” said Kalsbeek. They expect to create a nomination process and voting system. Details are still in the works.
With this pair’s synergy, there’s little doubt they’re building a strong community of empowered women whose collaborations will help Grand Rapids thrive.
“We had an idea and then found out that the city had this huge need, that need to be connected,” DuMond said.
Learn more at SHEvents.
*Photos courtesy of SHEvents