CoWomen Launches for Future Female Leaders
On an unusually warm spring evening in Berlin, it wasn’t just flowers popping up. Creative concepts were budding — in particular, a new movement in support of women at various stages in their lives and careers. It’s called CoWomen. CoWomen is a new network in Germany that connects women who are driven to pursue their careers, supported by others who are seeking guidance or have expertise to share. It’s turns out to be a very powerful seed, and one that is flourishing.
Popping Up in Mitte
On May 7, CoWomen hosted a memorable pop-up party to kick off in their coworking space in Mitte. It was a shindig to connect their fresh online community to a physical location, on the heels of establishing their web presence and newsletter. The evening was complete with small-batch ice-cream, refreshing drinks, festive balloon decor, and inspirational signage reflecting what this community is all about.
The Mitte location was packed with women who knew one another, or wanted to learn more about the community, or make new connections.
Apart from the new coworking space on Bergstrasse, a rickshaw was available to take people to a second location nearby for continued festivities. At the second location, a spread of Vietnamese food awaited guests. There was a humming, positive energy as women made new contacts and discovered common ground throughout the evening.
Growing the Network
Ultimately, CoWomen is a community that welcomes women to join at various levels, based on an associated monthly fee. This fee grants a range of privileges including an online community, working hours in the new space, events, workshops, and a mind-body program. The community is continually growing and enriched by key leaders and mentors from Germany who are aligned with the cause.
To illustrate this point, two of Berlin’s somewhat luminous icons in the women’s empowerment scene attended that eventing: Tina Limbard of Girls Gearing Up and Mali Baum, an investor in the tech space who is shaping the Berlin startup ecosystem. Mali founded Wi (Women’s Influencers) and W Lounge, which organizes events for influencers globally.
Mali is one of many prominent women and men, who actively support and mentor this growing community. Others include Karolina and Farina. Karolina Decker is CEO & Co-founder at FinMarie, the first online wealth management platform in Germany which helps women reach their financial and investment goals. Farina Schurzfeld is the co-founder of Selfapy, an online therapy platform for mental health disorders.
In addition, CoWomen is supported by a capable cast with diverse skills to support any angle of women’s professional development. The CoWomen mentors coach and support women on the rise by sharing their experience to help other women reach their own goals.
The cast includes Michael Häfelinger, an expert coach for founders; Anna Lübbe brings legal and sales expertise; Patricia Murawski contributes aesthetic input and creativity; Franziska Schrödl offers yoga and mindfulness training especially geared for the workplace; Matthias Lorenz-Meyer understands co-working space dynamics, while Ira & Dirk are founders of a design agency that helps bring CoWomen’s vision to life. Communicative branding is a necessary step in attracting like-minded women to get involved.
Empowered (Wo)Men Empower Women
It is safe to say all these women believe deeply in the principle of “pull a sister up”: that women can more effectively create a new generation of leaders through cross-generational, and cross-industry support.
CoWomen Project manager, Alexa, explained CoWomen’s two targeted goals:
- Bridging the gap between recent graduate and corporates through mentorship and guidance;
- Giving women a headstart in their careers by having a supportive place to work from, and a network to call upon.
Workshops will form a big part of the offerings. The idea of the space is that it is flexible enough that women can bring their ideas, be understood, have their needs met, and generally make work life as pleasant as possible.
Yes, Berlin is known for many vibrant coworking spaces, and even a few that are geared towards working women, but CoWomen stands out in its purpose and mission to support the next generation of female leaders. Part of what makes CoWomen unique is the founders themselves — Hannah, Sara, and Kat — and how their vision plays out.
Hannah reacted to a personal need to find the right coworking space for herself and her young son. She fuels the vision of this growing organization to achieve new heights. Hannah connected well with Sara, who brings software knowhow and can build and manage the project and community. Together with Kat who leads strategic marketing, the trio is supported by their own extensive and expanding networks.
Just Drive the Bus
One surprise highlight of the evening that gave a flavor of topics important to the community was delivered via a book reading by invited author, Paula Lambert. She read a passage in German discussing the concept of selbsvertraut, or self-knowledge. The crowd clearly appreciated her honesty and directness. Paula’s core message centered on an analogy of being a bus driver.
When you are driving the bus of your life, you need to focus on the road, and not get caught up in the side conversations, or rider’s opinions, even if those might be thoughts in your own head. Basically, “just drive the bus.”
Paula also discussed selbstbild, or self-image. She acknowledged that as a published author and speaker, it can be hard to form one’s own definition of beauty and not have it handed to you by the media. To this she applies the ‘bus principle’ of tuning out what others may say to or about you. She also says that “Echt zu sein ist die Key”(being real is the key). Authenticity is the key to effective self-presentation, whether in the professional or dating realm, etc.
She ended with the importance of “the village” — of supporting one another. This concept of a diverse, collective effort that benefits all accurately reflects the CoWomen community spirit; there was a distinct group buzz and excitement that evening, a refreshing mix of diverse women, supportive men, and plenty of kids milling about.
They’ll be a steady stream of more event offerings from CoWomen to look forward to. Make sure to check their event calendar often, follow CoWomen on Instagram, and sign up to the newsletter to stay in the know. The impressive launch party turn out is a sure sign of what’s blooming ahead.
All photos for this piece are provided by Charles de Maisonneuve