Last year Meredith Dennes found herself juggling a demanding career in banking and caring for her two children. At the same time, her best friend Kim Oksenberg was a stay-at-home-mom to her son. Oksenberg dreamed of starting her own business, but wasn’t exactly sure where to start or how to find the time. During many cross-country phone calls, the two women shared their daily struggles trying to balance work and both tried to figure out the best solution for their own families.
“We both knew that neither of our situations was sustainable. Working 60 to 80 hours a week with two toddlers is not ideal. And neither is being a bored mom,” says Dennes, who lives in New York City.
As they searched for answers, they realized that the traditional work model wasn’t going to work for either of them. Instead, they found that there were not many resources and online support networks geared towards women starting their own businesses or freelance careers.
“We really started to think all of these women that we knew struggling with the same issues and realized that maybe there are more people out there in the same situation,” Dennes says.
Launching Project Eve
At the end of March, Dennes and Oksenberg launched Project Eve, a free online social networking community and resource center for women entrepreneurs and those considering heading out on their own. Within 24 hours of the launch, more than 250 women had already registered for the site.
The goal of the site is to meet the needs of women business owners and women trying to decide if they should take the plunge—from providing information about the best business tools to use to offering a place for women to brainstorm different marketing ideas. Members can also write guest blog posts to share their personal career journey, as well as coordinate with members nearby for in-person meetups.
“With Project Eve, we hope to connect women. A lot of the struggles that women face with starting their own business is that they feel very isolated,” Dennes says. “We want to create a trusted community of like minded women who want to see each other succeed.”
Dennes and Oksenberg envision Project Eve as a place where a woman working in an office cube who dreams about starting a bakery can get advice on how much she could charge per cupcake and how to write a business plan.
But along with being a place where women get advice and support, they want to help women employ each other. “With Project Eve we are saying I think it’s really time for us to redefine the traditional model by becoming our own bosses and then hiring women who understand it is important to go to poetry reading at your child’s school,” Dennes says. "A women opening a clothing boutique in St. Louis who is struggling with marketing her business can connect with and hire a former advertising executive in Los Angeles who is freelancing."
While the common advice to new business owners is to get out and meet as many people in their community, traditional networking often isn’t practical for women juggling a business venture and a family.
“Going to a networking event in person is going to tack on a considerable amount of money for babysitting when all I really want to do is work in my yoga pants while my kids are asleep, without ever having to put on a suit or apply lip gloss,” says Oksenberg, co-founder and COO. By Project Eve being a social media site, women can connect at whatever hour or location they prefer.
Since women often have a need to bounce ideas off other women, the site helps fill a need for collaboration and companionship that women often miss from working in an office setting. Dennes and Oksenberg also hope that the site will help break down the myth that other female entrepreneurs have it all together and have had a smooth ride with launching their business, by encouraging members to share their successes and roadblocks.
“There are slightly different priorities with women than men. With women it’s not so much about competing but collaborating. And feeling that you get better by helping someone by sharing your knowledge and experience,” Oksenberg says.
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.
Photo credit: Project Eve