It’s #EntrepreneursDay and Global Entrepreneurs’ Week! I still don’t know that I would classify myself as such, but I am surrounded by some amazing female entrepreneurs that inspire and motivate me every day. Meredith Garritsen at Hervana is one of those inspirations, and not only is she good people, she has the dubious honour of having helped me save my sanity the week before we moved to Victoria. (She’s also given a great prize for the contest at the end of this post!)
Meredith is the founder and owner of Hervana Coworking Collective, a women’s coworking space in Downtown Vancouver. (There is a purple couch in communal entrance area, so as you can imagine, this was love at first sight for me.) We met when I was in the Business Babe Collective’s Action Takers Club summer session; Hervana is the official host for the Vancouver ATC session and Meredith is also a past ATC participant.
In the weeks before the Brit and I moved to Victoria, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed. This dissipated significantly when I finished my job and had a week without work to get things done for the move, but I HAD to get out of the house for the things that weren’t move related. I couldn’t concentrate on side hustle related things with all the boxes around me, so I asked Meredith if I could drop in for a couple days at Hervana. Bless her, she said yes.
And so I spent a few hours for a couple days in the beautiful and naturally lit space that is Hervana. I got to chat with Meredith and the motivational machine that is Taylor Aller*, and I was surrounded by women who were also there to get **** done and encourage each other. It was WONDERFUL.
So I sat down with Meredith about Hervana and what makes her tick as an entrepreneur.
WCCG: What is your professional background?
Meredith: Before starting Hervana, I was the Director of Business Development for an import and distribution company. I was responsible for managing our Vancouver office and liaising with our HK office as well as our off site warehouse and shipping facility. I had the joy of joining this company at it’s inception so I got the opportunity to build it up from scratch, including hiring every last employees until I left. I really enjoyed building great teams.
WCCG: Why did you start Hervana?
Meredith: Although my previous employment provided me with a ton of opportunity and I really enjoyed the people I worked with, I got bored of the work. I thrive in times of challenge or change, so much so that I have a hard time enjoying when times are ‘good’. I was feeling stuck and resentful. One day I read a media piece on The Wing, a womens’ club and coworking space in Manhattan, and I felt like I had an opportunity to pursue something that really mattered to me.
It felt like skies cleared and everything came into focus. I had a purpose to pour my energy into, making life a little bit easier for women than I had experienced.
WCCG: Who inspires you?
Meredith: The first person to come to mind is Jane Goodall, I had the opportunity to see her speak in person last year, I’m not sure how to describe how impactful that experience was for me. Her story is so interesting and inspiring, and as she tells it, it feels very human and relatable too.
She admits to being stubborn, and being wrong about things, and when she talks about how she came to be the leader she is now, she explains in a humble and real way. I love that. With her institute she’s working in the two areas she cares so much about: empowering women and girls, and protecting the environment. Of course, I love her philosophy on how helping women and girls become secure is the key to a better world. Per the Jane Goodall Institute: “Healthy habitats require healthy communities, and key to keeping communities healthy is the empowerment of women and girls.” As the kids say…Swoon.
I am also inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsberg for a few different reasons. One her work ethic is just unreal. I appreciate her measured approach, I am one to rush things and sometimes skip steps in the process so I admire the patience she has to get to a final goal. Her reaction to the Roe v Wade is a life lesson. Finally her ability to adapt is noteworthy. She has embraced her unexpected fame and utilized the platform to further her life’s work.
WCCG: What motivates you?
Meredith: The people around me. I’m an introvert by nature and much prefer being at home with my dogs, plants and husband, but after spending an hour hearing about the cool things women are achieving around me I get a huge boost of energy.
WCCG: You have created a supportive community for female entrepreneurs. Why was this important for you?
Meredith: Support is something I lacked for a long time. I think I did what a lot of entrepreneurs do, I sought out to create a solution to a problem that I experienced. I had many wonderful experiences in the workplace but I also had terrible experiences in the workplace. There is something so magical about being a part of a team, and something so destructive to feel betrayed by your own kind. I think women can do so much better at helping each other, the environment is primed right now for this change to happen on a broad scale. I’d love to be a part of that in no matter how small a capacity.
WCCG: Worst piece of advice ever given to you?
Meredith: Be realistic. In my youth I was constantly told all the things I wasn’t likely to accomplish.
WCCG: What three pieces of advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Meredith: Do the reading before class. You don’t have to change for people. The way people treat you is often much more a reflection of them, not you.
Hervana is a female coworking space located in Downtown Vancouver. Opportunities to host events at Hervana are also available, so you should check it out! For more information and to connect with Meredith and the Hervana community:
A big thank you to Meredith for sitting down with me both at Hervana and electronically. To celebrate #EntrepreneursDay, she has partnered with me to give away a ONE WEEK pass to Hervana!
How to enter: In two sentences or less, tell me about your business or side hustle in the comments section below. That’s it!
Contest Rules: Winner must be 18+ and a resident of Metro Vancouver. Winner will be announced on November 24 on my Instagram stories and contacted via DM.
Happy Entrepreneurs’ Day!
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~ Ayn Rand