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Feb. 15, 2022

All Up In: 2 Many Lady Businesses?

All Up In: 2 Many Lady Businesses?

Wondering how Mary ended up starting and selling a coworking space? Well it kind of all started with Trump...and the Women’s March…and a miscarriage. Tune in to hear her heartfelt, whole-assed story of being a mom, evolving as an entrepreneur, and meeting Hannibal Buress?!

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Music. Welcome to all up in my lady business I am your host Mary nisi on this podcast all explore the fine line between having it together I'm losing your shit here I share my journey as an entrepreneur a mom a wife a DJ and randomly a beekeeper I have no shame and no filter except the ones I use on Instagram my stories of resilience a little structure and a lot of resource Wellness can show you how to take those same things and live your life with your hole. Music. Thanks so much for coming back for episode 2 of all of them my lady business launching a podcast is something that I have wanted to do for two years and it's happening now and it's it was stressful launching the podcasts the day of the launch was very anxiety-ridden because I'd put this thing into the world and even if you do things with your whole ass. Sometimes it is scary and when you finally do something you'll want waiting two years to do it kicks up a lot of emotions and sharing this podcast was a big bucket list item and it came with big bucket list anxiety so I'm glad you came back for episode 2. Since the last episode I left the country I went to Panama for a yoga retreat I had put down the deposit for this trip. In March of last year it was with my yoga teacher Claire who is she does these Retreats every year and I can never go and one of my closest friends Amy's going with me and we made this plan to go. And literally like a week after I made the plan to go on this trip I went skiing for spring break and I tore my ACL on the last run of the first day of the trip. And I didn't just tear my ACL I exploded my ACL and I had to have complete reconstructive surgery on it and April and so I've spent the entire year basically trying to get my knee and body back in shape so I could go on this Yoga Retreat so that was its own little stressful thing for me to deal with but then getting there was it's also its own fresh hell. I'm the Quran was, tearing through America at Breakneck speed and everyone I know was getting it and you know in order for us to leave the country like we couldn't test positive and so it was a covid-19 are trying to get there just just all the testing and stuff and then I got there. And it was amazing like being there and I had like survivor's guilt at certain points because I got to be in this amazing space with like a bunch of new friends and everybody was super cool and the place was amazing and I got to be alone with Amy one of my best friends when my oldest and longest running friends and it was incredible. And then we got back in like half of us tested positive I wasn't one of them I don't know how I didn't test positive but anyway I got back I'm back it was last week was my first week back. And my birthday happened my son's birthday haven't and you know I always have a hard time with my son getting older I definitely have a hard time with me getting older this birthday was a kind of a tough one because one fun fact about me is that I recently quit drinking and it was tough. My birthday used to last like two weeks I used to say that enough all two week period where I would just be drinking the whole time and then I realized it's because you know I have a lot of birthday sads. And I think I use my birthday as an excuse to kind of drink a lot to try to make that go away but. I got to just be very raw and emotional which maybe someday I'll speak about that here but today is not that day. At the end of the last episode I did T is that I had just sold a building and a business and so I kind of wanted to crack that one open. And talk about that and on today's episode we are going to talk about that other business I owned how it happened why it happened. And why does no longer happening so shall we let's go. All right so like I don't really want to have to talk about Trump but I think he needs to enter the chat they got to talk about him. So in the fall of 2016 3 days before Trump was elected I found out that I was pregnant we haven't been trying it wasn't a thing that. I necessarily wanted to do I was very fairly ambivalent about having another child and it's probably cuz I was old I think if I was younger trying to have kids but at 40 to try and you know realize finding out you're pregnant it was surprising and it wasn't unwelcome like we were excited we're like okay I guess this is happening I got a two-year-old make sense to have another kid right now if I'm going to do it it's going to happen it's going to happen now and so that was the beginning of November in 2016 and I had to I just started taking anxiety medication which was amazing for me like I couldn't believe how much better my life was I'm on anxiety medication and I had to get off of it. And when he got elected I was like there's going to be some massive protests in DC when this happens and I don't care how pregnant I am I don't care if I'm puking into a bucket I'm going to be there so I just bought one ticket to DC and I would figure it out. Eventually. So I we get through the next couple of weeks and I went for the ten-week ultrasound couple days before Christmas in 2016 and they couldn't find a heartbeat it was it was pretty crushing that was a pretty. Whore I leg have flashbacks to like Sebastian and John Robert Wilson John was obviously with me Sebastian was there to because it didn't occur to us to find a sitter and I have this horrible like flashback of me in the room where they were giving me the ultrasound and so in the room getting a transvaginal ultrasound my son is sitting in a corner of the room with an iPad watching Octonauts and there was a creature report. Anybody who's ever listened to watch Doctor I said it was going Creature Report Creature Report creature report and then the woman is like I can't find a heartbeat it was like almost like The Worst Remix and the history of all time. So I'm not pregnant anymore but it's the two days before Christmas and they're like well since this isn't. Emergent and it's Christmas it's going to take us a week and a half to get you in for the DNC aka the abortion too. Get the child out of me and so I had to walk around the dead baby inside of me for a little over a week which was horrible. So a note on miscarriages and what to say if people are having them no one really talks about miscarriages women have them and they it sort of treated like a thing you're not supposed to talk about you're not supposed to tell people you're pregnant until your 12 weeks pregnant because you know you might lose the baby and then all of a sudden you tell a bunch of people that you lost the baby and. I don't know why we're not supposed to tell people that. That's for you know I guess it's so they're more comfortable or something but. When I had my miscarriage when I found out that I didn't I wasn't pregnant anymore. It sucked because there's no consensus on what to do it's like okay this baby is no longer inside is no longer viable you can just wait for it to come out on its own you can take these pills that will help it along you can have a DNC and all of these things come with different risks and different emotional nightmares that it puts your brain through. And you know I didn't have that movie image of a miscarriage where woman there's blood everywhere or she starts bleeding or whatever I never had never got that part of it and when it doesn't look like the thing you've seen in movies and that's kind of all we have because we don't talk about it when you start talking about it when you start saying I've had a miscarriage you'd be shocked and when it happened my doctor gave me a prescription for the pills because they couldn't get me in for a week and a half to have the procedure done and they gave me the pills in case I decided that I needed to and then kind of like gave me the choice like do you want to like take the pills and if you can't if you don't want to we've got the DNC scheduled for 30th and I went to my women's group I mean of course I've got a lot of mom friends and I'm on this mom group we call ourselves MILFs you know what that means anyway I went to my MILFs and. There's probably maybe 40 or 41 or so on that list and I almost every woman there had had one and they'd all had every single way of going through the process of removal. And they all the consensus was stay away from the pills because you basically just have. A miscarriage in slow motion and and so that's why I decided to go on ahead with the DNC once I had the DNC it's like it never happened and that's the weirdest thing. But what sucked is that when I had told some people I meant you know that when people who knew about it and mentioned that I was going to be having a DNC and one person in my group in my. You know my group of women in my world maybe I was feeling projection of this but she was like why are you having a DNC. And I was like because I wanted out of me like I don't I don't want to walk around inside me anymore and she's like well when I had my miscarriage I just let it come out on its own it wasn't that bad I mean you can do whatever you need to do but like it's not that bad. I think about that all the time like it's women on women crime is what that is and I wonder if we would have even had that conversation if there wasn't such. Uproar in the world about you know abortions and things like that. But at any rate so I had it and then it was just over here I had the DNC and then I just was it was just gone it was weird it was like I win actual thing this is insane when I went in the morning to get it to have the procedure done

we got there like 6:

30 in the morning to the hospital there was like no one there we're in this weird part of the hospital no one was there and then the then the orderlies and when I started showing up and this nurse comes out and she hands me a card and I'm there with my husband John who you know he's a good-looking dude I guess I mean I I guess I know he is but he was like you know he's youthful and vibrant. And I am coming off of a couple of weeks of having gone through some seriously awful things and she hands me this card and she goes have your son write down his name and phone number so we can contact him when you're done and I was like my son. Like my iMac he's not here and she points a giant my husband and says your son and I go that's my husband. And she goes oh okay anyway have a put his name as if she didn't just sit there like I'm there to have an abortion essentially and she thought that my husband was my child. Psych. I don't know someone didn't didn't read the assignment anyway so I have the procedure done and then it was over and I continued spotting I guess for a couple of weeks after that. I interviewed for a school that Sebastian I was trying desperately get Sebastian into and I remember I was like actively bleeding while I was like in that interview trying to like convince this school there like we'd be be a good family to be there and like, be an asset for it and like we didn't get in and there's like this haunting feeling I have when I'm like did I not get smashing into that school because I was I came off as thirsty or brittle or psychotic you know it's just like you've these things you don't even realize like what people are going through in their day-to-day when they are living their lives and just trying to be people in the world anyway when I went to DC was there for the women's March and I was right there was a huge protest and we weren't wrong because you know. Everything went to shit for the last 4 years. So anyway I get back and I didn't really know what my life is going to be all I know was that Bowie had died and that everything's kind of gone to shit since then so maybe we should just sit there and blame Bowie. It's around the same time actually was the next month the February of 2017. One of my best friend's Carrie she is a realtor and she showed me a link to a building listing that's right by our houses she lives a couple blocks from me and she's like hahaha we should buy this building and put a wine store in because we were always kind of complaining that there wasn't a good wine option in this part of town. And I showed it to John and he's like I think Trump's going to take the economy I think we should buy the building which was not something that we had ever I didn't know that ever owning a piece of property that wasn't a thing I lived in would be, in my bingo card of life but. The listing agent who represented the building we're looking he's going to do with the space and I'm like oh I guess I'll just put toast and jam on the second floor and then you know I'll be a landlord. And he was like I think that you should put a co-working space in here I think it would be really good for one of those. So we took out a loan another loan and figured out how to make a co-working space happen and I was on a mom group my mom grew up there was a mom on there who is an architect who designed our co-working spaces and so I sent her over the the plan and she had a bunch of ideas of like how it could be so she kind of kind of mapped out how it could work and then she got me in touch with an interior designer here who specializes in co-working spaces and so she helped me figure out all of that and then I just started you know doing what I do talking about it you know spreading the word around talking to the right people I got it and you know we the one of the best things I think we did is I made the decision because I didn't want to think about having to like really truly decorate the space and so I talked to my friend Laura who works at a gallery and she and I talked through it about how we could make the space sort of gallery for local Chicago artists that are underrepresented it switched out every three months and it was incredible as you always manage to find Art that worked in the space but was completely different from the artists that came before and the first artist that we did was Mac blackout who is a local Legend and I think having him be my first art show really helped kind of put us on the map and kind of gave us a lot of credit and it was so fun that would that party I'll never forget that night it was a really good night. First thing we did was a saint with the Mac blackout party and then we launched as a co-working space in October of 2017 and then and it just kind of worked from the very beginning we had really great people in here my first member was Justin J flu. He sold ad space I think for some websites you worked for a couple of different websites when he was working here but we had all kinds of people we had a guy who supplied chickens to farms in Ethiopia we had an animal physical therapist we had graphic designers we had some coders we had guy that ran a union it was great with my mood my man who booked bands and he was booking shows from the back here it was just awesome it was a great little Community we had going on here so one of the things that I really wanted to do with it was kind of make it a community space that people could use the people could come in and you know rent it for parties but then also for community events and so we had all kinds of things in here so far sounds which is a an organization where they do these kind of pop-up concerts in non-traditional venues we did a lot of so far shows here and they were really great like. You know every time we would have them planned I be like ah I just want to go home I don't want to work tonight and then I would go and it would be like amazing and it would always be like a British guy doing you know spoken word poetry and then there would be like a hip-hop group and then it would end with like some band that thought they were The Shins and it was always sold out there was always between 50 and 80 people here and people really loved it was wonderful and we had, with what we started doing one of the community managers had an idea of doing viewing parties for Broad City because some people she didn't have cable and she wanted a place to a place to watch it so he advertised it and we did two or three episodes watchings abroad City and then when the show was having its absolute series finale like when it was ending we decided to have like a party like a series finale party that we put it on Eventbrite it was free it was just like a thing we were going to do.

And at like 6:

00 the night of the finale, Hannibal Buress who is a local comedian whose now you know he's kind of a big famous guy now but he's on that show he lives in Chicago he like tweeted out about the party. And then he showed up he was here he sat here and watched the finale and then his uncle showed up and picked him up and then he left, that kind of stuff happened here we did a my friend Kelly Marie who owns Fleur I beautiful wonderful flower shop here in Logan Square we organized and or an event called ladies of Logan which was a kind of like a renegade craft fair for would be women or women identified and you had to live and or work in Logan Square and then you could kind of come in and peddle your wares or promote your services and so we had one of those here at a sand in the office and then we did another one. That was at Revolution Brewery and that was on I want to say March 8th of 2020 it was the last thing I did before pandemic and we had a thousand people there I think back on that day all the time or I'm like we had 1,000 people that came through this little craft fair and none of us got. So the co-working space is coming along and I am recognizing that I'm not super passionate about it so we're jumping afford a little bit here now we're in 2019. A sand is bumping and grooving it's been ongoing for 2.5 years we got voted the best co-working space in Chicago according to Logan Square rest and then we actually got nominated and came in second place a couple of times for best co-working space Corner the Chicago Reader so you know we really kind of got it together in our short brief time as co-working space here in Logan Square so Christina who had this idea of me making an online course you know to show off my entrepreneurial Bona fides and it's one of these things where I'm like I don't really me I don't know what do I know and Christina was really good at kind of pulling it out of me so we made a decision to make an online course to teach DJ's how to grow in scale their businesses we worked on that all summer long and Christina was really good at getting information out of me and we kind of got the whole thing sorted I hired a company to help me get it together and they helped me record the episodes and make all of the documents and blah blah blah. I spent the summer of 2019 trying to get the course together we were calling it the toast and jam lab. Around the same time in the fall I had applied to this business course that I had been hearing about for years and I finally was like. Well now that I'm trying to become this business person I probably should make sure I know exactly what I'm talking about it's called the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses program. When you start a small business you kind of started because it's something that you love like I am good at being coming a DJ I'm a started DJ business like I don't know anything about business I have a degree in art history. English there was nothing in my life that prepared me necessarily for running a small business and I think that can be said for most people who start businesses I don't think that most people are like I went to business school and I have an interest in it manufacturing so therefore I'm just going to start a manufacturing plant like usually these things happen a bit more organically and are predicated on a passion. And most people while they might have a real good passion about DJing or Etsy shopping or whatever the things that they want to make they don't necessarily have great marketing they don't understand their books they don't maybe have they know nothing about the legal side of things or etcetera so. Goldman Sachs started the 10,000 small businesses program the idea was that when you start a business you have a lot of holes in your business you might have you got a ton of strengths. And those strengths are so strong that your weaknesses are able to ride the coattails of that but. When you really start to like go nitty-gritty on your business you realize I've got a bunch of giant holes and so what Goldman Sachs created this program to do, was to take these businesses and you had to be relatively successful you had to like gross 150,000 dollars a year you had to have four employees you'd be in business for two years those are the main criteria in order to get in but then you have to submit your financials you have to like. Tell them why you think you're good you could be in this you have to have growth plan ideas you have it it was to apply you had to cut a jump through some hoops and then when you get into it it's a free program it's three months long and it is the most grueling three months of your life when you get into this program because you basically all you do is eat sleep and breathe your business. It basically tear it apart. And point out all the places where you are weak and then they help you put it back together again and then they teach you how to write a business plan how to ask for money how to talk to lenders then they put you in front of lenders and help you figure out how to ask for money and then you also have to create a growth plan and a growth plan is some way to. Grow your business either entry adding a new product a new service maybe you want to expand and they give you all of the tools to figure out how to do this it's a remarkable program and if you are an entrepreneur. Business owner that those four criteria applied to the 150 the four employees in the two years in business the programs all over the country so, I implore you to look into it. But when I was doing it the two things that were part of my growth plan were the podcast and growing the lab kind of like positioning me as you know a business Expert or you know a thought leader in my industry which I kind of but I also just want to hammer into a microphone, the other thing was that I was in I invested in photo booths to provide another product for toast and jam so that was like where I was in January of 2020. I had so much man and ambition and it was going to be my year and 2020 it was gonna be about Vision so yeah I had started kind of thinking about this podcast talking to myself at this podcast I bought the photo booth they got delivered on like March 14th of 2020 and then the world fell the fuck apart. The pandemic happened and you know there's a there's a lot that went into the pandemic and I'm sure that will get its own episode but we closed down in March and then a saint came back in July we reopened and we took PPE very seriously and people were desperate to get the fuck out of their houses so we did pretty well people work people came back and they were really happy to have a place and I'm happy to say that we never had any we had no covid problems whatsoever everybody was everybody was really cool about wearing masks. Everybody was you know got vaccine when they can get vaccinated they showed us their cards it was great so yeah one day we had a member. Who was slowly taking over the whole space like one office and another office and another opposite get tiring people and then the executives that run that business asked if they want if we wanted to buy the building and they weren't really finding an office that would fit their needs and when they came to me and said hey would you want to sell this building. I was like no no no maybe do I because I had wrapped so much of my new identity because like prior to this. You know I was married I was married from toast and jam. And I was you know this wedding DJ I was doing 65 weddings a year I own this company that employed all these great women and men we had a great reputation in the industry like I was married from toast and jam I was his wedding DJ at and I was really good at it. And then I got married, and I got pregnant and I had a baby and I you know was sort of taking a back seat which is like one of these things that I always kind of liked. Judge other women for doing like. You know you you know you have a baby or you get a husband and all of a sudden you like quit your job or you scale back or you gain weight and you act like you don't care any it's like you know just like all of the like shitty things that women do to each other, to like knock ourselves down for like living Our Lives I think I was denying. How much I loved the toast and jam side of things because I kind of felt like I was done with it but really it's the thing I'm the best at and I don't know why I was trying so hard to divorce myself from something that I was. Patently better at than anything else I was attempting to do so when I got the offer on the building I was like you know a sand is fine it's not, it's working it's paying for itself I had I never took a draw from it it never turned a profit but that's fine because it helped pay for the building. I once I made the decision to sell it it was like I was hoping I'd have enough space. And so I accepted the offer and realize what and it's great because it gave me the opportunity to really kind of focus or think it realize that my focus. Is and should be on toast and jam. I guess I now as I'm saying it out loud I'm realizing the irony of saying I'm going to refocus on toast and jam and also start a podcast because those are two pretty weighty things but you know that whole thing about like if you want something done ask a busy person to do it I'm a busy person and I always kind of get shit done so here I am building lists mortgage lists but I'm one podcast richer. And toast and jam I'm really it's been kind of wonderful to just be able to sit back and focus on toast and jam and that is the Ampersand story. Music. So now I got a question for you what are you doing with your whole ass this week. What's up with your whole ass not half of it the whole thing I heard a quote the other day probably on my Peloton because that's where I hear most of my inspirational bullshit the quote was the two best times to plant a tree. Were 20 years ago and today. And that really kind of struck me like I literally pause the Peloton and gave myself a voice note about it you can look at a tree and be like. This tree is awesome but it was started 20 years ago and like as much as I would like to have another tree like I don't have the 20 years to like wait for it to get this big. And I think that kind of thinking can keep you from ever doing anything like I remember we were trying to get pregnant like we kept thinking like oh let's try getting pregnant now so that I'm not pregnant during the wedding and just during the wedding season like I was trying to plan my pregnancy around weddings and I wasn't getting pregnant wasn't getting pregnant and it took me a while to like get pregnant and what's interesting is that I was on month 9 of trying to get pregnant and I went in to get some. Test done on my I don't know progesterone I don't know some levels and remember even saying it John well it's April and I don't want to get pregnant in April because if I get pregnant April then we'll the only born in January and I don't want to have my birthday compete with another. Baby and it was literally the month that I didn't want to get pregnant in and I got pregnant and then I had him the day before my birthday so I had to share my birthday with my son and it's interesting how you're trying to find the right time to do things and there's never a right time so you just have to kind of put the. Seed in the ground and hope that it germinates and hope that it Sprout something and you hope that the bee comes along and pollinates it and you hope that all these things happen and with it of all of these perfect things come together. To make it go from being a seed into being a tree you're lucky. And so Evan think about this podcast and thinking about making different moves and making changes and things like that and you can't always wait for the right conditions you can't wait for it to not be the month that your that's nine months before your birthday to get pregnant because nature doesn't work like that you know I've always found with myself that whenever I did something even if it wasn't the perfect time to do it you have to just do it you just have to get started you just have to like make the decision you can't, I think it about it too much and so if you want a tree you either had to do it 20 years ago or you do it today and you will have something I hope that this is my tree I hope that you guys will be climbing this tree together for quite some time. That was a tortured metaphor and I'm glad you guys stuck through it to the end did it pay off who knows. One last thing what are you guys listening to what are you watching what are you reading anything are you reading a book are you reading anything I saw this meme the other day where someone was like you know in the last 20 years we could have had like 15 Bell jars but instead we got tick-tock and you know so have you been looking at anything other than tick tock have you been off Twitter this week I've been listening to the band's parquet courts and wet leg parquet courts are a band that are New York City and they are very cool and and they Rock there are there are jangly guitar band and I very much liked them and then wet lag are these like very young girls from England who are just. You know they've got the fall in their DNA and their just. They're just badass so I've been listening to them I'm re-watching hacks right now because Deborah Vance is my mother. Jeannie see 100% And it's want to re-watch that to kind of have my mom and my heart and then as I mentioned earlier on I quit drinking so I read a lot of quit lit so right now I'm reading. This naked mind which is fascinating a fascinating read. If you are reading anything you can find me on Instagram at all about my lady business or you can tweet at me it all up in my lady be on the old Twitter. Thanks for listening to all of them my lady business it is written by me Mary nisi it is produced by Christina Soren Williams and Amelia Ruby with softer sounds. Is recorded in my office in Chicago Illinois if you enjoyed this episode. Smash that subscribe button follow us on all your socials and don't forget whatever you do this week do it with your whole ass. Thanks for listening to all up in my lady business I have been your host Mary nisi you can find resources and links from this episode in the show notes at all up in my lady If you enjoyed this episode smash that subscribe button and follow us on all your socials and don't forget whatever you do this week do it with your whole ass. Music.