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By Lynn Miller

The website : https://www.women2women.space

Women to Women Asks the LGBTQ Leaders, “What’s your Journey?”

Chicago’s potential to build a more powerful community of women and minority-owned businesses just increased, thanks to Brissa Del Mar, CEO and founder of Women to Women. The launch of Women to Women closes the gap for LGBTQ women to network, collaborate, and meet face to face.

Brissa along with other community leaders share a vision for collaboration, leveraging our respective strengths, learning together and from each other. We want to create as a safe space for women to be seen and heard, share our knowledge and our networks, and support each other personally and professionally.

This past Saturday evening (April 14th), the passionate, creative leader and business owner of Breeze Art Creative and Women to Women hosted an event with alliance partner Alicia Driskill, founder and CEO of EvolveHer.

Several friends and colleagues helped support Brissa host a sold out event for 80 women in the LGBTQ community. “It’s all about collaboration and participating in conversations–we are in this together” said Brissa.

In addition to singing by Elisa Latrice and dancing, Brissa shared the first set of Women2Women videos, supporting the evolving journeys of women loving women, and encouraging more women to come forward to participate by sharing their journeys.

I first learned about Brissa and W2W while reading SCENE Chicago. Immediately, I noticed that this community creates yet another opportunity for women who are more open to collaboration and are ready to move conversations forward.  W2W, provides a space for women to evolve as human beings, and have a place where they can gather and share everything. Their video conversations journeys to life–I was thrilled to be there to support Brissa and interview several amazing women working with her on this project.

At the beginning of the evening, Brissa shared a story that inspired her to start Women to Women. The lesson was that while there are many women-focused communities, there was no specific place for the LGBTQ women to go—until now. Brissa continued by sharing about herself with the group.

“I am a human connector, I bring people’s stories to life, and I am a woman who loves women socially, emotionally and sexually. She continued by showing a preview of the first set of videos that answers the question, “What is Women to Women?” They cover conversations that people don’t typically have, such as: Living in Purpose, Relationships, Bi-Sexuality, and more.

Since the event was at EvolveHer, I spent a few minutes with Alicia Driskill, CEO to understand what she hopes to accomplish. Alicia wants to be a connector for members who want to be part of something bigger.  Leaving the agency and entertainment world, Alicia began to notice the challenge of transitioning to an entrepreneur. She also wanted to find a way to create something different for women to attend together and have “Positive energy in all aspects of life.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Alicia uses EvolveHer to be a platform and a safe space to move relationships forward. Alicia also wants to create a place for educating women 58 events since January 1st. Wellness – workouts beginning in May.

The program continued with music by Elisa Latrice, who is a singer and fashion model. Elisa believes talent can overcome many other biases if compassion and empathy are present. Women 2 Women will have to be the role models for the future

Angela Wang, recently started her 2nd business, X-Angela Wang, a clothing line which she designs. Angela is inspired by the style, confidence and cosmopolitan spirit of women everywhere. She wants people to know that being an Asian woman does not mean she should hide behind the scenes on a computer. “We are creative and want to encourage creativity. We love to empower women and encourage them to share their journeys through W2W. She also wants younger girls interested in starting their own businesses to reach out!

Rena McDaniel recently founded “Practical Audacity” in Logan Square. She grew up in Southern Louisiana with no role models. She sees W2W as an opportunity for interconnectivity.  When we discussed Rena’s reaction to Women to Women, she mentioned that when she goes out, she typically sees the same people. What made this event so unusual, was that she did not know half the people in the room.  That’s when she realized there were many other geographic areas in Chicago where she could meet other women from the LGBTQ community. There is value to having interconnectivity across various geographies. Even here in Chicago, I didn’t see a way to meet and other women on both a personal and professional level.  Women2Women addresses that gap.

I concluded our conversation by asking Rena how these stories can benefit people outside the LGBTQ community.  She encourages heterosexuals who want to advocate, to hear the stories and address bias.

Tamara Allen has dedicated herself as an advocate for minority business owners through her work as founder of B.Blyss! Tamara has concerns about women in society who are experiencing some of the layers they need to share over the course of their journey. Tamara wants women in the LGBTQ community to find leadership roles so that they have more visibility in the community and makes sure she is available to others.

                                                                                      Maria Hadden resides in Rogers Park and is running for Alderman of the 49th ward. In terms of meeting other LGBTQ women, Maria was looking for ways to interact that did not involve technology or a party scene. “It’s not easy to socialize outside your neighborhood geography because people no and the typical ways of socializing. Based on her experience working with public policies, Maria believes that videos will increase visibility and connection. She encourages women to surround themselves with people they can relate to.

Teresa Sandoval shared this about the importance of Women to Women for younger girls, “A younger me would have loved to have a group like this.” As part of General Assembly, a technology education group, Teresa mentioned how her presence can make a difference for others. “I want to show up in places where people don’t look like me, and, I want to encourage LGBTQ women to grow their creative practices.” She also looks forward to having a place to connect with people in person. It’s important to communicate that W2W is an inclusive and welcoming community.  When I asked Teresa if she has advice for other girls who are reading this or watching the videos she said, “Go easy on yourself.” Be open and enjoy what you enjoy.

Kara Laricks moved from New York to Chicago two weeks ago and immediately felt at home since she grew up in Kansas City. Kara recently started a job as an LGBTQ match-maker for 3-Day Rule, led by CEO, Talia Goldstein.  Kara is a Fashion Designer, writer and speaker and feels more at home in Chicago. When I asked her how W2W could be helpful to other women, she said, “ This provides us an opportunity to have a bigger voice to open doors and influence career choices.”

Photographer Credits:Nathly Kim

 


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