The latest event from the Detroit-based co-working space Femology was an evening dedicated to style and business inspiration. Female Founders on Fifth Avenue, which took place on June 7 at Saks Fifth Avenue in Troy, featured panel discussions with local entrepreneurs, a fashion showcase, and a happy hour on a pink carpet. But, more importantly, it was an opportunity for local entrepreneurial women to connect with each other, to give back to charity — a portion of the proceeds from the event were donated to Dress for Success — and for Femology’s leadership to introduce the next phase of their brand.
Started by CEO Meagan Ward in 2017, Femology has grown to cater to 100 members and has connected with even more local women at its Instagram-worthy events held throughout the years. With expansion in mind, Ward connected with Yliana Guzman, a New York City-based entrepreneur with a background in operations, through a mutual friend in early February. Following their meeting, Guzman invested six figures in Femology and came onto the brand later that month as chief operating officer. She and Ward are both co-founders. Now, the duo has big plans — they’ll transition from Femology’s 500-square-foot space near the Renaissance Center to a new, larger headquarters in the city’s downtown area later this year. Digital and national opportunities are also on the horizon. Here, Ward and Guzman discuss what brought them together, what to expect from “Femology 2.0,” and why, even as the brand grows, it will still stay true to its mission of supporting women in business.
Hour Detroit: Why did the two of you decide to partner?
Meagan Ward: This year’s focus [for Femology] was to expand. We didn’t know how that would happen. [Yliana and I] met in downtown Detroit, and we really hit it off. Yliana had a brand that she was launching — a digital empowerment and entrepreneurial-focused brand to help female entrepreneurs scale their businesses. So, it made sense that we reinvent the wheel, collaborate on Femology, and turn it into something we both dreamed of. With Yliana jumping on board, she brings more structure to the brand.
Yliana Guzman: I respected [Meagan] prior to meeting her and getting involved. [Femology] was a brand that I felt was genuine and making a positive impact. Joining forces was the best of both worlds. Meagan is still the heart, the face, and sort of the brains of the operation, whereas I’m more behind the scenes and focusing on scaling nationwide. Coming into Femology with my experience scaling small businesses, the vision that I saw was going from a small micro-business to an enterprise because I knew [what] the potential was.
How are you preparing for Femology’s next chapter?
MW: We just finished a venture capital accelerator where we did a six-week program and learned how to get access to capital for our brand. From that, we’ve been meeting with venture capitalists every week. Less than 3 percent of women get access to venture capital, and less than 1 percent of women of color get access to venture capital. This is definitely a new world for us, but it’s a world that we’re committed to changing.
With everything you’re working on financially and structurally, how will Femology change in the months and years to come?
MW: Our new location will be three times the size of our current location. We’ve secured 3,000 square feet in the warehouse district in downtown Detroit. We’ll begin the buildout of that this summer and roll out our new location in full this winter.
YG: The theme is new Art Deco. So very modern and colorful. We’ll have shared office space and private offices. There will be a wellness and fitness room. We will have dressing rooms in the bathroom area. We’ll have copy and printing, as well as mail services. We will have a podcast room. We’ll also be rolling out digital memberships. We’ve been getting a ton of inquiries from people that are not local to Detroit but want to be part of Femology. The digital membership is going to allow us to live stream our programming and events.
How will the expansion change how you approach events?
MW: We plan on doing events on a more frequent basis. In addition to that, [we plan to] have the backing of larger brands, like a Saks or a Quicken Loans. Our new space is larger, so have events and activations there. With our current space, that phased out. It would only hold a max of 75 people. We [also] capped on [membership]. We essentially closed out our membership and focused on the rebranding of Femology 2.0, where we can have 250 members as part of our founding member basis.
While this larger Detroit location is the next step, is there plans for expansion to other cities in mind?
YG: We have plans to expand to other cities beginning next year. We will be targeting smaller markets that are underserved by our competitors — smaller pockets in Memphis, St. Louis, Phoenix, and those sorts of cities. But we do plan on having some larger spaces at about 10,000 square feet in larger cities — perhaps New York, something on the West Coast.
How do you plan to stay true to your mission as Femology continues to grow?
MW: It’s definitely evolved. It’s really bringing women together and empowering them not only in entrepreneurship but really thinking in a different way. I don’t think the mission of Femology will ever change even as we’re pivoting and scaling. I think what is going to happen is we’re going to be able to impact more women. We know the demand is there. It’s just a matter of making the right decisions as an executive team. Most women-owned businesses are not exceeding $500,000 in revenue. It’s really important for us to [hit those goals] so other women see that it’s possible.
YG: So many women can relate to starting small. Meagan and I are also moms of toddlers, which keep us very busy. It’s not easy. Any member can come to [us] with questions, and we’ll be able to help. We’ve been through everything. Literally, from nothing to now. Hopefully, in the next couple of months, we’ll have something super beautiful that will make a larger impression on Detroit and hopefully the whole nation.
From The Archive: Female Entrepreneurs Are Staking Their Claim in Detroit