Jen Oleniczak Brown is the founder of Fearless, a new clubhouse/collaborative space in Winston-Salem by and for women that opened in May 2018. The space has open hours and coworking during the day and hosts crowd-sourced events in the evenings. They currently have 138 paid members and over 2,800 members in their private Facebook group. Find out more about Fearless at fearlesswsnc.com or join the group on Facebook.
What made you want to start Fearless?
I moved here from New York about three years ago when there was a resurgence in women’s social clubs and found myself wishing there was a place to meet people. I didn’t have the kind of community that I wish I had. As an adult woman, it’s hard to make friends. It started as a coworking space that had classes at night and, it turned into co-op structure with members deciding what’s happening in the space. Everyone feels that kind of ownership to it. It keeps growing into what it is. We have both fluffy and serious events because all of that makes up who you are as a woman.
How can someone become a member?
So you don’t have to be a member to come to the space. Some of these other places charge a monthly rate of hundreds of dollars, and to me it’s so much. I don’t need to make money off of it because I have another business.
What has the response been like?
Massive. I am stunned by how big the Facebook group is and how active the women are in it. They’ll say, “I feel like I know everyone because we’ve been talking.” It’s been amazing to see how the women who come into the space say, “I feel like I finally found people.” Or, “I want to meet friends, not at a bar.” I know what it’s like to be in a space and feel like you don’t have community. I’m so grateful.
Why is it important for something like Fearless to exist?
I think the biggest thing is that it’s not just for entrepreneurs. It’s intended to have that friendly, networking, coworking clubhouse feel. Female entrepreneurs zip around. One of my goals with this is that we’re all parts of a whole. It’s okay if you want to show up to one event and not another. Being a woman is so much more than just that one chosen path, it’s parts of a whole. It shows that yeah, makeup night is just as important as an activism night and you’re not gonna be judged for that. People shouldn’t feel like more or less because of what they’re participating in.
What’s the future of Fearless look like?
I want to keep going. I think getting more involved in the community as a whole is a future goal for us. For example, we have an intern working on women-owned online business directory right now. That doesn’t exist. We’re also thinking about how we can work with other people who are likeminded.