Flower Crowns Are The New Grey Hoodies
Let me set the scene for you: everything is pink. The walls, the floors, the couch. The gallery is now standing room only, and the DJ, Legatron Prime, is spinning throwback ‘90s anthems. Nadia Ogbor, founder and chef of Little Kitchen NOLA, passes around tacos beneath paintings by Anna Koeferl and Lyla Clayre. If you’re interested, make your way to the back to purchase prints, portraits, and bedazzled head wraps. Welcome to opening night of Femaissance: Primavera, a New Orleans-based, female-centric project rooted equally in activism, artistry, and entrepreneurship. In Femaissance, co-creators Madeline Rose and Halle Kaplan-Allen have built their own gender-based incubator. In an unapologetically feminine space, local female artists, artisans, and small business owners are able to find communion and inspiration in one another while selling their wares directly to patrons.
While Femaissance is notably pinker, louder, and more sequined than others, it is the latest in a growing collection of resources targeting female entrepreneurs in New Orleans. New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week alone featured not one but two gender-based pitch contests, both the Women in Business Challenge presented by the Urban League and the Junior League of New Orleans’ Woman Entrepreneurship Fellowship. trepwise’s neighbor and client the Good Work Network operates the Southeast Regional Women’s Business Center, serving female entrepreneurs in fifteen parishes, and the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce hosts monthly seminars through its Women’s Business Alliance.
Resources like these are needed as we look for ways to combat national gender-based inequality in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Men are still twice as likely as women to launch new businesses, and 66% more likely to receive equity financing through angel investors or venture capitalists. The beauty of resources like those I’ve listed above is that they provide opportunity for community and mentorship, either formalized like the Women’s Business Alliance or delightfully freeform like Femaissance. In a country where 73% of private firms are still owned by men, it is critical that spaces exist for women in the business world to share experiences and network. The later is particularly pertinent to entrepreneurs, where scholars have long described personal networks as the most strategically significant resource an individual can have.
Not all entrepreneurial ecosystems can include elements as fun and funky as the Femaissance. It’s sad, but it’s the truth. In New Orleans, with a booming entrepreneurial ecosystem and cultural and creative industries as great as any around the world, we have the great joy of watching the two collide. It’s our privilege and our responsibility to cultivate communities that support women and minority groups across industries. And if those communities are equipped with flower crowns and metallic fake eyelashes, I say the more the merrier.
For more information on Femaissance, check out this great interview with Madeline and Halle by our friends over at Pelican Bomb: http://pelicanbomb.com/art-review/2018/from-instagram-to-irl-an-interview-with-madeline-rose-and-halle-kaplan-allen. “Femaissance: Primavera” exhibition is on view through May 27th at Oleander on Royal (1000 Royal Street). “Femaissance: Prosperina” opens June 9, 2018.