Extraordinary businesses often start simply, with a great idea. Turning that idea into a successful company takes hard work, dedication, and a strong team. Made at WeWork showcases the innovative services and products built within WeWork buildings around the world.
From minimalistic, sophisticated ski apparel to public speaking lessons to real-estate investing consultations to tools and resources for healthy lifestyle changes, many of WeWork’s women-led businesses create products and services that will add joy, balance, and new experiences to your life. This March, in honor of Women’s History Month, we highlight five businesses founded by women for all the things you’ll want to give to a loved one or yourself, today or any day of the year.
A healthy snack you can’t get enough of
Nutritious and tasty snacks have been mainstream for at least a decade, but Dr. Renette Dallas has been offering them since 1999, when she founded her lifestyle company Life by Dallas. To help her fitness clients increase their fiber intake, she started making her own version of delicious, air-popped popcorn in her kitchen, called True Pop popcorn. She believes in this quote attributed to Hippocrates: “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”
“True Pop was created to fill the void that existed in the popcorn snack industry,” she says. “[It] is air-popped, maintaining the integrity of the dietary fiber.” To replicate the cheesy, buttery taste American palates crave, she added nutritional yeast for a cheesy profile, and sunflower oil to give it a buttery flavor.
Dallas’s popcorn was so popular she started selling it at her local DMV in Maryland—and eventually at Whole Foods. True Pop is a cornerstone product in the company’s mission to help poor and uneducated communities fight the war against the Big 3: obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, says Dallas.
She now sees an even stronger push toward healthier eating, especially in light of a year or so of lockdown living. “Post-pandemic [lifestyle] has really shifted to all things healthier, as individuals have become more sedentary teleworking and homeschooling,” she says. “There has been an influx of healthy snacking option inquiries, and our online sales have never been stronger. The push for low-salt/sodium, low-fat, low-calorie clean snacking is huge now.”
Stylish gear for the occasional skier
Traditionally, ski and winter sports gear has been associated with bright, neon colors (or black) and bulky materials, and an obsession with performance-centric technical specs. The womenswear version of it tended to abide by the motto: “Pink it and shrink it.” Three women set out to change that with Halfdays, giving women who like to ski something they’ll actually want to wear.
Last year, Olympic skier Kiley McKinnon, retail strategy consultant Ariana Ferwerda, and marketing expert Karelle Golda singled out a sizable niche in the winter sports market: the hobbyist skier who skis about twice a year and doesn’t necessarily look for high-performance gear, favoring comfort and fit over technical specs.
“I’ve worn a lot of ski wear throughout my life as a professional skier. I’ve never found gear that I loved from a fit, fashion, and brand perspective,” McKinnon says.
The trio took inspiration from vintage ski style, incorporating modern silhouettes for a timeless collection. Their color palette consists of warm neutrals—olive green, cream, and black—with hits of bold, saffron yellow and a muted orange. So far, their collection consists of one ski pant, two jackets, one turtleneck top, and one legging. Their bestseller is the slim-fitting Alessandra pant, whose design had been at the core of their business.
“Great-fitting ski pants were always really hard for us to find, so we wanted to make sure that we nailed the fit from the start,” McKinnon says.
An investment property with room for upside
A reliable way to build wealth over time is by investing in real estate—but only if you choose the right property. Smart Capital Center founder Laura Krashakova launched her business to help buyers do just that.
“Key to achieving this is to buy at the right price so you have room for upside,” Krashakova says. “Unfortunately, when determining a property’s worth, [previously] investors could only rely on the listed price from brokers and sellers, who don’t necessarily have the buyer’s best interest at heart.”
Enter Smart Capital Center, an intelligent property valuation platform that factors in multiple data points such as recent sales, business activity, and employment numbers in the area to provide investors with a more realistic value of the property a potential buyer is interested in.
Its services come in handy especially in the wake of the pandemic, which has resulted in major lifestyle changes. “Our research shows that due to a combination of virus fears and the flexibility of remote work arrangements, many people are moving away from high-density areas and prefer to live in areas with more open spaces,” Krashakova says.
“We’ve also seen the resiliency and innovative spirit of entrepreneurs, such as those who have transformed their retail spaces into warehouses or communal workspaces to adapt to this new reality,” she says.
Public speaking lessons
Clients turn to Speech Fox for a number of reasons. They might be an actor trying to master a specific regional inflection or neutralize their own. They might be a professional who wants to hone their public-speaking or Zoom presentation skills. They might be an ESL speaker who is fully fluent but wants to further streamline their accent.
Speech Fox founder Melanie Fox is a linguist who started out as an ESL teacher for beginners. “Since my students really needed practical skills, I focused on speaking and pronunciation and communication skills. When I could see that after a semester, my students could outspeak the advanced students, I knew there was a gap in ESL education.”
With Speech Fox, she is working to close that gap. Today most of her clients are proficient English speakers who seek full fluency in intonation and pronunciation. And the advent of Zoom culture has added another niche to her specialty.
“Many people who were comfortable presenting in person were thrown for a loop with Zoom, and as such, I am often hired to prepare teams to conduct large Zoom meetings or webinars, build dynamic PowerPoint decks, and translate their presentation skills to a virtual medium,” she says. “One of my clients is a Toastmaster, and mastered her new virtual presentation skills so well that she won both her local and regional contests.”
Call or email and mention WeWork for a free 30-minute consultation via phone or Zoom.
Custom healthy recipe curation
When diagnosed with a chronic condition, many people associate the required lifestyle and dietary changes with restriction and deprivation. Food and recipe editor Shaun Chavis, CEO of the recipe platform and cookbook-building app LVNGbook, wants to change that assumption.
“When a doctor diagnoses you with something, already you’re thinking about all the food you love that you don’t think you’ll be able to have anymore. It doesn’t set you up to approach change with a positive mindset,” she says. “When you think about how most of those lists are bland and don’t reflect any cultural cuisines, you realize the deprivation isn’t just about favorite foods, but it can also feel like you’re being separated from your cultural identity and from social interaction with family and friends.”
Chavis designed LVNGbook to help customers focus on foods and flavors they enjoy and to create positive associations with healthy eating. “You come to our app and take a survey with your health needs,” she explains. The app shows you a list of recipes that match your profile, and you can choose the ones you like to create your own cookbook. Once you check out, you get a PDF so you can start cooking right away, and your printed hardcover book arrives about two to three weeks later.
Angelica Frey is a writer and translator who covers the arts, fashion, and food. Originally from Milan, she currently lives in Brooklyn.