When I was a senior at Yale, I met a girl who seemed to understand and articulate all of my thoughts on feminism and independence and what I wanted for myself in terms of self respect and adhering to my personal value system in the same language that I was using in my journal. It was strange. Like having my mind read for 3 hours. Obviously, we clicked and, as I usually do, we decided to build something together.
Now, nearly two years later, the salon series we built for our friends and growing communities in New York have expanded into several cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, DC, Miami and soon, hopefully, Minneapolis and abroad). The salons grow organically — what started as one salon based in NYC turned into four of them running independently in NYC and several others sprouting up because people are generally interested in what we have created.
For me, the real value add of these salon spaces is that people come to have coffee/brunch in my apartment and agree to “leave their shells at the door.” While New York and certainly other cities value carefully curated public personas and responses, we value honesty and kindness to yourself and others, self respect, and the bravery it takes to dig into the soft, uncomfortable, not fully formed pieces of thoughts and values and goals that we all hide in our mental closets for a while longer than we should.
I love meeting new, cool, badass, creative ladies across cities and inviting them to join the salon space. I naturally have found a series of close friends through these spaces. Because I’ll explain something raw in my head and they will engage with me about it, seriously. They listen. They value the ideas and person that you introduce to a space. Because that is what it is — showing up and being fully present and engaged with a stranger, but promising to listen and be present throughout the conversation, is a sign of respect. It is what builds strong communities.
I am excited to see how we grow and change this year. It has been such a pleasure to organize and attend these salons for a few hours every few weekends. I leave feeling raw and open and reminded of my own values and personal growth goals. I am grateful to have a space where I am required to leave my shell at the door. It gets heavy and unpleasant to carry around all the time.
Most importantly, I am grateful to the women who have pushed me and challenged me and listened to me when I sometimes feel lost and unable to full express myself. Thank you, Tiffany, Sharone, Camilla, Joanna, Molly and our other organizers. You have changed me for the better.