Three Ships #HerHustle Interview with Make Lemonade Founder, Rachel Kelly

Three Ships #HerHustle Interview with Make Lemonade Founder, Rachel Kelly - Three Ships
When we were accepted into the Make Lemonade Build Your Dream Accelerator, we knew we wanted to have the inspiring founder on the #HerHustler series. We love Rachel's mission of creating a community of driven women who create, dream, and get sh*t done. We are so excited for you to read about Rachel's journey in building the popular coworking space for women in Toronto!

What inspired you to start Make Lemonade?
I can remember so vividly a few points in my life when I would stare out the window, drift into “la-la land” and think to myself “there has to be more than this.” It was when my sweet full-time job opportunity turned sour and forced me to re-evaluate what I was doing with my life. Up until that point I had been freelancing for a couple years; working out of coffee shops or from home. It was a romantic reality until it turned impractical; coffee started adding up, I was growing lonelier by the minute working alone, and I was growing tired of working for someone else. When the job fell flat, I decided I had three options:

  1. Jump on a plane and “find myself” (spoiler alert, I’ve taken the plane trips, I’ve climbed the mountains…and the answers are never across an ocean but inside of you. Boring, I know.)
  2. Look for another gig. Also boring for me at that point.
  3. Start something for myself. I had already jotted down ideas, and I knew what I was craving; a community, an inspiring workspace, an environment where my funky, weird, quirky self was celebrated and encouraged. I just needed to rip the band-aid off and start.

Now, looking back, that starting point didn’t have to be as dramatic as I made it out to be. In comparison to where I am now, those first few months were baby steps. It’s just the first step that was the hardest.

rachel kelly make lemonadeSource: Amber Ellis

What does your typical day look like?
I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that no day I lead is ever typical. I try to get to the bottom of my emails each night and know what’s happening the next day so I can wake up in control and relaxed. I’m not a morning person, so prepping in my head what I’ll wear the next day and filling my tea kettle with water each night are two simple actions that make my morning easier. Each morning when I come into Make Lemonade, I have a brief chat with whoever is running the front desk and then I open up my laptop and check our P&L. A day can consist of a meeting with my team, a chat with our Build Your Dream Accelerator group, and a pitch to a new partner. By the end of the day, I snap my laptop shut and either head to an event in the city, help with hosting whatever is happening here, head home and make myself dinner or spend time with my friends or family. It’s when I do the super simple activities that make me feel most centered and fulfilled.

"My decisions that I’ve made have led me to where I am today, but they don’t mean I am stuck where I am."

What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The worst piece at the time turned out to be one of the mottos that carry me through day to day now. It was years ago at a family holiday party and an old family friend’s comment to my studying New Media at Ryerson was, “well, you can always change.” For years I held onto that, thinking that he was judging my choice in education, and wasn’t seeing validity in my program. I was on a mission to prove him wrong. Years later I realized that there was truth in what he said, “I can always change.” My decisions that I’ve made have led me to where I am today, but they don’t mean I am stuck where I am. Sure, I run a business and have a lot of responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean I need to do this forever. Nothing in this world is permanent, and if I really want, I can always change.

rachel kelly make lemonadeSource: Jenny Jay

What does success mean to you?
Confidently knowing that what I did today has made even the slightest impact. That, and not feeling overwhelmed by the business that I’ve created.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
Well, the first thing I do is feel the feels and let it out with tears, laughter, jumping jacks…you name it.  I remind myself that those feelings are there for a reason, and ignoring them are only going to come back to bite me. I like to think it’s an exercise for my “gut check”- if I can’t be real with myself and my feelings, then how can I truly know when something “icky” comes along? Once I’ve done that, 100% guaranteed I feel a little bit different afterward. I then go into my folder of “warm fuzzies” and read cards or notes that people have written to me about the good feels I’ve brought them through Make Lemonade.

rachel kelly make lemonade

Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
Every day I start with hot water, lemon, ginger, and honey. That’s the longest ritual I’ve held for myself and it’s my favorite way to start the day. Simple, quiet, and healthy.

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If you liked this interview, you might like our recent interview with Idalia Salsamendi, founder of The Realization Podcast.