Stacks House, a touring pop-up bringing financial empowerment, education and community to boss ladies across the country, officially opened its doors on April 17 in Downtown Los Angeles. Financial 'goddess', Farnoosh Torabi, former Hilary Clinton fundraiser, Kindra Meyer and marketing maven, Patience Ramsey all came together to conceive this immersive, educational space to help close the gap between women and wealth in America.
"There's a lot of existing information, content, apps [and] investment platforms that are aimed at promoting female financial literacy," they explained. "With Stacks House, we intend to add an important layer to all of this through an experience that is highly interactive, engaging, fun and promotes community."
When you think of interactive pop-ups 29 Rooms, The Pint Shop, The Museum of Pizza or The Museum of Ice Cream might come to mind. These destinations are for visitors seeking fun and highly Instagrammable locations to visit with friends. Stacks House will provide the same experiences, but with one important distinction: education. Experiential learning is becoming increasingly popular by reason of FOMO. Learning something new became more interactive than it has ever been before.
Stacks House Co-Founders: Patience Ramsey, Farnoosh Torabi, Kindra Meyer
"Like other pop-ups Stacks House is a visual spectacle, sensory experience and Instagram playground—but here they will find more than just social shares. [Visitors] will also walk away with knowledge, inspiration and actionable next steps on how to improve their financial lives."
-"Come Play With Money" - Stacks House
Meyer, Ramsey and Torabi, all faced financial challenges in the past. They made personal investments in their lives and careers since then and hope to help women throughout various communities across the country. (See end of article for each of their stories.)
HOW STACKS HOUSE CAME ABOUT
Before creating Stacks House, Ramsey and Meyer worked in New York at an experiential agency; whilst getting to know each other they began discussing creating a networking community for women. However, it wasn't until they shared their own individual challenges with money that inspiration struck. In a personal breakdown turned professional breakthrough, they realized it was time women got the power they deserved. "And money is power."
Ramsey and Meyer went on to found She Stacks LLC in 2017, and Stacks House became the "first major initiative" under this larger parent company. They describe Stacks LLC as a "startup by women for women," in which they are brainstorming various ways to empower and educate women.
Before they could take on the next step, Ramsey and Meyer had to find a "financial goddess" to join them. After a meeting at The Wing Soho, Torabi joined in as the third partner. Together, they wanted to create a meaningful experience for women across the country, discovering ways to service their communities through the Stacks House pop-up.
Each room within Stacks House is designed around financial goals, creating a supportive learning space. One of them is the 'Money Moves' room, where visitors can learn how to make financial choices to help them live their best lives. They address a number of questions aimed at helping women gain control and understanding of their finances, including:
- How do I get myself out of debt?
- How do I ask for a raise?
- How prepared am I for retirement?
- How can I make more money?
- What should I do with my money once I have more of it?
- What is my #1 financial goal and what support do I need to achieve it?
According to Meyer, Ramsey and Torabi their mission is "to present the information in a simple, sexy and social way that encourages community and sharing like never before."
The co-founders have emphasized the need for "financial feminism," meaning "financial equality for all women," listing inclusion, independence, and responsibility as key components. Though there are a number of lessons they want visitors to walk away with, the most important one is that it is okay to talk about money and have these conversations.
"We want to encourage [women] to have support for one another in their money goals," they say. "We want them to walk away knowing that financial wellness is critical to their lives and happiness."
According to a recent survey by Charles Schwab, "young women are more likely to define success as financial independence, compared to young men." Women have faced obstacles and challenges in the financial sector for decades. "We earn less, save less, invest less, carry more student loan debt than men… we could go on," the Co-Founders comment. "When women are financially literate, financially secure and make more, the world becomes a better place."
With Stacks House, women can gain information on how to take control of their wealth by making choices around earning, saving, decreasing debt and investing. Charles Schwab also reported more women have taken side jobs to make ends meet and take on additional work to make extra money than men.
In addition to L.A., Stacks House will be heading to Detroit, Minneapolis, Austin, Chicago and New York.
Get to know the founders
At a very young age, Meyer was determined to pursue a career in the city and establish a life that was dissimilar to her childhood. She grew up in a one-room log cabin without running water or electricity, in what she described as the woods of North Idaho. With hard work, she made her dream a reality, starting work in various advertising firms where over eight years she multiplied her salary six times. After the 2016 election, Meyer has a "huge epiphany around money" and promised herself to make changes in sexist money-culture, and "to bring up women around [her] to do the same." Meyer co-built She Stacks, her passion project, to help women become financially empowered.
Ramsey also faced a childhood overcome with "financial uncertainty" and "scarcity" in rural Indiana. At a young age she was set on getting her finances in order and becoming more knowledgeable by the time she became an adult. However, by the start of her career that she began racking up credit card debt, eventually reaching over $60k. Ramsey had to "climb out" of her situation by researching and reading books by financial expert and author, Suze Orman. As co-founder of She Stacks, Ramsey hopes to continue educating herself and the community to "make smarter more strategic choices."
Torabi was raised by immigrant, Middle Eastern parents who tirelessly worked toward achieving the 'American Dream.' Growing up, she had a "certain level of financial confidence and fluency" based on what she learned at home. Torabi knew how to strategize and "live below" her means unlike many of her peers and friends at that time. She realized there was a "huge void in the market" of support for young adults, particularly women, to achieve financial goals. Keeping that in mind, after graduating college she took on a "number of side hustles" that became her "brand-building assets" as she ventured to become an entrepreneur, financial expert and co-founder.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.