7min readFinance 17 May 2019
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.
5 Min Read
Organic growth has made all the difference for my company. Since its start in 2010, Fresh n' Lean has delivered more than 7.2 million organic meals that are free of pesticides, hormones, GMOs, and other additives. The business itself has grown organically, too, without the help of any outside capital. Over the past decade, Fresh n' Lean's bootstrapped operation has grown into a 220-employee company with nine-figure revenue.
Here's how I've been able to successfully build my business without taking on a penny of outside funding.
1. A Hard Decision
The decision of whether or not to take on outside capital is a difficult one.
I was lucky— I relied on personal savings to fund Fresh n' Lean at the company's onset. I thought Fresh n' Lean was a meaningful endeavor, and I believed in myself and my vision.
Not every business owner would be financially able to make the same decision I did. Either way, it's important that your company's growth happens gradually and naturally.
2. Start Small
I was an 18-year-old college student when I launched Fresh n' Lean.
I would regularly work upwards of 20 hours a day— cooking dishes, arranging the meals in tupperware containers, handwriting the labels, and personally delivering them to some of our earliest customers.
Pretty soon we were shipping meals nationally, and I began renting a commercial kitchen space.
We generated a ton of enthusiasm from our customers, and that support prooved that we were on to something. But the early days featured lots of trial and error. We made mistakes and learned from them before scaling the business.
3. Rely On Your Network
Fresh n' Lean started with a team of five people. My friends and relatives chipped in, and my brother Thomas joined Fresh n' Lean as co-CEO.
Relying on those close colleagues was so meaningful in helping me get the company off the ground. I often look at Fresh n' Lean's employees as a family, and that mentality was especially true in those early days.
As I ramped up the hiring, my experiences with every aspect of our operation made me sharp at understanding the company's needs— and helped me to hire employees with the right skill set and mentality to drive the company forward.
4. Hold Firm
Fresh n' Lean embodies a lifestyle choice, a chance for everyone in the United States to have access to nourishing meals amid their busy lives.
We probably could have driven more sales by offering non-organic meal options, but I wanted the company to remain true to my mission.
A decade later, I'm so proud to see the impact Fresh n' Lean has made in redefining fast food.
5. Capitalize On Industry Trends
We live in a society of instant gratification— we want everything now, and our world is completely focused on convenience.
When Fresh n' Lean was launched, the idea of receiving ready-to-eat meals on your doorstep was a strange concept. But a decade later, we're used to having everything delivered to our homes. Recognizing and capitalizing on those changing consumer habits was a big part of our growth.
6. Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
For years, I wanted to open our own kitchen facility— it was a top priority.
But building the space was a difficult and extensive process that could have financially devastated us if we attempted it too soon. In those early years, the project would have left the company too vulnerable.
Instead of moving forward with the project, we waited. In the meantime, we continued renting commercial kitchen space. One day a week turned into two, and then three and four, and eventually we were renting the space five days a week.
In time, we had no other options but to build our own kitchen facility— and our restraint before moving forward with that project was crucial, even if it was frustrating for the short-term.
7. Focus On You
As you build your company, it's easy to try to compare it to the growth other companies experience.
But headlines and press releases don't reveal the full story, and outside funding can mask structural and foundational problems. One example is the online ordering and meal delivery service Munchery, which secured more than $125 million from lenders before closing in early 2019.
Every company's story is unique! You can't judge your company's success based on the ups and downs of others. Focus on making your company the best you can.
8. One Thing At A Time
Our meal offerings have expanded through deliberate, strategic planning and extensive customer feedback.
Building the recipes takes time— we want to be sure to get it right. And our customer feedback ensures that there's built-in interest before rolling out new meal options.
9. Be Resourceful
Building the company without outside capital forced me to be more resourceful. I couldn't throw money at everything I wanted to change— I had to be patient and find alternative solutions.
It's similar, in a way, to cooking a dish without having every ingredient listed in the recipe. You must have the key ingredients! Our executive chef was one of our earliest hires.
But you can adjust and improvise on some of the secondary ingredients, using whatever alternatives you have available and relying on tried-and-true methods to fill in the gaps.
Who knows? Through experimentation, you just might find a better way to cook your dish or guide your company forward.