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.
Following are excerpts from "Unleash the Girls, The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (And Me)" By Lisa Z. Lindahl
There is an idea that has popped up everywhere from Chaos Theory to Science Fiction and New Age memes known popularly as the "Butterfly Effect." Simply put, it is the notion that one very small thing—the movement of a butterfly's wing say, or the ripple in a lake caused by a pebble being thrown into it—can cause tremendous effect far away: the butterfly's wing a tornado, the ripple a large wave on a distant shore. Cause and effect, does it have limits? The field of physics is telling us that it takes only observation to bring a thing into being. We cannot consider these areas of investigation and not acknowledge that everything—everything—is in relationship in some way or another with everything else.
So, it is evident to me that commerce of any kind is, also, just about relationships. It all boils down, on every level to this simplicity. While we usually think of relationships as occurring between people—it is far more than that.
I used to teach a course in entrepreneurship specifically for women in The Women's Small Business Program at Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont. I made this concept of relationship and its importance central in how I taught the marketing thought process. I would stress that for a product or service to be successful, it had to meet a perceived need. There is a need, and it wants to be met; or it may be thought of as a problem to be solved. Or there may be an existing solution that is less than adequate.
For example: In my universe as a runner there already were a plethora of bras available, but they were inadequate for my purpose. The relationship between my breasts, my running body, and my bra was creating discomfort and distraction. A new solution had to be found, the relationship occurring when all these things came together had to be fixed. Utilizing this point of view, one sees a set of issues that need to be addressed—they are in relationship with each other and their environment in a way that needs to be changed, adjusted.
Nowhere is this viewpoint truer than in business, as we enter into more and more relationships with people to address all the needs of the organization. Whether designing a product or a service or communicating with others about it—we are in relationship. And meanwhile, how about maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves? All the issues we know about stress in the workplace can boil down to an internal balancing act around our relationships: to the work itself, to those we work with, to home life, friends and lovers. So quickly those ripples can become waves.
Because Jogbra was growing so quickly, relationships were being discovered, created, ending, expanding and changing at a pace that makes my head spin to recall. And truly challenged my spirit. Not to mention how I handled dealing with my seizure disorder.
"My Lifelong Partner"
Let me tell you a bit about my old friend, Epilepsy. Having Epilepsy does not make any sort of money-making endeavor easy or reliable, yet it is my other "partner" in life. Husbands and business partners have come and gone, but Epilepsy has always been with me. It was my first experience of having a "shadow teacher."
While a child who isn't feeling she has power over her world may have a tantrum, as we grow older, most of us find other more subtle ways to express our powerfulness or powerlessness. We adapt, learn coping mechanisms, how to persuade, manipulate, or capitulate when necessary. These tools, these learned adaptations, give a sense of control. They make us feel more in charge of our destiny. As a result, our maturing self generally feels indestructible, immortal. Life is a long, golden road of futures for the young.
This was not the case for me. I learned very early on when I started having seizures that I was not fully in charge of the world, my world, specifically of my body. There are many different types of epileptic seizures. Often a person with the illness may have more than one type. That has been the case for me. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy—with a seizure type now referred to as "Absence seizures"—when I was four years old. I have seen neurologists and taken medications ever since. As often happens, the condition worsened when I entered puberty and I started having convulsions as well—what most people think of when they think of epileptic seizures. The clinical name is generalized "Tonic-clonic" seizures.
In such a seizure the entire brain is involved, rather like an electrical circuit that has gone out as a result of a power surge. I lose consciousness, my whole body becomes rigid, the muscles start jerking uncontrollably, and I fall. Tonic-clonic seizures, also known as "grand mal" seizures, may or may not be preceded by an aura, a type of perceptual disturbance, which for me can act as a warning of what is coming. The seizure usually only lasts for a few minutes, but I feel its draining effects for a day or two afterwards. Although I would prefer to sleep all day after such a physically and emotionally taxing event, I have often just gotten up off the floor and, within hours, gone back to work. It was necessary sometimes, though definitely not medically advised. I'm fond of saying that having a grand mal seizure is rather like being struck by a Mack truck and living to tell the tale.
Having Epilepsy has forced me to be dependent on others throughout my life. While we are all dependent upon others to some degree—independent, interdependent, dependent—in my case a deep level of dependency was decreed and ingrained very early on. This enforced dependency did not sit well with my native self. I bucked and rebelled. At the same time, a part of me also feared the next fall, the next post-convulsive fugue. And so I recognized, I acquiesced to the need to depend on others.
The silver lining of having Epilepsy is that it has introduced me to and taught me a bit about the nature of being powerless—and experiencing betrayal. I could not trust that my body would always operate as it should. Routinely, it suddenly quits. I experience this as betrayal by my brain and body. It results in my complete powerlessness throughout the convulsion. Not to mention an inconvenient interruption of any activities or plans I might have made.
Hence, I am the recipient of two important life lessons—and I was blessed to have this very specific and graphic experience at a young age. It made me observant and reflective, giving me the opportunity to consider what/where/who "I" was. I knew I was not "just" my body, or even my brain.
So, who or what did that leave? Who, what am I? Much has been written about trauma, and about near-death experiences, both of which seizures have been classified or described as. I won't delve into that here except to say that experiencing recurrent seizures and the attendant altered states of consciousness that sometimes accompany an episode (the euphemism for a seizure) changes one. It deeply affects you. It is both illuminating and frightening. It opens you up in some ways and can close you way down in others. For me it made it easy to consider the possibility of other ways to perceive, of other realms. And as an adult I became interested in quantum physics, where Science is pushing and challenging our long-held perceptual assumptions. Me, who was poor in math and disinterested in Science while in school! So if not merely body and brain, who am I? Spirit. And with Epilepsy's tutelage, I was encouraged to question, seek, try to understand what lies beyond.
Living with Epilepsy has also given me great strength. In realizing the futile nature of trying to have "power over" Epilepsy, I developed a deep well of "power within"—that inner strength that comes in the acceptance of that which one cannot change—and looking beyond it.
Through my experience building the business of Jogbra with the unique lens afforded me by my Epilepsy partner, I came to understand more fully the nature of power and what it means to be truly powerful.
Specifically, that having power and exercising it is not simply a manifestation of the ego. It need not be "power-tripping." It is how I wield my power that matters, making the all-important distinction between creating a situation of power over, power with, or empowering and having and creating strength in oneself and others.
Being powerful is a big responsibility.
To put all this another way: do I choose to create situations in which I am able to wield power over others? Or do I choose to empower others, sharing my strengths with them, while nurturing their strengths as well? The first is not true power. It is control. The second I believe to be the essence of true and positive power: strength. And integral to creating a more harmonious world, oh by the way.
While this may be apparent, even basic to others, it was an "aha!" moment for me. Too often in the years ahead I would give away my power and question my own strengths,. Time and again, however, my inner strength, my shadow teacher's gift, helped me survive and thrive until I could take responsibility for and embrace more fully my own power.
© Lisa Z. Lindahl 2019