The Story Behind the Site: Nora Henick, Founder of La Femme Collective
La Femme Collective is an Los Angeles-based, global community created to support and celebrate the career development of women. La Femme Collective is an online platform that aims to be an open, accessible space for story sharing and free-flowing discussion. Their goal is to grant access to the real lives, mistakes, and lessons of #entrefemmeurs who are forging new paths, inspiring others to follow.
Nora Henick, founded La Femme Collective back in March 2016 and remains an integral part of its growth. We’re here to find out how Nora got her big idea, how she’s fostered her community of #entrefemmeurs, and what tools she’s used along the way to ensure it’s success.
La Femme Collective has been in existence for just over a year now and has a strong mission to support female entrepreneurs at all stages in their endeavors. Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur? What was the catalyst that activated you to launching the LFC?
I had no idea what I wanted to do. I remember in fifth grade, we were asked for our yearbook what we wanted to be when we grew up. I recall telling someone I wanted to be a philanthropist and a comedian, but I’m not sure if they ever printed that (and fair on them as I haven’t achieved either of those yet). In college I was pretty industry agnostic when it came to work. I just wanted to learn. Afterwards I wound up at a job in marketing at recruiting company. During my first month there, I decided to write a blog post on the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. I was so distraught about all of the articles I was reading; there were just so many about sexual harassment, pay gaps, ideas being stolen. It really got to me. Pair that with a less-than-great work environment, I was shaken out of my bubble – I always knew gender inequality existed, I just wasn’t aware enough to do something about it. So, looking back, while I felt miserable at the time, I’m happy I had this experience. It led me to launching La Femme Collective.
You coin your community of women, #entrefemmeurs. What inspires you the most about female entrepreneurs? What are some recurring obstacles you hear from them about starting their own businesses?
My inspiration is their determination. I have never seen anyone more motivated than a woman determined to succeed. It is the most beautiful thing. We’ve made such major strides in proving that our instincts actually provide us with the motivation and intuition we need to be strong and successful, with or without the help of others. I look at women like Amanda de Cadenet and Michelle Obama (two of my inspirations), and all I want to do is work harder and help create more opportunities for women. Some of the women I have talked to face obstacles such as not being taken seriously by investors and being forced to make up fake business partners just to get meetings and funding. Many of them see wage discrepancies due to their gender, sexual harassment in the office, and being spoken over in meetings. The list goes on and on. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
As the editor-in-chief of an online platform, what does an average day at the office look like?
A little bit of everything. I work freelance most days for a social media agency in Los Angeles, so I spend three days a week in their offices. On those days, my work for LFC is reserved for before and after work hours. Which means that when working on LFC, I don’t give myself any time restraints. Weekends are fair game, 2 AM FaceTime calls with team members, also fair game. I’m also very hands on with every aspect of the site, so an “average” day for me will be working on new features, following up on leads, trying to learn new skills in Photoshop, putting up our new features on the back end, tackling our social schedules. I like to be involved in as much as I possibly can before I pass off a task to someone else.
With an active online following, your website acts as a home base/resource for your community. When you were building your site, were there specific features you knew you needed to include to ensure your mission translated into the digital space?
My biggest concern was making sure our readers felt that they were a part of everything we were doing the moment they entered our site. I looked at other websites that I follow and I thought to myself, what makes these different than other sites? And the answer was each of them immediately made me feel like I was a part of their community. If you look at some of these sites—i.e., Man Repeller, Into the Gloss, and GirlGaze—they’ve taken a mission that was important to them (transforming how we consume beauty, fashion, and art) and made it a relatable message that you can involve yourself in. For right now, we have the option for our readers to submit their own stories or ask our staff questions. As we continue to grow, I’d love for our resource side of LFC to develop and grow more.
Finally, do you have any tools or resources you would recommend for anyone looking to start their own online business?
Before I would recommend any tools or resources, I would first tell them, don’t be afraid to ask for help! I would pick anyone and everyone’s brain if they would listen to me. That being said, I think the most valuable resources you can have are the people you are gearing your content towards. Talk to them, see what they want, hear their voices. In a world filled with a lot of content, clutter, and unfortunately negativity right now, people want to feel like they belong. Use that to your advantage (in a positive way).