Fort Frances resident Sylvie Matthews and her friend Angie Rice, from Minot, N.D., were drawn to helping women reinvent their lives.
So back in December, they founded the “Sisterhood of Reinvention,” which is comprised of “entrepreneurial-minded women who embody creativity and a passion for making the world a better place with the work they dream of doing.”
“We had one another to talk everything through as friends—to motivate each other, about what direction to go in, feedback,” explained Rice.
“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could give that experience to all of these other women who are having trouble feeling that they are ready, who feel that they don’t know enough, who just need the support and somebody to help stretch them up further to do more.’
“It just kind of evolved from there,” she added.
“We had set out to help women who were on the fence about entrepreneurship,” echoed Matthews.
“Those who just didn’t have that confidence in themselves or even that validation to step out on their own.”
Matthews said for most men, it’s pretty cut-and-dried—either they are going to step out and become an entrepreneur, or not.
“But for women, there’s a lot more self-confidence that comes into play and then different fears,” she noted.
“‘Am I good enough?’ is one of the common ones.
“So we really wanted to help women and give them that accountability,” Matthews stressed.
The “Sisterhood of Reinvention” brings together a small group of women.
Their first group, formed in January, saw the women meeting three times a month over conference calls with participants from Emo and Fort Frances, and as far away as New York, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Illinois, and the Netherlands.
The program is eight months long, with a second group scheduled to launch later this month.
Rice said the first four months of the initial group have been highly-successful.
“It’s really been wonderful to watch these women evolve as time has gone on,” she remarked, noting they all started in different places of their lives.
“One person might already have a business going a certain way . . . and then she’s transformed to take her business in a different direction to maximize her presence and earning potential,” Rice explained.
“Then we had women who felt called in a particular area, but they weren’t really doing that because of all the demands of life and you feel like you need to take care of your family first,” she reasoned.
“So a few of them haven’t yet made a business, but are in a place now where they are learning to embrace more of who they are and start creating the life they want.”
Matthews said the “Sisterhood of Reinvention” teaches the women ways to change their businesses.
“For many of us, we have had brick and mortar-style businesses for a long time,” she noted. “And although it’s been sustainable all along, I think that we are slowly more and more trending to businesses that are online.
“We’ve helped a lot of the ‘sisters’ expand their target market, so they can now have their businesses exposed to the entire world,” Matthews enthused.
“It’s really up-levelled their businesses.
“I think it’s really important when you consider our economy in Fort Frances,” she stressed. “Having an online business, you are able to tap into the rest of North American or even the world.
“I think it’s important to get other entrepreneurs onto this mindset.”
Yet Matthews said it’s not all about the money.
“It’s really about the higher calling,” she reasoned. “Because I think for a lot of women, they sit on survival mode for years, giving to everyone around them—their families, spouse, kids—and then something goes off and they realize they really wanted to do more with their life.
“It’s just the desire to do something a little bit bigger.
“And when they tap into it and know that they can have their family, and they can have their business . . . and when that comes together, it’s the most amazing thing,” she noted.
But Matthews said she and Rice can’t take full credit for the success their participants have seen.
“It’s their ‘sisters’ who have stretched them,” she enthused, citing the difference between a person who supports you and one who stretches you.
“Your family is probably going to support you because it keeps you safe,” she remarked. “But your ‘sisters’ are there to stretch you and encourage you to try things you might have been afraid of before.”
They have keynote speakers talk to the group, and are very pleased with the ones they have lined up for this session.
They include Kate Northrup, Saida Desilets, Lynan Saperstein, and Penny Sampson.
Matthews and Rice now are accepting applications for their new group until May 25.
The pair also are hosting a semi-formal grand-opening “Champagne Soiree” here this Friday (May 24) at 8 p.m. at La Place Rendez-Vous as a kick-off for the May group.
It’s also an opportunity to do a ribbon-cutting ceremony with their family, friends, and potential candidates.
“Anyone who may be interested in joining, they can come and meet us and ask any questions they might have,” Matthews said.
For more information, visit their website at www.sisterhoodofreinvention.com