August Meeting Notes

Notes: 08/13/14

Thank you to everyone who came to this month’s meeting.

Introductions – tracing the evolution of careers and interests

Discussion Themes

Since Kari and Gillian’s departures from Chicago are fresh in our minds, we asked the question:

Why Chicago? — comparing the advantages and disadvantages of various design-oriented cities (SF, NYC, LA, CHI)

-Why are people drawn here, why do they stay, why do they go?

-Which sales opportunities have members found effective (Dose Market, Barney’s, etc)?; what type of products do they prefer?; what is their culture?

-Is Chicago (and Illinois in general) a good place to start a business?


-Very livable city; decent public transportation, affordable housing

-You can make it what you want, carve out your own space/ practice

-“Centered”, literally, being situated centrally in the US, but also without the trappings of NY or LA


-There is a general consensus that Chicago doesn’t offer good support (press, business development opportunities, contracts, etc) to local artists/ designers/ businesses, and that where it does exist, it’s always ‘dipping from the same pool.’

-Marketing – the difficulty of getting effective press due to differences in city cultures, resources available, and personal approach

-It is a conservative city, not risk-taking financially or culturally.

-Not enough opportunities for trans-disciplinary dialogue-disciplines/ industries exist in pockets with very little cross-over (Soho House named as a place where positive cross-pollination happens. Can more places like this happen–perhaps without the restrictions of membership?)

– Positives from other cities: SF is more interested in “cross-pollination”; NYC fulfills its reputation as being constantly hungry for innovation and the novel

-To really grow businesses, you have to cultivate connections outside of Chicago.

-Resources & support – lack of mentoring in Chicago for industrial design vs tech sector; are women business development centers useful?

-Business-friendliness- convoluted and expensive system to establish businesses.


Additional Topics discussed/ Future Meeting Topics and Activities:

-LWD Reading List. Send me titles and I can add on the website. Alyson wants to know what books ‘keep you going’!

-Panel discussion around topic of Women in Design, possibly hosted at Columbia College.

-LWD Exhibition at Columbia College. Possible opportunity for collaboration with Portland LAWD.

-WORK SESSIONS / THINK GROUP / SERVICE BARTERING – using the meeting time to work on specific
member problems that are brought up, such as developing a member’s business plan, taking a member’s product to market, etc.; a way to directly address the issues we bring up at the meeting and put ideas into practice.

-Address the work of The Missing 32% Project in group discussion. Four out of the five members at the meeting had degrees in architecture and experience in the profession. However, [none?] currently hold architectural licenses. Why have so many left the architecture field? Related to above, can this phenomenon inform us about how to improve and/or evolve design work settings to support the success of its female practitioners?

-Motherhood – timing, challenges & rewards, relation to small business ownership, and partnership

-“What we are not talking about” as women in the design fields – the specific challenges faced by women in the
design fields and their work settings

-Creative Anxiety – member stories; strategies for overcoming; coping

Tour of Bridgette’s home studio

Finally, Makers (Part 1 of 3). Watch at your leisure–it’s worth it!


Links/ Resources mentioned

Soho House

World Business Chicago

The Missing 32% Project