What if women finally had the kind of social club that men have had for decades?
This is the question that inspired Fay Kimbrell, Christa Talbott, Mariska Morse, and Fresh Johnson to create a new kind of social club designed specifically for women.
That space is Salon22.
Salon22 is not just a coworking space. In fact, coworking is just a small part of what they do. What Salon22 is really about is empowering women to become leaders in their respective fields. It’s a social club and idea hub that serves as an incubator for women to grow into their best selves.
The founders of Salon22 are the epitome of trailblazers, forging new paths in the world of female entrepreneurship. Here are five key takeaways on what it takes to create the next generation of female leaders with Fay, Christa, and Mariska of Salon22.
1. Lead with a strong mission
At Salon22, there isn’t just a mission statement – there is a clear, shared sense of purpose that guides the Leadership team in everything that they do. That mission is to empower the next generation of female leadership.
They’ve designed programs and events specifically to enable women’s success, like a workshop on building generational wealth and a class on being an informed voter. They’re intentional in who they connect members with and they’re committed to the personal and professional success of their members.
It’s a mission that drives the whole team forward and unites the community in a common goal.
“We really do believe that the inherent skill set of women is what the planet needs right now. That is a core value. I think we'll know that we've made an impact when this is still going long after we're gone.”Fay Kimbrell, Co-founder at Salon22
2. A name is a powerful thing
People often ask where the phrase Salon22 came from. As it turns out, the name is as intentional as the women behind it.
During the European Enlightenment, the salon is where women gathered to have bolder, braver conversations that went beyond what was expected of women. The beauty salon is also the place where women of color go to network, connect with other women, and build community. Both meanings of the word fit in well with the mission of Salon22.
As for 22, it comes from the fact that there are two white women and two black women on the founding leadership team, a representation of diversity that is important to the ethos of the community. The number 22 is also a nod to the 22nd century and how they are building the community to last well into the future.
“We wanted to take those two concepts of this place where you go where you're comfortable and you're loved on, and you're networking, and you're having bolder and braver conversations and create a space like that for women moving into the 22nd century. And so we have Salon22.”Christa Talbott, Co-founder at Salon22
3. Approach the business intentionally from day one
The women of Salon22 held their first pop-up in March of 2020. Despite a global pandemic and a temporary closure of many workspaces, they continued evolving Salon22 over the next three years.
Whenever they were faced with a difficult decision or the next step in their journey, the four of them would sit down together, regroup, and reflect on what they should do next.
When they did this, they always took the time to think about their mission, and then mapped the decision against their core values before moving forward.
This intentionality is part of the reason why the Salon22 Leadership team has been able to build such an incredible community. Even in times of difficult decisions when they don’t have all of the information that they need, they’re still able to listen to their gut and move forward in a way that aligns with their core values.
“What I appreciated most about building is that at every step where there was a turning point, we stopped, regrouped, and reflected, and thought, okay, is it time to move forward?”Fay Kimbrell, Co-founder at Salon22
4. Workplace design can create community
Something that you’ll notice when you walk into Salon22 is there are no private offices and very limited closed off spaces. The open space layout is intentionally designed to bring about organic conversations and connection between members.
Salon22 is a workspace, but they’re really a community, a social club and idea hub, that hinges on women being able to quickly and easily connect with other women. The design of the space serves this mission through an open concept floor plan.
The Leadership team takes an active role in introducing members to one another whenever they can. This is what Salon22 is really all about – cultivating meaningful relationships.
“A lot of people go into coworking spaces and they go into their little cubby and they don't talk to anybody else. And the way that Salon22 was designed was actually intentionally not to have private offices or cubbies so that when we're there, members get to meet each other.”Mariska Morse, Co-founder at Salon22
5. Represent what you want your community to be
Community is shaped by the people who are a part of it. To build a community of empowered women who believe in a better future, it’s critical to embody that yourself.
For that reason, the Salon22 leadership team is committed to being an authentic voice in the community and representing what they want the community to look like and feel like. They believe in their mission and they believe in their community’s ability to come together to create something beautiful and bright together.
It’s one of the things that truly sets the space apart. Each member of the Salon22 leadership team has taken the time and put in the effort that is needed to be what their community needs from them. That kind of authenticity is invaluable – and people can feel that the minute they walk into the space.
“We are leading through our stories individually and as a group, and I think people really feel that. Where else do you go where you're deliberately a part of building a new community that has not been created before, where our intention is to take care of women and put women first?”Christa Talbott, Co-founder at Salon22
The future is female
Salon22 is a movement spearheaded by four extraordinary women with diverse backgrounds and a shared belief that the future is, in fact, female.
The mission to empower the next generation of female leaders echoes not only in their words but in the intentional and authentic way they’ve shaped Salon22 into a space where women can connect, collaborate, and truly thrive.
As they lead through their stories, Salon22 stands as a beacon of community building with a purpose that transcends the boundaries of a traditional workspace.