FORTH APPROVED 3.27.17 by Shannon Kaye

Photo: Le Papier Studio

Photo: Le Papier Studio


This Week

March 27: ReBloom and Pollen Floral Design are hosting a free flower donation workshop.

March 28: Lauren Ash is at Arts + Public Life Center for her monthly free mindfulness workshop.

March 29: Shannon Downey's students are producing a Free Fiber Arts Festival to engage their local community. 


April 4: Jessica Zweig is on a panel discussing the future of female entrepreneurship in honor of Equal Pay Day. 

April 7: General Assembly hosts the Women in Tech Breakfast at Freehand Chicago featuring lighting talks from amazing women around Chicago, including Nicole Vasquez of The Shift.

April 8: Grab you tickets for the 15th Annual CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights.

April 9: Recharge with the next Self-Care Sunday with Lauren Ash of Black Girl in Om.

April 11: Learn how to make Magical Chocolate Cake Gems with Megan Coffey at Festive Collective.

April 13: AIGA Chicago celebrates Jenna Blazevich by recognizing her as an Emerging Designer of 2017. 


Ten Rebellious Tips for Self Care from Black Girl in Om's Wellness Tribe.

Vana Chup of Le Papier Studio talks about building a career on Etsy on this podcast. 

Jamie Hayes talks slow fashion with Pattern.


Forth Approved: 3.20.17 by Amanda Glandon

Photo: Kelly Allison for Forth Chicago

Photo: Kelly Allison for Forth Chicago

ICYMI, we announced something pretty exciting last week: we're launching a podcast! Details will be coming very soon, but we're thrilled to share this little project with the world. And now, here's what we've got on the brain this week:


This Week
March 21: Nicole Vasquez of The Shift is on the panel at Mac & Cheese Productions' monthly Idea Potluck.

March 22: The Shift is hosting Public Relations 101.

March 23: Patrice Perkins of Creative Genius Law is on a panel for the Mid South Business Association and Resource Center discussing taking the fear out of entrepreneurship.

March 23: Mingle with the Tribe of Oak Park and River Forest and participate in the panel discussion between some of "The Changemakers" out in the 'burbs. 

March 24: Centered by Design is hosting an art fair fundraiser at Lillstreet Loft to benefit Loom Chicago.

March 27: Pollen Floral Design/ReBloom's floral design + donation workshop.

March 28: Lauren Ash is at Arts + Public Life Center for her monthly free mindfulness workshop.

April 9: Recharge with the next Self-Care Sunday from Black Girl in Om.


Jessica Zweig talks shaking off creative blocks over at Daybreaker.

Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken won FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Chef of the Year Award!

REcap + 6 Lessons Learned from Our Women's Day Event by Julie Schumacher

In a two week sprint, we put together a full-day program for International Women's Day. In some ways, moving that quickly allowed us to not get stuck in all that can happen when time is on your side. No long engagement and Pinterest boards here, this was a shotgun style celebration. 

But at Forth we do things with as much thought as we can, even when we're moving fast. The teacher in me needed a progression and logic and, I swear, as we thought about the day a natural arc took hold. Screenings interspersed with opportunities to educate and connect. We started with a screening of Miss Representation. Then, a chance to get centered and create space with Dana Frost and Paige Worthy.

From there, with our open minds and hearts, a spirited discussion on intersectional feminism, the keystone of this whole dang thing, was led by Amelia Hruby.


After digging in to what it meant to be intersectional, why it's essential, and with a full house, we screened 13th. If that movie doesn't knock you on your ass, I don't know what will. 

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And then, after learning about the injustices heaped on people of color and the prison industrial complex, a chance to reflect on the personal: microaggressions with Rebecca Miller-Webster

So, yea, the teacher in me was thrilled with the offerings and the flow. All in all, well done us!

Yes, well done. But that doesn't mean we did it all right. Almost from the moment we created the event, we were given pushback from the larger community. No ugly trolling, mercifully, but general inquiry and questioning.

If you know me in the real world, you know I am super self-deprecating. The truth is I can poke fun at myself but I do NOT like to mess up. Not one little bit. So owning where I didn't do the best job is agonizing.

But if white women are going to stand in our roles as allies and amplifiers, we need to get a bit more comfortable being told when we drop a ball, intentionally or not. It was a message I heard loud and clear at the recent panel on intersectional feminism Jenna Blazevich organized and my younger-than-me role model Taylor Bryant participated in. WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO HEAR WHERE WE'VE FAILED when we = me and me = white, straight, at least middle class, able bodied, cis lady.

So, then, in the spirit of Forth's deep invested in reflection, I dug in. The good, the less than good, the opportunities. Here are six things I tried to do and could've done better, in the order in which they happened. 

Six Lessons Learned

1. Ask

get over yourself and Ask for what you need. ask for what you might not even know is possible.

Initially I had hoped maybe a few of the women I already knew who ran their own businesses would want to get together on the strike day. Maybe some of them would need to work for some of the time so we could be super chill about where and what.

As difficult as it is for me to ask for help or as for a favor, I swallowed my inherent need to do it all myself and started asking if folks were interested. Marcy had reached out about collaborating for an event so I asked. She offered The Living Room, just about the most perfect space ever. Cozy and malleable and beautiful. I tossed in our Forth member group if anyone would want to, you know, do a thing. I asked a neighbor who's a talented musician if she might want to come and sing with us. Once the event went public, women I didn't know (yet) offered to bring supplies. The responses blew me away. It was like Yes Town. People wanted to see this day be successful. 

It was a really important reminder that any pride I'd get out of sweeping my arms past something of my own creation with eyebrows raised is trumped, eclipsed and surpassed by what a group can do together. Ain't that solidarity?

2. Exhale

Listen to (reasonable) criticism with an open mind. defensiveness doesn't help get much done.

When you think you are doing something awesome and someone pushes back, do you get defensive? I sure do. When the first feedback for the event that came in was "This is awesome!" I though "You bet it is!" 

And then we got the first few comments asking questions or challenging things. We'd worked hard (in the short time we had) to be intersectional and inclusive, to include and connect. I got mad. I can own that. How dare someone not be just straight up grateful? I was giving time, energy, sleep willingly! 

There were some things I couldn't do anything about, including the one asking us to change the date. I am not sure I have much sway with the International Women's Day organizers so I let that one go.

But the rest, I needed to be open minded to. I needed to not be defensive. I needed to exhale and listen, read the comments and not immediately dismiss them because my feelings were hurt. 

3. Engage

Share your perspective. sometime education and information can go along way.

Once I got off my high horse and looked around I realized the best first thing to do was engage and educate. For many women coming across the event, it looked awesome but might be without context. They might not realize Forth is at its core an organization for, by and about women entrepreneurship. They might not see that all of our founders are moms or were, on the day of the event, literally in the process of becoming a mom.

To engage calmly and respectfully meant reading what these folks were saying and considering it. No knee-jerk reaction, no blocking comments. No ignoring. Engaging and offering the reasoning behind what we were doing. The why that surrounded the what, where and who. Thanking people for writing, assuming the best of their comments and questions (again, because nothing felt troll-y) and then responding while consciously not getting peeved. Did I complain a bit behind the scenes? I did and I can own that. But we tried to have our responses be representative of the spirit of the event. 

4. Improve

Where you can and whenever you can, make the thing you are doing even better.

The first improvements came before we ever went live. Having team members review what was going up meant seeing the ways I missed a chance to be more inclusive. I'll own that I mentioned as many aspects of diverse female identity as I could and missed remembering to see how accessible the space was. It was another set of eyes, our rad intern Amelia, who caught that. 

In some cases, engaging meant a simple explanation like "I wish we could! But we can't. Here's why." and then being ok that we might disappoint someone.

And in other cases, it meant mindfully adapting the language of the event based on feedback. Did we mean to say it that way? How could we say it better?

A last example was reimagining some of the event based on the feedback. While we couldn't accommodate older kids all day, how could we think creatively to try to incorporate them? Shannon, the protest song singalong leader, was open to kids attending her end-of-the-day portion which was planned for right as school got out. Did we have a thousand kids show up? We didn't, but intention matters even when impact isn't ginormous.

5. Amplify

Other events and people can do what you can't. Amplify those aligned with your values and you'll help more people.

Once I got over my never-ending desire to be all things to all women, I realized there was a damn good chance someone was offering events, programming or activities that did things we couldn't. Or did things we were doing in a different way. Or offered other things.

A quick search uncovered a work-friendly event that was offering childcare as well as an all-day, kid-friendly but less work-friendly event. Both were right nearby! And awesome! 

We added those events into our description. We went back and linked it to people looking for different things who had queried in our event. We tweeted it and shared it with organizers of other things. While I had to squelch my fears that I'd be sitting by myself all day while these other events were bumpin', I also had a heartswell of heck-yeas for all the incredible offerings and options around Chicagoland.

6. Encourage

Cheerlead the efforts to make the world a better place, especially those of folks just getting started. Activists aren't made in a day.

I can't help but plan things. Community building is what I am wired to do. And even I sometimes get overwhelmed. If someone isn't wired that way, or might be but hasn't tried yet or has other life happening (because oh that happens), the thought of putting anything together, whether a small get together to a city-wide Woman's March might be paralyzing. 

In the ways that we could, we wanted to remind women that whatever they could do on 3/8 was great. Great! Wear red at work? Fantastic! Get together at lunch and talk about intersectional feminism? Hell yea! Invite a few other stay at home moms over for a solidarity playdate? I love it!

We'll get beat down by the rest of the world, thanks world, plenty of times. Maybe a few of us will do more or feel secure in what we can do if there's encouragement from all sides. In this case, beyond amplifying the message of people trying to do something large, celebrating and honoring what every woman could do or wanted to do is part of what the day is all about. 

So there are six things I learned and hope to keep close to me as I continue to stay aware, stay active and stay engaged. I am already dreaming of how the day could unfold next year. Stay tuned...Same Feminist Time, Same Feminist Channel!

What did you learn on A Day Without A Woman? What would you do the same or different next year?

Big solidarity-filled hugs. -Julie

Forth Approved: 3.13.17 by Amelia Hruby

Photo by Loom Chicago.

Photo by Loom Chicago.

So much love to all of you who spent International Women's Day with us last week. It was wonderful to meet so many like-minded women, and we even ended up on the ABC and CBS evening news!

Now on to the other Forth Approved events in March.


This Week
March 14: Practice Seva and cultivate mindfulness with Lauren Ash.

March 14: Learn all about email marketing for your next newsletter with The Shift.

March 14: Honey Butter Fried Chicken pairs up with Eataly for Quattro Mani (aka fried chicken pizza!).

March 14: Olivia Joffrey has a pop up trunk show at Molly Flavin in Lake Forest.

March 15: Endo Awareness Workshop at Early to Bed.

March 17: Lauren Ash is a part of Bunch Magazine's Get It Done Digital Conference.

March 18: Drink local (and fancy!) at a Brandy and Grappa Cocktail Class with Rhine Hall.

March 19: Vichcraft's next beginner calligraphy workshop.

March 19: Aureate Atelier offers a gilding demo for the LaGrange Art League.

March 23: Mingle with the Tribe of Oak Park and River Forest and participate in the panel discussion between some of "The Changemakers" out in the 'burbs. 

March 24: Centered by Design is hosting an art fair fundraiser at Lillstreet Loft to benefit Loom Chicago.

March 27: Pollen Floral Design/ReBloom's floral design + donation workshop.

April 9: Recharge with the next Self-Care Sunday from Black Girl in Om.


Our feminist media list for all the #girlboss inspiration you need.

Black Girl in Om kicks off season two of their podcast with Lauren Ash and Deun Ivory.

Nicole Vasquez offers four tips for finding a shared office space.

Design Feaster interviews our favorite badass Shannon Downey.

Jessica Zweig on being bold and changing the conversation.

Po Campo's got 5 DIY bike accessories to pimp your spring ride.


Creative Genius Law is looking for a legal assistant.

Watch, Listen, Read: A Forth-Approved Feminist media List by Amanda Glandon

In celebration of International Women's Day and in observation of "A Day Without A Woman," we are compiling and sharing some of the feminist media that we turn to when we're searching for...something. Some sunny inspiration. Some real talk. Some educational resources. 

Here are the media that we see our sisters discussing and passing among one another.

We hope to make this Feminist Primer as inclusive and intersectional as possible. At the end, we include ways to share your faves with us.

Keep learning. Keep talking. Keep consuming and supporting feminist media. Keep fighting.

This is meant to be an ever-evolving document and is by no means a complete list of the vast ocean of awesome that is out there, but here's a start:


Girl Rising
Miss Representation
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
The Punk Singer
I am Femen
Growing Up Coy
The Testimony
Hot Girls Wanted
A Ballerina’s Tale
The Black Power Mixtape
This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
Finding Home
After Tiller
It's A Girl
No Woman No Cry
Audrie & Daisy
Dark Girls
Buying Sex
Half the Sky
The Invisible War
Queen Mimi
What Happened, Miss Simone
The Hunting Ground
The Women's List

The Bechdel Test measures films that have at least two women in it who talk to each other about something besides men. 


Black Girl in Om
Women of the Hour
How to Be a Girl
2 Dope Queens
How to Be a Girl
Honestly Though
The Heart
The Guilty Feminist
Call Your Girlfriend
Sooo Many White Guys
Black Girl Nerds
The Soul Glo Project
Code Switch
Black Girls Talking

If you're looking for music, try our feminist playlist!


Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World
Feminist Advice from the City of Broad Shoulders
Feminism is for Everybody
How To Be A Woman
Sister Outsider
The Handmaid's Tale
I'm Judging You
Bad Feminist
Women, Race and Class
You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
Women, Native, Other
The Feminine Mystique
Difficult Women
Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire
The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde
Anything We Love Can Be Saved
The Bridge Called My Back
Men Explain Things To Me
The Second Sex
Sex Object
Women and Gender in Islam
On Intersectionality: Essential Writings
Feminist Fight Club
A Room of One's Own
I Love Myself When I Am Laughing And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean & Impressive
My Life on the Road
Everyday Sexism
The Geek Feminist Revolution
Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism

Magazines & Sites:
Teen Vogue
The Establishment
Bitch Media
Everyday Feminism
Wear Your Voice
Awesomely Luvvie
US Prison Culture & @prisonculture

We would love nothing more than to keep adding to this resource, so please leave your favorites in the comments and we'll throw them in! 

And, since this is a fluid document, be sure to keep it bookmarked and check back for future updates.

Forth Approved: 3.6.17 by Shannon Kaye

Photo: Vichcraft

Photo: Vichcraft

This Wednesday we'll be gathering during traditional work hours as a community in solidarity with the International Women's Strike & International Women's Day.

If you need to work, we support you. Come and work.
If you can strike, we support you. Come and strike.
Come if you can, for as long as you can.

All the details are here.

... and now on to all the other #ForthApproved things this week!


This Week

March 6: Volunteer with Common Threads in Downers Grove!

March 7: Jessica Jacobs hits the stage at Pecha Kucha Night.

March 7: Annie Higgins performs as a part of Women of the World Takeover at The Hideout.

March 8: Join US! Your Forth Sisters for a day of co(NOT)working at The Living Room in solidarity of International Women's Strike & International Women's Day. 

March 11: Vichcraft presents their first solo show! Access the trés exclusive event deets by emailing Cards Against Humanity. 


March 18: Drink local (and fancy!) at a Brandy and Grappa Cocktail Class with Rhine Hall.

March 23: Mingle with the Tribe of Oak Park and River Forest and participate in the panel discussion between some of "The Changemakers" out in the 'burbs. 

March 24: Centered by Design is hosting an art fair fundraiser at Lillstreet Loft to benefit Loom Chicago.

Read, Watch & Stream

The Frost House and Knoll: Prefab, design & preservation. 

Forth favorite Lauren Ash was named one of 26 women of color changing the face of wellness by Thoughtfully Magazine.

Johanna Brannan Lowe tells the story of Parchment House for Restrocity's blog.

Alia Dalal is fermenting her own batch of kombucha and we are fascinated!

Vana Chupp of Le Papier Studio offers 5 tips for dealing with design and product copycats.

Learn more about the Women of the World Take Over show (see above!) in Amelia Hruby's interview with Angela James.

Jessica Zweig gets real about the fear paradox.

Forth Approved: 2.27.17 by Amanda Glandon

Photo Credit: Simply Be Bright (Lisa Guillot & Jessica Zweig)

Photo Credit: Simply Be Bright (Lisa Guillot & Jessica Zweig)


This Week
now thru March 1: Honey Butter Fried Chicken and other Chicago faves are serving up "Solidarity Soup" to support various immigrant rights organizations.

February 27: Pollen's free flower donation workshop.

February 28: The power of email marketing for your business hosted by Shift.

March 1: Simply Be Bright personal branding workshop with Jessica Zweig and Lisa Guillot. Ticket sales open until end of day on 2/27!

March 4: Dapper Ball an evening celebrating androgynous swag and queer artists & business owners from the like of No Small Plans.

March 7: Jessica Jacobs hits the stage at Pecha Kucha Night.

March 18: Cocktail class at Rhine Hall.

March 24: Centered by Design is hosting a charity shopping event at Lillstreet Loft to benefit Loom Chicago.


Amelia Hruby broke down radical self-love on our blog.

Nourishing Notes' Love Towel got a shout out in Chicago Wedding Guide.

Lisa Guillot talks burnout (and how to see it coming) over at Refined Haystack.

Margot Harrington shared the details of her presentation from UX Camp, "Design Tools for Social Justice".


Greater Good Studio needs a Communications Coordinator.