2013 Summer

Thoughts on Partnership, Love INDO by Natalie Pavela

indo Our spring salon discussion dove into the joys and challenges of women in business together. We were delighted that both Crystal Hodges and Linsey Burritt, the dynamic team behind INDO (and the gals behind the Honey Maid "Love" phenomenon), were able to join in the gathering. Both shared candidly about challenges facedespecially in the early stages of their partnershipand ultimately, the comfortable groove they've reached after a few years in business together. Today they're sharing some wisdom on business partnerships that's valuable not just for entrepreneurs, but for anyone who's seeking healthy working relationships. It comes down to dividing and conquering based on your strengths, teaching, trusting and supporting one another, acknowledging emotions, and having balance from relationships outside of work.

1_There are two of you There was a point where we did everything together. We made every decision together, we co-wrote emails, concepted together, wrote proposals together. You know who had a sense of ownership about a project? Usually both of us. You know who usually got emotional about an idea because it was hard to shmoosh two into one ALL the time? Both of us.  You know how long things took? Forever. You can both do the same job if that works for your set up, just try to have split up the roles on different jobs. Is your partner kicking your ass at a certain thing? Ask them for a tip! Recognize you each have different strengths and can learn from each other.

recognize you each have different strengths and can learn from each other

I must say that for us starting out this way created the foundation for our business, but I think we held onto it a bit too long. In reality, we could have learned all we did in a shorter amount of time if we followed all this future advice. What we really needed to do was detach a little and trust a whole lot more!


2_Emotions Don’t let emotions stifle your business. It doesn’t matter who did what, who started what, who found what, who’s idea it was - because you wouldn’t be partners if both of you didn’t matter to the company in some important way.  Acknowledge to the other person if you are feeling emotional about something, attached to an idea, feeling unable to let go of an idea, excited about somethingand then discuss it openly. Or if your partner seems overly emotional about somethingacknowledge it and validate that is ok to feel that waythey might really need that. Then you can look for a practical approach to deal with whatever that is, together. Sometimes just simply acknowledging emotions makes them MUCH easier to deal with.  When you co-found a business of COURSE you feel emotional about it, it’s your baby! But acknowledge, let go, and be rational. Even though we are business women, we are people too.

lb 3_Built in support You always have someone to cheer you on and tell you that you can do it. This person will understand what the work entails and really mean what they say (because your friends, romantic partner and mom haven’t strung a thousand pieces of paper together and know what that feels like...)

This also means that it isn’t a competition, you are on the same team. Is your partner always getting things done faster? Congratulate them! Are you really good at something insanely detailed and your partner hates doing it? Expect a thank you!  Yes, you are partners, yes it is your job, but a little thanks, congratulations or acknowledgment goes a long way towards feeling appreciated and useful:) Teamships rule.

 you are on the same team

When we first started it was awesome to work together. Overtime things got a little stale (because we were doing exactly the same job) so very little support was being exchanged. After we finally started leading our own projects and taking more individual responsibility, supporting each other came back into the picture and really made our work life richer!

4_Respect your free time, and your partner's Granted, sometimes you will have a huge deadline and need your partners attention after work hours. But do you need to tell them about an annoying email you got at 7pm via text (2 hours after your joint end of day when they might be eating dinner?)  Maybe not. Or are you sending emails late at night when your other (romantic) partner is trying to talk to you and feels ignored?

Having a work life balance is important to having a good work life and a good personal life (you can have both!)  Most of us can’t be nurturing all the things we need to be nurturing every second of the day. Establish some boundariesacknowledge you both might have different boundaries that work for you - and figure it out.


5_ There are two of you, but only one of you You both have a company you are really proud of, you pour equal amounts of love into it, but don’t lose yourself to it completely. Acknowledge your strengths, weaknesses, projects you (or your partner!) killed it on. Figure out when to use ‘I’ and when to use ‘we’. Just remember that you have a personal flair, personal accomplishments, personal goals (so does your partner) and you should let them shine. 100% you + 100% your partner equals 100% awesome business.

figure out when to use ‘I’ and when to use ‘we’

Friends, how could you not follow along with these totally fantastic creators on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

2013, an instagram retrospective by Kelly Allison

We three Forths take so much pleasure in planning each of our seasonal salons. From the basic thematic elements, to the cuisine, to the way we set the table -- every detail is intentional. Our hope is to create a rich environment that is welcoming, nurturing, and inspiring all at once. Through the lens of Instagram, we're able to see how our welcome is received. Thank you to all of our guests, for joining us on this first year's journey, and to all of our insta-photo contributors, for cherishing the details with us.

S P R I N G  S A L O N

instagram feed

Instagram contributors (in no particular order)  mrudbergvicelightadeleyoungstepbrightlykallisonphoto


See the rest of the seasonal retrospectives after the jump.


S U M M E R   S A L O N

forth chicago instagramInstagram contributors (in no particular order) paigeworthy, lepapierstudio, refindjoy, kellitaylor, stepbrightly, kallisonphoto


A U T U M N   S A L O N

forth chicago autumn salonInstagram contributors (in no particular order)  nimblewell, johanna_wh, estera_style, manamica, odevron, shannoncologne, wellturnedwords, stepbrightly, kallisonphoto


W I N T E R   S A L O N

winter instagram feedInstagram contributors (in no particular order) soniaroselli, lepapierstudio, odevron, jessicamjacobs, mrudberg, paigeworthy, estera_style, alikucz, kellitaylor, annetruppe, shannoncologne, rachelalcorn, wellturnedwords, stepbrightly, kallisonphoto

Forth Forward with Sarah Malin by Julie Schumacher

Sarah Malin is an ethnographer and all-around-smart gal who attended our Summer Salon. She's moved back east to Boston and shared some reflections with us as she hit the road. 

Sarah Malin

Going Forth

Since the Summer Forth salon, I’ve ridden through summer’s carefree, adventurous energy and entered into fall’s sobering, edifying embrace. Summer inspired me to jump on a plane and explore what life could be like in Boston. Fall cautions me to contemplate what it means to go “home” to where I was raised, but leave behind a new home where I became an adult.

When I graduated from college, I prided myself on my adaptability, love of travel, and curiosity for foreign cultures. And then I discovered the beauty of nesting, committing and feeling the support of deep, consistent relationships. When summer brought back a yearning for newness, I questioned myself - am I bored in Chicago because I haven’t put in enough work to find the opportunities I crave? Won’t the other two legs of life’s three-legged stool come together when I’ve got such meaningful friendships? In the end, I’m honoring two versions of why I want to go: emotionally, I just wanna give new a try! and rationally, the opportunities I’ve found in Boston offer professional growth and challenge with a mentorship element that I haven’t found here. So here I go, taking to heart the summer salon’s theme of “letting go,” leaving familiarity and grabbing onto the yet-to-be-discovered. I’d like to use this post to map out the lessons and insights I want to use to carve out my next life chapter.


1. Gather around a table with life role models

Forth offered a community of role models. These were women I could look up to as I define my own balance of career, family, self-awareness and pursuing passions. They were nurturing, adventurous, intellectual, and humble. Lots of good things. And also doubtful, vulnerable and self-deprecating. They were real. They wrestled with the complex negotiations we encounter daily: how to be independent but seek community, how to enjoy self-discipline but find imposed-structure, how to keep control but trust collaborators. Role models are best when their impressiveness comes in a multifaceted and honest form.

Sarah Malin2. Look for opportunities to reframe

We can approach certain situations differently and we can reframe our shortcomings as alternative forms of leadership. Instead of berating ourselves for worrying too much or being too sensitive or too soft, let’s leverage our perceptiveness, our empathy, our desire for rigor and knowledge before taking action. Instead of feeling inadequate with our skill set or ability to multitask, let’s reach out for collaborators with complementary strengths. When we feel ourselves micromanaging or being over-controlling, let’s look at why and how we can create relationships with more trust and communication. Let’s help each other grow in directions where we can succeed.

3. Lead with care, perceptiveness and intentionality

Building on this idea of an alternative definition of leadership, my Forth-mates lived a style of entrepreneurship that differed from what is celebrated in Silicon Valley and startup incubators/accelerators across the country. They had all embarked on a new business venture and embraced the risk that accompanied that decision, but rapid growth, tremendous wealth and fame were not top on their list. They want to step out and say yes even if they haven’t done the task before, but that shouldn’t compromise their integrity and might require collaborators. They want to sell confidently, but use authenticity more than performance. They want to be popular, but with customers who match their mission. They want to introduce clients to a novel experience, but are attentive to the explanation, education and encouragement that makes that leap possible. Self-employment can allow us to work with more grace, integrity and purpose.

4. Find a partner to aspire along with you

When we got onto the topic of work/life balance, we didn’t dwell on choosing one or another or how to juggle best so we can achieve it all. It was readily admitted that being a mother, being a wife, being a friend, being a boss and being all the other identities we take on is incredibly hard to manage. When my Forth-mates mentioned their significant others, they described individuals facing the same challenges they did, despite their different gender. Their partners chose to freelance so schedules were more flexible for family commitments. They were just as - if not more so - reflective, communicative, nurturing and emotionally aware. Some of their partners were their business partners as well as their life partners. These co-parents work at coordinating on a daily, weekly, monthly and life scale so that success means balancing careers, relationships and children. Forth painted a picture of family that replaces the tri-role dynamic of professional, parent and child with a bi-role version of parents and child. This is what I want to come home to some day.

As I wrap up, I think Rilke captures progress well:

She followed slowly, taking a long time,

As though there were some obstacle in the way;

And yet: as though, once it was overcome,

She would be beyond all walking, and would fly.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Going forth is a process and we will face challenges. But once we get past them - and importantly, even in the midst of those challenges, we are capable of so much. I look forward to watching what 2014 brings for all of us! 

Sarah Malin

Forth Follow Up: Kelly O'Brien of Ideaction by Julie Schumacher

Kelly O'Briem Kelly O'Brien Kelly O'Brien came to our Summer Salon and, man, am I glad she did. I met Kelly at the launch party for her incredible, award-winning venture, Ideaction Corps, which brings together teams of talent (individuals and groups) to partner with organizations working to change the world. She's the real deal. As she spoke, I knew I wanted to ask her to attend an event. I assumed, though, that everyone always wants her to attend everything ever and that it must make her be mindful and intentional about her time. It turns out I was right: She's looking for more than just networking. She's looking for the deep dive. Here are some of her thoughts on what's more powerful than networking.

I’m blessed that many people reach out to me for career advice. Meeting with others to talk about our professional journeys is one of the highlights of my days.

Usually the initial connection is initiated by a referral. On occasion, it’s someone who found me on the interwebs. Most always, they reach out and say they are currently networking, or seeking advice about networking, and I was recommended to them as someone they should talk with about networking.

And here is my response: stop networking.

Networking does not express your greater potential, nor honors the greatness in others. Sure, casting a net may yield some fish, but wouldn’t you rather swim in the ocean? If you are interested in following the true path to your purpose, in my experience, connecting with the right Guides means knowing and being yourself.

Knowing myself is an ongoing quest, but I know a great deal that is helpful. For example, I don’t enjoy bowling, or board games or Match.com. I’m not really in my element at the Union League Club or formal boardroom presentations or after work “social” business events. I HATE PowerPoint.

Conversely, I LOVE breakfast. I am much happier outside v. inside; warm v. cold. Inspiration comes to me during runs and walks and in unstructured idea-sharing conversations.

So I schedule breakfast meetings and find opportunities to participate in daytime small group conversations over lunch. I often walk or bike to my appointments.  Obviously it’s impossible to avoid completely the things I don’t like to do as much. I’m a consultant, so PowerPoint is not exiting my world soon.

But I do find that when I participate in activities that I genuinely enjoy, I’m happier, my creative energy is full force and I am meeting and attracting people who complement and grow this power. It’s like a magnet.

When I am being Kelly, I offer people insight into my true gifts. People who want to work with these gifts (or date them!) are attracted to me. It’s also true that trying to stick myself to people or paths that are not attracted to me is usually a dead end.

If you seek genuine leads, the kind that inspire you, hire you and get you, just be you – they will come.

What you seek is seeking you. - Rumi

Of course it helps to recognize Guides when they present themselves. Not everyone runs around talking about his or her passions. So be curious, ask questions, and pay attention. Identifying people that expand your horizons and your opportunities means you need to know them too. Not what they do, or how they do it, but what they are about and who they are.

Asking people to reveal themselves is an amazing way to gain insight and direction. What gets them excited? Who do they live for? What do they dream about doing? How did they get where they are? Pay attention to how their answers make you feel-- your emotional responses are guideposts in your journey. Often the qualities we react most strongly to in others lie within us, consciously or unconsciously.

One of the things I loved about the Forth "event" (which I don't even feel like calling an "event" - another clue you are in the right spot!) is that it started with these kind of questions. It dove right into the stuff that you want to know but are afraid to ask and reveal on a first date.

Every place and every person is an opening for inspiration if you are a seeker. You don’t need to pack your calendar with new events, just the right ones. Talk with your cab driver, the woman in the seat next to you on the plane, your best friend’s mom. Don’t define your relationships as “work” and “personal.”

A few clues that can help you spot if you are fishing instead of swimming: If your search has become a job, you may not synching it up with things you love. If conversation is uncomfortable and your experience is a chore, ask yourself if you are really being you or trying to please someone else. If your calendar is draining you, and you feel like you can’t keep up with all the events--you might be fishing.

Recently I was at a party with a friend and some of her clients. When introducing her client to another person, my friend introduced him as “her client.” Later, the client said to me, “I hope someday she will introduce me as her friend.”

When we stop viewing people as fish, and start relating them as friends, our universe expands- personally and professionally. Dive in and swim.

Summer's Fresh Flavors by Kelly Allison



When creating a savory menu for this summer's Forth salon, I reached for the fresh flavors that most often grace my Community Supported Agriculture farm share box. This time of year, there is seemingly no end to the supply of plump, red, delicious beets. And I'm of a mind that unnecessary waste is a shame, especially when each beetroot is lovingly tended, grown, and cared for by a team of talented farmers.

Since becoming an annual member of a local  CSA, I've developed a myriad of recipes to avoid waste, and use every possible morsel that arrives each week. One of my favorites that gets loads of playing time in the summer is Beet Greens with Sage & Brown Butter. This recipe is extra fun because it is extremely flexible and can be served as a side with chicken and fish, or atop a variety of bases--from pasta & polenta to breakfast fritattas & toast points. For this season's salon, I decided to adapt the recipe to create a simple yet stunning flat bread.

beet greens with sage brown butter yum!



  • 1   package thick (country style) phyllo dough
  • 1   bunch beet greens, washed & rough chopped
  • 2   large scallions, chopped in 1/2" bias
  • generous handful of sage leaves, washed & stems trimmed
  • 1   medium red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 3   Tbs. high quality butter (Plugra or the like)
  • 2   Tbs. olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 log of soft goat cheese
  • 8 oz ricotta
  • generous handful of parsley, chopped fine

Melt butter over medium heat in heavy skillet until fragrant & beginning to brown. Add sage leaves and cook until crispy, 2 - 3 minutes. remove sage leaves to a paper towel with slotted spoon retaining as much browned butter as possible. reduce heat to medium low, add olive oil, red onions & scallions. give a quick stir then add beet greens. cook until tender, 5 - 10 minutes. season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350º. Line a large baking tray with parchment, and unroll the phyllo dough onto a flat surface. Carefully place one sheet of phyllo on the parchment and brush with olive oil, repeat with a second layer. Top phyllo with a sprinkling of ricotta & parsley. Repeat  with 2 layers of phyllo & one layer of cheese until all phyllo is used. Keep a damp towel over the unused phyllo stack to prevent tearing.

Brush the top layer of phyllo with olive oil & top with the beet green mix. Crumble cooled sage leaves over the top of the beet greens. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until phyllo is golden brown. Crumble goat cheese atop the flat bread & squeeze a bit of lemon juice over all. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove the parchment & flat bread to a cutting board & cut diagonally into diamond pieces. Can be served warm, or at room temperature.


Let's Make a Wish by Julie Schumacher

Our Summer Salon was full of shared stories about the power of letting go. It was great, then, to be able to offer attendees a way to embody that release through a sparky gesture. (Plus, the exhibition surrounding us was entitled Embody.) Flying Wish Papers


Days before the event I wandered into Bee Home & Garden, a boutique near my house in Oak Park, and discovered a mini kit of Flying Wish Papers.

I immediately purchased approximately 100000 of them. It took a bit of finagling and a few false starts (Of demos, don't worry. No wishes were harmed in our attempts)

But when we did figure it out? Magical.

I present the ever delightful (seriously, you saw this, right?) Alison of tiny bold:


Flying Wish Paper 1 Flying Wish Paper 2 Flying Wish Paper 3 Flying Wish Paper 4 Flying Wish Paper 4 Flying Wish Paper 6 Flying Wish Paper 7 Flying Wish Paper 8 Flying Wish Paper 9

Sky lanterns, those incredibly beautiful and incredibly big beasts made popular on Thai beaches and wedding blogs, were recently banned in Illinois due to fire hazard. We had a moment of worrying we'd set off the sprinklers but, rest assured, these are wee in comparison.

Forth Follow Up: Vana Chupp by Julie Schumacher

Forth Chicago Vana Chupp I love hearing what women take away from Forth. Here are some thoughts from Summer Salon attendee, Vana Chupp.

Ever since I began working full time on Le Papier Studio, I have felt somewhat isolated, disconnected from people. Working for yourself can be lonely without regular face-to-face human interaction. Working alone can at times cause you to be both uninspired and not too far from bored.

Sure, I still keep in touch with my creative friends, but text messaging or email doesn't compare to eye contact. What I miss the most is receiving feedback. I am not talking about posting something on social media to see your fans' reaction...I am referring to the kind of feedback only your peers would offer.

The part about mingling with co-workers to discuss ideas on daily basis makes me miss the office culture a little. Just a little. I am good about scheduling lunch dates with some of my closest creative friends who live in the area and I can't tell you how much I look forward to those. It's where we discuss business growth, share common struggles and frustrations, and offer support.

This past June I attended an event put together by the lovely ladies at Forth Chicago. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about it at first. I haven't attended many networking events in the past because I feel they don't work for me. But this one was different, mainly because it wasn't a networking event at all.

Forth Chicago Summer Salon

The moment I stepped foot in the space, I knew I was in for a treat. A group of like-minded women gathered around to share their business and life stories over yummy treats and some bubbly. It was so inspiring to hear their thoughts on the ins and outs of running a business. The group ranged from industry experts to others just starting out. I was so moved by everyones' willingness to share their knowledge and offer their best advise.

The conversation was focused around the power of letting go, in whatever way that meant to us. I spoke about my life/work process and finding peace with other people doing similar work. I also touched upon the value each one of us has to offer in today's world. It felt right sharing. And it felt good to see that resonate with the other guests.

It truly was an amazing evening. I didn't want it to end.