Ring the Alam: Millennial Entrepreneur and Ideaholic Melissa Alam Agrees "People Should Fail More"
As you know, we here at The SLF love traipsing through the interwebz to find women across the country and globe who are doing radical things and thinking way outside the box.
Introducing Melissa Alam of the City of Brotherly Love. Speaking of love, what we love about Melissa is that, for her, 'brotherly' is a loose term.
At 27 years of age, Melissa is the founder of The Hive, a for-women shared working space that fosters creativity and entrepreneurial support for emerging businesswomen. Can you imagine? An office space full of women just like you, doing amazing things like you are, changing the world, rocking the hell out of their ambition, and killing the game. Just like YOU.
Awesome, right? Yeah, I thought so too. Hence, this Q&A.
I wanted to know the brilliant person behind this brilliant idea, and all her brilliant ideas that led to this one. So I asked. And she answered. And then I clapped.
A self-proclaimed "ideaholic," you started freelancing in 2012, doing branding and strategic development, and then took a risk and opened The Hive. How did you have the confidence to strike out on your own with the branding business, and then launch this incredible endeavor?
I'm not sure if it was so much my confidence, but more my desire to control my own schedule and time and be 100% responsible for my future. It was scary when I left my last full-time job because I had no cushion of money or any savings to help me. What I did have was a crap load of creativity and a thirst to teach myself new skills which I could start profiting from. My branding and strategic development business started organically and has run from referrals for the past three years.
When it came to The Hive, I knew I couldn't back out once I started getting media and press attention from local Philadelphia outlets. Once they heard I was starting an all-female co-working space, my inbox and voicemail started to flood - every entrepreneur or startup's dream! That's when it hit me that I was about to embark on a serious journey and my life was about to change from being a "freelancer" to being a full-time CEO of a very public business. It's been a year now and it's still overwhelming, but like Nemo's dad once said, just keep swimming!
What advice would you give other ideaholics who are stuck and worrying about launching their own ideas?
Stop worrying and just freaking launch. I launched about six different ideas in the past three years. Some only made it to a bare website and the claiming of the social media handles, and others lasted a few months or so. But The Hive and Femme & Fortune wouldn't be where they're at now if I hadn't launched other businesses during the years before. A lot of entrepreneurs these days are talking about failure and how people should fail more. I totally agree with that. Launch your ideas, learn from them and grow. Who knows - you might end up being a total success too!
Why was it important to you that there be a female-only co-working space in your community?
Because there wasn't one already here in Philadelphia. I love finding holes and filling them with an idea. The co-working landscape in Philly is large, but they were mostly male-dominated and heavily influenced in decor and vibe by men. Not a bad thing, but why not have a fun, creative space for women to come and feel cute in while growing their empires? The Hive was born from that need and the fact that I felt a pro-female organization with a brick-and-mortar presence would be innovative and just so relevant and needed for our city.
You also run a gorgeous online magazine and community, Femme & Fortune. How did that come about?
Femme & Fortune started on the floor of my bedroom. I knew I wanted to create a website that was bigger than my own personal blog at the time, and I was inspired by sites like The Everygirl and Fast Company. One of the first sites I've ever created was called "Walk of Lame." It was a fun project I started to collect hilarious dating and relationship stories from friends. From my experience of managing multiple writers and creating/posting content on Walk of Lame, I knew that I was ready for a new site dedicated to women and their careers. I sought out a co-founder, and we worked for months to create content before launching in the summer of 2013. I'm happy to say we now have a team of four editors, an amazing intern and over 80 contributors from all of the world!
You've mentioned that prior to opening The Hive, you were asking the universe for additional opportunities. How does spirituality (faith, meditation, writing down intentions, journaling, etc. -- however you define it) play into your life and career developments? And how were you sure that opening The Hive was the right move?
I wasn't always the biggest believer in all that jazz, but I've become much more in-tune with my spiritual side after opening The Hive and realizing the power of intentions. I was asking the universe subconsciously for a sign or some big opportunity that would help restart my career. When the notion of taking on a new lease and starting this co-working space fell into my lap two months later, it took me a solid three minutes to know that this was the sign I was asking for. I'm not the type of person that will wait for things - I will jump, leap and risk everything for an idea.
When it comes to spirituality, my close girlfriends and I love reading each other's horoscopes and birth charts, and we are definitely guilty of judging others based off of their zodiac sign (hey, it explains a lot in most cases!). I think it's important to believe in something, not necessarily a religion, but some sort of higher power or thought system that can guide you through life. I'm currently reading The Alchemist, and the theory of one's personal legend is really hitting home right now. I know the life I'm living right now is an accumulation of millions of moments and experiences, and I can honestly say that I've found my calling. I feel so blessed to be in the position I'm in right now.
Give us the real breakdown -- how do you organize it all? Apps, to-do lists, calendars, delegation, etc.?
Good question because I feel like I'm a mess all the time! I love using my Day Designer, but honestly any notepad where I can write down my to-do's and cross them off is a big help (and so satisfying once you cross tasks off!). I live on my cell phone, so Dropbox, VSCO, Instagram, Google Drive and Gmail are the apps/programs I use every day. When it comes to organizing events and meetings, my Google Calendar is my life. I post in my calendar right after I plan something because I'm afraid that I'll forget and end up missing an important meeting. My close friend and membership director here at The Hive, Nikki, is so awesome because she'll remind me about stuff on my calendar on a daily basis.
What's a fun fact about you?
Even though I named my business The Hive, I'm actually deathly uncomfortable looking at honeycombs...
Reveling in a relationship, single and loving it, or Tindering?
I'm currently in a relationship with my business as corny as that sounds. But...I've been known to occasionally swipe on Tinder here and there...
What can you never leave home without?
My iPhone charger, at least two lip products, my debit card and id!
Let's all thanks Cheyenne Gil for these awesome pics of Melissa. And a HUGE thanks for Melissa for answering my Q's! For more from Melissa, The Hive, and Femme & Fortune, you can follow her on Twitter (hers / The Hive / Femme & Fortune), Instagram (hers / The Hive / Femme & Fortune), LinkedIn, Pinterest (Femme & Fortune), and Facebook (hers / The Hive / Femme & Fortune).