As you may know, making new friends as an adult is not easy. Many women find themselves following their dreams to a brand new city where they don’t know anyone. Liza, the founder of NYC Brunch Squad, moved to NYC and quickly learned how challenging it can be to make new friends, especially in such a big city! This inspired her to create NYC Brunch Squad - a community for women to meet up in a casual environment and get to know each other over brunch! Here’s her story.
Tell us about yourself and your business!
I have always enjoyed bringing women together and fostering friendships. One of my most meaningful experiences in college was being a Resident Assistant. It was so magical watching a group of strangers bond over shared experiences and create lifelong friendships with one another. I considered it a privilege to be able to facilitate that.
When I moved to NYC I was very lucky and already had some friends from college living here. Despite having that support system in place, it was still an adjustment getting used to life here. I started thinking about how challenging it would be to go through that experience without having a support system in place. I also started meeting a lot of women that would tell me how challenging it was to make friends here. I think it can be hard to make friends at any age, but it does seem to get even harder as adults. People don’t know where to begin.
That’s how I came up with this idea - match a group of women (with the common goal of making new friends) in a room together and create a laid back and fun atmosphere so that everyone feels welcome and comfortable. I wasn’t sure if anyone would sign up for this, but in just one year we have grown to over 1,000 members. The interest is there! People want to connect - they just need the right environment to allow for it.
I really do believe in the quote “empowered women empower other women”. It is a joy to see what can happen when a group of women come together to support one another and connect. There are a lot of competitive industries in NYC that pit women against one another - I love doing my part to combat that.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Even as a child I loved having lemonade stands and even started selling greeting cards once I figured out how to design them on my computer. Honestly, I like to be in charge of my projects. When something is yours, you get to call all of the shots. There are definitely days when I feel like it could be helpful to have someone else to bounce ideas off of, but overall I really thrive in having full control and discretion over the operations of the group.
Also - I really love brunch! It is so fun getting to explore a bunch of incredible restaurants! I also used to want to become an event planner. This allows me to live out that dream a little!
Is this your full time job?
Nope! I also work full time in the field of juvenile justice and am finishing a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology (which is the intersection between Psychology and Law).
How do you structure your days?
During the week, I’m working in the Courthouse all day. It can be 8:30 AM-6:30 PM some days, depending on what’s going on with my cases. When I get home in the evenings I have to divide my time between relaxing (self care is super important to me!), doing homework and studying for graduate school, and working on NYC Brunch Squad tasks. It can be challenging balancing everything, but to-do lists keeps me organized and on task!
Where and how do you work best?
It depends on what I’m working on! For the brunch group, I find that I am most productive when I’m working in a comfortable position in my apartment. I do best when it is quiet and I can concentrate.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
We’re bringing back the tees soon! They are not just for members of our Squad - anyone can have one. They say “you had me at brunch” on the front! You can pre-order one here: http:// bit.ly/SnagYourTee
Where is your business based?
We are based in NYC but I’m so happy to announce that we have 15 pop up brunches in the works for the following cities: Philadelphia, Miami, DC, LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Austin, Atlanta, Denver, Nashville, Boston, New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland and Seattle! If you’re in those cities and interested in getting the invitations, definitely reach out so I can add you to the list!
I am so excited to watch our community expand!
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Planning, planning, planning. It is not enough to just have an idea. You have to really think it through and break down your goals into small, realistic steps. It is also really important to do a lot of research and make sure that you’re knowledgable and skilled at what you’re looking to do. We all have certain talents and it’s important to make sure you can utilize your talents in whatever your endeavor is.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and attracting new customers?
Word of mouth! When the attendees have a positive experience, they are quick to share the word with others. There are also a lot of amazing opportunities to network online now! Of course, making the effort to attend networking events is helpful too.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I’m constantly frustrated by not having more hours to dedicate to NYC Brunch Squad. There may be a point after I graduate where I decide to put that career on hold to really commit to this for a few months and just see where it goes. I really do find a lot of joy in both of my careers, but this one unfortunately always has to take a back seat to my “9-5er”.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I really had to spruce up my time management skills. As I said, prioritizing and mapping out tasks is what helps me stay organized and on top of everything. Maintaining a balanced life is crucial. If I need to lay in bed until 11 AM on a Saturday to recharge, then I will let myself do that. You can’t always be “go, go, go” or you’ll burn out.
How do you keep motivated through tough times?
The women in my group keep me motivated. I absolutely love fostering friendships and it is truly what pushes me to keep doing this. I get 'thank you’ messages every month from women telling me how much the group has changed their lives, and that is so powerful.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I actually don’t think there can be competitors in this space, because at the end of the day, if someone is trying to mimic what I am doing then that means they are trying to bring women together in a positive space and that makes me happy. And, I certainly am not the first person to create a group like this. I do think there are a lot of things that make this group unique and special, but those things are happening naturally and I actually don’t have to work too hard to distinguish us from anyone else. It’s pretty obvious to our attendees when they show up at our events what sets us apart from other groups.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
It is really important to always recognize and value your worth. It is something I preach but don’t always practice. Someone was talking about it with me recently and I have been trying to be more mindful of it. It’s very important advice.
What do you wish you had known when you started your business?
I remember easing tentatively into this work because I really wasn’t sure if it would interest anyone or not. I wish I had known there would be so much interest because I could have been more bold from the very first day!
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
My parents! They have instilled the most important values in me - specifically, kindness. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them and I’m so thankful that they taught me how important it is to spread kindness throughout the world.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Dream big! It is so cliche, but I honestly do believe that where there is a will there is a way. You just have to be diligent and never give up.
What business tools/resources could you not work without?
GOOGLE DOCS. They keep me so organized! (I just have to pray that they never crash or else I’ll be in big trouble and missing a lot of important documents haha)
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
A little bit of confidence can go a very long way.
Where would you like your business to be a year from now?
I would love for our pop up brunches in other cities to be successful so that every month there could be women coming together for the brunches in cities all across the country - making new friends and supporting each other.