Rachel Kelly & Ashley Fulton of Make Lemonade in Toronto
Rachel Kelly was tired of freelancing from home or coffee shops, so she started a co-working space called Make Lemonade. Her goal was to create a physical place where women could lift each other up and feel a sense of community. When the pandemic hit, Kelly and her business partner Ashley Fulton decided to start offering online meetups. They worried it would undermine Make Lemonade’s mission, but they’ve come to realize that community can be nurtured in many different ways.
“You start your business with a certain mission, vision and set of values and all of that can still happen, it’s just during a different time. In and out of a pandemic there is so much information going on, especially online. You need to slow down, stay in your own lane, remember what’s important to you and then you’ll find your way through.” – Rachel Kelly, owner of Make Lemonade.
When life gave Rachel Kelly lemons, she made Make Lemonade, a women’s only co-working space in Toronto. While working as a freelancer, she was connecting with people virtually or in coffee shops. This made her feel like she was missing out on the in-person connections you make in offices. So she started her own shared workplace. And one where women could connect, support, collaborate and encourage one another. But when the pandemic struck, Kelly and her business partner Ashley Fulton were forced to change their offering.
On the day their doors closed, Make Lemonade hosted its first-ever free virtual coworking session. They moved fast because their community is mostly made up of freelancers and solo-preneurs, and they wanted to ensure someone was there for them. Fulton says, “It’s about us being able to show up authentically for our members, and our community is so excited to spread and share the word. We’ve really just laid the framework and the rest of the magic just kind of happened from there.”
The effects of COVID-19 have challenged owners, but it’s also forced them to create opportunities to expand their businesses. Kelly and Fulton believe that staying authentic to their mission has been the key to the continued success. The duo have given so much to build this community, and are elated to see how they’ve given back to help Make Lemonade get through this. Their members have become the company’s biggest ambassadors, spreading the word about the online programs and services.
Kelly hopes that other business owners realize they don’t have to do everything on their own. “What we always say is Make Lemonade is a community, not a club, and everyone can drink the lemonade. We’re here to help support and make sure they don’t have to do everything alone.”
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