Our September issue is filled with successful women in business. And most women are quick to give credit to those who have helped them become successful. Lucy Waneka, herself a small business owner, recognized the importance of women supporting each other when she and friends launched Blush Society. Part social club, part support system and total cheerleader for women in general, Blush Society is a young, fun and fresh way to raise up all women. And they really know how to throw a party.
Q. Tell us about yourself. A little of your personal history.
A. I was born and raised in Loveland. I moved to Fort Collins for about six years after high school. After moving back to Loveland and settling down with my now-husband Nick, I started a floral design business called Wild Posies. I hustled wedding flowers in the summers for a few years while working other part-time jobs, all along growing my business into a full-time gig. This past February, I took a big step and quit my job to pursue my floral design business full-time. It’s been an interesting summer to say the least.
Q. What is the Blush Society?
A. The Blush Society is a women’s group whose goals are to advance women’s successes and promote wellbeing. We think of ourselves as a female support system in Northern Colorado. By gathering regularly, we’re able to make genuine connections with other like-minded women in our area. We throw a few big events every year and smaller weekly, bi-weekly and monthly meetup groups.
Some of our ongoing groups include happy hours, business meetups, volunteer opportunities, wellness workshops, yoga classes, group hikes, mother support groups, book clubs, inspirational talks and creative workshops.
Q. How did the Blush Society come about?
A. The Blush Society was started by a collective of five women (myself, Brooke Hamilton Benjestorf, Caitlin Steuben, Jessie Rule and Ana McConnell) who, as volunteers, dreamt up our vision and original meetup groups. Since the inception of Blush, we’ve added a few stellar women to our board, including Jessie Wagner and Lucie Cindoruk. Each woman brings different talents and strengths to the table.
The Blush Society has been a group effort, and I feel lucky to have these incredible women by my side. We have little to no funding other than donations from generous members of our community, but that works for now as we have few expenses. All our events are put on by hard-working volunteers. One thing Blush has taught me time and time again, is just how much a group of women can accomplish together.
Q. Why a group dedicated to women and what do you hope to help your members accomplish?
A. We believe that women who invest in themselves go further, grow closer to their truest selves and are able to accomplish more in their own lives. Joining a community of other like-minded women is an amazing way to ignite your own personal growth. Our mission is to create a network of support for women to rely on and grow with. Over the past two years, it’s been an incredible honor to watch relationships bud and grow into life-long friendships.
The Blush Society has been successful because of the participation of our community. It’s become clear, based on event attendance and overwhelming positive response from women-owned businesses, that our community was ripe for this. A large majority of our efforts are based around helping female artists, makers and women-owned businesses thrive. The majority of our board members are small business owners themselves, so supporting other female-owned businesses is a key focus for us. At each event we host, we try to shine a light on women in our community.
Q. How did your launch and first years go? What did your success look like?
A. Our board formed the Blush Society in June 2018, not fully grasping what it would become over the next two years. We thought Blush could be a small social club for women in Loveland, a place to bounce around business ideas and simply talk about how we’re doing.
Our first event was a Soiree held at desk chair workspace in downtown Loveland. The response was overwhelming and unexpected. We had hoped 100 people would show up. Throughout the night, over 250 women passed through to show their support and to learn more about Blush. This gracious response from our community energized us and bolstered our confidence to grow Blush into what it is today.
We started with three meetup groups: Blush Mothers, a support group for moms; Blush Book Club, focused on reading and discussing female works; and Blush Inspire, a group aimed at highlighting and learning from powerful, local females. We’re really proud to say that Blush Society now has over 10 regular meetup groups, plus we’ve hosted one large pop-up market each year highlighting local, female-owned businesses.
Q. COVID-19 has slowed many things down. Has it derailed your plans? How does the Blush Society move forward?
A. Like any other community organization, COVID has greatly impacted Blush Society. We were forced to cancel all of our events, including a mini-music festival which was a collaboration with Backyard Tap in downtown Loveland. But the crisis encouraged us to get creative and re-focus our energy. We started a Blush Giveaway series on social media in an effort to support small, female-owned businesses at a vulnerable time. Since April, we’ve spent over $1,000 promoting local businesses via Instagram giveaways, which we plan to continue into the fall.
Moving forward, the Blush Society has put a partial pause on hosting events. With COVID cases still surfacing, we feel it’s our social responsibility to keep our meetup groups to a minimum and host them in a responsible and cautious way. We’re choosing different outdoor venues and limiting attendance. We remain hopeful that we’ll be back to planning and hosting regular events someday soon.
Q. What does the future hold?
A. It’s tricky to predict the future for Blush, considering current events, but we are staying positive and have exciting things in the mix.
We’re currently working with the state to obtain our nonprofit status. With this, we think we can make an even larger impact. We hope to ramp up our Blush Gives program, where we organize and host volunteer opportunities. Volunteer work with other women-focused nonprofits is important to us, and we’re constantly seeking new opportunities to love on our community.
We encourage everyone to reach out and jump in. Anyone looking for information on the group can check our website (theblushsociety.com) to see what we’re up to and how to get involved. It’s all about support and friendship—the strong foundations of a community.
Waneka shares some of the board members’ reasons for donating their valuable time to the Blush Society. Their responses express what they hope to continue to cultivate at Blush Society.
“I love the network of inspiring ladies that encompass the Blush Society. There is such a strong, supportive community and it’s continually expanding to help more women feel less alone. I especially love Blush Mothers because it’s therapeutic relating to various women by way of discussing the struggles and triumphs of work/life balance with kids”
“What do I love most about Blush? Well that’s a toughie! I really love all our groups, but Blush Mothers has been amazing in connecting with other like-minded moms and all of our kids have the best time during play dates. Blush Creates has been so fun teaching classes to others. And anything to do with eating, drinking and laughing, I am there! So, Blush happy hours, brunches and potlucks are totally my thing. It’s an extra bonus when I get to bring my family along, too!”
“What I love about the Blush Society is helping build community in Northern Colorado! As an event planner, I absolutely love gathering humans together and watching them enjoy one another—but with Blush, I get to watch a wide variety of women get together and support each other, connect and inspire each other! It’s hard to make new friendships in adulthood and this is the perfect opportunity to meet people and create friendships that can last a lifetime. We love seeing new faces at our events; come hang out with us!”