Emily Thompson 0:01
Welcome to Being Boss, a podcast for creatives, business owners and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their work and live life on their own terms. I'm your host Emily Thompson. And in this episode, I'm joined by Shawanda Mason and Jennifer Holder, nonprofit co-founders to talk about the mindset shifts of creating free offerings for your audience, and engaging with free offerings as a consumer. You can find all the tools books and links we reference on the show notes at www.beingboss.club. And if you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe to this show and share us with a friend.
Emily Thompson 0:38
Whether you're a full time boss or dabbling in a side hustle learning from those who have already been there done that is a powerful way to give you a leg up on your own journey. To help you gather those lessons and inspiration cue up an episode of the Side Hustle Pro podcast hosted by Nicaila Matthews Okome brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network the audio destination for business professionals. Join host Nicaila to learn actionable strategies to start small and get going wherever and whoever you are, as she interviews inspiring black women entrepreneurs, like Ashley Reynolds and episode number 309 and a conversation about how Ashley launched and grew the popular stationery brand Cloth and Paper, a special one for all of you planner loving bosses out there. Listen to Side Hustle Pro wherever you get your podcasts.
Emily Thompson 1:31
Shawanda Mason is an entrepreneur and food writer. In 2010, she created the food inspired lifestyle site Eat, Drink, Frolic, and in 2014 she co founded the learning nonprofit The Chattery and currently serves as creative director. Jennifer Holder is operations director and co founder of The Chattery and coming from a family of teachers Jennifer's passion is to ensure that learning is available to everyone regardless of income. She has worked in the nonprofit field for 10 years previously working in the entertainment industry and for city government. The Chattery is a nonprofit learning collective located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that advocates for lifelong learning. All right, welcome, Jennifer and Shawanda to Being Boss.
Jennifer Holder 2:18
Hi. Thanks for having us.
Emily Thompson 2:21
I'm so glad to be chatting with you both for a lot of reasons. One, Shawanda and I always have a ton of fun together. Jennifer, you should join us sometime.
Shawanda Mason Moore 2:34
We do have a lot of fun.
Emily Thompson 2:36
Right? These are two local bosses. Shawanda has actually been on the show before I pulled it up. That was episode 202. Back in 2018.
Shawanda Mason Moore 2:46
Emily Thompson 2:48
Yeah. Isn't that crazy? That kind of blew my mind when I saw that. This is Jennifer's first time on the show. But we all live in Chattanooga. So we know each other and Shawanda and I liked to have brunch.
Shawanda Mason Moore 2:59
Very long brunches.
Emily Thompson 3:01
Very long brunches. But we're here to talk today about a couple of a couple one thing in particular. And if no one has been around since 2018. Let's start with some intros. So Shawanda I'll start with you with a quick intro. And then Jennifer feel free to follow her up.
Shawanda Mason Moore 3:22
Yeah, I'm Shawanda. I'm one of the cofounders of The Chattery. And my official title outside of co founder is creative director.
Emily Thompson 3:33
Nice. Nice. And Jennifer.
Jennifer Holder 3:36
Yeah. So I'm Jennifer. I'm the other co founder of the Chattery. And my official title is Operations Manager. Nope. Operations Director.
Shawanda Mason Moore 3:50
We make them up.
Jennifer Holder 3:52
They're hard to remember apparently. So yeah. I actually just demoted myself. From director to manager.
Emily Thompson 4:03
That's fine, too. That's totally fine, too. Perfect. And and what is the Chattery?
Shawanda Mason Moore 4:09
Yeah, so we are a nonprofit based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who we've we focused on fun, affordable and accessible learning experiences for adults. And so what that means is, we host classes ranging from cocktails and calligraphy, to financial planning, business management, and anything in between.
Emily Thompson 4:33
Lovely, and today we're here to talk about a topic that I'm really excited to dive into. But before we get there, I feel like we have a really great opportunity because this show was started by co founders, business partners who came together to do a thing and it's not it hasn't been super often that I've had the opportunity to interview another pair of co founders together. So I'd love to hear from Whoever wants to take the reins, how it is that you two met and decided to start a nonprofit together?
Jennifer Holder 5:07
Yeah, so I'll take the beginning of the reins. So Shawanda and I met because she came to Chattanooga to tour an apartment, and I was the person giving that tour. And so we actually met, I was her property manager. And we became friends. And I'll say before she does, she invited me to a party to officially establish our friendship, and I did not show up.
Shawanda Mason Moore 5:34
Emily Thompson 5:35
Jennifer Holder 5:38
I've said this before, and I'll say it again. And I sincerely mean it. I don't know that we would have started a business together if I had shown up that night. So there's reasons. Yeah. And then we both separately took entrepreneurship classes here in Chattanooga, basically to I mean, we had ideas, obviously, but also to meet people. And so we were trying to recount this the other day, right, trying to like, yeah, a few months later, we were at someone's house. And I was like, Hey, I have this idea. Do you want to help me?
Shawanda Mason Moore 6:15
Yeah, it was, yeah, we took business classes for different reasons, and also not together and learned a lot on how to start a business and what you need. And as Jennifer said, we were at a friend's house. And she was like, Hey, I have this idea. Would you be interested in like, figuring it out and talking to me about it. And so that's sort of the genesis of the Chattery. We spent about a year in planning mode and trying to figure out what our model was going to be back and forth, nonprofit, for profit. Yeah, and then launched our first class, March 2014.
Emily Thompson 6:57
Wow. So as you guys were going through that year of planning, like, Did it start with that first question, did it happen at some point along the way, where you were like, Okay, we're actually doing this. And we're doing it together? Like, you know what I mean? Like, was it just like, kind of, like, ideating and fun? And then there was a moment, or did it start that way? Or does it still not feel real?
Jennifer Holder 7:23
Yeah, so I think it was based off an idea from Brooklyn, and called Brooklyn Brainery. And so when I came back to Chattanooga, I was kind of seeking out trying to figure out if something like this existed. And basically, I told my idea to a co worker at the time. And she was like, I don't, she actually said, feel like you're stuck. And you need a partner or a few partners with this. So she actually had introduced me to someone who's also one of the co founders Liz Wells, who was who kind of helped us ideate a little bit. And then as Shawanda and I's friendship progressed I was like, oh, yeah, like, I really want her to help. And like, be part of this too. So um, yeah, I think. I don't know. It was kind of once Shawanfa was like, Alright, I think I think we'll do it. I think it just started from me asking.
Shawanda Mason Moore 8:24
Yeah, I think Jennifer and I have a lot of similarities, which helped. But also, we are different. And some of our like, what we like and what we don't like. And I think that helps, you know, it helps to have, like, at the core to have a lot of like the same values and interests. But you know, as Jennifer said, her title is operations manager, director. And I'm the creative director. And it doesn't mean that I don't like operations, or she doesn't like creative work. It just, we've found how to succeed and stay in our lanes, kind of. And I think that that's also been helpful in that, you know, in March, we're celebrating our ninth year of being a business. And I think knowing, being very sure of who we are individually, but also together has helped us get to nine years.
Emily Thompson 9:19
Yeah. Oh, I love that. I think that the the complementary nests of your skill sets, combined with the sharing of values and probably like, work ethic is a little bit of the secret sauce, or it is the recipe for the secret sauce. Right, that makes partnerships like this work.
Shawanda Mason Moore 9:43
Yep, for sure. And we also try to I mean, we're friends. I mean, obviously, I guess I don't know. I guess not obviously, maybe there are business partners who aren't like friends. But we try to like, make time for like friendship and then there's time for business. So it is difficult to separate the two. Because even when we are hanging out on a friend basis, we're always like, Oh, that'll be a good idea for the Chattery. But we try to like make sure that we have friend time. And then we have business time.
Emily Thompson 10:16
Yeah. Love that. Okay, then do you guys have any advice for anyone who may be seeking a partner? And so whether this is, you know, Jennifer, I actually love that you said that someone recommended it to you as a way for you to get unstuck very early in the process. But I think there's also opportunities along the way to pick up a partner, as you are growing and doing the thing. But do either of you have any advice for someone who may be seeking out a partner for whatever reason?
Shawanda Mason Moore 10:47
Yeah, I think being very, very clear about what you want. Because I, you know, getting into a partnership, I mean, we're in a relationship, we're in a marriage. And so if you are not clear about what you want, and clear about your expectations, I do think that the relationship and the marriage can struggle, if not dissolve. And so I think that's something that I value, and that I think people if you if you want to bring in a second person, you got to be really clear about what you want. And why you're bringing on another person. Yeah.
Jennifer Holder 11:31
Yeah, and mine, would be similar, similar to what Shawanda said, but look slightly different. I think you have to be honest, also, like in being clear. So it's like, it's very similar. But also be honest, when you're struggling with something or again, like, we've definitely both separately been stuck on things before and talked it out together, or honest, also, your personal life. Shawanda and I both have had have given birth to children in the past three years, so. And that changes everything. And I think that's a big, that's a big thing is that you just have to be honest with what's going on good and bad. I think that's the only way that you can figure out a path forward.
Shawanda Mason Moore 12:17
Emily Thompson 12:18
All of that resonates. Through my own experiences, like all those things are incredibly true for my experience, as well. And I appreciate you guys sharing that, especially considering how long you guys have been working together. I mean, even you know, Kathleen and I were together for six years, you guys have went way beyond that, and physically together as well. You know, Kathleen and I were are still remote, whereas you guys have the both the opportunity and responsibility. And responsibility is not really the word, but like you're actually in each other's faces. Quite a lot.
Jennifer Holder 12:58
The peer pressure.
Emily Thompson 13:04
Yeah, that resonates too.
Jennifer Holder 13:08
I do think I do think what you said about work ethic, too. You know, I didn't even think about that until you said those words, which one and I do have very similar work ethic, we take this, we take every single thing that we do very seriously, and rely on each other to get it done. But again, are honest, if we didn't get it done for whatever reason, and and give each other grace. But I do think you have to have a similar work ethic. I have a similar work ethic took my husband too. And if I didn't, I think I would murder him. So I'm sorry, I should say that the other way around. He has a similar work ethic to me. I am a central figure of the story. But yeah, he does. So yeah.
Emily Thompson 13:46
Yeah, it's important. It's definitely important stuff for all the relationships. And I think that you guys, what you guys have built as well, is such a cool thing. And I love that you both have done it together, obviously in the city that we're all in and also just how you've done it and why you've done it. Again, back when Shawanda was on the show years ago, we talked about this, but I think it was so long ago we can we can repeat and it'll be fine. I'd love to hear a little bit more about why you opened the Chattery like why that mission was so important to you. And part of that too, you mentioned this lightly a second ago is why it is that you chose a nonprofit or not for profit over doing a for profit business.
Shawanda Mason Moore 14:33
Yeah, so I'll start with the why. When I moved to Chattanooga it was 10 maybe almost 11 years ago, I don't know what time is. So I think we all know that like making friends as an adult can be difficult, especially if you have already hit certain like milestones, you know, you've already graduated college or whatever High School, whatever it is, or you've already experienced your first job like you've, you've already had those major firsts. And so when you move to a new city, it's just, it's not the easiest. And so I moved here from Atlanta, Jennifer's from Tennessee, but had been gone for a few years and had recently moved back to the area. And how do you make friends as an adult, you start a business. No.
Emily Thompson 15:23
Jennifer Holder 15:25
That's exactly what you do everyone.
Shawanda Mason Moore 15:26
It worked in our case, but yet, I don't necessarily recommend that as the first tool that you use. But we said this, The Chattery is based off of an idea in Brooklyn called Brooklyn Brainery where they are learning for the sake of learning. And we are lifelong learners. As we mentioned, we both took entrepreneurialship classes. And so what could we do that where we can learn from one another, build community while we're doing it, but also there's a social aspect to it. So yes, while you're coming to a class, and you may be learning about calligraphy or something, there is a social aspect, and we chances, chances are, you're coming to a class alone, maybe you're bringing a friend. But we design the classes so that you can meet people, there's space to meet people before, during or after class. And that was sort of the reason why we started the Chattery was yes, we wanted to start a community and grow a community where we can learn from other hobbyists or other entrepreneurs. But also, let's make this fun so that people can make friends, as adults. And that's what we've done. And we love hearing stories, we hear stories all the time about how people have met, like a best friend in a Chattery class. And it keeps us going honestly, because you know, when you're in when you're in it, it's hard when you're writing grants, or when you're covering a class or whatever it is that you're doing. It's not always fun. But then you hear stories of people who have just met other friends, because the class has given them the confidence, I guess, to say, Hello. And so that's, that's my long answer of saying why we created the Chattery.
Emily Thompson 17:16
Fun and friends, that's a short answer. Fun and friends, which is, you know, as someone who also runs a company that is all fun and friends, but like with a very, very business sort of wedge, I totally get the the feels that you get when you are, when you are creating these experiences that really just help people connect to their next their next bestie it is kind of everything.
Shawanda Mason Moore 17:47
Right? For sure.
Emily Thompson 17:49
I get that I do, Jennifer.
Jennifer Holder 17:50
Your next bestie to start a business with.
Emily Thompson 17:52
Right. Well, that does happen quite often around here. Then Jennifer, maybe you can speak to the decision to do a nonprofit versus for profit.
Jennifer Holder 18:04
Yes. So as Shawanda said, we went back and forth, quite a bit, like trying to figure out all the different ways that we could exist. And I think we ultimately settled on nonprofit because we want, always want our classes to be as affordable as possible. We want to have free classes. And we want really want the public to be able to take advantage of our classes, but we also value people's time and value their talents, and one of the nature of that teachers were being paid a reasonable rate. And the truth is, if we tried to do these classes, and weren't able to kind of supplement some of that income with grants or donations, they'd be like triple or four times the cost. Or, or alternatively Shawanda and I would literally have no other life and we will be doing like six classes a night at different places. So and which we still could, you know, you never know. But but we that was kind of our our initial thinking. And I think that it was a good decision for us. I think it's it just depends on where people are. And we definitely scoured just to make sure that what we were creating did not exist. I think sometimes that's now called all businesses but especially nonprofits sometimes as you think you're filling a gap that is already being filled, but maybe just not how you want to be filled. We definitely looked around for our at our you know, quote unquote, competition, but also to see if anybody was selling this adult education space. And I will say at the time, the only people that were was a local community college and within a year of us being open, maybe two years of us being open, they stopped doing continuing education classes. So then no one was filling that gap. Yeah, yeah. Also, long answer. But there you go. That's where we are.
Emily Thompson 20:06
No, I think it's great. It's so good to hear the the thought process behind making decisions like that, I think that's, it's a really powerful way for people to see the options that lay ahead of them. Because I think a lot of people would just think if we're going to start a business, obviously, it's a for profit kind, and, you know, figure out the business model in that way. But I love that you, you came at it from both sides of which one is going to be the best option. And you were able to find the option that apparently has been the most sustainable, or at least a sustainable way, moving forward for you. So I think that's thank you for sharing that. And I think that, that gives us a really great opening for sort of the topic that we're talking about here today. And I think that everyone hearing how you came together and why and how you started the Chattery is important for understanding how it is that the two of you can lend to this conversation. I'm very excited to hear what you have to say for sure.
Emily Thompson 21:08
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Emily Thompson 22:08
In this topic of free, what that means how people can take advantage of it both as you know a provider and a consumer, all of those things. So as a nonprofit, offering free stuff to your community is obviously been a really important part of not only your mission, but your model, you actually built it into how it is that you're doing things. So how does free at this moment play a part in what it is that you all are doing?
Shawanda Mason Moore 22:36
Yeah, so free is still a pretty important part of what we do. And providing content and classes, we try to make sure we do a couple of free things a month, whether it's an event or some type of workshop. Because we do understand that while yes, we are nonprofit, we do still have business bills to pay. And so we can't do everything for free, because we do have to pay rent and the electricity and internet and all these other basic business needs. But we also recognize that everyone has the right to learn. And that doesn't mean that they have the monetary abilities to learn. And so what that means for us is offering some free education, also offering some low cost education opportunities as well. And so were we sort of, I don't know, go teeter back and forth between knowing that we do need to charge for certain classes. I mean, some classes just have, you know, they have supplies that we have, we can't offer them for free. But when we can and where we can we do like for instance, you know, it's currently Black History Month, and we have a couple of free events going on, because we want people to come and celebrate with us. And so we just try to make sure that just because we're offering something free, it doesn't devalue the person who's teaching it or us as individuals and an organization. And so there's like a bit of a learning curve, not only with us, but also with the community and trying to trying to get that message across.
Emily Thompson 24:25
What I think is so interesting about this is that you are laying out a model that you all are using for your nonprofit and the free-ness of some of the things that you're doing is obviously a huge part of what it is that you do and a really integral or as a really integral part of your model. What I find most interesting about this is that it's very similar to for profit businesses and I mean think about like the webinars or work shops or like the things that for profit businesses think of as like giving away for free, it's for this marketing purpose and therefore, isn't really quite the same part of the model that you guys have weighted it with. But it's still the same, you're just thinking about it differently.
Shawanda Mason Moore 25:21
Right? Yeah, for sure.
Emily Thompson 25:23
That is fascinating to me, I'll have to wrap my head around that.
Jennifer Holder 25:29
There's some schools of thought that, obviously, Shawanda and I did a little bit of research for this as well to give you that we were talking about, but there are some, there's an interesting thoughts of, if I give you this free thing, you will come back to me. And I think especially the internet has made that more of a thing. I know, multiple mailing lists that you can sign up for even some of our own teachers mailing lists, that they will send you a free guide, or workbook or whatever, as long as you sign up for their email list, in the hopes that you will then buy something else and I think, you know, it is it is very much in our culture. Now, especially to do that. And I think even though that's not tangible, really as a product. It is, as you were saying it's a little different when it's a class, I don't know, I don't know how to explain that, actually. Because I also think like you said, webinars, but webinars can be recorded, and then just reused over and over again, too. So. But when it's actually somebody's time, and you're supposed to come in person and sit in front of them and listen to something, it feels a little different, I guess.
Emily Thompson 26:51
Yeah, it feels there's definitely a difference of purpose, like what you're saying there around, you know, for profit businesses are giving things away for free, because they want you to come back like they're, they do want something from you. Whereas your model is one where giving the free is literally just giving the free, it is for the purpose of you learning and experiencing and meeting and that's it. And if you achieve that, then high five, mission accomplished. Whereas when you're thinking about that purely for marketing purposes, for people to come back, and then you know, pay or do or whatever, then you've sort of lost, you've lost the mission, and one part of your business model.
Jennifer Holder 26:55
Emily Thompson 26:56
That you guys seem to have held on to and this nonprofit, and more mission drive what is it like a tax designation? Right, it's kind of like, that's really the biggest difference here is how it is that you file taxes.
Jennifer Holder 28:01
I will say too it is it's funny. And I realize now that's what you were saying. It's funny because we do a program every year called Arts for Older Adults. And someone this year, we do it every year, we do like 20 Plus classes for free. For anyone who's 65 and older. And someone this year said, this is just great marketing. This a great marketing idea for you. And I can't even tell you how fast I think I like sprained my neck turning to her. And I was like, absolutely not. And she looked at me and I said, absolutely not. This is not marketing. And everyone else stopped and looked at me. And I said, I want to be clear, we believe in this. We are providing this to you because we want you to learn. And we value this education, we value your time and we value your brains and we just want to make your life better. And everybody was like, okay, all right. Got it. I mean, you can totally come back. It's not like that. I'm just saying, you know, but I had never ever once thought about not once have I ever thought of it that way. Yeah.
Shawanda Mason Moore 29:13
On the, you know, I don't know, beneath, under under, like beneath all of this. Could it be used as marketing? Well, sure. However, throughout the nine years that the Chattery has been around, we always come back to the mission that we worked really hard to come to write. And if it doesn't help us get closer to that mission, we don't do it. If it feels like it's going to take every bit of our soul or make us upset at one another or it's just it's taking us too long to come up with a certain program or an idea we just abandon it and that's okay. I think that's something that business owners have to be comfortable with is just like abandoning an idea. I mean, we've dropped a lot of ideas, great ideas that I think, I mean, we come up with really good ideas. But sometimes, if it's not really mission centered, or it's just gonna take a lot of resources, not just monetary resource resources, but a lot of our time, we just say no, or maybe we revisit it in a year. And it might be, you know, a better a better fit at that time. But I think people have to get really comfortable with, like, just letting it go. And Jennifer and I are really good at that. We're like, you know what, this, this ain't gonna work. Let's just keep it moving and figure it out another time.
Jennifer Holder 30:43
We'll add it to the Google spreadsheet that we have.
Shawanda Mason Moore 30:45
We literally have a spreadsheet and that works.
Jennifer Holder 30:51
Emily Thompson 30:55
Where ideas go to die.
Shawanda Mason Moore 30:57
Emily Thompson 30:58
Shawanda Mason Moore 30:59
And sometimes they come back to life.
Jennifer Holder 31:02
Yeah, they do.
Emily Thompson 31:03
Sometimes they just need the right time. No, I think this is this is such an a great mindset shift, like holding space for an interview. But I'm probably going to come back and listen to this later. And just let my mind be fully blown. Because I feel like I need to like listen and pause and like, chill with some of this before moving forward. So if anyone is feeling the need to do that, please do so. Because what, what I think is really great. The mindset shift that I'm seeing here, between how you guys are doing it as a, like, under this nonprofit mindset, which does not mean not making money, like for anyone who.
Shawanda Mason Moore 31:40
Jennifer Holder 31:41
Let's be clear.
Emily Thompson 31:43
Jennifer Holder 31:45
Do you think that we volunteer 60 hours?
Shawanda Mason Moore 31:52
Jennifer Holder 31:52
You think that this space is free? No it is not. Capitalism still exists, y'all. So anyway,
Shawanda Mason Moore 32:02
I am very glad that you said that. But like, I think that I think nonprofit, like the word the phrase has, like a branding problem. And like, in and of itself, like, it appears that like, okay, you're just not going to make money forever. And so I'm, I'm glad that you said that. Because I think that's part of what Jennifer and I have sort of been doing is just sort of like teaching people what a nonprofit actually is. And that it doesn't mean that like, we don't have to pay, like I said earlier, like, we still got to pay rent here. We have to like pay for things. So yeah, we have to have some type of cash to pay for things.
Jennifer Holder 32:45
And nonprofits tried to do a rebranding sort of and, and call their money making side social enterprises. Yeah, that's so there's like some nonprofits that own Blimpies, for example, like they own a franchise of Blimpies. And that's how they pay their employees. That's the social enterprise side of their store. So it is it is an interesting, but it's still, you know, tax designation, a 501C3. Yeah.
Emily Thompson 33:18
Yeah, that's the biggest difference. And well, that's the biggest, like money side difference. I hope everyone is also seeing this giant sort of mindset difference between this very mission driven, and very, as opposed to very profit driven and literally illustrated in this idea of how it is that you see, creating things for free for people. Like is it for the money? Or is it for the mission, and it doesn't matter what tax designation you have chosen for yourself, you can choose more or less either of those in either situation. And I think that this is going to resonate with the creative crowd so much because most of us are so mission driven, but are in the tax designations that teaches that profit is king. And so I love that it literally just is this mindset shift of, you know, free for growth, versus free for nurturing.
Shawanda Mason Moore 34:19
Yeah, I liked that Emily.
Emily Thompson 34:24
That one just came to me.
Jennifer Holder 34:26
Let's get that on a shirt. Wait, that probably sounds weird, nevermind, on a shirt. Free growth vs. free for nurturing. Why is that on the shirt? Who's that about?
Emily Thompson 34:35
Yeah, no, no, not about you. Make that part of your email signature, though. Yeah. That's where it belongs. Okay, perfect. So we've talked about this sort of internal mindset shift around free, which I think is very fascinating. And I hope that bosses are feeling little sparks of ideas of literally just how they can think about the things that they're doing for free perhaps a little bit differently. And probably in a way, that's going to feel better, I would imagine, because I know a lot of people are, you know, creating content, they're showing up for things. And when it's being done for marketing sake, it can suck your soul really quickly. But if you embrace that mindset shift around, you know, really it just being mission driven. And whatever comes out of it is just, you know, happy extras or whatever. I think that it's a lot easier to continue doing anything because it feels better.
Shawanda Mason Moore 34:35
Yep, for sure.
Emily Thompson 34:46
So we've talked about this, like, internal mindset shift. But there's still this public situation under, I don't want to say understanding, because I don't think it's actually an understanding this, this public conception of what free is, and you mentioned this a little bit. But what are you seeing happening in the free things that you're offering, and the people who choose or choose not to partake in them?
Shawanda Mason Moore 36:05
So if we're being honest here, I think sometimes briefings are hit or miss. And that's something I mean, it's always in the forefront of my mind and Jennifer's mind of how can we either repurpose something or just change the marketing around it. But, you know, people love free things. And so they sign up for it, and it's awesome. But on the flip side, they love free things, and they sign up for them. And then they don't show up, because it's free. They haven't invested anything. And that's sort of where we are. Now as business owners is dissecting like, what that means for our audience, like why, like, we understand even with the paid things that sometimes things come up, and you can't come excluding those folks. Why do we sign up for free things, and not just a free event or an actual free workshop where you will walk away, either with something tangible or some, you know, a life lesson? Why do we sign up for things and then just forget about it? And I think what we have to do is sort of like, let people know, and I feel like we're in a weird space currently, we have to be gentle with everybody. So how do we like gently tell people that there are people behind this free class and not just me and Jennifer, but if there's an instructor involved, they may be donating their time? And so how do we shift people's mindsets to that this is free to you. But it is not free to the people behind the scenes. And I think the first step is like people have to care about the people behind the scenes. Like it's a whole snowball thing. And I think there are folks in the world and in our audience that do understand that, but because we don't, we haven't always valued people's time, you certainly aren't going to value a free thing. But we have, we're not quite ready to abandon that idea, because it is part of our mission. And we do have folks that will support us whether it's free, or there's a cost. But it's just it's a slow learning process to let people know that free. It's free monetarily, but it is not free. timewise. And so getting people to care is the hill that we're currently on.
Jennifer Holder 38:52
Yeah, we recently had a class with two teachers, not one, but two, and we had 20 people sign up. And no one came. It was a free class not a single person came, I did get an email from one person that was two tickets that said they couldn't make it due to a death but otherwise didn't hear from anyone else at all, not even after. And I just you know, I sat there with teachers and I was like, I'm sorry. You came all this way. And they're like, what's not your fault, but it's just like a moment of Cool, cool. Cool. So then the next one, we charge $10. And we have less signup. But everyone showed.
Shawanda Mason Moore 39:37
Jennifer Holder 39:38
Fascinating. Like we don't want to charge. But this is this is also this has had been for you we're offering it monthly. And we often had issues with people not showing but they were fine. I mean, they were fine with it, but when they move but when no one shows it's like well, we're just gonna change this up.
Shawanda Mason Moore 39:56
And I think if I can add to what Jennifer internally to we've sort of rethought how to do free classes, not all of them. I want to, you know, not not all of them. But we, yes, we are a nonprofit, but we put our business hats on. And we have gotten companies to sponsor classes so that it's still free or low cost for the student. But on the back end, we are also being compensated for our time. And the business likes that because they're getting a chance to get in front of people and not sell to them. This isn't like, I am an Amway or Tupperware like pitch, but like, actually get in front of students who want to learn from a representative from this company on said subject. And it's becoming an evergreen way for companies to use their sponsorship dollars with a nonprofit. And also, we're fulfilling our mission of providing a class for them. And so we've sort of started to rethink that. And that's something that we're growing this year, and I'm excited about that. But we're just sort of rethinking how we present free classes. And sometimes when you add, you know, sponsored by whoever people like, Oh, now that companies involved, that's cool. I'm gonna come to that. I don't know what it is about the psychology of us. But that's working.
Jennifer Holder 41:31
And I will say to you, though, if no one shows up at all, we don't get those sponsorship dollars. Like, you know, the two folks that were doing that class? Yeah, I didn't, I didn't charge them. Because no one came. Yeah. And after didn't give them you know, any other information or anything like that. But yeah, I mean, that does still affect our our bottom line. Yeah. But it is, it is fascinating. Like, I don't know, if people like and definitely like, we have, like Shawanda said, our audience, we I get emails quite often, as you know, of people that paid or didn't pay and just said like, Please apologize to the teacher, I can't make it because of X reason, and aren't even necessarily asking for a refund. They just wanted to apologize for the teacher for their time. That has happened. I said often. It doesn't happen that often. I'll be honest, I shouldn't said often. But yeah, I'm just curious about everyone else's thinking. It is kind of an interesting thing, because I think too. And I'm like this too, sometimes. So if I haven't actually committed to something, if I'm softly committed, and it's raining, probably not going to go. But on the flip side of that, if I've softly committed and it's nice outside, also might not go but if I fully committed, like I sat there, and I did an Eventbrite ticket, or whatever it is, I'm going I don't care. Rain, shine, whatever. Yeah, it's just it's a different type of commitment. I don't know. There's just a whole process to do that.
Shawanda Mason Moore 43:12
Emily Thompson 43:13
No, this is this is something that I'm hearing across the board is something we experience here at Being Boss as well, you know, we have a free community that is free, because so many people wanted it to be free, refused to pay for the thing. And also, but also very mission driven on this side of things of like, Being Boss exists to, you know, well, it didn't start this way. But very quickly, it turned into a mission for bringing bosses together for creating relationships like yours, and like mine and Kathleen, so that we could all like, do business together. So very mission driven. And you know, we get asked for things, we do the things and no one shows up. And it's something where we have other things that are paid if people pay they do show up and but even if they're wanting the things they're wanting them for free. It is does not mean that anyone's going to show up for the thing. And I think that's, it's funny, I wonder if like, has capitalism like ruined the value of free. We can't value something unless we are definitely paying for it. And I think there is some opportunity for everyone to sort of rethink their own own, you know, mindsets around free and around supporting people who are supporting you with free things. And what that means for I don't know even the things that that we value and pay money for. There's opportunities for huge shifts. If we can learn to sort of reorganize value.
Emily Thompson 44:54
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Shawanda Mason Moore 46:04
That's exactly it. I think we have to like, think about what our relationship is, or our mindset is around when we pay for something, whether it's $10 or $100. Versus if it's free, like what? Why does our mind shift so much? Or like why does our energy shift? Like all the things and even I mean, that's something I'm thinking about for myself? Like why? Why does it change? Like what's happening? What am I not valuing? Or so it's a whole it's a whole thing that we have to all think about.
Emily Thompson 46:41
Yeah, and I even think, you know, if we know if we're going into a recession, if we're in a recession, who even knows, this is the time when we have more of a responsibility to see what things we have available to us for free and all the many ways that we do whether it's, you know, resources or experiences or you know, whatever it may be, and find, refind the value. And those things I think we have, this is the time to do that. Or, you know, feel free to go pay your six bucks for butter. The butter really gets me everybody. The butter really gets me.
Jennifer Holder 47:21
Yeah, I feel you.
Emily Thompson 47:23
Love it. Okay, then. I would love to hear from you two. If if you have any thoughts on how it is that that folks should, that consumers maybe have the opportunity to shift their mindset around free offerings? Because I feel like that's just as much as we should probably think more free stuff being mission driven on the business owner side. I think from the consumer side, there's probably even more of an opportunity.
Shawanda Mason Moore 47:57
Yeah, I think, yeah, I definitely think that for consumers, even if it's like a huge corporation, and they're offering you something free, someone still had to design said workbook, or webinar or whatever it is. And I think once we start realizing that there are people behind every free thing that you get, even you know, when you used to go to the mall in the 90s, and like the free perfume samples will share, they're free for us, but like there's still a person there, squirting you with perfume when you walk by or handing you samples. And I think we have to like go back to that old school mentality where it's like, there's still someone in their perfume section like designing whatever it is that you're giving away for free, whether it's a two person nonprofit like us, or whether you're a part of the big corporation, we have to start I think at that level, we're all on the same playing field in the sense that there's still someone designing it or teaching it, whatever it is. And I think the moment consumers realize that, that this free product was still made by someone, then we can have like a further conversation about the value of free or the not so valuable concept of free.
Emily Thompson 49:16
It's interesting too, because, you know, I think Jennifer, you brought up commitments earlier and I also think about you know, almost the inundation that we all experience of free these days as well. Like you walk into Sephora or wherever and it's one perfume, it's gonna be like four.
Shawanda Mason Moore 49:35
Emily Thompson 49:38
Right or, you know, when it comes to, you know, options and classes you see there are four you're gonna sign it for all four of them because they're all free of course you're going to and then you actually can only make one of them if that or you know, even think online content. Let's say you have 47 blog posts at your disposal here, and you end up not reading a single one of them, whatever it may be, I think there's also an opportunity. And it's not going to be easy because complete inundation of being significantly more intentional with your commitments in general, and actually showing up in the places where you intentionally set those commitments so that you can get the value of the free that you are most interested in taking part in.
Shawanda Mason Moore 50:26
Yep, I think that's exactly it to, like, consumers have to also value themselves.
Jennifer Holder 50:33
Shawanda Mason Moore 50:35
And until they do, you know, I don't know that any change will happen. But it's everyone, we all have a responsibility to value ourselves and be more intentional about where we spend our time. And if you're gonna sit, and like Jennifer said, fill out the Eventbrite thing, you put in your email address, how many tickets, like it's all these things that you're committing to, they're gonna send you emails to remind you, it's like that, you know, granted, it may have only taken you three minutes to do it. But like, you could also make a cup of coffee in three minutes instead of filling out a ticket for an event that you're never going to show up to. So I think we have to, like reprioritize to like what's important to us. And me included. I think we're all trying to figure out, I don't know, it's been better. I don't know having better, better intentions on how we want to spend our time.
Jennifer Holder 51:30
Right? That's something this past weekend, one of my friends was within spitting distance. I mean, they were like two hours away. But they actually live in LA. And Walter and I went back and forth of like, whether or not to surprise her on Sunday. And like, whether we my husband, Walter, like, if we would take our one year old with us, if they just see me, or just him? Or should we go at all. And then ultimately, we decided to go because I've been thinking a lot about time, and my time and how I want to spend my life and do I want to spend it at home being like, Oh, I wish we had gone or don't want to spend it, you know, driving five hours round trip to see my friends for a few hours, you know, and so I'm trying to also reprioritize that personally, as Shawanda was saying to about, like, it's helping us to look at how we spend our time. And now I'm just thinking of all the little things like all the times that I'm like, Well, why did I not go because it was raining. That's my friend. You know, life is short, things like that. But I do think I do think you know, how your own value exactly what Shawanda said, it's your own value, like what do you value. And that'll help you I feel like be a more empathetic person. If you can understand what you value, you would also understand what other people value and appreciate their time more. It's a full circle thing. It's gonna take a lot of time and talent and patience, though, to get there.
Emily Thompson 53:11
No. Fascinating. I know it is talent, too. It's the experience. It's, you know, everything you've put into being in that place in that moment. I think this is all incredibly fascinating to me, because, like I said, I feel like we've all experienced this in our own ways. I also just want to like, I feel like we should just do all I feel like I did a little bit of a great fest around people who sign up for friends and don't attend. And in general, I love the Being Boss community, ton a ton, and lots of people show up to things all the time, but like, sometimes less so.
Jennifer Holder 53:47
For the Chattery, like we love and we're not going to be like angry that you didn't come it's just kind of disappointing for when we have when we've put in a lot of energy. And especially like Shawanda said, we love to be reminded of people making friends or learning something or completely changing our lives, because we have these moments where people don't show up. And so we have to have that balance. And so it'd be great if people just let us know why they didn't come.
Emily Thompson 54:23
Or just I yeah, we're just come be a part of things in general. Because well, and I think a lot of it do is we both on, you know, each side of the fence that we're on value communities and value the missions and do the things to provide the things in ways that are free. And then there is like this, this return of energy that is needed to keep doing them.
Shawanda Mason Moore 54:55
Emily Thompson 54:56
And so it just it is that full circle that you were talking about earlier. And is something that I do think it sounds like from our conversation here sort of has to be tackled from both sides. I think there's so many business owners putting out so much free stuff in this sort of desire to get more people to return, right. So for marketing, for profit, all of these things that the world is inundated with all of this free stuff that the consumers have a hard time actually committing to any of it. To make use of, you know, those of us who are putting the free stuff out there, it's a wild thing.
Shawanda Mason Moore 55:35
I think too when there's so much free things, you it makes it difficult for consumers to figure out what's actually valuable out of the free things. So because there's so much that's why I think a few years ago, we were like, Okay, we're just going to do X amount of free something a month, because we don't want to have free stuff every night. Because then people are like, well, whatever. Like they're always offering something free, like I can just sign up or not show up or come the next week. And I think there's still an importance of offering free things so that you give people access to your community. But you also open it up to folks who can't pay for it. But I think by limiting how much we do, you can value the free stuff. But it's like getting people on board to understand that there's value. It's like a rabbit hole, or hamster wheel.
Jennifer Holder 56:37
You know what, it's absolutely fascinating in the past nine years of what we've done, the free classes are all classes to make someone personally get basically more money. So which sounds interesting, like our financial education classes, our homebuyer classes, our resume building classes, our interview classes, interview skills for getting a new job. They all anytime we have tried to charge for those. Almost anytime that people don't sign up. Or charged, you know, like $15 or higher. Yeah. People don't people don't sign up. And I think it's interesting, it just all goes back to that valuing yourself, like you just, you can pay $10 to learn interview skills, because that's gonna help you get a job. But, but people don't always want to do that and maybe, and that could go back to maybe they can't afford it because they're looking for a job. So don't get me wrong.
Shawanda Mason Moore 57:38
But guess what? The Chattery also has a scholarship fund. So you see a class that you want to take, and it does cost money, you can submit an inquiry to us to have have it paid for
Jennifer Holder 57:51
We've had a ton of people fill it out and no one's used. Like we've only we've had very few people actually use it like I respond. And I'm like, here's your code. You can do whatever you want. And maybe that goes back to what Emily was saying that there's just too many options at that point. Like I have to do the exact right thing.
Shawanda Mason Moore 58:17
Just use it. Just learn.
Emily Thompson 58:21
Well, this isn't such a nice chat with you too. I think this has me thinking about a whole lot of things and now it's in the boss's brains. So if anyone's listening to this and you're like, I've got ideas shoot us an email for sure. We'd love to hear them. Because I think that this is I think this is a potential sort of evolution for fixing some stuff in the world and I don't know what exactly but it feels like an important shift we all need to make. How about that?
Jennifer Holder 58:49
Yeah, well I think of you. I think if you value yourself and you value other people that can fix pretty much everything.
Emily Thompson 58:56
Jennifer Holder 58:59
I just saw that Shawanda and I are still trying to figure that out for ourselves. I'm trying to figure it out.
Emily Thompson 59:15
Lovely. Okay, perfect. And I have a are actually two more questions for you first, if people are interested in the Chattery and what it is that you guys are doing, how do they find you on the internets?
Shawanda Mason Moore 59:27
Yes, we are on the internet but thechattery.org, chatter.org We're also on Facebook and Instagram @thechattery
Emily Thompson 59:38
Wonderful and my last question for you actually know before even that if you are a member of the being boss clubhouse, you have chattery class access too. I just want to throw that out there. So that is the paid version of the being boss community where people show up to stuff all the time because they're paying for it. And one of the perks we have in there is, is that we have sort of a fund with you guys so that bosses can sign up for in person or online classes to come and take them. And sometimes because it's free, they don't show up. I think is also a thing because it's free for them, though. I'm paying for it.
Jennifer Holder 1:00:27
The nice thing about online is that we record it, so everyone watches it later, right?
Emily Thompson 1:00:33
Yes. Of course.
Jennifer Holder 1:00:36
I'm gonna watch the kids cartoons and they always pause. Like, it's supposed to be screaming, right?
Emily Thompson 1:00:46
Yeah. Yeah, bosses scream, right, please. For sure. So if anyone is interested, or if you are already a member of the clubhouse, and you did not know that was a thing it is. And if you want to come take part of those as part of what we do at being boss, you have access to that in the being boss clubhouse, which is part of the community beingboss.club/community. And my last question for you both and one of you gets to hear this first. Jennifer, I'll let you do it first. What makes you feel most boss these days?
Jennifer Holder 1:01:24
Well, honestly, when I have time to be boss. It makes me feel the most boss when I just have time to get through my to do list or wash clothes or whatever it is. But going back to time that makes me feel most boss.
Emily Thompson 1:01:43
Yeah. Nice. Shawanda you got the treat of being able to think about for 15 seconds exactly. What's making you feel most boss?
Shawanda Mason Moore 1:01:54
I think right now what's making me feel most boss is the ability to be flexible. It's sort of the same as Jennifer as far as time but I really do feel sort of like a badass because if I need to start my day at 10 I can. If I need to, you know not work in the morning and work at five o'clock because I want to I can and I think just the flexibility of what this job offers is what makes me feel the most boss to be completely honest. It's just that.
Emily Thompson 1:02:29
Love it. Time or agency over time. I do think is quite the perk that we all have.
Shawanda Mason Moore 1:02:38
It is. If I want to have a cocktail at two o'clock, I can.
Emily Thompson 1:02:42
Right? Does that mean you're coming over for a cocktail? Is that what's happening right now? Because I love that. Yeah, okay, perfect. I'm walking distance to Milk and Honey. Let's close down there. We can have what you want margaritas, mimosas. All things around. Perfect. Cocktail suicide. Maybe less so. Perfect. You do this has been such a treat. Thank you so much for coming and having this chat with me.
Shawanda Mason Moore 1:03:13
Jennifer Holder 1:03:15
Emily Thompson 1:03:19
All right, boss. Because you're here I know you want to be a better creative business owner, which means I've got something for you. Each week the team at Being Boss is scouring the news, the best entrepreneurial publications and updates and releases of the apps and tools that run our businesses and is curating it all into a weekly email that delivers the must know tips and tactics in the realms of mindset, money and productivity. This email is called Brewed. We brew it up for you each week to give you the insight you need to make decisions and move forward in your creative business. Check it out now and sign up for yourself at beingboss.club/brewed that's beingboss.club/brewed now until next time, do the work. Be boss