Last May I returned from my honeymoon with my husband and officially became a resident of Philadelphia. I had gone to college in the city, but I very much wanted my new life here to be different from college and feel like the new experience marriage is supposed to be.
In addition to matrimony and moving, I officially left my job as an Interior Designer in Greenwich, Connecticut, and started my own business as an artist in Philadelphia. I had formed a great community in Greenwich between work, volunteering, social events and my church. I was also involved in a social networking group in New York City that held curated events and themed workshops that I very much enjoyed. So, suddenly plopping down in a city with few friends and working by myself all day was a bit of a challenge.
Upon arriving in Philly, I desperately wished that there was a similar networking group in the area. I asked around about some groups to no avail. To be totally honest, all the networks I heard about sounded incredibly dull. Albeit totally bias, I had a vivid preconception that professional networking groups meant painfully talking to people who were either boringly-complacent in their job, or aggressively clawing their way to the top. What I felt was lacking in Philadelphia was a modern and young group that made networking with others fun and mixed both entrepreneurs with corporate professionals for the purposes of encouraging them in their careers whatever they may be.
A few months ago, I became a member of the PHLBloggers and started attending the events. In August, Chrystina, the founder of the group, announced that she had been asked to speak at The Lady Project launch in Philadelphia. Upon investigating, I discovered that this was exactly what I had been looking for in a networking group: A group that had been founded by women in my generation intended for women in my generation. I loved that they said they were looking to inspire, connect, and encourage women by showcasing ladies doing amazing things. By this description, I knew the overall feeling was going to be positive and inspiring, and I couldn’t wait to attend.
I arrived at the event and was greeted by a sea of women who were all laughing and grouping together in friendly conversation. Seeing a few faces I knew from the PHLBloggers, we quickly grabbed some drinks at the bar and started to mingle with the other ladies around us. The group was full of energy, and everyone had an interest in meeting those around them. These were all fun, interesting, and welcoming women. It was indeed the kind of environment I had been wishfully seeking when I arrived in the city.
After the group had successfully mingled, our first speaker at the event was the PHLBlogger’s very own Chrystina Cappello. Chrystina works as a Construction Consultant at Deloitte, and, as she put it, she knew when she started a job that was very left brained. She needed an outlet that was very right brained. Chrystina started a blog that showcased her greeting card business and eventually realized she wanted to connect with others blogging in the Philadelphia community. She emailed thirteen bloggers in the area, and the PHLBloggers was born. Chrystina now plans monthly events that frequently link up both local and nationally recognized brands with her blogging community in the city. She published her first e-book this month, “ How to Stay In Touch: 27 Ways to Make it Happen .” From personal experience, Chrystina is consistently connecting individuals and encouraging those around her to learn and grow. Check out Chrystina’s book and her blog here. Katlyn Grasso was the first person I met at the launch party. She was there with her sister Sam. They are from Buffalo, New York, and are both Pennsylvania University girls. While Sam is a sophomore this year, Katelyn just graduated from Wharton (Penn’s Business school) and was visiting the city to speak at the Lady Project and visit her sister. She told me she is now splitting her time between NYC and LA. Katlyn now stepped up to the plate and told us a little bit about how she is changing the world for women. She is the founding CEO of GenHeration which is a non-profit organization seeking to connect middle school and high school aged girls to national corporations and other nonprofit organizations to develop and achieve their dreams and address community issues. Katlyn is inspiring girls to be the best version of themselves, both personally and professionally. She is a leading example by personally embodying what it means to be a woman in leadership. Take a look at how Katlyn is inspiring women in her world on GenHeration’s website.
Last and certainly not least of all was Emily Carris who studied education and photography at Eugene Lang College and received her Master’s degree from The University of Creative Arts in Kent England. Inspired by her mother, who was a curator in art, Emily practically grew up in a gallery. She has exhibited her art internationally and has worked as a Photography teacher and Museum educator at the International Center for Photography in New York. Finding a space to open up a gallery came up in a conversation with Emily’s now business partner, Kit, and on a whim Emily looked up real estate in Philadelphia. Emily and Kit opened The Art Dept in Fishtown. As an artist, I feel particularly encouraged by her outlook on the Philadelphia art scene. Emily explained that Philadelphia has been a great community for creating her gallery because she felt that she could create something here, whereas in New York there is already a structure in place and expectations for a traditional gallery space. The Art Dept is an open and airy space that encourages people to enter the gallery with an open mind. It is intended to be a starting point for the general public to interact with high quality and high caliber art. The Art Dept is open as a gallery selling art, prints, and art supplies. They also offer after school programs as well as other programs for youth.
What struck me as so powerful about this grouping is that each of these ladies is pursuing their personal vision, paving their own path, while simultaneously benefiting those around them. As a designer and artist, I deeply believe that there is plenty of room in the world for all of us to shine and contribute in our respective fields. The Lady Project showcases women who are using their bestowed gifts for good. We, as participants in the Lady Project, can encourage others to be the best they can be at what they do. The Lady Project is a powerful concept, manifested by Chrystina, Katlyn, and Emily, and is applicable for all fields.
I really love that The Lady Project has made its debut in Philadelphia! It’s exactly what we’ve all been waiting for!
Illustrated + Written by Lydia Schrader.
While studying Interior Design at Drexel University, Lydia Schrader found herself loving her hand-rendering courses most of all. Blending her love of art and interiors seemed very natural. After graduating, Lydia moved to Greenwich, Connecticut to work for a high-end Architectural firm. Meanwhile, the spaces and places that inspired her work began filling up her sketchpads. She started Lydia Marie Elizabeth to channel her love for art, architecture, and interior design. The brand takes a whimsical and elegant approach to illustrating the Interior and Architectural industry scenes. Her work combines watercolor and ink and are available in the form of stationery, calendars, prints, and custom projects for both companies and individual clients.