By Saleen Martin The Virginian-Pilot
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "EmpoweringHER" started as a brunch gathering in 2016. Founder Keisha Reynolds and a friend noticed that successful women entrepreneurs in Hampton Roads were hosting similar events, but not together. Now, she invites 100 women to the annual event to network and listen to speakers discuss self-care, finances, balancing work and life, business and other topics.
"Collaborate, not compete," Keisha Reynolds said as she talked about her women's empowerment organization. "We're stronger when we have a tribe of people that we can celebrate with, as well as share our hardships."
That's what she wants to encourage among the women in Hampton Roads and around the globe.
The 28-year-old Norfolk resident launched a website -- EmpoweringHER Together Worldwide -- in early October.
The site has 20 members so far, including women from Hampton Roads, her hometown of Detroit and Ghana, said Reynolds, who came to Hampton Roads five years ago to get her master's degree in media and communications at Norfolk State University.
She runs her own public relations firm, K&R Communications, where she represents local organizations like Second Calvary Baptist Church in Norfolk and The Hampton Roads Black Regional Chamber of Commerce. She also teaches public relations at Hampton University.
EmpoweringHER started as a brunch gathering in 2016, Reynolds said. She and a friend noticed that successful women entrepreneurs in Hampton Roads were hosting similar events, but not together.
"If we had this event together, it could just be tremendous," she thought.
Now, she invites 100 women to the annual event to network and listen to speakers discuss self-care, finances, balancing work and life, business and other topics.
Women from North Carolina, Maryland, Washington D. C., New York and other areas come to the event, she said. Some attendees have gone on to work together after meeting there.
The organization hosted its most recent brunch in early August, and with some help from Councilwoman Angelia Williams Graves, Reynolds got a proclamation signed by Mayor Kenny Alexander recognizing the first weekend each August as EmpoweringHER weekend in Norfolk, she said.
To reach women around the world, Reynolds launched her new site. Women can get monthly or yearly memberships and watch videos and chat with experts in law, fitness, finance, real estate, travel and health.
"I want to take this concept that we've been successful with here in Hampton Roads, spread it throughout the U.S. and then eventually go international with that," Reynolds said.
She hopes the site will unite women everywhere, whether they're stay-at-home moms, businesswomen or women who just need self-care advice.
Hampton Roads resident Patrice Boone, 35, is a graphic designer who does photography and invitations for events. She first heard about EmpoweringHER in 2016 and decided to join, she said.
The organization has "empowered me as a woman to do what I'm called to do, which is to be an entrepreneur," Boone said.
She's launching her own website in November, she said. EmpoweringHER has taught her how to market her business, Fringe Creative + Events.
"We've been able to exchange industry talk and things to help us grow," Boone said.
Reynolds' new site also has a video series, she said. Every Wednesday until December, speakers will host video chats and tackle issues like pushing forward after failure.
She also wants to start a travel club on the site soon and expand the brunch into a three-day event during EmpoweringHER weekend, she said.
So far, she has received lots of support, she said.
"It just warms my heart," Reynolds said. "It makes me cry."