In conversation with Denise a co-founder of HerStories—a speaker series and story-sharing platform that’s all about helping people find empowerment through embracing vulnerability, expression and the stories of their lives. HerStories hosted a Powerful Mother’s Day event, In Service To Our Mothers at Airship37 event space Toronto.
What was the original seed of inspiration behind HerStories Speak?
The original seed of inspiration for HerStories was the apparent disconnection many of us face today—a disconnection to others but also, to ourselves. In a culture of perfectly manicured self- branding on social media, we’ve forgotten how to embrace who we truly are—imperfections, vulnerabilities, flaws and all… the beautiful things that make us human. As a response, we decided to create a space for people to celebrate all of themselves, and find empowerment and connection along the way.
How did you choose the speakers for this event and why do you think they fit together so well?
We always choose speakers whom we look up to and know will be excellent storytellers. As an actress who’s been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years, Natalie Brown is a natural storyteller and told stories of her mother with such humor and heart. Jen McNeely, the Founder and EIC of Shedoesthecity, shared honestly and powerfully about her experience as a mother and how she holds it all together. And Blake Fly, who is one of the most charismatic professional speakers I’ve seen, paid such a beautiful tribute to his mother and spoke about how she’s shaped him into the man he is today. I told a story about breaking 30 years of tension with my mother and how we found our way back to love. Each of us came from such different backgrounds and perspectives, it turned out to be the perfect kaleidoscope of a line-up!
What was your first event and how has your series evolved?
We launched in January 2017 with HerStories: Step Into Your Power. It was a true manifestation of our vision—that being a space where people could just be raw, honest and real while sharing some of their most vulnerable stories. So much empowerment came from that, it was profoundly moving to see. Our Mother’s Day event, In Service To Our Mothers, took a spin on our stories to include those of our mothers, and was equally (if not more) powerful especially for those who had their mothers in the audience. Our September event will be called The Realities We Create, which will be an acknowledgment to the power we each have—no matter how dark of a place we may be in—to transform our lives. And we’ll be finishing the year with Love & Let Go where we will be tackling love and forgiveness, and letting go of the stories that no longer serve us… It’ll be a great way to end the year as we look forward to a fresh new one.
You have a very unique and innovative structure to your live events that involves speakers, activities and audience engagement. What have been some of the positive outcomes of having this structure?
The first thing that comes to mind is that, at the end of every event, the room is always filled with so much love, beaming faces and everyone connecting with each other. At HerStories, it’s important to us that everyone has a voice. The speaker line-up stands as inspiration to the audience who then engages in activities specifically designed to help them connect more deeply with themselves and then are given the stage to share whatever insights, stories, lessons or learnings they’ve found. We want people to feel and be seen—which can be vulnerable, takes courage, but is so inspiring. There’s something about recognizing ourselves in another that is just so powerful and allows us to understand that we truly do have so many more commonalities than differences.
What are some of the ways you hope to see your project evolve and grow?
I’d like to see HerStories reach a wider audience and yet still remain intimate. We’ll be starting a podcast soon where we’ll continue to showcase personal stories of struggle and strength, but with an interactive twist. Stay tuned and you’ll be the first to know how you can get involved! At the end of the day, HerStories is a spiritual series that deals with basic humanistic concepts like love, gratitude, forgiveness, pain, suffering, connection and joy. We exist to inspire, uplift and celebrate life in its entirety—vulnerabilities and all—and would like to reach as many people as possible with this mission!
Where do you go for inspiration in your daily life and how do you build on this inspiration?
My inspiration is always stories… other people’s stories or my own, real or fictional. I think there is a universal truth to everyone’s story and that if you pay enough attention, there is always something to be gained—a lesson to be learned, something that has the ability to shift you from deep within that’ll lead you to a more loving, connected and inspired life.
What is one thing that you think the modern day entrepreneur needs to have or cultivate?
This actually goes for everyone, but I think particularly important for creators of all kinds—know who you are and why you’re here, and cultivate a practice of connecting to that daily. As an empowerment coach, I work with clients every day to help them discover themselves, their gifts and how to best align them with their purpose. Having clarity on this is always Step 1.
How did the location of Airship37 work for this event?
The location was perfect! We love Airship so much… from the silver chairs to the retro lounge to the built-in coat check and the outdoor patio. We had an hor d’oeuvres reception in the lounge, the show in the main space and lots of mingling on the patio in the gorgeous weather. Thanks so much for having us!
You can learn more about HerStories at:
www.herstoriesspeak.com IG: @herstoriesspeak
…or for specific inquiries, you can email Denise at:
Photography : Kosmic Creative