Isabelle Swiderski | She Ran: Stories From Women Who Found Their Own Way

 Welcome to She Ran, a series of short interviews with inspirational business owners and artists. I believe in the power of example. If She can run with her dreams, so can you.

Meet the daring and inspirational Isabelle Swiderski! Isabelle is a founder, podcaster, and dinner party hostess extraordinaire! 

An avid foodie and dinner party aficionado, I first discovered Isabelle via the Lezervastions Instagram account (thank you, Internet!). I was immediately intrigued by the format of these community-centric conversations centered around a beautiful meal, and began stalking her immediately.  It was no surprise to find Isabelle had also founded another company—a design and branding agency working to help social profits. I couldn’t wait to share her story with you here. 

What do you do? How did you come to do it?
I am founder and creative director of Seven25 — an agency that helps social profit organizations use design to build services and products that improve lives. I’m launching a vlog/podcast to feature some of those stories next month and I also co-founded a not for profit called Lezervations. We host quarterly long-table dinners for queer women in Vancouver, San Francisco, Toronto, and New York, with more cities to come later this year.

What's your mission? Why do you do what you do?
I think we need more collaboration. I keep running into folks who are doing amazing work to move the world forward and it inspires me to help them how I can — with my design and business skill sets, of course, but also by telling their stories and facilitating connections. It’s inspiring and galvanizing when the right people meet each other and go on to create together. The sum is always greater than its parts.

Who inspires you? 
It might seem like an obvious choice but my mother is an endless source of inspiration. She is now 80 and continues to write groundbreaking articles and give talks on the enduring influence of 18th century French women writers. She reminds me every day that curiosity, critical thinking, and lifelong learning are fuel for a healthy mind and body and that, often, resilience comes from our ability to tap into those mindsets to imagine new pathways out of tough times.

What is the greatest part about building your own business that you want other women to know?
I don’t remember how it happened but a couple of years ago I realized I didn’t have to sit in an office to get work done. This led to creating opportunities to travel all over the world — 25 countries so far — to learn and to contribute in new ways to advance other people’s work, through design practice or through running boot camps and workshops. I also got to host 13 dinners in 4 cities connecting over 500 women! To me, building your own business means opening yourself up to what you want and making it happen. It’s hard work and, in my mind, it’s the best kind of work.

What are some of the hidden challenges of working for yourself that no one talks about?
I was reminded when I went through my divorce, that it's imperative to surround yourself with people who can support your work in very practical ways if you need to take time off. Working for yourself often means you are wearing multiple hats and taking on the brunt of the work. Whilst this is usually necessary when you first launch, once you get going, it’s important to put systems in place to ensure that, eventually, core parts of the business can happen without you. It’s a safety net for your health and, by extension, that of your business.

What's your favorite social media platform and why?
Instagram, by far. I love taking pictures and I’m inspired daily by the stories people tell through their own photography. I’ve also made unexpected connections there which hasn’t happened in the same way on other platforms.

Anything else you want to share?
Thanks for all that you do to help folks live their best lives.