Wendy Wecksell, (CEO of I Am That Girl), and Meghan Holzhauer (Head of Partnerships at Breakout) are not just best friends, they're also co-founders. In November of 2015, a late-night conversation about their dreams for the future lead to an important discovery - they both had the same vision. Six months later, they quit their jobs in SF and moved to New York to build out their idea. Officially launching this month in Mexico City, Canvus celebrates badass women through travel and aims to welcome men into the conversation about female power. Here's how they've turned their close bond into one of their company's biggest strengths.
We treat our friendship like a lifelong "partnership."
Since day one, we've been very conscious of the number of best friends who start businesses and expect it to be roses and butterflies. We actually took a different approach. We knew it would be tough, complicated, and uncertain, but if we were able to face those challenges from a place of commitment and compassion, our relationship could thrive. So we consider our partnership with the same level of gravitas as a marriage. We are two people choosing to be contractually obligated to each other for the purpose of building something beautiful (and ideally you end up marrying your best friend). We accept the mess because we love and accept each other.
We work on our relationship. Every day.
We were wise enough to work with Michelle Taipale, a brilliant executive and relationship coach, at the genesis of Canvus. Michele was able to provide us with a framework so we could develop a culture of feedback within our business relationship. Our check-ins are highly effective and we go through all the typical items like outstanding to-dos and long-term goals, but what may surprise you is that we also ask:
- Is there anything you need my help/support on?
- What is your greatest fear at this time?
- Have I done anything recently that has hurt, bothered, or annoyed you?
By having a system to work through discomfort, we've been able to cultivate an enormous amount of trust between each other. We've created a muscle for productive vulnerability that permeates into all other relationships - including family, friends, lovers and colleagues.
We know that in order to be a high-performing pair, we must be two healthy individuals.
We value self-care. We value independence. We value life. Our way of friendship/partnership isn't typical, but we think it's progressive. It's founded on the principle that it's nearly impossible to disassociate our work lives from our personal lives. We are whole people throughout. If something happens to us (like a death in the family or we fall in love) that will affect how we show up to work. And that's OK!! How we prepare for these inevitable moments is we separately create habits that support us individually. Here’s our list:
- We both meditate twice a day.
- We both workout and eat well.
- We both text each other on the regular to say "I appreciate you."
- We both know that if life happens, we have each other's backs.
As a whole, we approach it all like divide and conquer meets namaste! And that balance has empowered who we are, how our friendship works and what we can create together.
Meghan Holzhauer and Wendy Wecksell are co-founders of Canvus. Meghan also heads partnerships at Breakout and is the co-founder of Curiosity Lab. She's built a career in business development, hospitality and real estate for nearly a decade, previously as the director of development at Auberge Resorts Collection and before that at prominent New York real estate firms SL Green and CB Richard Ellis. She currently lives in the New York and connects small and growing publishers, storytellers and communities with brands and media partners seeking to engage their audience in a more authentic way. Wendy is CEO of I Am That Girl, a movement to transform self-doubt to self-love in high school and college-aged students around the world. Prior to this, she worked at Battery Powered, where her main mission was to activate generosity among The Battery members. A former fellow for the course in exponential fundraising at Harvard University, she began her philanthropic career at Pencils of Promise and has also worked in business development and cultural partnerships for the Tribeca Film Festival.