ICAN 2018 Women's Conference

Real women change diapers. At a conference. For a prize. 🤓

Real women change diapers. At a conference. For a prize. 🤓

The 2018 ICAN Women’s conference was the first, real Third Space exposé into the Omaha community, and it was a BLAST! I’m lucky to have a business partner who has been on the vendor side of many a conference. His knowledge in how to prepare and how to draw a crowd really worked for us! Here is a reflection on our experience, from the exhibitor side of the table:

  1. Sales narrative
    We were able to start conversations with a lot of women with our spa package giveaway and “fastest baby changing” game display. Being a women’s conference, the sales narrative we told was that we partner with employers who want to help new moms transition back to work after maternity leave. Up until this point, we’ve kept our messaging very inclusive of helping “parents” transition back to work after “parental leave”, but honestly… I think there’s power in calling it like it is. Women are more biologically distracted by the need to be close to their babies, which results in the lack of productivity during the return to work. While men can have an immense amount of love for their new child, they aren’t experiencing the biological dilemma that mothers are (apart from lack of sleep perhaps ;). So in the spirit of diversity and inclusion that our employer partners are enhancing these days, we will absolutely allow dads into the program (I mean, what if two dads adopt a baby or have a surrogate?), but with the zeitgeist as it is I think we’ll continue the narrative targeting mothers and the elevation of women in the workplace.
  2. The mom stories
    It’s always amazing to hear the stories women instantly recall when we explain our business concept. Even 40-50 year old women with tweens or teens recount with emotion the days when they had to leave baby after just 6 weeks, and how horrible it was to drop off a crying baby and tearfully carry the guilt with them the rest of the day at work. One mom we talked with seemed like a very career-driven type. She told us how hard it was to drop a crying 6-week-old off at daycare at 6:30 in the morning. 😳 SIX WEEKS AT SIX THIRTY A.M.! WHAT THE HECK!
    Heartbreaking stuff, mommas.
  3. New campaign
    The interaction with women at the conference led me to re-evaluate our lame marketing approach thus far. I’ve been fairly conservative in my approach, in part I think because of my unsure-ness of how employers will respond to our concept if we do anything exciting. (The concept is already out-of-the-box so I didn’t want to scare them any more than I have to…) I’m realizing this is a fearful approach. Seth Godin says there’s power when innovation of a business/idea/product matches an innovative marketing approach, and I’m starting to understand what he means. After all the emotion I’ve seen sweep over women when they tell their return-to-work stories, I came up with what I think could both get at the core of the service we provide as well as be a kick-in-the-gut slogan (and hashtag!):
    No more crying moms.
    It’s simple, but I think it rings true to our core purpose at Third Space. We don’t think working moms should have to cry their way through the day when they’re just trying to bring in income for their families. We believe there’s a better way! (You think so too? Read below to find out how to join us.)

So, there it is. Even from the vendor-ing experience, the conference had a big impact on us. We are more excited that ever to launch in Omaha in January, and would love your support throughout the year as we shape up our plans.

How can you help, you ask? Here are a few ways!

  • Refer us to your HR team (and get a Starbucks card!)
    If your company allows remote work and values benefits that support women and diversity, we’d love a referral! Reach out to our sales guru Matt at matt@thirdspacecoworking.com , and we’ll send you a Starbucks card to thank you once we get a meeting!
  • Join our new #NoMoreCryingMoms campaign
    Ask almost any working mom how it went when she had to go back to work after maternity leave, and the story involves tears. We heard that narrative many times at the ICAN conference, and we think it shouldn’t be! (In fact, our entire business model exists to prevent those tears.) Read the details of the campaign here.
  • Submit your “Back to Work” story
    We are featuring stories about women’s experiences transitioning from maternity leave back to work (or to staying at home!). Even if you’re not a writer, email Kate at kate@thirdspacecoworking.com , and check out other moms’ stories on the blog here.

Thanks for the great times, ladies! 🎉 You’re awesome, and we look forward to hearing from you!