ONEUpon arriving in the Maven district, it was written on the wall that this is not your typical neighborhood. Prominent on the 15-foot-tall mural, like a feminist manifesto written in large letters on a hot pink background, are the immortal words: “Maven: a stray pioneer. Those who dare to take the lead and stand alone.” On the side of a nearby building is more vibrant street art, this time a painting of a group of women lifting each other up. I officially went to Maven, Utah’s first sister organization, where 85% of businesses are owned by women.
Started in 2010 as a single Pilates studio, over the past few years this pioneering district has grown into an extensive network of about 100 women-owned companies. Much of the action is condensed into a single block on the 9th and 9thlame pants near downtown Salt Lake City, but a quick glance around reveals that the Maven are a rapidly growing tribe, with construction work almost complete on a second complex just across the street.
Meeting me in front of a cookie shop, the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through the door, was Rocky Donati, marketing manager and co-owner of Maven. We rounded the corner to the Juice Shop, where a healthy menu of fancy toast and protein smoothies catered to a discerning clientele. Founded by first-time business owner Meera Patel, who returned to Salt Lake City after a successful marketing career in New York, it’s a prime example of how Maven is tempting high-flyers back to the city like a guiding pigeon.
It’s all about creating an ecosystem where women can thrive through mentorship and community support, Donati told me as we wandered through the women-supported Maven paradise. . It’s a clear vision that has attracted many different types of businesses to the block, from an art studio offering painting and pottery classes, to a chic co-working space and a co-working space. wellness center, from strength training to mindfulness meditation.
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Why this flash of progressive activity has emerged right in the heart of conservative Salt Lake City is up for debate. From education to employment, Utah ranks near the bottom in national surveys of women’s equality, so this is perhaps a responsible response to the daily barriers that still exist. in. But equally, Utah’s faith- and family-heavy culture — after all, it’s a state where 66 percent of the population identifies as Mormons — has long created a welcoming environment for families. small businesses over large corporations.
“Utah is also full of moms and part-time working women who turn hobbies into careers, so people really crave what Maven has to offer,” added Donati, when we dropped in. Mineral and Matter, a store that sells sparkling gems in its windows, and shelves crammed with zodiac cards and chic notebooks.
Off the main strip, I stopped by Curiosity, a shop and bar that sells bottles of alcohol without proof of grammar. Offering a grown-up, curious and sober nightlife experience, minus the hangover, the bar also hosts poetry nights and meet-ups where drinks are paired with goodies. mind-opening questions.
Overlooking the street at the new Maven 2.0 property under construction, a mix of restaurants, locally owned homes and Airbnb apartments that will open in June 2023, said Raegan Plewe, co-owner Curiosity, told me that “the area is changing very quickly. In five years, it will be completely unrecognizable.”
Stirling up a mood-enhancing elixir mocktail, the bartender adds that she personally sees the tight-knit local crowd as inspiration. “It’s great to be surrounded by so many women who are living their dreams,” she said, sliding a hemp-infused drink and a pinch of spicy salt across the jade-green tiled bar. “It’s a community where we have a social hour together to talk about how things are going and what we can improve. There is also funding to help grow our business and mentoring programs for newcomers.” Forget the day trip: taking a long sip of the elixir, I thought I could easily live in this utopian micro-verse.
At my next stop, I was told by Tori Plant, owner of Planted Salon, that a long-term matriarchal lifestyle is actually quite doable. When she’s not doing the hair for the A-list stars at Utah’s Sundance Film Festival, Plant and her team are getting a haircut and color from her hair salon decorated with palm leaf wallpaper. Pausing between appointments, Plant says the area was “designed as a curated community where everything a woman wants is within walking distance. So you can get your hair done, order a non-alcoholic drink with your friends, get a tattoo at the tattoo parlor, have a treatment session and come home, all within a few steps.”
Back on the street, I reconnected with Donati, the creator of Maven outside of a vintage vinyl record store. She was quick to tell me that even she wasn’t prepared for the resounding success of the neighborhood. “It became much bigger than we ever imagined, when we started with a small building,” she marvels, as a couple of women pass us on their way to buy chicken and Waffles at Pig & A Jelly Jar restaurant. “Certainly, there have been women’s cooperatives before, but nothing of this scale.”
So what’s next for the Maven empire? “We are now looking at expanding to neighboring cities, like Ogden, then thinking about how this might play out at the national level,” said Donati. “After all, every city has women who are looking for a chance to shine.” Hoping to see Maven sisters spring up across America in the not-too-distant future.
Delta flies non-stop from London to Salt Lake City with a flight time of 10 hours 20 minutes. From Salt Lake City International Airport, it’s a 10-minute drive to Maven.
Get out of bed overnight for a Maven-owned rentals from £96 a night, decorated with artwork and products from independent local companies including Pantry Products and Majaira Studio. Each room has its own kitchen, and overnight guests can also borrow bicycles to explore the local area.
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