Rachel Kelly, Founder Make Lemonade

Rachel Kelly, Founder Make Lemonade

Rachel is the founder of Make Lemonade, a female co-working workspace in Toronto

What is your morning routine?

I wish I could tell you that I have something down pat for the mornings. But typically I just roll out of bed, splash my face with cold water, and walk or take the TTC to work. If I’m lucky, I’m sipping a tea I brewed. Listening to a podcast helps me focus on something interesting and gets my brain churning in the morning. Once I get to work I make myself a cup of tea (can never have enough tea) and get going on my emails. It’s nothing glamorous, but it’s what works right now.

Tell us about your career path

I am the owner of Make Lemonade.

When I was at Ryerson, I studied New Media, but always enjoyed the curating over creating. I found myself working a few positions after I graduated, in the box office during TIFF, and at an event & conference planning company full-time for just over a year. From there, I moved to a travel magazine where I was responsible for a lot of outreach and social media. This position was my first remote job, which opened my eyes up to the possibility of working outside a traditional office. I sandwiched my jobs between big adventures overseas, backpacking, hiking, volunteering – anything that gave me a rush and a chance for a really good story.

At the end of 2015 when I returned from yet another adventure, I decided to commit to a year of testing out different ways of working. I volunteered at a coworking space, found some freelance gigs, served at a restaurant, and slung beer at one of my favourite breweries in the city. I just really wanted to expand my knowledge and exercise other parts of my brain. When a writing gig turned full-time opportunity fell through at the last moment, I had three options: travel, apply for another job and continue the balancing act, or start something for myself. I figured no time like the present!

What challenges do you or women face in your industry?

Having a space dedicated to women comes with a lot of responsibility. There has been a lot of explaining why a space for women is important and needed, that yes, men can indeed visit, and a lot of learning on making a space that’s inclusive for all women-identified people. I think we’ve been going on a lot of assumptions for way too long, and now we are exercising our minds to be more open.

What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?

It’s a line that I saw on a print by Pablo Picasso during the earliest days of Make Lemonade. It read “everything you can imagine is real.” I truly believe that…within reason.

How do you separate work life from your personal life?

Once I gave the “green light” on Make Lemonade, my personal life completely shifted. It’s quite the balancing act but I’m finding a few boundaries help. I’ll never respond to an email outside of office hours if it can wait until the morning – an email scheduler is great for that, and I don’t take my laptop home on weeknights. Everything else feels like a bit of chaos, but I’m learning it just takes time to figure out what works.

What inspires you?

I really admire those who say they are going to do something, and then just go out and do it. It’s a breath of fresh air. It reminds me to always keep pushing and stop dragging my heels on those days when I’m feeling unmotivated.

When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?

There’s something very relaxing about going to a coffee shop and reading a book or writing in your journal. I particularly enjoy this so much because for a couple of years, all my work used to be done from various cafes around the city working from my laptop. Now I get to enjoy the cafes in a different way! Plus, having a barista make you a chai latte always tastes better than when you make it yourself!


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