Women of Cincy Collective harnesses the power of women’s stories
Written by Hillary Copsey. Photography by Stacy Wegley.
Kiersten Feuchter and Chelsie Walter went downtown to the 2017 Women’s March with cameras, recorders, a loose plan to interview women about why they were there, and a catchy, freshly created Instagram handle, @womenofcincy.
A year later, Women of Cincy has grown to full-fledged media outlet focused on the women who get things done in Cincinnati. Coordinated by Feuchter and Walter, a team of 50 volunteer writers, editors, photographers and event planners produce a website, multiple social media accounts and regular events.
Feuchter and Walter quit their jobs this fall to lead the organization full-time and launch Notice, a consulting and marketing agency powered by Women of Cincy team. The agency’s mission is to elevate local women-owned, women-led and women-empowering businesses and initiatives.
“With Women of Cincy, we celebrate the story,” Walter said. “With Notice, we liberate the story.”
THE POWER OF STORYTELLING
Walter, 25, is a designer and photographer. Feuchter, 26, is a writer and reporter. The two met through their husbands, who both are teachers, and became good friends. Each had a job that paid the bills, used their degree and left them wanting a little more. Each found herself wanting to take action in some way after the divisiveness of the 2016 election.
That’s why they went to the Women’s March.
But Walter and Feuchter said they quickly realized the power in what they were doing wasn’t in politics. The power was in storytelling and its ability to build empathy across divides of all kinds. Women of Cincy, by giving women a place to tell their story, was helping women to understand, support, encourage and celebrate each other.
“It’s about people,” Feuchter said. “That’s how it started and why it started and how it’s still going. Women of Cincy is about reminding people to really see each other, and Notice is the professional extension of that.”
Women of Cincy organizes events to bring women together to share stories in person and tells stories in a variety of ways and platforms: podcasts, Instagram stories and posts, short videos, feature articles. But at the core of Women of Cincy is a traditional question-and-answer feature. It’s powerful, Feuchter said, because it amplifies the woman’s voice.
“We’ve heard from so many women that this was the best story they’ve ever had written about them,” Feuchter said. “I always tell them, ‘You wrote it. I just wrote it down.’”
“Women who thought they didn’t have a story, it was pretty powerful to watch them realize they really did,” Walter said.
Feuchter and Walter had a realization, too, reading all these stories — two realizations, actually.
First, the women featured on Women of Cincy were leading businesses and initiatives that needed help. They needed marketing design and strategy, branding, social media strategy and execution, website development and content creation, and more. But often, their organizations — and budgets — were too small for a traditional agency.
Second, the Women of Cincy team had the talents and skills to help these women-led, women-empowering businesses.
Taking their cue from the women they’d been writing about, Feuchter and Walter took a leap. They launched Notice. The agency already is handling a variety of clients, including RISE, a newspaper aimed at incarcerated citizens to help them plan for re-entering the community.
“Our clients are people who are making a difference,” Walter said.
Feuchter and Walter will have a meeting with anyone, any organization. Their proposals always are based, Walter said, on “what can we give you well,” with multiple options offered at price points tailored to the organization’s size, audience, budget and mission. Right now, Walter and Feuchter are handling all Notice’s workload, but as the client list grows, the plan is to tap into the talents of the Women of Cincy team.
“We’re doing it,” Walter said. “Where we lack in experience, we make up for in drive and passion.”
“Our youth gives a new perspective,” Feuchter added. “When people say, ‘We’ve always done it this way,’ we say, ‘Well, why?’”
Chelsie Walter previously served as a People’s Liberty fellow with Flywheel in the Spring of 2017 and we are excited about all that she has accomplished.