On June 26, 2021, Jenny Weigle and several of her closest friends gathered at The Penthouse at Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica, California. Her friend Caroline Ma had organized a shower in Weigle’s honor. The women enjoyed a three-course meal overlooking a gorgeous view of the Santa Monica oceanfront. There was a registry, gifts and even favors.
It was a “magical and special gathering,” Weigle will never forget.
But Weigle didn’t receive a toaster, china or even diapers that day. The women weren’t gathered to celebrate a wedding. They weren’t there to celebrate a baby. They were there for a business shower.
Business showers have reimagined a longstanding tradition. They take the shape of a baby or bridal shower, but steer away from the domestic and into the professional. They are a celebration to honor an entrepreneur and their business venture.
“A business shower is a way for someone to invite their friends, family and supporters to come out for an event where they can share more about what it is that they’re working on and what they’re building and create space to celebrate and support that work,” Emily Wazlak, CEO and founder of Shine Registry, a business shower registry website, says.
Using a business shower to focus on connection
Weigle launched her strategic consulting business, Jenny.Community, five days before her business shower. She yearned for support.
“To be able to sit down with these women with the explicit purpose of helping me kick off my business, I needed that,” Weigle says. “What I needed from them was that hype, that cheerleader mentality, because I was scared.”
With insight from Priya Parker’s book, The Art of Gathering, Weigle opted to center her shower on connection. She created conversation prompts that would create bonds and be fruitful in encouragement. That conversation gave her words that she leans on to continuously uplift her business.
“When I am finding myself in challenging times, I think back to the level of support I had from those women, the messages of encouragement, the fact that they were all willing to come together and for this different reason, this unique reason, for me,” she says. “They believe in me and I try to remember that.”
A registry for business showers
To normalize the concept of a business shower, Weigle leaned on Shine Registry. She shared her registry with her shower attendees, friends and family.
Wazlak envisioned Shine Registry as a vessel to create support for business owners in the ways they need it most.
“You very rarely get things that you don’t ask for,” Wazlak says. “Creating a space for people to ask for those things felt like something that I could do that could really have an impact.”
Shine Registry users can ask for “Small Asks, Little Things and Big Stuff.” Weigle’s registry was simple. She asked for social media follows, LinkedIn recommendations, potential client introductions and contributions to technology, administrative, coffee or happy-hour funds.
“I’m consistently surprised and delighted by the unexpected things that people are asking for,” she says.
Web-hosting costs and caffeine are popular registry requests, Wazlak says. More than 500 registries have been created on her platform. Some users have registered mentorship, a network of angel investors, airline miles and event sponsors. Several have registered for pep talks as a “Small Ask.”
Showers can be done in person, like Weigle’s. Shine Registry offers a shower planning guide that aids in the planning process. For remote work spaces, virtual showers are an option.
Showing support for new businesses
For many entrepreneurs, the concept of a shower is still very new.
Dallas photographer Cinthia Jaimes wasn’t familiar with the practice in January when she unknowingly organized a business shower for the launch of her friends’ spa. She relied on her talents to garner a support system for her friends.
“My goal was to be able to use any influence I had on my audience and direct that towards her, whether it was just social media reach or introducing her to my audience,” Jaimes says.
A photography session with Jaimes costs about $4,000. It is an entire day’s affair that includes creative consulting, hair, makeup and outfit changes. Her pricing makes her inaccessible to some. To support her friends, she created a public business shower where she offered pay-what-you-can headshots to attendees. She raised $1,000 that went directly to the spa.
Creating a sense of community
“Opening up a business is incredibly challenging for so many reasons—emotionally, physically, financially,” Jaimes says. “There is a lot of glamorization of entrepreneurship online. Everyone wants to be their own boss.”
Business showers dismantle the facade that business owners have it all together or that they don’t need help. They applaud courage and meet entrepreneurs where they need it the most.
For Cindy Pedraza Puente and her husband Armando Puente Jr., that need was a $3,600 freezer. The Puentes opened Olmo Market, a Dallas-based neighborhood market stocked with local goods, in February. The couple conceptualized a hub of economic and community stimulus. They had a vision and mission, and had onboarded a vegan chef to help them nourish the community, but they still needed backing. So, Jaimes threw them a business shower.
“I literally cried,” Cindy says. “As a business owner, and especially someone who is driven, that has been doing this on their own for such a long time and doing for others… It’s really hard to accept that somebody wants to do something for you, that somebody wants to actually spoil you or help you, but it’s a really nice feeling. It’s nice to feel that you are supported by your community, and people do see you and see what you’re trying to do.”
Olmo Market isn’t Cindy’s first business. She co-founded CocoAndré Chocolatier with her mother. Throughout the business’ 14-year run, they have become a vessel for Hispanic visibility and advocacy. The journey to their success was isolating.
“It felt very lonely, we weren’t in the food world and there wasn’t this community that is here now,” the chocolatier says. “To have all these things happen and a celebration of this new business, it is very different from the way CocoAndré started.”
Celebrating a successful opening
On April 23, Jaimes once again leaned on her talents and aimed to foster communal support. She hosted a business shower for Olmo Market. She offered pay-what-you-can portraits. Glam Haus Collective provided complimentary hair and makeup touch-ups. Four other locally-owned businesses set up at the grocer as vendors.
All six businesses pulled from their followings and social media reach to rally attendance and support for Olmo Market. They invited locals to get acquainted with the grocer, buy local goods and get their portraits done.
“I felt uplifted by the community,” Cindy says. “I felt not alone in this and I saw people taking pride in what we’re doing. They’re proud of the business that we have built.”
The portrait portion of the shower raised $800 for the freezer fund. For those who couldn’t attend, the grocer’s website includes a donation option. As their business matures, the Puentes hope to purchase the freezer and additional equipment and expand their shared space with a patio.
As business showers popularize on social media, Jaimes and Weigle hope to see just as many business showers as they see baby and wedding showers.
“How is this not a bigger deal?” Weigle says. “It’s so evident we should be celebrating this.”
Photo courtesy of Jenny.Community