Tulsa business owner champions women with no-cost networking space

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 06/28/2021, 2:20 PM
Edited: 06/28/2021, 2:26 PM

(TULSA, Okla.) “I have the space, so bring your candles up here, great, whatever you have, bring it here and sell it and get the word out. Hopefully, we can be more collaborative instead of competitive.”   

Shelby Swanson opened Sona Coffee in downtown Tulsa last August. Before that, she was roasting coffee inside a warehouse in the industrial area. 

The struggles she faced as a female business owner only intensified when she became a mom. 

“So, when I was opening the shop, I was pregnant,” Swanson said. “That flat out delayed it because I couldn’t get off the couch for like three weeks because I was so sick. And so, something physical like that was a big challenge where I was like, I’m really tough but I physically cannot get up.” 

A year later, taking care of a baby while running a business has new challenges. 

“Balancing feedings, a lack of sleep,” Swanson said. “I feel so blessed because my husband is such a support. He's home with her. He equally takes care of her, so that helps, but I know that is something not all women get to experience.” 

She said she opened Sona Coffee so everyone could feel welcome, not just coffee connoisseurs. 

And especially welcoming to other entrepreneurs. 

“Spaces can be sacred, and so we wanted to make this a sacred space that was made for people to build their businesses, to be inspired, to just live life, to connect with people,” Swanson said. “I was realizing it's hard enough being a business owner, let alone a woman business owner, then you add a pandemic into the mix. And I just thought, you know, I have this space. I have something that I can offer people to help support them.” 

Swanson started offering the meeting space above Sona Coffee to other women at no-charge earlier this month. Her only request is that people purchase something from the espresso bar and encourage their clients to do the same.

The positive feedback she received on a Facebook post announcing the free networking space was so overwhelming, she was blocked on the platform for spamming while trying to respond to everyone’s comments. 

It’s been a joy, Swanson said, to freely support other women and not ask for anything in return. 

“If I want to just be a soulless business or being, I can go work for a soulless business or do something that's only to make money and is self-serving,” Swanson said. “But I don't want our business to be self-serving. I want it to be something that truly is made for the community.” 

Click here to reserve a meeting time today.


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