District Boss Interview : Laura Metzler + Elizabeth Carberry
Meet Laura Metzler + Elizabeth Carberry, CEO and Co-Founders of Fostr Collaborative Work Space
Meet Laura and Elizabeth! These two women came together a little over a year ago to create Fostr Collaborative, a collective of creatives in the fields of art, photography, event planning, blogging, interior design, consulting and more! Laura and Elizabeth started this collaborative work space with the hope of bringing together a group of like minded individuals who want a support system to further their personal and professional goals. This work space is the home of Ringlet and 16 other amazing women working to grow their business. We love Laura and Elizabeth’s dedication to empowering entrepreneurs in the DC area while also creating amazing female community that provides advice and encouragement as each woman moves forward. These women are absolute gifts and we are so excited to share their story
1 // Tell us about your company!
EC : Fostr. Collaborative is a two-fold; it is a group of amazingly creative female entrepreneurs and a space to house the work that they do. The collaborative is currently comprised of 17 women who work in fields of photography, marketing, art, events and more. The studio is a co-working space for those women day to day and is available for photo and retail events.
LM : Elizabeth’s answer is spot on!
2 // what lead you to where you are today?
EC : Well it really happened very quickly but organically. Laura and I have known each other for years and our mutual friend, and now Fostr member Kristin Gaudio Endsley, knew we both had a hope of one day opening a collaborative work space. So, we connected about that a little over a year ago and then shortly after Laura found the studio and we had two months to get the space ready and open. It’s been a wild year since we signed the lease! For me, it’s sort of a dream come true because since I started ArtSee in 2011 I’ve always wanted a space where people from all different creative fields could come together to work on their business but also support each other and work together.
LM : Agree with the first part of her answer. To add to it - I have been a freelance photographer for about 6 years now. I was previously part of a female co-working space that I used as a photo studio. After being with that space for 4 years I decided I needed to find something that fit my growing business, and larger scale photo shoots a bit better. I started looking for spaces and realized that if I needed a space I’m sure other creatives in the community had similar needs. Elizabeth and I were able to come together to create something that we feel is very unique in that it supports many different needs for creatives as well as an amazing community for an awesome group of women.
3 // What brings you the most joy when developing your company?
EC : Definitely seeing how our members use the space! The women that occupy the space regularly have done some seriously awesome things and have grown their business because of it! From photo shoots, to workshops, to pop up shops, they really make the most of it. It is exactly what we hoped for when we dreamed up the concept. It’s also nice because we have all really formed friendships within the membership!
LM : I 100% agree with what Elizabeth said here. It has been so exciting to see our members collaborate with each other and create awesome work. I have to say, hearing some of our members say that joining Fostr was the best decision they made for their business is seriously one of the best feelings. I’m so proud of what Elizabeth and I have been able to create for this group of kick ass female entrepreneurs!
4 // What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur? The best part?
EC : The most difficult part for me personally is time management. In addition to Fostr, ArtSee and Elizabeth Carberry Creative, I have two small kids so juggling it all has become increasingly more difficult. Worth it, but definitely the hardest part! The best part is when you get that email from a client that just says “YASSS THIS LOOKS AMAZING!” Or when they share the work I did for them on their social!
LM : This is a tough one, I’ll start with the best part. Working for myself and being able to create a successful business is such an incredible feeling. Knowing that all my hard work was really worth it means so much. It’s also really great knowing that the work that I do for my clients helps them continue to grow their businesses as well. Same with Fostr, seeing how our members benefit from not only the space but the relationships they’ve all formed with each other is 100% the best part.
There are plenty of difficult parts about being an entrepreneur, but honestly a lot of them feel worth it. I think even when you’re building a team it’s hard knowing that it’s all on you. When you go on vacation its not always fully a vacation, there’s always things that will come up that need to be handled, and when something major happens in your personal life the business still has to function and you have to figure out how to juggle that. My dad had open heart surgery 2 years ago and i was literally editing photos in the waiting room. I do think I’ve been able to get to a point where I do a pretty good job of work life balance (she says as she answers these questions at 10pm) but getting to this point has literally taken years. I don’t work on weekends anymore because that time with my family is SO important to me, and most clients are able to respect that.
The best part about building this business with Elizabeth has been having an awesome partner to bounce ideas off of, make decisions with and honestly having someone to be accountable to is so great. It can sometimes put more pressure on when you’re worried about disappointing a partner but we both agreed early on that we wouldn’t say “sorry” to each other all the time because we are both so busy and have our own lives! We don’t have time for unnecessary apologies!
5 // How do you stay motivated and continue to grow, personally and professionally?
EC : My motivation really comes from all around me. My husband has always been my biggest cheerleader, constantly pushing me. Of course now my kids! But truthfully I have always found the work of the other amazingly creative people around me to be a huge motivator to push myself, grow my business and think critically about what I am doing and how I am doing it. Fostr Collaborative has only increased that!
LM : I’m super inspired by our members as well as my clients in my photography business. Collaborating with all different types of business owners and creatives really keeps me going and keeps me loving my job. I always feel so motived after grabbing coffee or even just chatting with another business owner.
6 // What’s your nighttime routine?
EC : Find bed. Sleep. HA! With two kids every night is a little different but typically I put my kids to bed by 7:30 then get about 1-1.5 hours of work done and then get into bed to either read, troll instagram or watch one of my guilty pleasure shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Blue Bloods or the Good Wife). I wish I could say that I have some kind of meditative, self care process but that just doesn’t work for me.
LM : Does falling asleep on my couch count as a routine? No but really, I wouldn’t say I have one exactly. I usually get home from a shoot and then work for a couple more hours on emails and any sort of admin stuff for both businesses. We usually make dinner and watch a little TV with my husband and thennnnn pass out on the couch :)
7 // What’s one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs?
EC : Drown out the noise. While learning from others and being inspired by others is crucial, there is a lot of noise out there and especially today with all the social media out there, it’s easy to feel inadequate. Do you! Make a plan, execute that plan and run your business according to that plan. And on the flip side… embrace when that plan changes! Sometimes what you planned doesn’t work out or your priorities shift or you learn a new skill that can apply to your work. Go for it!
LM : Hustle! Starting a business (or you know, three) is hard freaking work. Put in the time and effort that it requires and it will pay off. Stick with it and you’ll get there. When you do, it feels SO DANG GOOD!
8 // What inspired you specifically to focus on empowering women?
EC : It’s always been a passion for me. I am a member of Pi Beta Phi and since joining in college, have always felt the women around me were truly put in my life to build me up and vise versa. So in some ways, Fostr Collaborative is my career group of women to build up and be supported by. Don’t get me wrong, as I mentioned, my husband has always been my biggest support and I think men can be equally supportive, but there is something undoubtedly special about when women come together to think, do, discuss and create! I wanted to create Fostr with Laura to nurture that. And am so proud that it has done just that!
LM : Women can do SO MUCH. I am constantly amazed by the women in our collaborative (as well as many of my clients and friends!). Elizabeth was pregnant when we started Fostr and literally styled a photoshoot on the day she gave birth. She is raising two kids and running like 3 successful businesses at the same time. I’m pretty sure she is super woman! But the point is, when women support other women I really think we can do ANYTHING we set our minds to!