Erica Vargas and Angela Melpolder are co-founders of The B Hive Apiary. The B Hive was founded as a book club and has grown to be a support system for female friendships and female business owners. They are launching The Business Hive Academy with a “MasterHive Intensive” all-day workshop for female business owners to collaborate, learn and get tools they can use. The event will be held on April 7 at Cheer Up Charlie’s. In addition to being business owners, Erica is a Purpose Relationship Coach and Angela is a Career and Business Coach. We had a chance to speak with Erica and Angela about starting The B Hive Apiary and their new business initiative.
For those who have not heard about The B-Hive, can you talk about how you two met and how it came about? How is The B-Hive different from other Austin female groups?
Erica: Angela and I met through a Facebook group. We connected quickly because we both felt like it was really hard to make friends in Austin in your 30s. We both value female friendships and didn’t feel like Austin had any real community for women to connect. So, we started a book club! We thought that a book club created consistency and maybe that would grow friendships. The book club quickly turned to book and brunch, then book, brunch and booze and then book, brunch, booze and boobs! We are different because first and foremost we focus on creating real connection between women. Several members have found their best friends, roommates and soul sisters through The B Hive. We also feel that we give a feeling of acceptance and true community.
Angela: We realized how difficult it can be to make real friends, particularly for people like me, who tend to be shy in large groups, or socially awkward. Those girls shouldn’t have to force themselves into uncomfortable situations to make friends. We make it easy for them to connect on a comfortable, personal level without feeling awkward. It’s part of what makes the group so special – we keep things so small it makes it really easy to connect.
You’ve grown this incredible network of women who are forming genuine friendships through brunch, book clubs, outings and more. What surprised you the most and what didn’t surprise you about female friendships that you didn’t know before?
Erica: The most surprising thing about women friendships is we vibe off each other. The more time we spend with women, the more we realized how motivated, high vibrations, happy and positive people affect the whole group. On the opposite side of the coin, if there is a negative, grouchy or moody vibe in the group, people will be attracted to that too. Angela and I do our best to stay in the light and positive vibe.
Angela: I think what has surprised me the most is that women really want these true connections, but a lot of time are fearful to put themselves out there. We see it all the time, women seeking friends, but never really committing to the real effort of making friends. You have to treat it like dating and really put in the effort. But with the women of The B Hive, they really are committed – they show up to events, make plans outside of the group and don’t flake on each other.
You two are coaches in life and business respectively, as well as full-time employees and business owners. Can you talk about the hustle it takes to succeed and push through?
Erica: You have to be secure enough with any result that come from your efforts. What I mean is, you create results and sometime you surpass them and that can be scary or overwhelming and there are times you don’t get anywhere near your goal and you feel disappointed. You have to be okay with whatever the results are because starting your own business is the most personal growth journey you can ever be on. It really teaches you to make a plan, a goal, a dream, but all stay unattached to the results. Also, you have to love it. I mean LOVE it, or don’t bother because it is not all glamorous.
Angela: I agree with with Erica. You really have to be passionate and love it and accept that failure is a part of the success. But also, that starting a business isn’t a joke – especially when you’re single and don’t have the support of a partner. For us, we always imagined this explosive growth skyrocketing us to the top. But the reality is, slow and steady wins the race. We’ve prioritized quality people over quantity – we’ve worked through failures and really bad ideas to get where we are. And every day we’re inspired by our membership, what they’re doing, how they help each other and support one another, and their excitement for each other is what keeps us passionate about what we’re doing.
How did The Business Hive Academy come about? What voids did you see in Austin for female business owners that you’re hoping to fill?
Erica: We started these small MasterHives around Austin and did it because we went to a few in Austin and felt like the groups were missing connection and true relationship building. This is Angela and my specialty. We knew we wanted to create a place for women in business to truly feel like they belonged, a place they were getting real support and not a soap box for someone to show off what they know, but an actual support system. I think we fill the void of disconnect. Networking events can feel very inauthentic, but at our events we keep them small, so that women have the comfort and time to truly connect.
Angela: Since Erica and I are both coaches, and we’ve watched our Worker B Members grow their businesses through The MasterHive sessions – we knew that there was this untapped area of real connections and growth – it goes so far beyond professional development, there’s a ton of personal development too. We’ve cried, laughed, shared our struggles and celebrated our successes in such a way that we really wanted to share this with more women, particularly in Austin. Being in a room of 100 women can be fun and exciting but can often times lack that real work that needs to be done to improve your business and your personal life – they go hand in hand no matter what anyone says. We give them the platform to find that support not only from us as coaches but from other women going through the same thing. We experienced it ourselves so we know how valuable this is.
There’s preconceived notions about the “female” business owner and even collaborating female businesses working together. What have you learned and experienced and want to share about breaking these stereotypes?
Erica: This may trigger people reading but we have found the good, the bad, and the ugly when collaborating with other female business owners. We have relationships with women entrepreneurs that are amazing and the energy flows back and forth easily, constantly reaching out to each other for support and help. We have also dealt with some, who have a lot of scarcity around their resources and keep them close to the chest. In these situations, I build a standard with myself. I will not work with woman who live in fear around sharing because I don’t want to lower my vibration with the universe. I choose to attract and stay in relationships with women who have the same values I do around collaboration and community.
Angela: We as women, not only as business owners, but as career professionals, live in a world where we are constantly trying to prove our worth. We’re trying to show that we’re just as capable and competent as men are in the business world. We’ve found that there are female entrepreneurs who are out there more concerned about competition then about collaboration – which is unfortunate because imagine the amazing results if you combined the resources of two communities over one! One of the things we tell our MasterHive attendees is that if you’re more concerned about competition, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. We should be inspiring each other to do better, to be better and to support the kick ass successes we have as women. If we band together and support our competitors – imagine the amazing impact we would have on the world.
The Business Hive Academy will be holding it’s first full-day workshop. Can you talk about what this will entail and what to expect being part of this group?
Erica: The Business Hive Academy “MasterHive Intensive” will consist of an interactive workbook, live coaching opportunities, five speakers that range from various business owners, and lots of opportunity to connect. Our values are around community, connection and leadership. What does this mean? It means that we will coach/teach women on how to build a community that vibes with them and a place they can be authentic and truly own their gifts. We will connect with them on a personal and honest level. You get two coaches that have very different coaching styles, so, you get different perspectives. Last but not least, we are teaching/coaching women to be leaders in their personal and business life. We are stronger together as a community; even if we don’t have the answer we have cultivated a safe sacred community that you will find the answer among us.
Angela: We and our speakers will be discussing community, connection and leadership. But not in a way that is just us telling you what to do and how to do it; instead we will work together as a group to come up with really amazing ideas for you to build your community and grow your business. Since this is a spin off of our MasterHive meetups, we want to encompass that collaborative, actionable environment – not just talking about doing things, but actually doing them. When we host our events, or provide resources to people – we don’t just give generic tips and spew commonly repeated information, we don’t talk at you or pat ourselves on the back so you can buy our services or pay for our vacations (we are a business so we do want you to pay us for our services). What we DO do is provide you with REAL WORK. We’re going to give female business owners and career professionals actual work they can do to improve their personal and professional lives. It’s customized to each person – they get the support they need that will help them grow, not fill our pockets. We’re creating real, concrete value for people who work with us: you’ll see actual progress, wonderful success and you’ll be so much happier in your life.
Anything else to add?
Erica: We are passionate about supporting women in living their best life. We used to do mostly free events but now we charge for them and I think this is important to mention as a business owner. If you are are starting a business and are not willing to invest in other small businesses, how are you cultivating a life of abundance and attracting money. We chose to honor the energy of money and keep the flow coming in and out of our lives and yours!
Angela: To echo Erica’s statement – Austin can be a very difficult environment to host events. Everyone wants something for free but ends up not getting any real value from it. We’ve attended so many free workshops and seminars in the area and left with information we already knew and felt really disappointed with the time spent. The MasterHive Intensive is going to be so much more than that – it’s what we wished we had when we attend workshops and seminars – it’s an investment in yourself and in your business, plus you’re supporting other female-owned businesses in Austin! We couldn’t be more grateful for Ashton Haywood of Women Who Werk and Dulce Vida PR, Liza Wilson of Toybrary Austin, Jessica Frey of Jessica Frey Photography and The Rising Tide and Cheer Up Charlie’s for always supporting business owners in Austin!
The Business Hive Academy’s “MasterHive Intensive” will be held on Saturday, April 7, at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Boss Bee tickets are now $59 and Business BFF tickets are available for $99 (bring your bestie)! Get your tickets here. Learn more about The B Hive Apiary here.