How do you reach success? All are welcome to the table (including men) at The Wave, a co-working space, social club, private event venue and partnership-building space uniquely and transparently led by and in support of women and marginalized genders. Joanna Smith, CEO/Founder of the newly opened space says that, “The building was historically a club to support male business leaders.” Located at 32 E. Exchange Place in downtown Salt Lake City, wives, female servants and yes, sex workers were only permitted through side doors and into women-allowed areas. “It was very successful as a business,” says Smith and went onto say, “it was in full operation until the mid-1950s.” Now, women can not only enter the front door—they own the key to it.
“As we often say, in our space you don’t have to hide your multiple identities,” Joanna Smith explains, “You can be a mom and also a working professional.” Kids are welcome in conference rooms. The Wave also offers hourly childcare to members. As another perk, members gain access to a dedicated team of in-house professionals, including an attorney, accountant, and financial planner—not to mention a massage therapist. Events are another big part of The Wave experience, including political debates and networking meet-ups, which provide other ways to meet members, get involved in the process, and have a good time.
What business resources were most valuable to you? Smith mentioned that The Wave received a loan after being open for two months from the Salt Lake Economic Development Loan Fund which was monumental in finishing big projects and launching new programming. Being completely self-funded is a huge part of their identity, namely because women in Utah only receive 4 percent of all business loans.
She can do it. Smith was born in Utah and moved away to Atlanta for several years. While raising her family, she also took on an activist role campaigning for women’s equality and education. In recent years, she deliberately chose to come back to Utah; Smith spent time working with Utah Women Unite and Ordain Women. To her credit, Smith played a part in organizing the largest march on the State Capitol in Utah history and is a strong advocate for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
See all of our Influential Women in Business here.