Feeling Seen with Naj Austin


Manage episode 238687363 series 1950745
By Strong Feelings, Katel LeDû, and Sara Wachter-Boettcher. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

What does community mean? How do you build one? And why do they matter—particularly for people of color?

We chatted with Naj Austin this week to find out. She’s the founder Ethels Club, a new private membership club and workspace created by and for people of color. And while Ethels is definitely a spot where you can perch with your laptop for a few hours, it’s way more than coworking: we’re talking exhibits from artists of color, mental health programming designed to destigmatize therapy and connect members to therapists of color, and so much more.

The first Ethels Club is set to open in Brooklyn in October—and that launch can’t come soon enough for the thousands of people who’ve flocked to her waiting list (including early investor Roxane Gay). So we asked Naj how she’s making it happen, what it means to build a business and a community at the same time, and why she’s committed to offering more than just a desk and some wifi to her members.

People are looking for spaces where they can feel seen, celebrated, and find like-minded people in real life.
—Naj Austin, founder of Ethels Club

We chat about:

  • How Ethels Club went from a spark of an idea to an actual business with Naj as CEO
  • Why Naj got fed up at typical investor meetings, and decided to raise funds from other people of color instead
  • When and how she took the leap from employee with steady pay and predictability to running Ethels Club
  • Why she thinks so many people are interested in a space like Ethels, which goes beyond a basic coworking spot
  • Waiting for Beyoncé to call (🤞🤞🤞)



  • Why you should find a group of your peers to chat through challenges and celebrate wins with—like therapy, it’ll help!
  • Why Collective Strength (our community in Philly) is for women and femme or nonbinary-identifying folks—and we’re totally OK telling men to skip our events
  • Fuck yeah to every single beach body out there (except Sara’s sunburned thighs)

78 episodes