Sometimes you just have to trust your gut instinct.
That’s something Terra Foti of KW Island Living believes wholeheartedly. In January 2014, she listened to her intuition and launched RUSHwahine, a networking community exclusively for budding and existing female business owners and entrepreneurs.
Over the years, Foti had attended her fair share of business networking events; she would routinely don a nametag, listen attentively to panel discussions, and exchange business cards with other attendees. But one day, she decided to flip the script and create a series of networking opportunities that would delve deeper than their conventional counterparts—and more specifically, help other women unlock their potential.
“I was accustomed to heavy networking in its rawest form, but I yearned for more than a panelist and another business card. I sought to connect, to talk story, to share and to learn with likeminded professionals,” Foti said. “RUSHwahine is a true product of following my na‘au (gut). I created a community that I wanted to be a part of without effort—a space of belonging and acceptance centered around one’s definition of success.”
So, she took a gamble and started sending out invitations to RUSHwahine’s inaugural event. “It was so nerve-wracking, but so unexpectedly successful,” she said. “We had about 45 women from all backgrounds and all levels of experience. Naturally, the majority were in the corporate sector, as that was my immediate and comfortable reach, although over the years, as my needs and wants shift as a business owner, so does my tone and messaging. Today, we stand at 99 percent business owner and entrepreneur-based.”
Since then, RUSHwahine has held nearly 70 live and online events, and its membership continues to grow—and thrive. Among other things, RUSHwahine has hosted online workshops covering topics that run the gamut from social media marketing to bookkeeping; social mixers that are open to both members and non-members; twice-monthly member accountability group meetings, in which the group chooses one business owner and focuses on her project for the entire month; and custom events, such as wine tasting and outdoor excursions, that are designed to promote a sense of community among RUSHwahine’s members.
And there are plenty more networking and learning opportunities to come, Foti said. “We host live events almost monthly,” she explained. RUSHwahine’s female-only events not only provide a safe, supportive environment in which members can share best business practices, but also a chance to forge genuine relationships with other success-driven women in the community.
Foti knows firsthand that the advantages of collaborating with others cannot be overstated. “Working on your own can limit your growth and thinking process,” she advised. “Find an accountability group who can serve as mentor, peer and student; this allows you to have a healthy vantage point on your business.”
For Foti, the greatest reward is seeing others reap the benefits of RUSHwahine—and in many cases, discovering something new about themselves through their interactions with fellow members. “Watching these women find and share their voice through this professional journey is so rewarding,” she said. “It’s exciting to see their faces light up when they realize how they can improve a process to increase sales or rearrange their content on social media to be more effective. I love seeing them win and I am overwhelmed by the opportunity to be surrounded by—and to give and to get—support. My success is truly a reflection of theirs.”
On that note, Foti credits the continued success of RUSHwahine to its members. “I am so humbled and grateful that they continue to value what I’ve created,” she said. “And I honor them by grinding away at this practice daily.”
By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – June 9, 2018