Cate Luzio had reached the top ranks of banking and rather than shifting to another senior job at another bank, she decided to focus on something completely different. Creating an ecosystem to help women. In her career, she had already run global women’s initiatives and events in the places she worked around the world from Saudi Arabia to London, mentored multiple young women outside of her company, and coached young leaders within her organization on their career trajectory. In those roles, she was surprised to see how few companies hired and invested in the pipeline of internal talent in the middle and instead looked to fill roles with other senior women within the industry, which she thought wasn’t helping women at large. Helping women advance in their career was important to her and she wanted to have a larger impact on the system and create advancement for all women, no matter their seniority nor industry. So she started Luminary, an innovative female-forward space in the Nomad neighborhood of NYC.
Why? Because she says, “How many more mentorship coffees can we have? We’re over-caffeinated. And we all don’t want to say no because we want to help. As you get more senior you want to pay it forward. I thought to myself, there has to be a way to do this to help more women at once. If you take that one-on-one coffee experience to become three-on-three and five-on-five and so on, organically you create a community of women that are investing in each other and supporting each other. And not just for women’s empowerment, but creating real revenue opportunities for each other.” She calls this “the multiplier effect.”
She says the multiplication of success comes from “collaboration not competition” and “working together to help each other,” which are concepts that are at the heart of what she is creating at Luminary. She has created offers like in-house “office hours” with female leaders across industries, leadership development programming with resident experts morning, afternoon, and night, space to actually get work done, and a digital billboard featuring checked-in members to foster community and connections. Luzio believes in connecting women to raise each other up. She also wants to give her members a way to care of their “whole self” and in the space has created a beauty bar and wellness studio with classes to get self-care and health into your day without giving up too much time.
She believes not only in helping the female Founders and entrepreneurs, but also the corporate woman who people are not focusing on within the coworking industry or in the media. She recalls, “I was in corporate America thinking,what are we doing for the 90 plus percent of the workforce that isn’t necessarily becoming an entrepreneur or a freelancer. I wanted to help both the entrepreneurs and the ‘9-to-5’er’s’ on a grander scale.” Thus, she is opening the model up to leverage career development programming and opportunities at Luminary. Rather than corporations creating women’s initiatives internally, she wants to complement those initiatives and have organizations tap into the ecosystem that is already created. She says, “For the companies that buy a membership they can say to their staff: ‘We heard you. We know you want more. And even though we have limited resources and infrastructure, you now can go to Luminary.’ It becomes an innovative way to invest in women.” For the majority of companies who have women’s groups that are trying to do this on top of their full-time jobs, Luminary is making it easier for them.
In addition to opening up the model to organizations and individuals, she also created the first ever “sister-club” reciprocal membership with The Coven in Minneapolis, a female co-working space focused on collaboration. Offering Luminary members who are traveling to Minneapolis space at The Coven and vice versa for The Coven members at Luminary in NYC. The relationship with the Coven was wholeheartedly supportive, introducing each other to connections, sharing ideas and creating the opportunity to expand their membership into different cities. Luzio recalls how special the support and collaboration was versus the more commonplace fearful competition and how the “multiplier effect” can truly be used to help women at scale.
The idea of inclusion is important to Luzio. In addition to creating a women-only space upstairs, Luminary opens the space up to men on the bottom floor for events and other meeting rooms. “We have to bring men along on the journey. They have to have a seat at the table…We talk so much about moving the numbers. If they don’t support it, we are never going to see the move. Look at the number of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, there’s a reason there are only a few women” She also recalls how important male mentors were to her and how positive a force men have played within her career and life, without which she would not be where she is today. An inclusive space to her is an important part of scaling success.
She hopes that through the space, she can turn other women into luminaries. Luminary in the Merriam-Webster dictionary means “a person of prominence or brilliant achievement.” The multiplication of female luminaries seems like a good thing for our culture to invest in.
The space opens in November and those interested can sign up on here.