Zhazha Casanova is an Afro-Latina woman who is all about girl power. The 32-year-old is a full-time mom who was determined to achieve her entrepreneurial goals and help other women do the same. In May of 2017, she started Studio G, a business lounge for women in Chicago. With just a couple hundred dollars and her faith, the business owner created this space for women to be able to come to a place with like-minded women and get stuff done. Studio G has been using its space for events but starting April 9, the co-working space will be open to members.
Casanova spoke with rolling out about following her dreams in business and empowering other women to do the same.
What is Studio G and what inspired you to create it?
Studio G is a business lounge for women. It is a place just for women to come, collaborate, share resources, learn a new skill, teach a workshop, make money and have fun. I created Studio G because, honestly, I needed this. I’m a mother, so I needed a place away from home that I could actually get work done without distractions. We want to see women win, make money, and accomplish everything they set their mind to. We are 100 percent committed to making that happen.
Define the innovation methods you apply to your business and life.
I’m all for finding the need. I look to see what is lacking to take women to the next level. I got on Instagram, and I read comments, I search the web, I listen and I connect the dots. When I hear women complaining about something in her entrepreneurial journey I say, “Ok Zha, if she needs this so do plenty of other women. How can we bring that to Studio G?” Then I bring it.
Who do you consider your peers in your field? How have they supported you? What best practices have they shared?
Chicago is a very weird city when it comes to support. You would think that being a woman who started a space just for women that I would get tons of support from these “women empowerment” groups across the city. I haven’t. Chicago is very cliquey and I’ve never been the cliquey type, so maybe that’s part of it. I’m at a point that I’m only celebrating the people who support Studio G. I’m sure the others will come around when they are ready to take all of this awesomeness.
What are your thoughts on Collaboration over Competition?
I love collaboration. There’s something magical that happens when two people put their ideas together and create something amazing.
Name your favorite role models for success?
Oprah and Cardi B. Yes, Cardi B showed me that you can be authentically you and still win. She showed me that your past does not reflect my future and that when it’s your time it’s your time. I feel like people can take a lot away from her story. Oprah is everything. Her transitions into different roles let me know that I can be gifted with more than one thing and it is ok. She is such a motivational person. I’m determined to bring her to Studio G one day.
Name your favorite role models for success in two different industries?
Oprah and Cardi B. Yes, Cardi B, she showed me that my past doesn’t reflect my future and when it’s your time. I feel like people can take a lot away from her story. Oprah is everything. Her transitions into different roles, let me know that I can be gifted with more than one thing and that is fine. She is such a motivational person and I’m determined to bring her to Studio G one day.
Name three books that changed your outlook on life and that recommend to others?
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Soulja, Actually, It Is Your Parents’ Faults by Phillip Van Munching, and Why You’re Stuck by Derek Doepker. Each one of these books has shaped my life in many ways. I suggest them to everyone.
Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you?
It means knowing that the women that join Studio G are becoming the women they strived to be. It is being able to provide the right resourced to help women achieve their dreams and creating a community of women that want to see each other win.
What role does technology play in your daily life?
Technology is a major! I use my phone and computer every second of the day. I want Studio G to get more into the tech side of life because it’s new things coming out every day that can honestly help our business in major ways.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Support. People have no idea how important supporting someone is. I don’t just mean in entrepreneurship, I mean as a friend, a family, a stranger. Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed with life that knowing someone is there supporting us through these trying times is life-changing. A lot of us lose sight of things that can change our lives because we don’t have a good support system. If you believe in someone, whether you know them or not, support them.
See pictures below.