Check out this interview:

Name, Age, Location

Age: We both JUST turned 30 – yikes!!

Location: Toronto & NYC

Okay, first off can we get a little background info on the both of you?  Some childhood stories, don’t leave out a funny story or two, and please toss in how you both met.

Amanda: I grew up in the country so to visit friends and have playdates was a big ordeal as everything had to be coordinated well in advance according to pick-ups and drop offs.  For a social being like myself this was a challenge.  I didn’t know what I had been missing until we moved into town!

According to my parents, it is really no surprise that I co-founded a social club.  I remember coordinating intricate social gatherings from a young age (tea parties, dress-up afternoons, themed pool parties and lots of air bands and dance-offs).

Ash and I met in Bangkok, of all places.  We were both traveling after college with friends and one of my travel companions was an old childhood friend of Ashleigh’s.  We literally met our first day in Bangkok sitting by the pool at the D&D.  Kismet?  I think so!  We went on to travel through Laos together and were roommates when we returned home from South East Asia.  Since then we have conquered many cities and countries together!!

Ashleigh: I grew up in a small town 2 hours west of Toronto.  It’s an area known for skiing, windsurfing, golf or any other outdoor type of activity.  My mom is a patron of the arts and my father is an athlete so as a child.  I was immersed in both types activities ie: Basketball and then piano.  Ski racing and then ballet.

My entrepreneurial spirit was very alive as a young girl.  I used to make jewelry to sell to the neighbors and was a regular fixture at the end of our street with a lemonade stand.  As my mom says….creating my own career path was written in the stars!

Before The Society what were you both doing?

Amanda: After graduating I worked in the Advertising World at a couple different Agencies.  After realizing this career path wasn’t quite for me I transitioned into the non-for profit sector and worked for a boutique breast cancer charity called Rethink Breast Cancer (www.rethinkbreastcancer.com).

Ashleigh: Since University, I moved around in a few positions between fashion and the corporate world.  All were focused in the events, marketing and sponsorship fields.  My last role before stepping out to pursue The Society full time was with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

What sparked the first talk or mention or concept of The Society and how did you all know or see it as more than just a good idea but maybe could be looked at later in life then something that needed to happen now?

Ashleigh & Amanda: To be honest, we conceived the idea because we were socially bored in our city (Toronto).  We both felt a strong desire to reconnect with the arts and culture.  Culture was such an important part of our upbringings – travel, museums, the ballet, literature.  But post university having ended up in Toronto working and playing, culturally rich experiences were not on the top list of priorities for a 20-something.  Going out to bars definitely topped our list of things to do and it was getting old.

The two of us had a different idea about how we wanted to engage in culture.  We both loved the study of language, but doing it in a church basement didn’t really appeal to us.  Instead we wanted to learn conversational Spanish that we could use when traveling, and host our evenings at an intimate tapas bar over wine and good food!  We started engineering these small “Cultural Encounters” for our friends, and as time went by, we noticed that our events were no longer being attended strictly by our circle of friends, but by our friends-friends, and their friends.  On the flip side, it became apparent that the audience we were connecting with a savvy group of young urbanites who were totally disenfranchised and jaded by traditional forms of media and advertising.

The Society business model developed from an opportunity to target our members (we hate to use this word, but social ring leaders and trend setters)  in a way that is subtle, relevant and effective.  We don’t respond to big logos and banners at events – our brand of marketing is much more subtle and layered.  We strive to provide unique experiences for our members that they would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.  With the help of our corporate sponsors, we are able to keep these experiences affordable (our mission is to make culture a relevant and affordable luxury) and to connect their brand with our members in a very unique and at times, off-hand way.  If we are doing our job right, you will never know whether the beer/wine/cocktails you drink at our events is chosen based on our personal tastes, or because they are a corporate sponsor.

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