I was 27 when I started Shedoesthecity and I’m now on the cusp of 44. A lot has happened in that time span: ups and downs, sweeping changes, and tremendous growth (for both the site and my own personal life). After 16 years, and a whopping 18,529 stories, I’m ready for a new chapter. So yes, this is a goodbye letter, but it’s also an exciting teaser of what’s to come…
But before we get to the future, let’s rewind. Shedoesthecity launched in 2007, a decade before the #MeToo movement took off, when the word “blog” was still unknown to many. Influencers were not yet a thing, nor were Instagram or TikTok. It was a different time. We were a group of young women who wanted creative freedom. We wanted to engage with other women in a way that felt honest and real, not polished or pretty. In a west-end backyard, over cigarettes and too much wine (many of us are sober now), we dreamed up our first tagline: Every day should be an adventure. Truly, every day has been.
To spread the word, we printed up 5,000 Shedoesthecity magnets, and put them everywhere. One guy ended up with 40 or so on the front of his car. He was mad. That was our first big mistake. We hosted a party at The Social on Queen Street (which closed in 2008). It was Toronto’s epicentre of indie sleaze, and a fitting spot to announce our arrival; for the first few years, debauchery was very much our vibe, until it landed us in trouble (the body can only take so much).
Indeed, running Shedoesthecity has been a wild ride, providing me with a fun and fulfilling life that has connected me with thousands of remarkable women, including hundreds of passionate contributors who’ve been integral to the site’s success and gone on to do incredible things (I’m in constant awe). Shedoesthecity has also allowed me to participate in countless cool and enriching experiences, and led me to countless discoveries, but managing the site, as well as the social media channels, has also been nonstop. To be honest with you, I’m in need of a wee break from the digital space. While I’m stepping down and switching gears, I’m happy to share that Shedoesthecity will live on, under the loving leadership of Andréa Grau and her dedicated team at Touchwood PR.
When Touchwood reached out in 2020, asking if I’d be interested in moving under their roof, it was an easy decision. I’ve always looked up to Andréa, who is a leader in the Canadian arts scene; in fact, the Globe and Mail named her as one of the 22 most influential people in Canadian film. When Shedoesthecity was acquired by Touchwood in early 2021, the pandemic was raging and the arts were in peril. Like me, Andréa wanted to support a resurgence, so coming together made a lot of sense. More so, Touchwood and Shedoesthecity have always shared similar values, especially when it comes to amplifying women’s voices, and understanding the power of creativity, imagination, storytelling, and speaking one’s truth.
Given Touchwood’s expertise, Shedoesthecity will continue to explore the themes that we’ve always explored, themes that have always mattered to us (mental health, recovery, representation, feminism, sex, motherhood), but through the lens of books, film, series, and art. I can’t tell you how much it fills my heart to know that the site will move forward with a steadfast mission to celebrate and support women, trans, and non-binary creators and storytellers, while also continuing to nurture a community of arts lovers.
To leave at this exciting moment, with such a clear vision and defined purpose, is not an easy choice, but I know in my gut that I’m ready for a change. They say that a second life happens when you realize you only have one, and I want to step out of my comfort zone and see what paths emerge when I carve out time and space for other possibilities. I’m curious to discover who I am without Shedoesthecity… We’ve intertwined over the years, and I’m feeling a need to find out who I am without her.
People often ask me why I started Shedoesthecity. There are many reasons, but at the root, I believe Shedoesthecity was born out of a feeling of frustration. As a young woman, I found it very difficult to be taken seriously, to have my voice heard. Before launching Shedoesthecity, I had worked in male-dominated industries, including workplaces where sexual harassment was commonplace and power was regularly abused. I saw the potential that the internet yielded, but creating Shedoesthecity was also about creating a safe space to experiment with my voice, and invite other women do the same.
Between the recent rise in anti-2SLGTBQIA+ rhetoric, the rollback of women’s rights, and the era of AI very much upon us, a platform to amplify a diverse range of human voices and champion the arts is urgently needed right now. While not involved in the day-to-day operations, I’ll remain an advisor and cheerleader from afar and will likely contribute the odd piece, as I’ll never tire of interviewing fascinating people. I also look forward to becoming a regular Shedoesthecity reader and follower, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting and listening to the next generation of writers, photographers and caring and concerned citizens with a strong opinion and something important to say.
Last, but definitely not least, I want to thank YOU for being here! THANK YOU. When I started Shedoesthecity, my projected timeline was 5 years—tops. The reason we’re still alive, in this chaotic and incredibly challenging online space, is because of you and your unwavering support. Some of you have been here since the very beginning. You’ve grown up with us. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I see you, I feel you, and I’m so very thankful.