Meagan Ayres-Elieff & Meghan Fialkoff, Founders of Modern Day Wife
When Meagan Ayres-Elieff came across the idea of building a Women´s network in 2018, her plan was originally to build a lifestyle brand with a focus on all the interests she had as a person and career woman. She wanted to build a community for modern women who are looking to thrive in all areas of life and be together with power players who were doing all these really incredible things. She says, it wasn’t like self-help, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but she wanted a positive co-ed community event full of fun, where people would dress up, have a really great time, and create beautiful memories and friendships!
Meagan fell in love with connecting with other business owners in her previous career as a Retail Buyer working for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. She’s always been a go-getter and when she came across a project at the hotel where she was working at the time – they were looking for someone with retail experience to create a small specialty store at the bottom of a hotel, she took on the job and made it her own. The plan was to offer fresh vegetables, food, and amazing olive oils in the form of a specialty store to the residents of the hotel. This concept didn’t take off as intended so Meagan suggested turning the store into a high-end gift shop. She volunteered her help; and ended up being the Manager and Retail Buyer of this gift shop that produced over $750,000 in revenue. As part of her job, she got to travel the North America and visit incredible trade shows, and source different products for this high-end gift shop she created from the ground up with fellow teammates.
On the side, and to follow her own passions, Meagan founded a women’s networking group where she planned to combine her retail expertise with her personal need for a community with like-minded people. The idea of Modern Day Wife was born in 2018, and then, in 2019, the first event took place. First, she hosted an exclusive influencer brunch with 25 people. Based on her experience, there was one thing she knew: genuine connections and networking with key players would help her to extend the reach of the brand. Even though she curated sponsors on board for this event – it was not revenue generating at the end of the day, it was purely for promotion and expansion.
This event was followed by an official launch party in 2020 at an exclusive Woman’s Club in Vancouver, Canada.
When COVID hit, gears needed to be shifted and Meagan decided to do a digital event with Elena Cardone whom she connected with through her husband. Elena and her husband Grant Cardone are very successful entrepreneurs and Elena brought a lot of experience and knowledge to the table; she was just a perfect fit for Modern Day Wife to do an event with.
Back then, Elena had just launched a book called How to build an empire and Modern Day Wife ended up promoting the book with a spin on “How to have a great marriage” through this event which was fully a nonprofit event, raising proceeds for charity. This is where Meagan met Meghan Fialkoff, her current business partner as she ran the charity!
Meagan started Modern Day Wife by herself, thinking that she didn’t want help from anyone unless there would be someone who was the exact person she was looking for. It’s the whole dynamic that changes when someone else is coming in, and even though there might be common ground, this was about two characters working together and trying to find the same level. A business partnership is like a relationship, and finding the right person is crucial.
But there was one thing that helped Meagan to make the decision: It was a pitch deck Meghan Fialkoff had created; originally made for an audition when she was acting in Los Angeles. Surprisingly, it was reflecting pretty much 100% of what Meagan wanted to realize with Modern Day Wife. Seeing that both wanted the same, or pretty much similar things, was really helpful and gave them the feeling that they would follow the same purpose.
Meghan Fialkoff loved the mission of Modern Day Wife, and she wanted to be a part of it. Being 7 months pregnant at that time, she started to realize that her current career, where she ran a successful nonprofit with her father in New York, which also involved a lot of travel, and devoting time to her future family would most likely end up being very challenging. She would not be able to travel like she used to— and she actually had to accept it. She was about to be a mom and had to start getting serious about what that would really mean. Today she describes joining Modern Day Wife as one of the most solid decisions she´s ever made.
It’s actually quite magical that they met. Meghan had also been looking for someone like her for a very long time. Working with someone that was not only a good partner but also thinks big and worked at the same speed, as her father did, is what made her so successful. But then she moved to LA and she really couldn’t find that person out here — until Meagan showed up.
When she contacted her about donating to her charity, she didn’t think anything about it. But as she started to see behind the scenes, how she worked and how ambitious she was, she really started to admire her. So she set up a phone call, even though Meghan had a policy in place: she stuck mostly to emails and texts unless it was super important. She was just too busy. When both decided to work together, Meghan didn´t allow herself to second guess her decision. She was now seven months pregnant and she was committing herself to something. She knew she found who she had been looking for and just allowed herself to jump into it.
Credit: Jonathan Ramirez of ArchLenz Photography
Credit: Modern Day Wife
Meeting at that time was actually a blessing, even though both women didn’t actually meet in person for the first 6 months. COVID had just changed not only how businesses were operating but also how people would consume and attend events. As more people stayed home, not working and still getting paid, and started to take advantage of all these various things, the Modern Day Wife team was working harder. Meghan just had a baby, and was still working until 11 o’clock at night every night; she was so dedicated. They produced big event productions with digital pop-up shops featuring killer speakers like Rebecca Minkoff, Marisol Nichols from Riverdale, Erika Christiansen, Elena Cardone, and Haylie Duff, amongst others, every month for the rest of the year.
Whereas other big event companies and women’s groups had to shut down any and all in-person events, Modern Day Wife was able to operate without any limits, and the content never ended. In that one-year time period, Modern Day Wife went from start-up event community to almost up there playing on a level with the biggest women’s groups in the world.
They started to work with tons of publicists and celebrities, not shying away from asking for favors in the beginning. They knew how to navigate through their network and were lucky to pull some strings from friends to make those connections happen. Luckily, COVID made people, especially celebrities, more accessible. There were simply no events or other obligations that could interfere. But at the end of the day, it was the positive and uplifting concept that convinced them to come.
There is definitely a lot of value in connections and the power of a powerful network, and that exactly validates what Modern Day Wife does and stands for. Women should come to their events and join their membership because it’s invaluable. Sometimes, sponsoring or attending an event is not going to be dollar for dollar; there’s so much value in just being there and who you are going to meet.
Yes, in the beginning, they were able to use some personal connections to be able to pull off that first event, but eventually, when you ask people for favors, that list ends, and then it’s all about hustling and making those connections on your own. Today, it’s all based on the reputation they build. Modern Day Wife has been able to grow very steadily, and publicists trust them with their clients because they know that their clients are going to be taken care of.
Everything comes down to taking an opportunity when it comes to you. If the goal is to build more credibility, it’s important to collaborate with someone who has a big audience and will give access to an even bigger circle. It’s not just about elite celebrities, it’s about reaching a bigger audience in a pretty short amount of time. And the best case, they share whatever they’re doing with you which can turn into free promotion. Saying no to that would not be taking advantage of collaborative promotion!
Credit: Marilyn Wendt
Pulling off a concept like this is also a matter of financial stability and making ends meet. Both founders wanted to focus on Modern Day Wife full-time, but in order for it to fully support them financially, both had to make the decision to commit 100%. There wasn’t really another way around it. That’s also when they reached that major stepping stone and started making enough money to really be able to support themselves.
In order to be sustainable long term as a company, the goal here is to increase the number of paid members which also creates a consistent revenue stream. However, having multiple streams of income is crucial. A company has to offer more than one product so they don’t just do events, they offer a digital membership, content creation and their IT Box (a box featuring their favorite selection of products from brands they love). Then there is their current digital magazine that could be printed in the future and be used for selling advertising space.
With multiple flows of revenue they also gained that kind of inner freedom that not everything would be lost if something is not working out. And the opportunity to be prepared for things they wouldn´t be able to control, like COVID-19. It’s just smart to have more than one sector, the digital sector, that kind of keeps someone afloat when times get rough. Modern Day Wife is nowadays backed by a team of contractors – one of them has been there since the beginning and they couldn’t have thrived without her and an extensive Internship Program with two intakes of 8-12 interns every 6 months.
Looking forward to many considerable goals in the future, the two Founders would have not been able to do all this by themselves. The number of pitch emails that have to be send out for an event, the invitations, and administrative work like contracts, invoices, getting assets, deliverables, and all these various things to people, can be really overwhelming. At the end of the day, everybody wears his dedicated hat, even though there are certain shared functions, e.g. sales. And that’s really the only way to make it manageable. Then there is another very important thing: open communication. Being comfortable enough to say no to things and being respected and understood for that, is part of their really successful partnership.
Meagan and Meghan are dedicated to the future expansion of their company to reach a global level inspiring women all around the world that with support they truly an have it all.
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