Whyography of the Week: Amy Nelson, The Riveter

by Chris Olsen

Amy Nelson had just received disturbing news—the life-altering kind. She knew things would change when she got pregnant, and she had thought a lot about how. For more than a decade, she practiced corporate litigation in New York City and Seattle. She worked as a political fundraiser for President Obama’s National Finance Committee. By all accounts Amy had achieved professional success and she couldn’t imagine being anything other than an attorney. She certainly never imagined getting passed over for a promotion simply for being a mom. But that’s exactly what happened. Her boss didn’t think it was the “right time” for Amy to take on new responsibilities at work after returning from maternity leave. In that moment, she felt her growth trajectory in the legal world come to a screeching halt. And she was not OK with it.

After experiencing firsthand how corporate America often devalues mothers in the workforce, Amy decided she couldn’t stay in a system where she wouldn’t have the same opportunities to move up or earn an equal wage. She knew then that she’d start her own business. As she considered the options, her first idea was to open her own legal practice. But after giving it more thought, she felt driven to solve a problem much larger than her own reality. She wanted to build what she needed herself but also what she thought other women might need: a welcoming place to work, connect and collaborate; an inclusive community of entrepreneurs sharing similar values; and resources to ensure women have equal opportunities to succeed.

The Riveter was born from this idea in 2016. It’s a coworking space that is “built by women, for everyone,” because Amy and cofounder Kim Peltola recognize how important people of all genders are in creating the type of workplace women want and deserve. The Riveter is committed to keeping membership accessible, and its goal is to meet members wherever they’re at in their journey. Monthly memberships start at $20 and include everything from programming and events delivered by industry experts, to space and support for business owners to host meetings and manage day-to-day operations. Plus, The Riveter offers discounts on fitness, childcare, air travel and more.

When The Riveter first launched, Amy thought it would be just one location in Seattle. A friend challenged her to think bigger and she realized she could bring her vision to life on a national level. Since then, she and her team have worked to scale the business and bring The Riveter to communities beyond the East Coast and West Coast, particularly in the middle of the country where women entrepreneurs and small business owners not only exist but are thriving. Currently, there are 10 Riveter locations in seven cities. Before launching in any market, they do extensive outreach to business leaders, community groups, nonprofits—even nearby residents. They’re intentional about centering communities and committed to hiring local team members who know the people and essence of the city well. That means no two Riveters are alike.

Today, Amy’s career is more rewarding and challenging than she could ever have imagined. Her skills as an attorney come in handy when she is advocating for important issues on behalf of members. She recently embarked on a Listening Tour, visiting cities throughout the country to engage women in conversations about the obstacles they face in the workplace. The first-ever Riveter Summit on women building the future launches in New York this November. And on November 14, Amy will provide a keynote address to more than 300 people at Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Minnesota (WED MN) at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The theme of the event is innovation, a topic Amy embraces daily at The Riveter.

In all that she does, Amy is working to change the future of work for women. She envisions a future where her daughters will be paid equally to men for equal work and one where no one will ask how they “do it all.”

To learn more about Amy’s business, visit TheRiveter.co.

Photo: The Riveter

About the author: Chris Olsen is a broadcast media maven turned communications consultant and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant, Chris realized her WHY—to support womxn-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.


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