“Hi my name is Bethany, recent college graduate, relatively clueless about what on earth I’m doing and living the retail dream at Anthropologie.”
-Bethany Edwards, Founder of Flourish Supper Club
When I was first developing the NashNeighbors concept, I was really really hoping I would find a group of people in Nashville who set aside intentional time to build community and dive deeper into relationships with one another. This is something my household is doing, but what I wanted to find was a second, unrelated group. A group to prove that these community dinners are worth doing, worth sharing, worth attending. WELL, ladies and gents, I am pleased to announce that I found Flourish Supper Club! Yes! I stumbled upon an Instagram post from a girl I went to high school with who had attended the very event that I knew had to exist! Lo-and-behold, there IS another group working toward this goal of intentional community. And, I was lucky enough to ask its founder, Bethany Edwards, a few questions about how it got started and what it means to her.
Q&A with Bethany
NN: What gave you the idea to start Flourish?
BE: The idea for Flourish started once I returned home from a four-month study abroad trip to India. I can hardly explain the amount of change I went through during that time and basically came back a different person which is still overwhelming to me at times when I look back on it. In the past I would’ve looked for things like Flourish to be a part of, but would never have assumed I could start something like this on my own. Basically I said to myself, “You are capable and gifted because of Jesus and you can do this.” I’m sure I had a little pep talk in the mirror with myself as most of us do from time to time.
Social media is a great tool and allowed me to get a feel for people’s interest level, and once I felt like this was something other women would want to be a part of, I just went for it head first! I’m still pretty unsure of my future career plans, but while I was in India I finally admitted to myself that the direction I was going was not one that really got me excited and would be fulfilling for the rest of my life. When graduation is within your reach and you realize you aren’t going to use your degree the way you thought, you freak out a little bit. And your parents do, too. But having Flourish has been such an awesome experience for me so far, as I hope it has been for those involved, and having a space to experiment creatively has been exactly what I’ve needed as I try and figure out what’s next.
Flourish is another creative outlet for me and a time for me to see if design and styling is something I could or would want to do long term.
As we get older, friends are getting married and getting full time jobs, and it becomes more challenging to find time to spend together. Flourish is that intentional time set aside each month to learn about what is going on in each other’s lives on a deeper level and also a time to make new connections and friendships. Also, women are just incredible, am I right? So I say, Why not celebrate ourselves and other women? Popular culture doesn’t set us up for building each other up, but rather finding ways to tear each other down as a means to feel better about ourselves. I, for one, don’t want to be a part of that. We can be catalysts for positive change and be women who love each other well.
NN: How many dinners have you done? How did they go?
BE: We’ve had five dinners so far; four in Nashville and one in Salem, Oregon. They’ve been INCREDIBLE. It makes my heart so happy to be doing this and provide a space for others girls in the same life boat to find connection, belonging and new friendships. The number of girls has varied each time, but it’s usually around nine to ten. My grandmother is the most darling human being I know and lets me host the dinners at her home. While it was still warm outside, we were able to have dinner outside (which will always be my favorite), but now that it’s getting chilly we’ve just moved it inside to the dining room. Her home is so cozy and welcoming that I honestly can’t imagine a better place. I’m not sure where we’ll go as the group grows but we will figure that out when the time comes!
NN: Where do you get the resources for the dinners?
BE: For the first couple dinners, I and my best friend Emily, took care of all the food, but quickly found that to be a little overwhelming and unkind to our bank accounts. I love hosting and entertaining, and the two of us love to cook, but there is only so much a couple of recent college graduates can do. I’m lucky enough to have a family full of dishware-addicts so I have no shortage of pretty plates and glasses to use for dinner, but it would make me happy to be able to grow my collection to create even better tablescapes. When it comes to food though, we’ve decided to make Flourish Supper Club potluck style so that 1.) We can enjoy the night even more because we aren’t busy cooking all day and using up all of our paychecks, and 2.) Because I think it makes others feel like they are even more so a part of something. Committing to bringing food makes for a more special feel to the evening, I think. Flourish Supper Club is not just for me, it’s for everyone.
I would love to partner with some local companies though! I think that further illustrates the desire of bringing this community together and making even more connections, plus as someone just starting out in this area, it would be a major help to be provided with better resources from those who are doing well in their field. Partnerships are typically about marketing and advertising, and since we’re still pretty small, I haven’t felt as confident about reaching out, but I have definitely considered the idea.
NN: Are the dinners open invitations, do you have to register or RSVP or is it mostly a closed group?
BE: Open open open! No closed group here. Obviously the group is for women, as we’re here to celebrate each other and learn from those walking in similar and sometimes not-so-similar walks of life, but any little lady that wants to come is welcome! I usually post a few things on Instagram leading up to the next dinner and send out a couple group texts to those girls I know are planning on coming. If anyone ever reaches out to me on Instagram or through a mutual friend, I make sure to get in contact with them so they can get in on the details of the night. I try to get a solid count at least two days before, but sometime that doesn’t always happen. I like to keep things laid back so it works for me.
NN: Do you have any stories or specific examples of new relationships formed as a result?
BE: Absolutely! This has been the most incredible part about it and what excites me the most. Last month a friend of a friend, whom I’d never met, reached out to me about wanting to come- which of course I was thrilled about. We just messaged back and forth on Instagram, and a couple weeks later there she was at the door with a bottle of wine! She was so kind and lovely, and now the whole group has a new friend. A decent amount of us are either Trevecca students or recent graduates from Trevecca, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone knows each other. It was awesome for me to see two of my close friends who never really connected while in school make plans for a dog park friend date. It makes me so happy to see friends of mine connect.
NN: Where do you hope to see Flourish go? Do you have long term plans with it?
BE: Wow, where do I see it going? I mean anything is possible right? I definitely plan on keeping this going long term even if I never have more than ten girls come. It’s been such a special thing for me to host and has been incredibly fulfilling.
So, there you have it folks. Doesn’t Flourish sound amazing? I cannot wait to attend one, myself. What do you think? Would you go to these awesome dinners, or maybe even start your own group of friends who commit to diving a little deeper over a nice meal? Let me know in the comments or tag me in your community dinner posts!
Give Flourish a follow on Instagram, and bring your pretty self to dinner!