Graydon: Hey it’s Graydon, and welcome back to our IGTV stories - it’s been a couple of weeks! There’s been a lot going on at Graydon HQ, which you will find out about soon! Lots of great new products coming up. I have two really great, bad-ass women with a bad-ass company, and it’s quite a name. I’m going to let Kailah and Marijke talk a little bit more about SYZYGY and their definition of opposites, women empowerment, and community.
Marijke: Thanks for having us, we are so excited to be here and chat with you!
Kailah: For context, Marijke and I have been friends for quite a bit of years, we’ve been roommates and former colleagues, so quite a bit of connection. The idea of SYZYGY emerged out of our conversations about our desire for community, and spaces where women can be themselves and find mentorship and support. The specific idea for SYZYGY started on a train ride we were on to go to a business trip in Ottawa.
G: What was the business or company you were previously with?
M: We were working and I am still working with, We. I’m from BC, and moved to Toronto about 6 years ago. One of my first train rides ever, and they made me feel pensive and it was so thought-provoking. So I was sitting on the train, looking at the beautiful Ontario landscape, and I had this idea. I ran to the back of the train and was like, ‘Kailah are you free? I need to chat with you!’. I was like, let’s not just talk about community and support and mentorship, let’s do something. On that train ride, we spent the rest of the ride chatting with each other, and brainstorming so many different ideas. We finally landed on SYZYGY.
G: Which means?
K: A union of opposites! As soon as we saw that definition, we were like that’s it. It’s really born out of the idea that there isn’t this single story of the female experience, and so much of society, branding, culture tries to paint it that way. We knew that if we were going to do this, it needs to be intersectional, it needs to be diverse, and women need to know they can come to an event that they can bring their whole self there and embrace the facets of who they are. Together, we form this beautiful union of opposites. So that’s really the foundation of out events and everything.
G: Just random comment, I just it’s so interesting because for a long time, women have been their own little island without support. But before that, there was a lot of community around women. I think modern society has isolated us. I think it’s funny how sometimes in skincare which is obviously my passion, it’s often the tried and true ingredients that our grandmothers or even before that used to use are coming back to our staples. Can you give me an idea of some of the events that you run?
M: Yeah, for sure.
K: And just touching on what you just said, we’re actually a phone-free space, completely offline.
G: Like in the good old days! [laughs]
K: Exactly! In these vibrant, tech savvy cities, we are lacking that human-to-human connection, so as soon as you enter the SYZYGY space, it is a phone-free zone. We’re all sort of dealing with the same awkwardness of dealing without our safety net, which is our device, and then you have to talk and someone has to make eye contact with you. After a few minutes you realize it’s okay, and that you feeling like, ‘oh I’ve missed this’.
M: We host relatively seasonal gatherings. They’re really unique, curated experiences.
G: So like once a quarter?
M: Yeah, once a quarter, but it fluctuates a little bit. Every event is really unique, and we want to offer a unique experience every time, which really aligns with attracting unique and diverse women to the experience. We want to match that. So we’ve done events about self care and wellness, where women had the opportunity to unpack what self care looks like in the hustle of a young professional, and what the means to you. I know [Graydon] you are very passionate about that. We’ve also done an event about identity, and this amazing zine workshop. We actually also do corporate workshops as well.
K: That’s been an interesting transition of us, going from these super individual spaces just for women, to entering corporate environments, which are also craving connection and spaces for real, open dialogue. We had coworkers sharing their real thoughts about if they feel included in the workplace, do they feel left out, and what are the steps they can take as colleagues to create a more welcome environment. That’s a new exciting territory for us, as people who have worked in corporate environments before.
G: Are the events in a different venue each time?
M: Yeah, it’s a different experience and different venue. And we work really hard with our venues, and every aspect of the event, to work with women-led businesses or women-women-driven businesses to support the female economy.
G: So what would be your dream event?
M: That’s a tough question! I often talk about my interest, maybe next Valentine’s Day, unpacking sexuality from the context and lens of the female perspective. How sexuality is portrayed, how that impacts your perception of yourself, and how we interact with each other - a pretty broad topic. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to engage with it in a meaningful, safe, and productive way for women to share and learn from each other. Sexuality is such an interesting and complicated, and even controlled thing. That’s my dream event.
G: What a nice way to spend Valentine’s Day too. That’s one of the holidays can be a little irritating.
K: It’s funny, we were told by someone who has come to our events that she wanted to have her bachelorette party at a SYZYGY event, as sort of this “woke” version of a bachelorette party!
G: Such a good idea! So how do people find out about you?
M: We are online at syzygytoronto.com
G: Again, such an interesting name!
K: Yeah, when we found it, we were like ‘this is it’. It’s also a celestial term for when the sun and the moon are in conjunction. So it has multiple meanings.
G: I like that, I am so interested in moon energies these days. That’s amazing. When is your next event coming up?
M: End of May! We are partnering with Kenzie Brenna, an incredible actress, activist, body-love guru who is really changing the space. This event is called, “Offline With”, so Kenzie among many things is an influencer online, but cares about many things. So we wanted to take the dialogue she’s having online, and taking it to an in-person space to then unpack the themes she talks about.
G: Are they still tickets left? Is it through Eventbrite?
M: Yes! We haven’t released it yet, but we usually sell out quickly. There’s about 40 tickets, so we keep the gatherings pretty intimate because it’s all about dialogue and connection.
K: We try to make them as fun as possible, with snacks and drinks and an all-all-female playlist, so you can kick back and relax before we get into the dialogue.
G: Something that is relevant to me is age. What age groups do you find gravitate towards the events?
M: We do see the young professional realm, but we have had women in their 50s and 60s love our event. Our moms have come to!
G: That might be a neat Mother’s Day gift, besides Graydon Skincare products!
M: [laughs] Definitely!
G: Well I might have to come! Thank you for joining us today! Make sure to keep us with these bad-ass women. What is your instagram handle so people can find you?
K: We are @syzygy.to