Rise’s Radical Renegade is a monthly series featuring interviews with trailblazing career mavens. Meet Emily Merrell, Founder of Six Degrees Society, a platform dedicated to providing an integrative approach to networking — focused on women and their personal, professional, and lifestyle development.  While working in the fashion industry, Emily dreamt up a place where individuals could come together from all industries, all backgrounds and show up who they are – unapologetically. Nothing makes her happier than connecting people who could mutually make each other’s lives more enjoyable.

Why did you start your company?

After years of working in the fashion industry I was sick and tired of meeting the same type of person at every event. I had three problems I wanted to solve. I wanted to meet: new friends and individuals who pushed me to think bigger. I wanted to keep learning and experiencing new things without breaking the bank, (did a cheese tasting really need to cost $85?) I wanted to figure out my next step in my career and wanted to meet women from other industries. Maybe I was a coder this whole time? Six Degrees Society started as a side hustle and morphed into a full-time hustle. We’re 100% built by community.

What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned along the way?

One of my biggest lessons that while I started Six Degrees Society as a side hustle and never saw it as a bigger thing that it’s important to listen to your community. Thanks to listening to them I was able to turn a side hustle into a business.

Tell us about a setback you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

The pandemic came at a time when my business had been doing so well. I was devastated by the change to my business, while we host IRL events I had to pivot my entire business virtual. I lost members, people were disappointed that we weren’t hosting IRL despite stay at home orders from the government. While it took a few months for my business to get to the level I was at pre-pandemic. The pandemic was a huge lesson in slowing down, focusing and working smarter and more efficiently. I look forward to the new offerings that came out of the pandemic and the new reach I was able to have thanks to the digital offering.

What advice do you have for women who feel stuck in their careers?

Try building something on the side, find a company to volunteer at to learn a new skill and find a way to broaden your network and tool box.

We all know how difficult work/life balance is, how do you draw the line to create separation in these two spheres?

Utilize your calendar to create boundaries within your life. Block your time, schedule your plans in advance and create personal space in your day for you.