A startup based in Vermont’s Lamoille County aims to create flexible work opportunities for women.
“This is what we wished we had had when our kids were younger,” said Lee Genung of Stowe, one of the founders of ModernDay Village.
The startup gives a platform to professionals running the gamut from graphic designers to document editors to experts who can help you put together menus for at-home meals.
“One of the best features of our website is the diversity of talent,” said Kerry Glanz, who co-founded ModernDay Village in Stowe with Genung.
Anyone with a U.S. bank account can join the village, including men, the founders said, but their new company is focusing first on messaging that attracts women to the site.
Genung and Glanz said they believe many women, including moms, could really use more opportunities for project-based remote work — especially those who stepped back a bit from careers to focus on family.
A recent report from the Vermont Joint Fiscal Office showed as of last fall, a disproportionate number of women in the state became unemployed during the pandemic.
The report said in mid-November, roughly 73% of Vermont recipients of unemployment insurance at the time were women. That was more than 20 percentage points higher than the national share, the report noted.
A subsequent report included several explanations for the disparity. Vermont women might have left the workforce in greater numbers than men to care for children or loved ones during the pandemic, the document indicated. It also suggested the women’s jobs were perhaps less conducive to working from home.
The founders of ModernDay Village said they are mindful of that situation, and others like it elsewhere, as they seek to build their community to provide opportunities for remote work.
“This is a site that is needed,” Glanz said in an interview with NECN Friday. “These opportunities have been lacking for women to engage in their passions and to engage in their past professional lives that they’re been missing.”
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“You want this mental stimulation, you don’t just always want to be this ‘mom Uber driver,’” Genung added, describing what she said many moms feel after stepping back from careers to raise children.
The website emphasizes flexibility, allowing job-seekers to set parameters on what types of work they are looking for.
The coronavirus pandemic quickly put Cory Kahaney’s career, as she knew it, on pause.
She’s a standup comedian based in New York who had a busy schedule of gigs on cruise ships.
When the ships stopped sailing, Kahaney pivoted to hosting virtual team-building sessions for corporations that moved their offices online.
She is using ModernDay Village to promote her new business to prospective clients.
“I work with this other comedian, and we get to the laugh really quickly, because we’re amazing, and everyone starts bonding right away,” Kahaney said of her virtual team-building workshops. “It’s like you had the best coffee break of your life.”
Vermont resident Sandy Huber hired a wellness advisor through ModernDay Village.
“It exceeded what I expected, to be honest with you,” Huber told NECN. “And I will take additional classes from that woman, as well.”
Huber added that she was pleased with features of the site that left her feeling more connected to the people offering their services than she expected to feel.
Glanz and Genung explained it is free to sign up for the site, though the portal charges a fee once a work relationship materializes. It also makes reviews available to help guide hiring choices.
The businesswomen acknowledged there are a lot of apps and sites on which people can sell their services in the gig economy. However, the pair said they believe their take is fresh because it’s also building an online community where users can swap ideas and support each other.
“We feel this would’ve helped us,” Genung said, referring to when she was spending time at home when her children were younger but still had a desire to work on professional projects. “So that’s part of why it’s so important to us.”
Comedian Cory Kahaney said she hopes ModernDay Village gives her another stage where she can market herself for this new era of remote work.