Editor’s note: Startland News is showcasing five Kansas City changemakers from five local organizations through its second annual Community Builders to Watch series. The following highlights one of the 2022 honorees, selected from more than 100 initial nominees. Click here to view the full list of Community Builders to Watch — presented by Engenious Design.
Firebrand Collective is more than a coworking space, said founder Megan Adams; it is a community for women in Kansas City to inspire one another, collaborate and bust up the echo chamber. While Firebrand Collective is proudly women-powered, it is intended to be a “hub for she’s/they’s/he’s elevating personally and professionally,” Adams said.
Click here to read more about Firebrand Collective.
Watch the video below, then keep reading to learn about the future Adams envisions for Kansas City and how she’s not going to do it alone.
QUESTION: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
ANSWER: I was raised in Central Illinois and went to the University of Florida in Gainesville. I never imagined I would live in Kansas City, but I ended up here and fell in love with it. The vibe is so relaxed, but it doesn’t feel like a small town.
I was never one of those people who knew what they wanted to do from an early age. I dropped out of college three times. For a long time, I just flowed through life and let it happen to me. That was until I started Firebrand Collective, and it changed my life forever.
Firebrand Collective was the first thing I’ve ever done that really holds me accountable. Everything else was just one project and done. Now I feel a responsibility to show up, be there and actually embody these ideals that I hold dear. Firebrand Collective was the vehicle that allowed me to grow up.
Community Builders to Watch honorees will be celebrated June 15 at a Startland News reception and networking event, presented in partnership with Cyderes, C2FO, KC BizCare, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Profile videos from the Community Builders to Watch will be shown on screen at the KC Live! stage at Power & Light’s Live Block, along with a special concert featuring the Black Creatures.
Click here for event details.
Q: When did you first realize your work was building community in Kansas City?
A: When I opened in the West Bottoms, one of my mentors in the coworking space told me that I was going about marketing Firebrand Collective all wrong. She told me the really important thing about what I was doing was not offering coworking — it was offering community. That was such a lightbulb moment. It took me a long time to really embrace it. But we came out much more focused on building that community mindfully and allowing our members to take leading roles.
Especially coming out of the pandemic, it was very important for us to show up as a community space — facilitating people coming together and offering events to connect. All of our events are focused on “networking with integrity” which means getting to know people beyond their business card. It’s talking about social issues, helping one another overcome mind blocks and supporting each other in our endeavors and supporting each other in our endeavors.
Click here to read about how Megan Adams’ rose above sexism in the workplace by becoming her own boss.
Q: What is your hope for Kansas City’s tomorrow?
A: The strongest hope I have for Kansas City and our future is that we continue to have this open dialogue. We’re very blessed to have strong personalities and strong community leaders who aren’t afraid to take a platform and use it; and the community here in Kansas City is receptive. I’m not saying we don’t have our weak spots, but I’ve seen amazing things happen because the community is receptive and because we are interested in continuing these conversations. My hope is that it continues, and it just grows stronger.
Q: How can the community get involved with and support your work?
A: You should become a member! But more than anything, I think the biggest part of supporting Firebrand Collective is being part of the community. This isn’t just for people who need a coworking space. This is for people who have to be part of the conversation surrounding specifically women’s rights and equity. Diversity is huge.
Also if you have ideas, send them to us. We want to facilitate conversations surrounding new ideas that are going to better the community around us. New ideas and hopes give us the opportunity to connect, and that’s what people really want. It helps us build that future we just talked about.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be?
A: This is actually something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I want my legacy to be one of a connector and an ecosystem builder. I’ve always said that within Firebrand, I am not the star of this show. The star of the show is our members. It’s the community that we’re building and the things we are accomplishing together.
I’m not building this legacy on my own. It’s a legacy of connection. It’s a legacy of community. That’s what I want to leave behind, and I want it to continue to impact people long after I’m gone.
WHAT WE DO
Engenious Design is a creative engineering firm that creates medical devices and high technology systems for our clients.
WHO WE ARE
We are designers, makers, engineers who create new things that make the world a better place. Our team includes Electrical, Embedded Software, Mechanical and Test Engineers, Industrial Designers, Project Managers, Product Managers and others.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Our team is guided by these four cultural aspirations:
Relate: We invest in healthy relationships with our team, clients, suppliers, partners, and our community
Create: We create new products that improve lives
Produce: We work quickly to get what’s important done
Improve: We have healthy unrest with the status quo, and we take responsibility to make things better