Manon DeFelice is a woman I admire. She has taken my mantra of women supporting women to the next level, opening up her recruiting company almost five years ago, catering to women requiring flexibility in the workplace. There are so many brilliant, talented women out there who held important positions at work but left after motherhood, and never felt empowered or encouraged enough to return to their previous employment because they wanted to be present for their new families. This is a challenge I see even with my own group of friends, who would love the opportunity to launch a company or assist in building a start-up, but feel it would take too much time away from their children. Manon created Inkwell with these women in mind, and helps place women in the work force who need to work remotely, or have a shortened work week. Flexibility is the foundation of her business, and she provides financial rewards to the clients who give referrals. Her business is what supporting women is all about, so if you are feeling the itch to get back in it, shoot her an email.
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
We have been in business since 2014.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
I noticed that many of my female friends, very high-achieving women, were deciding not to go back to work after having kids. I saw this as a brain-drain of rock-star talent. Yet they didn’t all want to go from 100 to 0. After my former boss had left the workforce to have kids, I had the opportunity to hire her for a different company working part-time. Our company was able to hire this very high-level professional at a more affordable rate in exchange for the flexibility she needed as a mom. This was an Aha Moment for me. I started Inkwell to meet the needs of my women friends and forward-thinking companies, with a recruiting model that emphasized flexibility.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
Our focus on flexibility sets us apart; we specialize in flexible executive placements and board placements that help companies diversify their leadership teams.
But what differentiates Inkwell even more is our revolutionary approach to executive search. We are bypassing the traditional recruiter and instead tapping into our highly engaged community of 4,000+ candidates. Our new bounty referral program—launching this month!—rewards people in our community up to a $10,000 bounty (commensurate with salary) for any referral they make that results in a successful hire. In other words, we are disrupting the traditional model and democratizing recruiting – gaining access to quality, first-degree referrals from our community’s vast networks. We don’t think there is any referral program quite like it, and our clients benefit enormously.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
We have authenticity and a personal, hands-on approach that many other firms lack. We also have a do-good mission, using the flex-work model to support not only working parents but also veterans, military spouses, people with disabilities, and other groups traditionally left out of the workforce. Another big advantage is our strong, growing community of highly engaged professionals who want to support each other.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Our flexibility model is a win-win for companies and candidates. Companies get access to high-level talent that’s more affordable and better for their bottom line. This is particularly advantageous for start-ups and small to midsize companies that are looking to scale up. Candidates also win because they get flexibility wrapped into their compensation package. For example, they might work from home, get Fridays off, or another schedule that works for them.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I never get tired of meeting amazing founders and helping them build flexibility into the workplace of the future. I’ve met some amazing candidates and many super-talented entrepreneurs with incredible vision. I love people and I love to hear their stories. This, combined with the do-good aspect of our mission, is what gets me out of bed with a hop in my step.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
The campus of my alma mater, Barnard College, between 116th and 120th Streets along the west side of Broadway. When you step through the gates and onto the tree-lined paths, you enter an oasis in the midst of a bustling city. And you can feel the energy of so many brilliant young women.
How do you benefit mamas?
The work I do every day helps parents balance work and family. I give mothers (and some dads, too) the opportunity to prioritize both – not choose one over the other. The whole family benefits because kids get to see their parents living their lives fully, contributing financially, using their talents, and realizing their true potential.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
I love hearing that their new flexible executive is their strongest performer and has set the example for flexibility for the rest of the organization. It’s not rare that I receive that kind of feedback! Our candidates are the cream of the crop.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field.
iRelaunch, an organization that helps people get back into the workforce after taking a career hiatus. Inspiring Capital, a company that helps people and organizations connect their work to today’s pressing social and environmental challenges. Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, the global freelancing website.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” – attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
My iPhone lets me work anywhere, at any time. This is both a blessing and a curse, not just for me but for all modern professionals. We need to create boundaries so that work and life don’t blur together, and to help us be present with our families and in the moment. Life is precious.