Connection is essential to our existence — Abraham Maslow attested to this very idea when he named love and belonging third in his famed hierarchy of needs. Connections can take a wide variety of forms and often live in numerous physical and virtual spaces. This week’s crowdfunding women business owners are taking note and raising money to build, improve upon and bring safety to these important spaces for people and creatures alike.

Check out these 5 women-led crowdfunding campaigns:

1. Hometown Restaurant Renovations (via Indiegogo)

The Business: Sweet Laurette Cafe & Bistro, owned by Laurette Feit, has been a staple in Port Townsend, Wash., for the past 15 years. The farm-to-table restaurant prides itself on embracing all things local: incorporating local agriculture and produce into recipes, hiring area residents and providing a relaxing gathering spot for the Townsend community.
The Money: Sweet Laurette Cafe & Bistro is trying to raise $125,000 by Dec. 21. The money raised will be put toward renovating the restaurant, which will include installing a full cocktail bar, updating the counters and floors, changing out the dining room seating, replacing out-of-date kitchen utensils and freshening up other cosmetic details. In exchange for donations, Feit’s campaign is offering some great perks, including cooking classes for two.

2. A Collaborative Space for Women (via Indiegogo)

The Business: Stacy Taubman started out as a high school math teacher, but didn’t feel that her classroom was reaching girls the way she’d hoped. So she quit teaching and started Girls Dreaming Big, a tutoring and coaching service that encourages, uplifts and educates high-school-aged girls in the St. Louis area. Yet she felt that the emotional support she was providing there wasn’t enough. Enter RISE Collaborative Workspace, where women will be able to connect, collaborate and grow together. For professionals, RISE will function as a place to “conduct business or hold meetings,” while for teenage girls, it will function as a place to “do homework and build relationships with mentors.”
The Money: Taubman is looking to raise $25,000 by Nov. 21. With the funds, she hopes to work on the construction of RISE Collaborative Workspace and get it up and running by 2016. She has begun the search for the perfect space, where she hopes to have a boardroom, cafe, printing desk, wireless Internet, workshop rooms and more.

3. Local Studio for Gathering and Creating (via Kickstarter)

The Business: SOURCED is a collaborative design studio, event space and retail shop. Nestled in a quaint cottage in Laguna Beach, Calif., SOURCED was founded by Michelle Mercado with the goal of providing a place outside home where people can pursue their passions and ideas. SOURCED is all about creativity, community and design. It offers a pop-up shop, hosts events and workshops and simply provides a place for innovative folks to work on their latest projects. What better way to represent those West Coast vibes?
The Money: SOURCED is trying expand its space. It is looking to raise $7,200 by Nov. 19 to bring a community table to the main room for workshops and events, set up a coffee bar, provide additional seating and reconfigure the shed in their front yard. It will also work with a local landscaper to make it a plant-centric space, complete with a potting bench where folks can grow their own plants in vintage pots.

4. A Home for Romance Novel Enthusiasts (via Kickstarter)


The Business: Inspired by their love of literature and all things romance, sisters Bea and Leah Koch are opening the first-ever romance-only bookstore in Los Angeles. Through The Ripped Bodice, the sisters seek to defy stereotypes of romance novels and celebrate a best-selling genre in North America that they say generated roughly $1.08 billion in revenue in 2013. The sisters plan to make The Ripped Bodice more than just a bookstore by filling the calendar with lectures, book signings, book clubs and other activities designed to build community around people’s love for literature.
The Money: The Koch sisters are hoping to raise $90,000 by Nov. 19. The money they raise will go toward purchasing inventory, furniture, fixtures, computer equipment, licenses and more.

5. Photography that’s Making a Difference for Animals (via Kickstarter)


The Business: Two years ago, San Francisco-based photographer Caroline Schiff leaned on Kickstarter to raise money for Sanctuary Stories photo project, her “personal stance against the factory farming of animals.” The campaign was a success, and now Schiff is looking to get her completed photography collection noticed and in the hands of activists and advocacy groups. Schiff wants her dignified animal portraits to be seen by everyone from policymakers to ordinary citizens, in the hopes of making a practical, lasting difference.
The Money: Schiff is looking to raise $3,520 by Nov. 9. The money will be put toward printing and mounting photographs in the fine art gallery show she’s curating. Those funds will also help with postage costs for her photograph mailers, which will be sent to ad firms, media organizations and government groups.

Want to be featured in The Story Exchange’s Crowdfunding column? Drop us a line and tell us about your campaign at [email protected].