Jenn Louie, Co-Founder of Kinvite and Soulful Supper
I was a guest at The Wing for Priya Parker’s book chat, The Art of Gathering How We Meet and Why It Matters, where I met Jenn Louie. She’s the co-founder of Kinvite, an event listing app for the socially conscious. I know - that sounds really cool, and there is definitely a need and an appetite for mindful events in one centralized place!
There was no small talk between us - we dived right in about why she started event production and how to get individuals to open up off the bat. Based on Jenn’s experiences, it is all self-selecting and choosing to show up and be vulnerable. For example, we dug deeper into her experiment Soulful Supper, an idea blossomed out of an activists gathering with her co-organizer, Duncan Walls. This event guides attendees to “practice to speak from the heart and break bread together. It’s a night dedicated to nourishing our souls (and our bellies) and it’s really about the conversations.” Mind you, Soulful Suppers started out as a trial-and-error ordeal, and “they’re not glamorous. We have basic salads.” She uses these dinners to practice different styles of facilitation and leads all of her events with this bold intention: how do you get a get a group of strangers open up to one another?
What makes Soulful Supper spectacular, in addition to what the actual evening consists of, is the rules. For example, Jenn says, “You cannot serve yourself.” This way, it fosters all guests to mindfully ask for what they want from the dinner table.
“I didn’t think it would be that hard for people. It is like one of the most surprising things. It takes them outside of their normal behavior. You’d see people try to reach out for something. No, no - you’re going to have to ask for something, for seconds, for whatever it is you want.” It also teaches people to offer help. We live in an individualistic society - only caring about ourselves and what we want, and this rule challenges people to think, behave, and act differently.
I find Jenn very fascinating and she stimulated my mind throughout the entire conversation. Someone who is dedicated on compassion practices - starting first and foremost, with herself. She then goes on to lead by example to others through her events and some of her fellow organizers that she discovers on Kinvite.
I typically don’t ask our profiles about love, but somewhere, somehow, we ended up there. “I am pretending (and blaming) that it’s New York’s fault. It’s men’s fault, and living in New York - the cross-section of that. And I am afraid that the love that I actually want is something that I can’t ask for because I don’t know if it exists for me.” When Jenn uttered those words, we both got teary-eyed. She was vulnerable with me and we just met. “I can’t believe I am saying that. You know it’s scary when you verbalize it.” This goes to show that Jenn practices what she preaches. I am truly amazed at her work, her business and her whole approach in life - it’s all so inspiring.
The takeaway lesson is this: there is power in vulnerability.
To learn more about Jenn’s Soulful Suppers, you can view that here or to participate on more socially conscious events, you can view events on Kinvite here and see what's happening in real-time via instagram @wearekinvite
Interview by Chary