How three Blue Water women are making waves with their new community building group

When the first Unlabel’d meet-up was held four months ago, the group consisted of just three people: Unlabel’d founders Demiree Fultz, Ashlind May, and Cecelia Shuler. But as news of the monthly meetings for local women spread, each of the subsequent Unlabel’d events would double in size. Its fourth event drew more than 20 people and Shuler says that this month’s meeting is projected to draw 50 or more.

At this rate, they’re going to need to host their events in a basketball arena by next year.

“The bigger it gets, the more we want to keep making deep connections with each other,” Shuler says. “So we’ll just have to sit around a bigger table.”

Unlabel’d is a monthly meetings group for local women. The name stems from the idea that there is no agenda to the meetings other than building community. It’s not strictly for entrepreneurs or teachers or moms — of course, all are welcome — but rather a place for all women to come and become part of something bigger.

“I can’t tell you how many girls have reached out to say that they love what we’re doing but they feel like they don’t have anything to bring to the table. But it’s not about that,” Shuler says. “One woman might be starting a business and maybe another just had a baby and another was a stay-at-home mom for years and is just now getting back into the business world.”

Of course, from a business or professional standpoint, an Unlabel’d meeting could be great for networking. It’s also great for a lot of other things. Shuler mentions an instance when a local singer who had attended a recent event later played a show in the area and the crowd was full of women from Unlabel’d.

“If someone has an event coming up, we’re going to try and get a group of girls to go out and support it,” Shuler says. “We’re creating an army of women that want to do something for the community and make connections.”

Unlabel’d founders Cecelia Shuler, Demiree Fultz, and Ashlind May (L to R)Making genuine connections

The three founders make for an impressive group of young entrepreneurs and professionals in the Blue Water Area. Demiree Fultz owns Rooboo Boutique in downtown Port Huron. Ashlind May helps manage both the Hatch and Roost co-working spaces nearby. And Cecelia Shuler, a resident of downtown Port Huron, owns the Sylva & Stone boutique in St. Clair.

Still, for all their individual successes, there was something lacking. In creating Unlabel’d, Fultz, May, and Shuler are building something that they felt was missing in their own lives: Community.

As it turns out, they’re not the only ones that feel that way.

“We weren’t expecting Unlabel’d to blow up as quickly as it has. It shows how much we’re truly lacking in making genuine connections with each other in our society,” Shuler says.

As we get older, making new friends and connections can become more and more difficult as we get wrapped up in our own lives. And forced isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated such trends.

“After an event, you leave feeling so empowered after hearing what everyone is going through,” Shuler says. “Social media is such a highlight reel. It puts pressure on you to be crushing it all the time. But that’s not always going to be the case.”

Unlabel’d meetings are held monthly at Foundry.Creating community

Each month, an Unlabel’d meeting begins at 9 a.m. at Foundry, the new creative hub of Port Huron. The co-working space for artists hosts everything from pottery classes to podcasts and is becoming a popular event and concert venue in the region.

“What better place to hold meetings for people wanting to create opportunities in the community than Foundry,” Shuler says. “What better place than the new creative headquarters of the community.”

The next Unlabel’d event at Foundry is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 15. No registration is required and there are no fees to join, no cost to attend — though donations are accepted. Those interested are encouraged to reach out via Facebook.

Refreshments and decorations cycle through each month. June featured mimosas; a coffee-and-donut bar is planned for July.

Guests mingle as they arrive before everyone takes a seat at the table around 9 a.m. A call-to-order sets the stage before going around the table, allowing each woman to introduce themselves and highlight whatever it is that they might be working on or through. The emphasis is placed on making genuine connections.

“People are nervous at first but everyone’s high-giving and hugging by the end,” Shuler says.

Visit Unlabel’d online for more information about upcoming events.