Bevy co-founders and working moms Carissa Janeway (left) and Lynda Attaway wanted to create a service for helping busy families keep things moving smoothly. Photo courtesy of Bevy

So much to do and so little time? We feel you. In a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 60 percent of U.S. adults said they sometimes felt too busy to enjoy life. Bevy, an organization company serving greater Houston, is helping the overwhelmed and active do it all.

"Bevy was actually born from our-real life experiences," explains Lynda Attaway, co-founder and CEO of Bevy.

As the former co-founder and chief strategy officer of Sunnova Energy, she led a complex schedule until the demands of doing it all got to her. While climbing the corporate ladder for 18 years, she would "do whatever it took and stay as late as it took," to succeed.

While trying to raise her three children and balance a large role, she soon realized that many of her male colleagues had a stay-at-home wife who managed the at-home projects that can take so much time.

"I finally came to the realization that I could not be everything to everybody, which is a very common kind of syndrome that we tend to have as women," she shares. "Something needed to change."

The power of an extra set of hands

Attaway's former employee, now Bevy co-founder and COO, Carissa Janeway, had a seven-month-old and another child on the way when she made a plan to leave their energy company. That's when Attaway approached her with the idea of becoming her at-home project manager.

Janeway spent 15 to 20 hours a week helping Attaway with tasks like project managing a bathroom renovation, organizing the children's wardrobe, sending flowers to her mother-in-law, and making sure the nanny got paid. The two women realized how much people could benefit from having an extra set of hands, and Attaway quit her corporate job in 2017. Together, they co-founded Bevy in 2019, an organizational service for individuals and families that specializes in project management.

"It started from ourselves, and not being able to see something out there that was scalable and had that community, local touch that could really help women and families enjoy the time that they have," says Attaway.

Unlike a virtual assistant or personal assisting service, the women feel Bevy offers a more sophisticated approach.

"We're able to provide an elevated white-glove service, almost like a concierge service, where we can completely absorb the entire project and the managing aspects of it because of the level of experience that we have," says Janeway.

The team at Bevy prizes itself as your go-to home project manager. From decluttering your children's playroom to taking on simple errands that never leave your to-do list — Attaway and Janeway pride themselves on a full suite of services. The company's offerings include home organization, planning family events, project management, room renovation, and packing for a move.

While some projects can be completed remotely, Attaway stresses that they are very much a "local" company serving the greater Houston-area.

COVID-19 demands have disproportionately impacted women in the workplace, and more than 2.2 million women had dropped out of the workforce as of October. According to the Washington Post, the percentage of women working in the U.S. is the lowest it's been since 1988. When the school year began, 865,000 women dropped out of the labor force, compared with 216,000 men. With many schools maintaining virtual learning, the brunt of education is continuing to fall on mothers.

Things like contacting the plumber, setting up your at-home office, virtual schooling, and planning your child's Zoom-accessible birthday party can stack up quickly in a global pandemic.

"How are you able to have the mental capacity to do that? [Even] before the pandemic, this service was needed," emphasizes Janeway.

During the summer, Bevy worked with one family to compile a curriculum of summer fun to entertain active children at a time where summer camps were closed.

"We put together activity kits for the kids. We were able to get them through a whole month of activities that were very family-friendly," explains Janeway. The kits included daily activities like a neighborhood scavenger hunt, rock painting, and baking bread as a family. The parents didn't have to do the "legwork" of planning or buying the items, she shares.

Something for everyone

Maybe you're not a parent or a woman to use Bevy. Maybe you're a busy startup founder, a hard-working CFO, or a healthcare worker on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

"You don't have to have kids to have our service. You don't have to be married. Everybody needs a hand," Janeway explains.

Attaway, who is currently teaming up with several HR departments on ways to incorporate Bevy in benefit packages, says companies for years have supported employees with offer gym memberships and massages — why not give them time?

"Bevy is the gift of time... We're told to delegate at work. We're told that's how you get better and how you become managers, that you need to learn to delegate. Then, we're told to go home and do it all yourself," says Attaway. "This is a service where you can actually delegate at home, and on a broader base so that we can take on the complexity of it," she continues.

The team of project managers and assistants, called "Bevs," do home visits and phone consultations. Bevy features long-term subscriptions, where clientele would have a set number of hours to work with the Bevy team, as well as project-based options. Attaway and Janeway offer free consultations to assess the project needs and what the client is most looking for from their services.

When onboarding a new client, the Bevs call it a "deep dive," where they can do a virtual meeting or a socially-distanced, masked-on meeting. The team does "a lot of listening" before making a full list of things that need to happen for the client based on what they hear.

"We just start pouring out all the things that need to be done... we pull more and will encourage them to explore other areas," explains Attaway. As they tour client homes, they might point to areas where they feel the client may need some extra help. "We help them pull all the things that are kind of lying on their shoulders, and you start watching them kind of lift up," she says, regarding clients' demeanor.

The business of giving time

Trust is at the core of Bevy's client relationships, as the co-founders work out the best plan for each project.

"We're here to take care of you, [and] to help you. You deserve to have this taken care of for you," says Janeway. "We make sure they know that they're not alone — and they've felt so alone. Society has put so many expectations on our shoulders."

After the consultation, Bevy compiles a list of all the needs communicated and priorities to share with the client for their feedback. From there, they compose different package options for consideration. Clients can also set their own pace based on how quickly they need a project completed. At last, the Attaway and Janeway will assign a Bev from their team — or in some cases, themselves — to a client.

While the Bevs take on tasks like research and execution, they present clients with options for each project they take one. "Our goal is that our clients are in the decision-making seat," says Attaway.

When it comes to design and renovation, Janeway and Attaway both use their personal expertise to work on major home projects. Janeway, passionate about interior design, has loved providing her keen eye to a family's home to find solutions for making a room aesthetically-pleasing and purposeful. Attaway grew up in a hands-on family and has grown a savvy knowledge of construction.

One satisfaction of the job is watching clients' stress melt away. During a recent home visit, Attaway was faced with an overwhelmed client. As she broke down what tasks Bevy would take off her shoulders, the customer said she felt so much better being able to relay the tasks to her team. The stress was "falling off of her," she says, "that's why we do this."

"We do this because it changes people's lives," says Janeway, emphatically, as she recalls some of her favorite Bevy projects.

Packages at four hours of service at $360, but Bevy offers various discounts for the subscription service and larger package offerings.

The company that once ran on word-of-mouth is now venturing into Facebook advertisements and other forms of traditional marketing as they continue to build its customer base. In the future, Attaway and Janeway plan to create a digital platform and scale Bevy to cities across the country.

"We have a mission to help society and blow open the doors of how families manage homes," says Janeway.

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Texas named a top state for women-led startups

this one's for the ladies

Who runs the world? According to Merchant Maverick's inaugural Best States for "Women-Led Startups'' study, Texas is a great place for women to be in charge.

The Lone Star state cracked the top 10 on the list, earning a No. 6 spot according to the small business reviews and financial services company, which based the study on eight key statistics about this growing segment of the economy. Colorado (at No. 1), Washington, Virginia, Florida, and Montana were the only states to beat out Texas on the rankings—leading the Merchant Maverick team to conclude that "the part of the country that lies west of the Mississippi is great for startups led by women entrepreneurs."

Women-led startups in Texas received $365 billion in VC funding in the last five years, the report found. This is the seventh largest total among U.S. states. Too, about 20 percent of Texans are employed at woman-led firms, which is the fifth highest percentage among states. Roughly 35 percent of employers in Texas are led by women.

A few other key findings that work in female founders' favor: The startup survival rate in Texas is nearly 80 percent. And a lack of state income tax "doesn't hurt either," the report says.

Still there are shortcomings. On a per capita basis, only 1.27 percent of Texas women run their own business. The average income for self-employed women is also relatively low ranking among states, coming in around $55,907 and landing at 31st among others.

This is not the first time Texas has been lauded as a land of opportunity for women entrepreneurs. A 2019 study named it the best state for business opportunities for women. Houston too has proven to support success for the demographic. The Bayou City was named in separate studies a best city for female entrepreneurs to start a business and to see it grow.

Still, as many findings have concluded, the realities of the pandemic loom for all startups and small business owners. The Merchant Maverick study was careful to add: "The pandemic has changed the economic landscape over the past year, and often for the worse.

"This means that not every metric may be able to accurately gauge how a state might fare amidst the pandemic," the report continues. "To help factor in COVID's impact, we included some metrics that take 2020 into account, but it will be a while until we get a full picture of the pandemic's devastation.""

New downtown office tower will rise in bustling Discovery Green

new to hou

A new office tower will soon loom over the popular Discovery Green as the anchor of a new downtown district. Global development and construction firm, Skanksa, announced the new building at 1550 Lamar St. and its anchor tenant on January 13. The new 28-story, 375,000-square-foot Class-A office structure is dubbed 1550 on the Green, per a Skanska statement.

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright will relocate its Houston office in 2024 and acquire naming rights upon occupancy, according to a press release.

Bound by La Branch, Lamar, Crawford, and Dallas Streets, 1550 on The Green will feature extra-wide pedestrian zones with a canopy of trees, two tenant outdoor roof terraces, and wide views of the surrounding greenery.

International design firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group led the building's design; it is the company's first foray into Texas. BIG's design promises sustainability, energy efficiency, and an "airy" office environment for tenants, a release describes.

Some 7,000 square feet of retail space will greet first-floor guests. Michael Hsu Office of Architecture has been tapped to design the interior amenity spaces; those include a fitness center, rooftop event space and terrace, and community spaces.

The new 1550 on the Green tower is part of a new envisioned district that will be branded as Discovery West. The district will consist of 3.5 acres of mixed-use development boasting restaurants, retail, green space, and "world-class architecture," per a release.

Working with Central Houston Inc., Discovery Green, Bike Houston, the Kinder Foundation, as well as several brokers, Skanska and design firm of record, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, completed the master plan for Discovery West in early 2020.

Skanska has been noticeably active in the Houston office market, specifically with the development of Bank of America Tower, West Memorial Place I and II, and the future Discovery West. The company is behind the acquisition of a buzzy strip center in Montrose. Skanska also plans to multifamily to its Houston portfolio, the firm notes.

"As an organization that prides itself on building what matters to our communities, our team, made up of Houstonians, has been working alongside local stakeholders to develop a plan and a building that will transform this side of downtown Houston while still meeting the needs of the city," said Matt Damborsky, executive vice president for Skanska USA commercial development's Houston market, in a statement.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.