Selling to Singles


Peter McGraw hosts the second episode of a three-episode series that examines Singles in the Marketplace. He talks to Julie Nirvelli about Selling to Singles. They each present three ideas related to the topic, and Julie shares very exciting news about her solo-inspired small business that she is launching. As always, thank you for spreading the word – and if you want to get involved in the conversation, please apply to join the Solo Slack channel on the solo page of Petermcgraw.org.

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Listen to Episode #52 here


Selling to Singles

This is the second episode of a three-episode series that examined singles in the marketplace. I invite back Julie Nirvelli to talk about selling the singles. We present three ideas related to the topic. Julie shares some very exciting news about her solo inspired small business that she’s launching. As always, thanks for spreading the word. If you want to get involved in the conversation, please apply to join the Solo Slack Channel on the Solo page at PeterMcGraw.org. We are building a community. I hope you enjoy the episode. Let’s get started.

Our return guest is Julie Nirvelli. She was born and raised in San Jose, California and earned her college degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She’s lived in Colorado for many years. As a strong, independent and fun-loving person and friend of mine, Julie embraces the solo life. This is her fourth appearance on the show, including the Solo Entrepreneur episode, which is why I invited her back. Welcome back, Julie.

Thank you. I’m excited to be here once again.

We’re going to talk about selling to singles. This is the second in a three-part series that looks at singles in the marketplace. On the first one, we talked about the rise of singles. I’m going to recap that. The next episode is going to be The Best Innovation for Singles and I have Shane Mauss, also a return guest, on there to talk about inventions and ideas that help make it easy to live solo. Let me do a recap of the episode that looks at The Rise of Single Living. This is a surprising thing for a lot of people. There are 128 million single adults in the US population. That’s 51% of adults are unmarried. They are both young, old and in between for a variety of reasons. Young people may not have married yet. Older people may have lost a spouse. There are people like you and me who are single by choice. There are 28% of the households in the United States that are solo and that is one person lives in them. I’m one of those people. I was moaning about my transition to my new apartment in which I live alone.

What’s fascinating about the rise of not only singles but solo living is that it’s been exponential. There’s this hockey stick action where more and more this is happening and this is also happening globally. The second thing that came up in this previous episode is what we call the psychographics. The demographics are the numbers and the psychographics is the mentality. One of the things that are striking is that we’re finding more people who don’t want to be attached. They want to be unattached. One in four Millennials is projected to never marry. There’s increasingly this counter perspective or this counternarrative among singles, not where they’re trying to survive singlehood, but they are people like you and me, and our readers who are celebrating singlehood.

The last thing I would say is that the solos, especially the ones who are celebratory don’t think of themselves as alone. They’re not lonely per se. They’re content and happy. They’re not feeling as much of the stigma anymore. This is starting to change a lot. We are here to help move it along to talk about how big and small businesses should be thinking about these groups specifically now. Before we jump into this, I have a very specific argument that the focus on families in the marketplace. While it makes sense because they have buying power, dual incomes, big needs, and often they have children, that so much attention focused on that group presents an opportunity because singles consequently are being underserved.

They have money too because they don’t often have children, which are expensive and pricey. They have money to spend differently. My argument is there’s a missed opportunity that could be focused on. What I asked you to do is to bring three ideas to discuss whatever you want. I have three ideas and I’m going to put on my marketing professor hat at times so people will get a little bit of a feel for what I’m like as a professor. I’m going to get very professorial.

Are you wearing your sweater vest?

I am not. No one is going to get that joke because I haven’t worn the sweater vest in years. For people who are reading this for the first time, “What’s a sweater vest? That sounds distinctly uncool.” I used to wear a sweater vest when I gave talks and did professional and corporate events to seem more professorial. Now, I love my suits. I have good suits. I have retired the sweater vest. Also, I run hot in the sweater vests. I was seriously perspiring at times. I’m way underdressed right now because we are not doing video. How does all that sound, Julie?

It sounds great. I’m excited to dive into this to talk about ideas and to see your professor side.

Yours are a little bit more specific and mine are a little bit more general. The first one that I want to talk about is the Singles’ Day. Singles’ Day is coming up on November 11th, 11/11. This is a big deal in Asia in particular. It’s the biggest shopping day in the world and it’s designed to celebrate a single living. The question is, will the Singles’ Day catch on in the United States? First of all, there’s a reason that it has caught on in Asia and India. I’m going to make a prediction that it will but it’s not going to be a big deal in 2020. Eventually, it will be a big deal. We’ve got Valentine’s Day and the Black Friday. The first reason I believe the Singles’ Day is going to catch in the United States is that businesses are always looking for opportunities to do marketing, PR and advertising, whether it be Small Business Saturday or Hallmark holidays and so on. That’s a natural motivation.

The second one is this is a big market and we know that non-singles and married people have lots of opportunities to celebrate. We know this by how nauseatingly Instagram can be, engagements, weddings and baby showers. The entire wedding industrial complex is supporting these messages, images and these opportunities. We have a case study which is about Asia and what’s fascinating about Asia is that there is a real crisis looming when it comes to singles. The reason for it is the issue of singles in China, for example, is not fully due to choice. Because of the one-child policy that was enacted by the Chinese government for many years, there are millions more young men in China than there are women.

That would be a problem.

It’s already projected in China that one in four men will never get married, but this is not by choice. This is because they’re having a hard time. It’s having all these effects on young men leaving the farm, going to cities to do factory work, where they have a chance to meet a woman. They are looking at other countries like the Philippines, Vietnam and other places to try to find wives. There are also effects in Japan and Korea. There’s this term the unbranched. It’s like a family tree and the idea that because of this asymmetry in gender that these families are going to not continue. In Japan, they have this term herbivore man. This is a term coined by a Japanese columnist that describes this monk-like approach to life and relationships that these young men have. I’m not sure how much yet this is about lack of opportunity versus them withdrawing from society and not competing, the way you think about men competing in the world for women.

Why can’t the ladies just have a harem like men?

If Shane were here, he’d have an answer for that. There is some limited evidence that that can happen, but it’s very rare when women have more resources, more opportunities, and there’s a surplus of men that you can get that dynamic. It doesn’t generally happen for obvious reasons. Need is the mother of all invention. We’re seeing a slightly different set of needs, but we’re seeing the rise of single people in Asia, India and also Europe. In Sweden, they have the highest proportion of people living alone in the world. It’s close to 50% of residents of Stockholm live alone. We have these other places that are a bit ahead of the United States either in terms of recognizing the need or having the need. You’re seeing the marketplace respond. My prediction is that several years from now, we’re going to see Singles’ Day as being a much bigger thing. For readers, keep an eye out on November 11th.

I’m excited about that. I want to help promote it. What do they do for the Singles’ Day?

It came out from a Chinese University. It did have a social element to it. At this point, it does seem largely to be more of a buying event. The offering, the sales and the discounts are things that single people might be more interested in if you think about it like electronics and so on.

You could treat yourself to something or you could recognize some of your single friends.

I see this as a positive development in terms of the marketplace and recognizing this. You get Alibaba behind something. There are a lot of people on the site to begin with, and now you have this captive audience in the same way that Amazon has a Prime Day. Prime Day is a prime three days or something like that. Prime Day is from October 13th to the 15th or whatever.

We should ask Amazon if they’re going to do something for Singles’ Day.

I’m going to pay attention to it. What is your prediction? Do you think that they will?

I don’t think it’s on the radar or not enough yet this 2020.

I’m going to say yes to take the contrary. The thing about Amazon that is striking is they are so innovative.

It’s like, “Why wouldn’t they do something?” It’s a promotion that they can do that. There’s no downside to it for them.

They can experiment with it and the other thing about it is they know if you’re single. Amazon knows if you’re single or not based upon your buying patterns. They could even do targeted advertising. If I don’t get a message about Singles’ Day on the homepage of Amazon, no one will. That’s my first general idea about a glimpse into the future. That’s my most specific one.

I was going to save my favorite one for last, but it ties in more closely with what you’re talking about. I brought three ideas. One is a concept that I’ve thought of for years. One is an existing business that I think is missing an opportunity to market to singles. The third has been an idea for a couple of months and is coming to fruition. It’s a new business that I’m starting with a friend of mine.

You’re launching a business on this show for solos?

Yes. We are specifically targeting a pain point for solo people. As you mentioned in my bio, I’m a fun-loving person. I love to be social. I love to go out with my friends. Sometimes people see each other in a social setting and they maybe want to approach that person, but they’re not sure if it’s safe or that person would be open to it. The company we’re launching is called Bachelor Girl Productions. If you’re a regular reader, you know that the idea of a bachelor girl came from this show on episode one. Bachelor girl was a brainstorm that came to me and I’ve been sitting on it. I didn’t know exactly what it would turn into.

Bachelor Girl Productions is the name of the company. The way we’re solving this pain point of helping people become more approachable or to give that greenlight go signal when they’re in public is by fun flirtatious t-shirts that have some saying on them that invite someone to come over and have a conversation with you. It’s a t-shirt that’s a conversation starter. You don’t have to be single to wear it. Some of the t-shirt concepts are blatantly obvious that you’re single. One of my favorites is, “You say I’m single like it’s a bad thing.” That is saying, “Everybody, I’m single.” Some of them are a little more subtle like, “You had me at craft beer.” That shirt you’d wear to a brewery and then people buy you free beer. That t-shirt pays for itself.

This is very fun. I love the name of the company that came out of our conversation talking about language and good titles for single people. I’m not surprised that you’re launching this because you like doing these kinds of things in your own personal life. Julie has these stickers that say wingman and wingwoman that we would wear when we were younger. When we would go out, I would wear a wingman and you’d wear a wingwoman sticker.

Otherwise, people were thinking we were together.

It was this conversation starter that was there. Can I give you a free idea for one of the titles? I’m working on some advertising copy for the show. I want to give the word out that I’m going to experiment with digital advertising. One of the copies that we were fussing around with was, “You’re so great, why are you single?” The other one is, “I’m great because I’m single.” It’s a question and answer. Can you share a few more of your concept?

I’m starting this business with my friend Audra who’s one of my best friends from college. She was here at my house and we were telling my daughter that we’re launching this business. We got the URL, the Facebook page and the Instagram page. It’s all Bachelor Girl Productions. We’re telling my daughter the idea of the company. She comes up instantly with a T-shirt idea that says, “Buy me flowers and tell me I’m pretty.” As of the recording, we have ten ideas that we want to float past to some people to see what we should launch with and what seemed to be the most popular. I said, “You had me at craft beer,” “I’m a mountain biker.” Another one is, “You had me at bikes and brews.”

I have another one for you, “No rings attached.”

That’s great too. I’m writing it down.

I’ve been fussing with that one for the ad copy too.

The other thing is we’ll have an idea for a shirt and then it morphs into different iterations of it. One of the ideas was, “It depends who’s asking, but I might be single.” I liked that one, but what we morphed it into was simply, “It depends who’s asking…,” which invites even more conversation like, “What’s the question or what are you asking?” It’s not as blatantly about being single. We might A/B test that one.

What is the URL for people who wants to visit?

It’s BachelorGirlProductions.com.

That’s going to be a fun, cheeky brand. You have some experience with fun, cheeky brands. You had a salsa company for many years that had that kind of element that you sold and moved on from. It’s nice to see you continuing your entrepreneurship focused on solos. I’m looking forward to figuring out what t-shirt would be best for me. I want to talk about some of these different material needs that singles have. The way to think about the differences in material needs is the fact that the world and products are built for families. They tend to be built for families. The obvious thing is when an entrepreneur or a business wants to target singles, there’s this notion of shrinking that can be useful. Ellen Byron who’s a journalist at the Wall Street Journal, has been writing about this underserved marketplace. She has these great stories about singles who don’t want to buy a loaf of bread. If you think about it, a loaf of bread is built for a family, it is built for four people. You don’t have enough time as a single person to eat an entire loaf of bread before it gets stale.

I buy a bag of Cuties, the little oranges, and give half of them to my next-door neighbor. They come in that 5-pound bag. I can’t eat a 5-pound bag.

One of these things is this notion of shrinking. We see this when it comes to the rise of apartment living. Apartment living is a shrinking of the house into a usable space for a single person. You’re seeing now even greater shrinking in major expensive cities. These micro-apartments like these super tiny apartments that have a whole bunch of innovation where the bed comes out of the wall. When the bed goes up, it can turn into a dining room table/workspace. Now, people are living in 200 square-foot spaces or even less at times.

It’s like the tiny house concept but in an apartment.

One of the stories that Ellen Byron talks about is the rise and success of the big role. The idea is people living in small spaces don’t have a lot of room to store stuff. The big role is imagine a normal sized toilet paper roll, but 10 or 5 times the size. It’s an enormous role and has its own stand. You change the toilet paper five times or less and you don’t have to store as much of it in that kind of space. There is a new electric car on the market called Solo. It’s a one-seat, three wheels electric car. It may not be fully targeted to single people. It could be for a solo commuter. It’s a low-cost, long-range car. It’s probably $18,000 or something like that. It has a small footprint and you don’t have all that extra space.

If you think about it, “Why do cars have 4 or 5 seats?” It’s for a family. Why does a single person need a car with four seats? When they have a car with two seats, they’ve got to pay more insurance because insurance companies treat those cars as being associated with people who are racing around with their sports cars and all these kinds of things. There are material differences in lifestyle in which there is an opportunity that the average person working in a business or the average entrepreneur is missing out on when it comes to consumption.

A benefit of this solo vehicle is if you take a girl out on a date, she can sit on your lap.

I can imagine people saying, “What about when you want to take someone out on a date?” “What about when you have friends?” The answer is, how often is that happening?

You must drive your car by yourself 90% of the time.

There were other kinds of material needs like wealth management, retirement and retirement vehicles. I’m going to come back to this. I’m doing a whole series on aging solo. If you think about it, a lot of wealth management is built around families and couples retiring. Solos have different investment needs because they’re in a riskier situation. Some of it is because they can afford to take risks in other situations. The way that wealth managers and financial services companies think about this one size fits all model to mutual funds, stocks, bonds and withdrawing money. The way that people think about how they manage their careers. There are a lot of services, not just products, that can be built directly for the single also. That’s my next one.

That parlays into one of my other ideas I brought to the table. I was bringing an idea of an existing company that is not targeting singles. There are services that can come to light to foster a single or solo lifestyle. This company is called Handyman Hub. It happens to be my father’s company.

What is Handyman Hub?

Handyman Hub is a home repair and remodeling company. When I have a honey-do list like I need some new light fixtures installed. In a coupled situation, the ladies always have the honey-do list. I’m unattached so my honey-do list goes to Handyman Hub. I hire a honey for the home repairs. Handyman Hub services are in Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, Austin, San Antonio and soon to be Phoenix. My dad is a bit old-school. Most of his advertising is print advertising. He’s not doing a lot of digital marketing at all. I’ve been encouraging him to think about market segments and doing more digital focus. Solo people are the perfect market for this. People in my situation were like, “Could I change a light fixture?” I probably could, “Do I want to?” I have zero interest. I would rather ride my mountain bike. From a male perspective, you could do it but is that how you want to spend your time? If you’re not an expert, it might take you five hours to do it. A professional would do it in 45 minutes.

They don’t have to look at YouTube videos to figure it out.

As solos, if we think about our time, how do we want to spend it? A lot of us are intentional about how we want to spend our time. What are those services out there that we can hire out or outsource parts of our lives that we don’t have any interest in doing? I’m happy to spend the money to get those things taken care of and not let them pile up. I wait until I get 5 or 6 things on my list and then I have someone come out and take care of them.

This is a connector. If I go to Handyman Hub, it will connect me to a local handyman, which I put in my list of things to do. What other benefits are there from using Handyman Hub versus going to Craigslist?

It’s not a referral list like Angie’s List is referrals. Those guys pay Angie’s List to be referred. They don’t do any kind of background check. They don’t qualify their craftsmen at all. Our guys work directly with us. I’m saying us because I am somewhat involved in my dad’s business. We do background checks. Our craftsmen have an average of 25 years of experience. We vet them. When they start working with us, we start them on small jobs and graduate them to a bathroom remodel, even though they may tell us, “I can remodel a bathroom.” As a single woman and a single mom, having that background check to me is hugely important and not many companies do that. That’s an important element.

There’s an accountability that comes with this particular service.

The other accountability is we offer a one-year guarantee. If the craftsman who did the work for you is no longer with us, we guarantee the work for a year. If you pick somebody off of Craigslist and they mess something up, they’re not going to return your call. It’s a professional organization. We’ve trained the guys around a lot of customer service. We’re customer service and customer experience focused while keeping a fair price. We’re not like, “You get what you pay for.”

I started this show in a foul mood because I didn’t use Handyman Hub. I grew up poor so I look out for deals as you might imagine. I have this saying, “I go first-class.” There’s a reason that something costs more. I regret going with a low-cost option. As I said to Julie, “You get what you pay for.” I’m in a very good mood now. I’ve learned my lesson yet again.

It’s affordable fair pricing and we bring real quality guys. The reason we have many quality guys who like to work with us is we keep their pipeline full of work. They, as independents, don’t have to be out there drumming up business, running around, giving a bunch of bids, and then they don’t have time to follow up on them.

They get to do what they’re best at, which is fixing things.

That’s how we get quality guys because they love our system.

I’m doing this not only because I don’t want this to sound like an advertisement for Handyman Hub. Handyman Hub is not just for singles, it’s for anyone who has a need. Do you think there’s a way to make it a more valuable appeal or a way to better target singles given what we’re talking about? I’m thinking about who at the moment. I’m asking this broadly.

One idea I’ve had is a subscription model where I pay a monthly fee, then someone comes once a month and does all the things on the list. It’s scheduled ahead of time. I budget for it. They do as much work as they can within that budget or whatever. It’s automatic. It happens on the same day every month. I know what my budget is. I will always have projects that need to be addressed.

Would that be the same handyman or might it be whoever is available? It should be the same handyman as much as possible.

That would be ideal.

It is because they built the relationship and comfort.

Your question was marketing to singles and that was more of a service.

Any product promotion side of this. I’m thinking about distribution. Where are the singles and how do you reach them? That kind of idea.

On the apartment you’re living in, you had some need, but homes are going to have more issues than apartments. The square footage is bigger.

There are more things to go wrong with homes.

They’re older than the apartments. That doesn’t mean when you move into a new apartment, you don’t want to hang some shelves or install a closet organizer. How would we more specifically resonate with singles and speak directly with singles through our digital campaign?

There is something around the honey-do list. You don’t have honey for your honey-do list. You could imagine a particular copy and messages for a single that is around this notion. This is a perfect segue into my next idea, which is a message that resonates with the psychology of the single person. This is me trying to be creative as someone who wants to be more creative, but something like play on, do it yourself. Not wanting to do it yourself because you want to do these things yourself. Take a nap, go on a hike, go on a date or a bunch of things. Leave the house in the hands of Handyman Hub. We’ll take care of your fixtures and your plumbing while you can have fun and be free.

The reason I come up with this is my third which is also focused on opportunity. Solo is a show about opportunity. It’s a show about celebration. What are you going to do with the time, the money and the energy that would normally be reserved for marriage and relationships, and how that can crowd out all these other things in life? With people who are single by choice, that is what we call a psychographic difference. You have two single people. They’re demographically the same. They’re the same age, gender and race. They live in the same city, block and building. Demographically, they are identical. They differ in the way that they see the world. They differ in terms of their values and lifestyle. They may differ like one person likes the mountains and the other person likes the beach. You can’t differentiate that because of demographics, but they also may differ like one is trying to survive and the other one is celebrating.

Trying to survive being solo and trying to get through it versus embracing it.

Here is where I’m going to put on my marketing professor hat. When I teach branding in my MBA course, I teach these two models of positioning in the marketplace. Positioning is this idea of you have some product or service and you need to place it in the minds of your consumers so that they understand what it is, what its value is and how is it different from the competition? I start off teaching what’s called competition-based positioning. It is, “This is a bar of soap. It will clean your body.” It’s unlike other bars of soap because, in the case of Ivory soap, it’s pure, or in the case of Dove soap, because it moisturizes. You would choose Dove if you have dry skin. You would choose Ivory because you don’t want chemicals.

You can have 2 or 100 different types of soap on the market where the features of the soap imply a benefit that solves a particular problem for a particular person. In the case of the solo car that we were talking about. You position this car in the marketplace. It is an electric car. It’s going to be good for the environment. It’s going to be lower costs because you’re not paying for gas and as much as maintenance, but it’s differentiated from other electric cars because it’s cheaper. It has a smaller footprint. It’s easier to park. It has the feature of one seat. We have removed seats and added value.

The problem with a competition-based model is that features are easy to replicate. Elon Musk might like the idea of a one-seat car and he creates a one-seat Tesla. This company now has a direct competitor and they’re not differentiated. When you’re not differentiated, you need to compete on price. It’s a race to the bottom. Why should I choose this car versus that car? It’s because that one is cheaper and they’re completely identical in every other respect. It’s the same with soap. I use the example in class about 5-Hour Energy. It is a little bottle too thick to swig. It’s like a cocktail. It’s got caffeine. It’s got a bunch of other eins in it that are designed to give you energy and allegedly give you energy for five hours. There’s a competitor on the marketplace called 6 Hour Power.

You’re at the minimart and you’re tired. You’ve got a long drive ahead of you and there’s 5-Hour Energy and there is 6 Hour Power. They’re the same price. Why not go for the other one? As a brand matures and people figure out what it does, what its features are, and how those features are beneficial, you can start to build your brand that is, build the emotional connections that exist with your customers. These features often imply emotional benefits. For example, the emotional benefit of an electric car is that you’re doing good and that it helps the environment. A beauty product may help you feel attractive and appealing.

For a car company, a car might make you feel important. It gives you a sense of status. Do you think about why do people buy luxury cars? They don’t just buy luxury cars because they’re quieter, they have better performance and they have better design, but it’s because it makes you feel like an important person. It doesn’t get you from A to B. The next thing is, gets you to A to be cheaper, faster or not. The next one is, how does it make you feel as you go from A to B? Does it make you feel superior, better or cooler? This is called goal-based positioning. It helps you achieve a psychological goal that you have. We have lots and lots of psychological goals in the world to feel safe and to feel important. I’ll give you an example of this, but Jif peanut butter. Are you familiar with Jif? Do you know what the tagline for Jif is?

I have no clue. I can picture the logo. It’s three colors.

It’s, “Choosy moms choose Jif.” There’s something about Jif peanut butter that has a difference in features. It’s probably lower in sugar than Skippy, Peter Pan and the other ones. I’m guessing it is lower sugar. It could be something else. What that implies is it’s healthier for you, but it’s not healthier for you because moms don’t eat peanut butter. Who eats peanut butter? The kids eat peanut butter. I ate peanut butter until I got out of grad school because it’s a cheap tasty calorie.

What is Jif doing with Choosy Moms Choose Jif is that the feature is healthier, lower in sugar is better for your kids. It helps mom feel better about being a mom like, “I’m making a good choice.” That’s a psychological need. This is a very long lead up to the takeaway of all of this is to understand that some solos have this single by choice. Some have this single not by choice. Most of the products out there in the world are built for the survivalist, not for the people celebrating. This psychological need for freedom, autonomy and opportunity is something that brands aren’t building as much as they could. The brands matter. We know this because people prefer Coke when they’re doing a taste test and they know it’s Coke to when they’re doing a taste test and they don’t know it’s Coke.

I know that if Tesla came out with a one-seat car, it’s going to do better than the Solo car. Tesla is a cool car company. They took something that is seen as nerdy, wonkish, reliable and responsible, which is electric car. I think about Prius and they turned it into a sports car. They’ve turned it into this badass car. We know that brands can build on this idea of freedom because Harley-Davidson is a brand about Americana and it’s about freedom. It’s about being on the open road. They don’t discriminate whether they sell to family men or single men. When you are on your hog and you’re out on the highway, you were free of your troubles. You are not cutting the lawn. You’re not the suburban dad. You get to be this guy who’s masculine. You’re wearing leather and denim. You are free for those moments that you are on your Harley-Davidson. We know that you can build a brand around that idea. There are opportunities around freedom, autonomy and opportunity that fuel single by choice.

That’s an important distinction when marketing. I was thinking about the Handyman Hub marketing, single by choice versus trying to survive. We could send two different messages to those groups.

Overwhelmed by your honey-do list like, “Too bad, you don’t have honey for your honey to-do list. Don’t worry, Handyman Hub is here for you,” or “Happy to pass your honey-do list onto someone who’s happy to do it and you don’t have to share a bed with him that night? Handyman Hub is the place for you.” Those are wildly different messages even though they accomplish the same thing, which is installing lights fixtures. What is your final idea, Julie?

This one has been a concept for me for a few years and I don’t know if it exists. I’m thinking about it in a different way after what we talked about of single by choice versus trying to survive. The idea is a community living space for single moms. I picture it like a hub where the center building would be a common area with a kitchen and game room. Around that hub would be individual dwelling units where moms would live with their kids. There could be dads. I love my girl time so much and how supportive moms are. It’s not that dads can be that way as well but you can share in childcare expenses. You can share duties like cooking and cleaning up. You could have extracurricular activities that different moms could lead for the kids like sports, crafts, entrepreneurship and programming. You plug into a community and the kids could make lifelong friends. I picture it to be a supportive environment for solo moms. I’ve thought it would be a cool concept.

I liked the idea. The demographic shifts with women putting off marriage and also having children. Sometimes they put it off long enough that they are unable to find a suitable partner. They are left with the decision of, “I don’t have children,” or the decision to go at it alone. The fact that people get divorced and some people put off divorce until the kids are out of the house. They know they’re going to get divorced and they go ten years for the sake of the children. Part of the reason is that it’s hard to do it on your own especially if you have multiple kids because of the expense and income, but it’s also hard to do it because of the energy and having to be on all the time. You can never pass off duties.

I know women who have decided to have kids on their own. I know women who are contemplating it, they certainly have frozen their eggs, so they’re ready to potentially do it. Maybe they froze their eggs with the hope that extends their window a little bit longer if they should find a partner. We know that communal living exists in other parts of the world and it lives on a small scale in the United States. We have a mutual friend who lived in a communal living situation in Boulder, Colorado. It takes the right kind of person and leadership to do it well, and structure. It may not be easy to do. That’s why I like apartment buildings because they take advantage of shared resources. There’s a pool that everybody can use. There’s a gym that everybody can use. There’s a doorman who’s everybody is getting the benefit of that doorman. You couldn’t afford a pool, gym and a doorman on your own, but with 200 other residents, you can. The childcare one seems huge and the social support.

There are some models for this with assisted living and with nursing homes where there might be communal space that’s shared. There are people who are employed there to help with the programming and help in childcare. That’s a very neat idea. I don’t know of anything like it. I can imagine as this need grows. What’s fascinating is as you have inventions, that’s going to be covered in the final episode of this series, is that the needs lead to an invention, which leads to a change in behavior, which creates more need, which creates more invention and creates more change in behavior. This is why we’re seeing this exponential growth of people living alone. It becomes easier than ever to live alone. You’ve got food delivery. You’ve got washers and dryers. You’ve got Handyman Hub. You’ve got all of these ways in which you can lower your costs, create more free time and not have to couple up in order to survive. I would want to be in charge of one of those places. I used to manage my residence hall and I don’t want to go back to that, but I can imagine with the right touch and with the right targeting. I agree with you, I think you start it with women.

It has so many logistical question marks like, “What’s the process? Is there an application process? Who approves? Do you try to control the community? How does the ownership work? How can you sell your share?”

There’s a smaller way to downsize it and test it, which would be a small group of women in the same city. They target a building and they all get apartments there. They’re friends. They’re acquaintances. They’re connected. They trust each other. They know each other. Any other final thoughts reflecting on our conversation here?

One of the things I love about Solo is every episode gets me to think about things a little differently than I had before. It’s a new perspective. Even though I’ve owned businesses before, I loved hearing the way you talk about positioning and the different ways of thinking about that. I always learned something on these episodes. I’m grateful that they’re available.

You’re very kind, Julie. If this show helped in any way spur your next big business, Bachelor Girl Productions, I’m not going to ask for 10%. I’m just going to ask for one free t-shirt.

What we should do is to come out with a t-shirt especially for Solo show readers.

You can become a future sponsor.

I will be a future sponsor. We can brainstorm some ideas. I have some ideas.

Stay tuned, readers. As always, please rate and review the show. We are growing exponentially. As always, I appreciate all of you. Julie, I appreciate you. You’re a good friend. Thank you for your time.

Thank you. You are too. To all the readers, have a great day.


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About Julie Nirvelli

SOLO 52 | Single Remarkable LifeGrowing up in an entrepreneurial family has its advantages. Dinner table talk was about success and challenges of business, how to zig or zag and think outside the box. Perseverance, hard work, integrity, passion, self-motivation and collaboration are ingrained in me. I worked in 6 different family businesses from the time I was 6 years old until I graduated from high school. Because of my upbringing, exposure to so many companies and my desire to continue learning I LOVE talking about businesses of all types.

Most recently I founded (and just sold Jan. 2018) a natural food company. We brought a unique offering to the space which was paramount in such a competitive industry. Distribution grew to 2000+ points and became a nationally sold brand.

I’ve worn every hat there is to wear in business and this, coupled with my drive and optimism, has given me the agility, knowledge, flexibility and creativity necessary for success. My strongest proficiencies are business development, sales and marketing and relationship development. I am extremely detail oriented so managing a budget, financials, data analysis and strategizing are also in my wheelhouse.


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