HON (Her Online Network) is for women who want to connect, contribute, and collaborate to make positive change
HON (Her Online Network) is a professional networking app that celebrates personality. It’s an address book for female game-changers who want to gather collective power to make a positive change and advance in their careers. Read on to hear HON Paris Leaders Barbara Shabynina and Anna Šútorová talk about what HON means to them and why they decided to bring the platform to Paris.
What’s the best thing about HON?
Anna: I have always struggled with the fact that as a professional, I have to define what I do in a couple of words. For example, I am a curator and cultural manager. Therefore, I have the ‘arts’ label pinned to my back permanently. For many people, that sends a message that I am a free-spirited bohemian and my job rarely involves anything more technical than hanging a painting straight.
In reality, I work with numbers more often than with artwork. On top of that, I am a Mandarin translator, copywriter, and I have an interest in the connection between traditional craft and sustainable business models. You cannot just slap a label on that. And with HON, you don't have to.
“HON is a professional tool for women to connect in a personal way. There are no filters and everyone is very supportive.“ – Barbara
Barbara: Honesty (or HONesty) is what spoke to me. HON is a professional tool for women to connect in a personal way. There are no filters and everyone is very supportive. There’s a true sense of community, we have our digital home – the HON app.
I love working with the HQ team from Stockholm and value being a part of it. HON allows its members to grow together professionally and personally. Lifting others up lifts me up.
When did you know HON was needed in Paris?
Barbara: Paris for me was always a unique exception in the list of big cities. I come from a big city so I naturally do things at a fast pace. This is why I moved from Moscow to Paris to study in one of the top European business schools at the age of 17, then at the age of 19 I was working in New York at a renowned branding studio. I felt empowered there and it gave the motivation for the rest of my life. “Sky's the limit,” as they say.
When I came back to Paris, I would get comments such as “you are too young and you can’t speak to that person as nobody has introduced you yet.” Paris is a picture-perfect city and its inhabitants are expected to follow some questionable rules sometimes. If I love someone’s work, I will introduce myself to them. I believe that when talents work hard, they need a support system. This is where HON comes in. At HON we support and strengthen one another. So, I knew HON was needed in Paris right from the start of my career.
”[HON is] a platform through which we can make positive change and turn individual ripples in the water into a proper ocean wave.” – Anna
Anna: Much like Barbara, I have been told a lot of things like: “You shouldn't even have access to this kind of opportunity at your age,” or my favourite: “You are right, but it will simply never work like that here in Paris.” I was truly taken aback by how many people agreed with me, but they still seemed to accept those things they were so uncomfortable with.
At first, I thought they were lazy, or they were not fighters. But then I got to speak to many women who told me how they tried to deal with problems that were not at all uncommon, but every time they stood up for themselves, they felt alone and powerless. I suddenly realised that what was missing was not the will, but the organised effort. A platform through which we can make positive change and turn individual ripples in the water into a proper ocean wave.
How has having HON changed you?
Barbara: HON empowers me to grow. Growing HON in Paris helps me develop skills that are transferable to my career and beyond. I am a digital producer. I want to produce impactful work and to push creative talents forward. That’s why I am currently working on launching a Parisian chapter of the global creative network called Glug.
I am also learning how to ensure healthy dynamics. HON calls always start with "how are you feeling today?" Base Design, with whom I worked in New York, has the same philosophy. Teams I truly admire all have this practice. Moving forward in my career, I will be incorporating this in my day-to-day.
On top of all that, we were able to pull off a successful launch of HON Paris with Anna. In September we are collaborating with our member – the curator Naomi Rubin – on a female group exhibition in the heart of Paris. We dream big now.
“Within a community like HON, asking questions and asking for help is encouraged and rewarded by a group of women coming together to offer their best advice.“ – Anna
Anna: I am learning to ask for help. It doesn't sound like much, but asking for help is often seen as a display of weakness in competitive environments. We end up living by the “fake it till you make it” philosophy, while we could be learning so much more from our peers and mentors. Throughout my life I've often felt the pressure to be perfect, which would prevent me from asking simple questions.
Within a community like HON, asking questions and asking for help is encouraged and rewarded by a group of women coming together to offer their best advice. In fact, that's how you can spot a true HON at heart. If you ask for help and she responds in earnest, she's been a member long before she even considered applying for membership.
HON membership is free and works on a referral basis. You can follow what HON is doing on theirInstagram and if you’re interested you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org directly to be referred.