Gather Seattle Believes in the Table as a Platform for Connection

Photo by Dragana Lassiter - Courtesy for Mindful Feminism

Photo by Dragana Lassiter - Courtesy for Mindful Feminism

Gather Seattle is on a mission to host events around the city “to bring the PNW food and design communities together to connect, inspire, and nourish.” Enthralled with their refreshing take on the table as a platform for connection, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about this exciting venture from founder Chloe Csadenyi-Benson.

“There’s something about food, eating, and drinking that breaks down barriers between people. It immediately makes you more at ease, and you know there’s no pressure. As soon as you sit down next to somebody at a table and enjoy a meal it opens up the door for a way to connect with somebody.  I think relaxes people in a way that a typical networking event doesn’t,” Chloe told Mindful Feminism.

Her vision for the table as a space to strengthen bonds is something she learned early on in childhood and continues to cherish: “I come from a family where my mom and grandmother loved hosting family dinners and inviting friends over. I think growing up in that environment, time around the table was always important to me, and it felt like a moment to connect with people that I loved.”

Photo by Meghan Klein Schuyler - Courtesy for Mindful Feminism

Photo by Meghan Klein Schuyler - Courtesy for Mindful Feminism

When Chloe moved to Seattle back in 2013, this longing for meaningful personal connections was well and alive in her.  “Since I got here, I was yearning to host and provide for people,” she mentioned. Chloe also recalled how she was wishing to “really connect with the people she was meeting on social media and to build a more in-person relationship with them.”

These interests unwittingly lit the way forward for Gather. “I definitely didn’t set out to make it this huge community.  I had a lot of ideas around gathering, food and hosting, and ended up doing a photo shoot with a Vancouver photographer, Gillian Stevens to build a body of images that would help define my vision. I actually didn’t know at the time what I would do with the images, but I knew creating strong visuals around gathering would be important in building the vision.” Chloe ended up using the photos to promote her first event, which was more successful than she would’ve ever imagined.

“After that first event, I very quickly had a lot of people reaching out to me and asking about the next event…I really saw there was huge value in bringing people together in person, and using the table as a platform for connection, so that became the starting point. Our first event provided this opportunity to connect, to leave feeling more inspired and all while having a nourishing meal. Rapidly after, I felt focusing on these three areas was something I wanted to keep doing.”

Still, it’s fair to say that the successful organic growth of Gather hasn’t been a complete breeze. Chloe described the most significant obstacle she’s encountered to date, as one many women can surely relate to. “One thing I really had to overcome at some point in starting Gather was this idea that I had to ask permission to be able to do something. I think we all struggle with feelings like ‘I have to have some sort of accreditation in order to do this’ or ‘I have to prove myself in order to do this,’ or ‘I have to share the idea with 10 people, and they all have to agree that it’s great and then I can do it.’”

Photo by Michele Equitz - Courtesy for Mindful Feminism

Photo by Michele Equitz - Courtesy for Mindful Feminism

“If you’re at a point in your life where you feel that you need to create something, or maybe have a full-time job but have a passion project that you really want to build into another career, I would say do it! You don’t have to wait for anybody to tell you to do it. My hope for Gather is that it encourages others to be brave, bold, and vulnerable.”

To wrap up our conversation, Chloe shared the highlight of her journey as a founder, up until now. “I’m creating the space for people to gather, to feel comfortable, heard, and valued, and I think everybody needs a platform to feel supported, connected with one another, inspired, and empowered. I think the feeling that I have at the end of an event when I experience that and take it all in, that’s what makes me really feel like what I’m doing is of value.”

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

OTHER ARTICLES YOU’LL LOVE: