Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship

Olivia & Jen on women, long-lasting friendships, & travel

The big question of where and how to travel is already a frequent dilemma: solo or with friends? But what if all your friends are busy or married? Olivia June Poole and Jen Aprahamian co- founded the Hey! VINA app that allows women to find new friends without leaving home (perfect for traveling).  We met with SF based founders and asked about friendship, summer and travel.

Olivia+Jen in Kamila Dmowska dresses. Photo by Jeffry Raposas

Olivia June Poole and Jen Aprahamian both wearing Kamila Dmowska Black T-Shirt Dress & Caroline Dress. Photographed by Jeffry Raposas.

Hey! VINA is…

O: A mobile app that helps women around the world connect to each other — similar to a dating app, but instead for friendship!

The name means…

O: The central activity in the app is swiping right to say “Hey!” to a potential new friend. The word vina is the Icelandic word for female friend, similar to amiga in Spanish. It’s also a woman’s name with Scottish heritage that means beloved or friend. We hope that “vina” becomes the new word for girlfriend, so girlfriend can go back to its historical meaning for a romantic partner that’s a woman.

Most exciting thing about launching your business…

O: Being able to bring together all things I’ve learned through my career and all my passions and talents to create a product that helps people’s lives be better! It’s really magical to see something that was once just an idea actually become a real thing!

J:  One of my favorite things about the women who use Hey! VINA is that so many of them are very passionate about the product, and they’re not shy about sharing their feelings with us. We’ve been so lucky that our inboxes and social media feeds are full of feature requests, bug reports, questions about what’s next, and stories about friendship — knowing that our vinas care about what we’re working on enough to write us notes is just so motivating and joyful.

And the scariest…

O: The responsibility! Once you’ve launched, your business becomes bigger than you and your hopes/dreams/needs, it becomes your duty to provide for others. Your customers depend on you and your product to perform, your investors depend on you to deliver, and your employees depend on you for their livelihood. It’s a lot when you think about it, but honestly, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

J: It was thrilling to see our app go viral at launch, but that comes with a lot of unexpected challenges! I don’t think we slept very much for the first two weeks that we were in the App Store

I am planning this summer…

J: Working! We’ve got some big, big plans for Hey! VINA, and this summer is all about developing amazing features for the app, and starting an herb garden in my backyard!

O: Work! I’m excited for the launch of the VINA Society blogger and ambassador network. I also intend to spend as many evenings as possible watching the sunset on a rooftop with a nice glass of wine and girlfriends.

Best places for ladies dates when traveling…

 J: I think a trip to a gallery or museum makes for a great vina-date! You get to walk around and have conversations with a new friend, but also take advantage of something unique about your travel destination.

Common mistakes women make in friendships…

O: The biggest mistake I see women making is ditching their friends when a new romantic interest comes into their lives or gets serious. Studies show that relationships last longer when women have a lot of close friends, and it’s always a terrible position to be in if you break up and realize you have to rebuild your whole life from scratch. Another common mistake I see is putting too much pressure and weight on one friend. People have busy lives, and it’s important to have a network to lean on when people’s schedules ebb and flow.

 J: I think sometimes we put too much pressure on one or two friends to be our “everything friend,” and that can be stressful for everyone involved. Having a wide network of friends — ranging from the friends you only see at SoulCycle to your regular brunch and group-text squad to the bestie who’s known you for years — means you always have a go-to, but it’s distributed. That way, if you’re going through a tough time, you’re not heaping it all onto one person, but if things are going well, more people to share your joy with!

Best friendship advice I have ever received…

O: “Make new friends but keep the old…” I grew up in Girl Scouts, and this song was a staple. I’m always working on growing new and maintaining old friendships!

J: We’re all busy, and it’s easy to let life get in the way of real catch-ups with friends. Making effort to check in regularly — in a thoughtful way, not just liking a status on social media — helps you feel more connected even if your schedules don’t always sync.

 

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