A new website created by a husband-and-wife team from Toronto is helping women find their own "elletourage."
The website aims to give women a safe platform to help them meet like-minded women face-to-face. A member signs up, fills out a form, and the network matches the user with women in their area who have similar interests.
"What we hope is you'll meet online and then you'll take that conversation offline and become friends wherever you are," co-founder Sam Chung told CBC Toronto.
Chung and his wife Leanne wanted to create a space for women to find and build friendships in a world where people fill their schedules and spend so much time online — especially in major cities where it can be difficult to find a group of friends.
The couple did some research and found that women who move to a new city for work or school and have a tough time finding people to spend time with can become depressed or anxious.
"A lot of big cities are very transient, so when people come in they won't find friends they grew up with, they have to start over again," Leanne Chung said.
The website also has an map where women can see if there are events in their area that interest them. So far, the network has over 600 members.
Elletourage shares inspirational quotes and advice on their Instagram page.
Friendship success story
Charmaine Lynden and Quisha Wint are two working professionals in Toronto and were matched on the website. They've been good friends ever since.
"We went for coffee in the east end and there was a lot of laughter," Lynden said. The nurse practitioner said a platform like this is much needed in the city.
"There was a time when I was a single mom, I was working full time, working on my masters and when my daughter went to visit her father on my days off it was lonely, Lynden said.
"Reflecting back, I wished there was a website like this."
Wint says it's important to have a group of women around for advice and emotional support, adding that it can be difficult to meet new people with a busy schedule the older you get.
"We are better and stronger together," Wint said. "As women, we do need that, especially when your workforce is male-dominant."
Find a mentor, start a market
The website also wanted to further that goal — women helping women — by creating the opportunity for users to sign up to become a career mentor, or find one.
"There are women who want to give back to the community, who want to take someone under their wing," Leanne Chung said.
"We've already had a lot of members tell us they've met with their mentor they matched with in person."
The other element of the network — the market section — gives users the chance to find, sell, trade or give away items throughout the entire Elletourage community. It's a free tool that gives women the chance to start their own business online.
"The idea is to support local female entrepreneurs," Leanne Chung said.
The Chungs hope they can expand the network.
"What we really want to see is this become a global website," Sam Chung said.
"Loneliness isn't a here problem, it`s an everywhere problem. We just want to see women helping women."