Meet Monday Girl Founders: Rachel Wong and Istiana Bestari

Move over old boys club, there is a new girl in town! Monday Girl, to be precise. 

Founded in 2017 by Rachel Wong and Istiana Bestari, Monday Girl set out on a mission to provide career support, job opportunities, mentorship, and above all – to foster a supportive and diverse community of women and people of marginalized genders. In the infamous words of Lizzo, “It’s about damn time!”.

With 8000 members and counting, and a sold-out in-person summit held at 1 Hotel Toronto, Rachel and Istiana continue to level up the business networking space and give young professionals the guidance, support and career building they crave. 

Notable caught up with the co-founders and got the inside scoop on all things Monday Girl.

How did you come up with the concept for Monday Girl?

Rachel: The whole premise of Monday Girl is that the traditional ways of networking are just not working. When Istiana and I first moved to Toronto after graduating, we didn’t know anyone and we were told the same advice; networking is very important. So, we both attended a bunch of networking events that just felt awkward and male-dominated, plus we handed out lots of business cards that went nowhere, sent out dozens of cold emails asking for coffee chats with no responses, and the list just went on.

Istiana: We both just thought that building your professional network and meeting cool women in the city shouldn’t be this difficult or draining. Therefore, we started Monday Girl, Canada’s first networking platform for women to find job opportunities, build their network, and develop soft skills they don’t teach you in school such as prepping for an interview or asking for a raise. We wanted to make it easier and actually fun to find mentors and connect with industry leaders.

Five women of different ethnicities and cultures stand side by side together. Strong and brave girls support each other and feminist movement. Sisterhood and females friendship. Vector illustration

Why was creating an inclusive space specifically for women important to you both?

Istiana: According to experts, 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections. However, most women can tell you how uncomfortable and exhausting traditional networking is. When I first moved to the city and I was just starting my first business, I didn’t know anybody. I ended up attending 3 networking events a week and it felt very isolating.

Rachel: Having access to a mentor that you can relate to, makes it easier for you to gain that confidence to build and grow your career. Our mission is to provide all women, regardless of their background, access to career support, job opportunities, and mentorship with leaders that look like them. This mission has never been more important than it is now. With the Monday Girl Social Club, you get access to our digital community of over 9000 professional women across Canada, where you can ask for and share career advice, find opportunities, and be provided with support.

Why was organizing a Summit experience essential to bring to your community?

Rachel: Prior to COVID, we hosted over 17+ sold-out in-person events. With the pandemic, we had to pivot digitally which allowed for us to launch our Monday Girl Social Club membership. This was actually a blessing in disguise because it allowed us to bring that networking and mentorship experience online and make it more accessible. That being said, after 2 long years of Zoom and missing out on in-person connections, we were eager to bring back that Monday Girl event experience as an additional perk to our members. We brought an incredible roster of industry-leading keynote speakers including Taylor Frankel, co-founder and chief branding officer of NUDESTIX, Nitsan Raiter, Content Creator & host of That’s So Sabotage podcast, Catriona Smart, Co-Founder of Halo & Co., Coco + Cowe, and HylaNayeri, co-founder of swimwear brand 437 and Course HTF.

Istiana: Tickets for the event sold out in under 24 hours, which shows the demand for in-person events and how women want to network in an inclusive space. One very important element of our Summit experience was our Monday Girl market. We wanted to shine a light on some incredible women-owned businesses including LOHN, 437, PERMISSION, MYB, Ownr, and Lisa Gozlan Jewelry, and give our members the opportunity to interact and engage with their brands in person.

Hands of diverse group of people together raised up. Concept of support and cooperation, girl power, social community. Vector illustration

What is your mission for the Monday Girl Summit and how has it evolved since its inception?

Rachel: As mentioned, this is our first big event back since the pandemic, and the mission of our Monday Girl Summit is to bring together speakers and young professionals to network, engage and socialize in an uplifting environment made for them. Research shows that women in Canada are 26% less likely than men to have a strong network, and we want to be a part of the driving force to change those numbers. A strong network results in more job and mentorship opportunities. Our mission has remained the same, opening more doors for more women.

Istiana: Networking events are typically seen as a ‘boys club’ since many of these events make it uncomfortable for women to get involved and feel represented. Thus, we wanted to create a safe space for women to come together both digitally through our Monday Girl Social Club, as well as in-person at events like our Summit.

Hand writing Mentor crossword concept with white chalk on blackboard. Made with the related words Improve, Develop, Training, Motivate, Coaching and Inspire.

Mentorship for BIPOC women is at the forefront for Monday Girl. Can you tell us a bit about the significance of this for both of you?

Rachel: Speaking from experience, I’ve been given a lot of career advice that just wasn’t applicable to me as an Asian-Canadian woman, especially early in my career. It can also be very discouraging when you don’t see anybody that looks like you in a position of leadership. I wanted to change that and create a safe space for all women, regardless of their background, to make job and mentorship opportunities more accessible.

After your uber successful 2022 Summit, how do you see Monday Girl evolving and moving forward into 2023?

Istiana: We just closed our doors for registration for our Q2 Monday Girl Social Club membership on May 1st, and we’re so happy to announce that we’ve reached over 1000+ Social Club members. We’re excited to launch more membership features, facilitate more mentorship opportunities, and host more in-person events across Canada.

Rachel: Our next Tastemaker Series is an exclusive conversation for Social Club members with Influencer and Co-Founder of Summer Fridays, Marianna Hewitt. In addition, we’re bringing in other industry experts from top companies including Mejuri, Amazon, Netflix, and more to speak on all topics ranging from Product Management to Global Marketing. We will be reopening our registration in the upcoming months, so subscribe to our Monday Girl newsletter to make sure you’re the first to know!

Looking to connect?

Monday Girl