Coworking Member Feature: Kimberly Worsham of FLUSH

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Kimberly Worsham is a self-described water and sanitation specialist. “On a normal day, I consult for organizations working globally to help provide people with access to clean drinking water and safe toilets,” she told us. “Occasionally, I also run public events or classes about water and sanitation.”

In 2018, she decided to establish FLUSH, which stands for Facilitated Learning for Universal Sanitation and Hygiene. We met Kim back in May this year when she started using our Farm SoHo coworking facilities and so, dear readers, allow us to introduce you to this amazing woman and her equally amazing organization: 

Q1. Please tell our readers about FLUSH - what it is, your advocacy, how it started, etc.

I grew up struggling with gastrointestinal issues. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time - a lot - in toilets. It even became a family joke - whenever we would go to restaurants, my eight-year-old self would insist on checking out the restaurant’s bathroom facilities before I sat down to eat. 

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When I started working in international development and traveling to low- and middle-income countries, I found out how hard it is for many people in the world to find and use toilets - over 1 in 4 people in the world have no access to basic sanitation facilities. It’s pretty dangerous and causes diarrheal diseases like cholera and typhoid (amongst a bunch of others), and is the second leading cause of child deaths in the world. 

I imagined all of the people who have similar stomach problems, without anywhere safe to go. And yet, I noticed no one talking about these issues in public. 

So, I decided to change that by making fun classes for my friends about toilets to help them learn about it in a nerdy, approachable way. I ran my first class with the Brooklyn Brainery, thinking a handful of people would show up, but it sold out. And it kept selling out when I would repeat it. I had hit some kind of target, and people wanted to learn more about their toilets. I decided to start making it my business to talk about toilets all of the time. Soon after I started, I decided that I should register a company for my toilet talks. And here we are.

Q2. What is your role in the organization?

I’m the one who founded and owns FLUSH. Right now, FLUSH is mostly the “Kim Show” - with a few paid contractors and interns, I do about everything that needs to happen! I run business development, oversee the books, design marketing and content campaigns, build and run events, and lead client work. It’s a lot, but I have a goal of hiring an assistant full-time next year sometime.

Q3. What is your professional background and how has it led to your current responsibility?

My career started in entertainment marketing, believe it or not. I went to business school at NYU thinking I would become a producer, but I decided against it and chose instead to get into international development. But the path wasn't clear to me for a while.

My path was certainly not linear...While figuring out my path, I worked in the NYC government, corporate marketing firms, and even taught math in Rwanda. While working these different jobs and sectors, I realized I probably was better suited as an entrepreneur and consultant because I had many skill sets that didn't fit into one job description. At one point, I considered opening a mobile women’s defense business, but my heart wasn’t quite in it as much as I would have liked.

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I refound my love of toilets while consulting in India and continued to follow my sanitation passions by consulting in Australia, Kenya, Ghana, and Cambodia for different groups. I ended up getting a second master’s degree to focus on water management (and toilets, ahem), and figured out the pain points I wanted to address with my consulting work through that degree. 

Q4. Tell us about FLUSH’s goals.

Our goals are to be a sanitation superhero by supporting the efforts to improve global access to sanitation from 70% to 90% in the next ten years. Our two services are reinforcing by using the edutainment events to increase demand for better sanitation services, while improving the supply of better services through our advisory services. We want to destigmatize sanitation in the mainstream and improve how sanitation providers serve their communities through our work. We also want to do this while helping encourage equitable, inclusive business practices in the world of water and sanitation - check out our recent publication about this here.

Q5. What apps or tools do you use the most in your organization?

We use a whole ton of apps and tools to function:

  • The Bench app manages our books for us
  • is our invoice generation app
  • We use Slack to manage interns (hahaha)
  • We use Canva for creating content (don’t we all?)
  • We use Zoho to schedule our social media posts
  • We use WIX for our website
  • I use the business model canvas tool a lot to check if our business model still makes sense.

Q6.  What do you love to do during your free time?

Pre-COVID, I did a lot of travel in my free time, and I loved it a lot. Now, it’s much quieter, and running a business takes up a lot of time, but I still love doing a few things.

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I love to play with my senior pup, Chloe, and take her for walks in the park. I also like to take nice, long walks by myself to clear my head and enjoy my surroundings.

I love to cook vegetarian, gluten-free meals for myself (and sometimes for my partner, though he has less food restrictions). I love to read books - fiction and non-fiction. I love to learn new languages and practice old ones. I’m currently refreshing my French and dipping back into Arabic. And every weeknight, my partner and I love watching Jeopardy.

Q7. What’s the most meaningful advice you’ve ever received in life?

My mom died of cancer a few years ago. One of the last pieces of advice she gave me before she passed was “Keep it simpler”. Meaning, I need to make sure I don’t overcomplicate things in my head and simplify things as much as possible. And then make it simpler. This advice really means a lot to me. It’s easy for me to spin my wheels and twist my thoughts until they’re no longer understandable, and now I work to make sure I’m not making things into bigger deals than they have to be and that I don’t over-engineer my responses to things.

Q8. When and why did you opt for a coworking space at The Farm SoHo?

I’ve had great coworking space experiences in the past - though I admit those experiences were not in the US. I moved back to the US when COVID started to shut down borders - I was working on some projects in Kenya beforehand. I moved into my partner’s apartment, and my permanent address moved out of the city. I had no lease or property to my name; I won’t lie - I needed a physical address. When things started to open up, I also realized that I missed working around people in a workspace. I decided to look for a coworking space that I could use as an address while also getting the chance to potentially meet new people who could expand my thinking beyond my skull.

Q9. Has your work-life balance improved since you started using coworking spaces? How so?

It’s nice to have a place where I can work, dedicate my time to working (without household distractions), and then come home and focus on relaxing and unwinding from work. Unfortunately, this is something that I struggle with when working from home. 

Thank you so much, Kimberly, for taking the time to answer our questions. For those interested to learn more, you may check out Kimberly Worsham on Instagram, LinkedIn, and on her Twitter accounts. You may also visit the official FLUSH website online.

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