A Letter From Our Founder: 2016 In Review

Hi, friends!

Jane here. I've spent the last two hours writing and rewriting this introductory paragraph, and I still can't come up with the words to describe what 2016 has meant to me. I was dead-set on writing something eloquent, but it turns out I can't. The only thing worth sharing is that when I was gathering data on #bossbabesATX's operations for this blog post, I mindlessly wrote trash fire, the pros and cons of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign personified and empathetical gray area in my notes.

Your guess at what I mean by those phrases is just as good as mine. I think I'm still processing this year, so the thought of bidding farewell to the last 12 months tonight feels rushed and leaves me with a funny lump in my throat. I can really only compare it to closing out a semester of college—that moment when you bolt out your last class then realize you've got a final to take.


So, I conclude that I have no conclusion; I've got a lot more to learn. 

I can say the same for #bossbabesATX. I know we're just a little nonprofit group that throws events for self-identified women in creative industry, but we've got a big vision—making quality space, time and programming for the development of a sustainable community infrastructure, one that adequately supports and promotes women. We're obviously not there yet, but we're working hard to make ourselves obsolete.

As a young organization (this was our first full calendar year of programming), 2016 has burnt some truths out of us. This year's heat has forced our organization and our team to re-examine where we stand. We're leaving 2016 with a renewed commitment to sexual, racial and economic equality. And without a doubt, we can witness that women (of all sexualities, backgrounds, ethnicities, sizes and industries) are relentless, bold and just plain strong. And we've got you to thank for all of it. Thank you.

So, without further ado, here's everything we (as in you, me, this team, this organization, the Austin community, our attendees, our partners, our sponsors, our teachers and the list goes on) have accomplished this year:

In 2016, #bossbabesATX hosted 42 events, with more than 10,000 attendees.

From 2015 we brought our meet and workshop programming. This year, we hosted 6 meets, with more than 3,000 attendees and 200 speakers at our bimonthly announcement sessions. We also extended our workshop programming. We produced more than 20 free workshops and seminars this year.

In 2016, we launched:

BABES FESTWe successfully introduced this festival ( a celebration for creative work by self-identified women) during the week of Austin's SXSW, featuring 27 artists spanning literature, craft, comedy, film and music. We also produced a sold-out stint in NYC with General Assembly, Got A Girl Crush magazine, ENJOY and Cliche Collective and signed on for a year-long partnership with the Bullock Museum for their Femme Film Fridays series.

craftHER + SOCIAL GRRL: We began two new series, craftHER and SOCIAL GRRL, in February 2016 to host intimate settings for networking between makers and marketers (respectively). These series saw more than 1,000 attendees and are now a solidified part of our programming. 

craftHER Market: From the craftHER series, we produced craftHER Market, a one-day shopping, resources and educational event in Fair Market. The market had its first run in October 2016, and we provided more than 85 vendors a space to share and sell their work and 2,000+ people attended over the course of six hours.

SHE TALKS: We hosted our first SHE TALKS, a series that raises money for fellow nonprofits we respect and admire. We launched the program this year with the YWCA and raised more than $1,000 for the organization through a 3-week workshop series exploring intersectional feminism.

#bossbabesATX Community News: We now fund a free community news platform via our website for job listings, event postings and other news in the #bossbabesATX community. We had more than 500 listings added to the site this year, with anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 visitors perusing the bulletin each month.

Meet Her Hands: During June and July 2016, we curated a summer salon series with the Elisabet Ney Museum to bring new life to the historic studio in Hyde Park. We showcased three artists, highlighting the work they produce, how and why.

We also made a few changes this year. We said goodbye to:

Our quarterly retreats: We’re refining this programming and plan to knock it out of the park with an annual retreat soon.

Our @meetwomyn Instagram: We used @meetwomyn as a rotated Instagram account, digitally introducing and connecting different hosts to the #bossbabesATX community. After much deliberation, we have decided to better allocate our resources which brings me to our next point!

In 2017, we're saying hello to:

Nationwide impact: We’ll be visiting Washington DC, NYC, LA, San Antonio and Houston in 2017 with BABES FEST events and #bossbabesATX collaborations.

craftHER Market additions: We’ll now produce both a spring and fall market.

A better BABES FEST: We’re moving from one day of showcases to three days packed with comedy, music, film and art in May 2017.

Co-working: We know you need space, and we are currently working on providing low-cost co-working as early as June 2017.

A podcast and zine: We're going to use our digital presence to provide a better platform for our community and the issues we care about. Stay tuned for the introduction of a zine and podcast exploring the intersections of stigma, entrepreneurialism, gender and creativity.

Better workshop series: Instead of one-off educational events, our workshop series will now provide full-day learning sessions, with comprehensive classes, talks and seminars.

ISB(abe)N: We're introducing an in-person and online reading club (yeee!), for our Austin peeps and out-of-towners.

Monthly online forums: Discussion is powerful, and we want more of that in 2017. Stay posted for monthly online forums (like via Tumblr) to discuss topics that affect women in the workplace.

Whew. Wow. Kudos to you for reading all of that.

You've inspired a great deal of movement and change this year. And it might not always seem like it (mostly because the world's a sexist, crazy ass place), but you are necessary. You are valued. And you are a living revolution. 

As we say in Texas, we're grateful for all y'all. 🌟

May the bras we burn light the way (not really, but really), 

J + the #bossbabesATX team

Also, look at us, we're bigger! 

Photo by Stef Atkinson

Photo by Stef Atkinson

PS: If you feel like gettin' a little nostalgic, we 10/10 recommend going through the #bossbabesATX photo albums on Facebook.

Jane Claire HerveyComment