I moved to Austin after I graduated from college. One of my best friends had made the move and told me she could see me loving it. I was ready for a change so, I packed up my little car with everything I owned and headed to Texas from Roswell, Georgia. I had always been a cautious person, so, this move was outside my comfort zone. Although I only knew one person in this new city, I was determined to make long lasting friendships like I had at home. Over these past few blissful years in Austin, I’ve found wonderful lady companions through many different ways. One way is getting involved in different organizations. I’m going to share a few of these networks where it will be almost impossible not to meet some incredible female friends.
Who? “#bossbabesATX is a nonprofit event series and collective. We develop programming (meetups, seminars, markets, festivals and other pop-up events) to promote and connect self-identifying women in creative industry and the arts, because we find stats like these concerning. In the last year, we’ve thrown more than 50 events, totaling 15,000 guests. We were named “Best Bossy Babes” of 2015 by The Austin Chronicle, Tribeza’s Top 10 to Watch in 2016 and we were selected by The White House to attend the United State of Women Summit in June 2016 for our work in Texas.”
I went to the first meetup BossBabes ever held in 2015, at Friends and Neighbors in East Austin. They were expecting 15 girls, tops. That day 200 women showed up, and BossBabe events have consistently filled up ever since! Apparently, we’d all been seeking an organization like BossBabes for a while and flocked together from all over Austin to get our fix. I knew I had found my group! The founders amaze me with how quickly they have expanded and developed — they do this while having full-time jobs and being under the age of 25…what?! They are killing it.
If you have not heard of BossBabes, I’d highly recommend going to at least one of their larger monthly meetups, first. You’ll probably hear founder, Jane Hervey asking the crowd to “embrace the awkward,” and introduce yourself to somebody new. Go for it.
Who? “The Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) supports and guides girls to make wise choices as they navigate the unique pressures of girlhood. It was created in 1996 by 12 concerned mothers raising adolescent girls in Austin, Texas. These mothers met after reading Reviving Ophelia, a book by Dr. Mary Pipher, to address an increasing trend among middle school aged girls — a systematic decline and sometimes permanent loss of self-esteem, the outcome of which can be devastating: epidemic levels of anorexia/bulimia, self-mutilation, depression, low academic achievement, teen pregnancy, and drug abuse.”
I really wish I had an organization like this when I was growing up. In middle school, I was terribly shy, and my confidence level was very low. GEN Austin’s whole mission is based around helping girls grow their confidence during a time in their life when it can be scary to just be you. GEN Austin has many opportunities to volunteer in ways that work with even a busy schedule. They have summer camps, after school programs and weekend conferences. They also have monthly volunteer opportunities at their office when they need some administrative help. Whether you’re spending your time with the girls directly, stuffing envelopes or calling moms to remind them of an upcoming event — you can help this wonderful organization out. I have met good friends this way — even a woman who went to school in my hometown! She had started volunteering when she moved to Austin as a way to get more involved in her new community and meet people with similar interests. There are lots of female based nonprofits in Austin to check out if you’re interested in taking on a few volunteer opportunities.
Who? Providing leadership skills for the next generation of Austin women leaders. The group originally called itself Win2 for “Win/Win” situation and began meeting regularly to discuss business, politics, city relations and future plans. By 1995, membership grew to 50 women, and the group wrote its first bylaws, incorporated with the state of Texas as a non-profit corporation, formed a board of directors, and gained support from a community advisory group.
I’m going to be honest, the first time I went to a meetup hosted by YWA, I was a little bit hesitant. I told my friend who invited me, that I thought it sounded like a college sorority. I had been there, done that and I didn’t want any part of that life anymore. I reluctantly joined this organization and had to swallow my words upon my first official gathering as a member of the group. I went to an event called “the party of 8” and had dinner with eight random women from YWA. We had a wonderful time, and I met strangers that night who are now my good friends. YWA attracts strong and empowering females who are purposefully staying active in the Austin community. There are volunteer opportunities, ways to become a leader within the organization and a monthly speaker series. I’m so glad that I didn’t let my initial skepticism stop me from joining this amazing group.
Who? “Hosting gatherings of female entrepreneurs monthly. Events are free. Join and invite ladies who have businesses, support businesses, have a side gig or work in the arena of start-ups/tech/ entrepreneurship. We’re co-creating community, connection, sharing resources and space for the feminine & masculine energy of business to find harmony. Togetherness, support and like-minded women each month in Austin, Texas.”
AWES is very new but growing extremely fast! They are working on a website now, but if you’d like to know more, you can join their active Facebook group. I discovered AWES after I saw an event they were hosting on my FB newsfeed. I went and immediately connected with many like-minded women. There was an excitement in the room that is usually created by a group of entrepreneurs. We were all super excited about life, our projects and growing our businesses.
Austin is a startup hub. But many of the “networking events” are male dominated and revolve around the tech world. AWES members are women in industries that not only include technology startups but holistic healthcare, business coaching, fashion startups, cookie artistry — you name it. The group is very diverse, and at these monthly meetups, I’ve learned so much about marketing my own business in unique ways. We’ve also created a female dominated network! If I need anything, I can reach out to this network and know I will get a recommendation or solutions to a problem. Anyone who has started their own business knows how important it is to have a support system. It’s scary to go out on your own, and this group has been very helpful to many women entrepreneurs, myself included.
Who? “SheSays Austin is part of the award-winning global network for women in advertising, marketing, communication and tech, SheSays. We hold free events with a different inspiring speaker at a new location each month. The goal of the organization is to connect like-minded women with one another and empower female leadership in our industry.”
I’m all about attending speaker series. A chance to learn and possibly talk directly to somebody who is successful/growing in their career? The opportunity to then talk to other people about it afterward? Yes, I’m going to attend. That’s why I really enjoy SheSays Austin. It’s yet another way to learn and connect with other go-getter females in Austin. Instead of grabbing that regular happy hour this month, see if there’s a speaker on the schedule that you and your friends would enjoy attending. And hey, you’ll still be able to grab a drink or two at SheSays Austin events. No excuses.
Who? “The B Hive’s mission is to build an empowering community that creates authentic relationships between people. At the core, The B Hive is still a book and brunch club, but we do so much more than that. Between community impact days and regular girls night out, we’ve grown so quickly we’ve had to add new member game nights in order to introduce new women to the group. Our goal is to create an empowering, supportive group of women who are developing real friendships in real life, without swiping right. We are more than a “meetup” group, we are a sisterhood.
The B Hive Apiary is a women’s social society that promotes and empowers female friendships. New to town and struggling to make real, authentic friends, co-founders Angela and Erica started The B Hive Apiary as a book club, and within six months the group tripled in size and now holds strong at just under 200 members!
I actually met the founders at The AWES (Austin Women Entrepreneur Society )! I heard them talk about their group and wished it had been around when I moved to Austin! The B Hive Apiary hosts social events all over Austin, from happy hours to book club to fundraising events all while fostering and nurturing real friendships between women.
I hope this article can help any self-identifying females who wants to grow their friend group. It can be hard to continue to make quality, long lasting friendships as we get older. This is especially true if we don’t try any new ways of meeting people. I literally met an interesting girl on Instagram the other week, and we decided to meet up in person. We talked for four hours…FOUR! I have not even been on a first date that had four hours of consistent conversation. Austin is an amazing city filled with kind souls. Sometimes you just have to step away from your screen and find your people!
The Female Austinite’s Guide to Making Quality Friends. was originally published in Austin Startups on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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