Jane Claire Hervey of #bossbabesATX
To kick off International Women's Day, we're highlighting one of Austin's most impactful organizations: #bossbabesATX. Founded by Jane Claire Hervey in 2015, #bossbabesATX amplifies womxn creatives, entrepreneurs and leaders through everything from conferences and festivals to markets and workshops. In a raw and vulnerable interview with Radical Girl Gang Founder Bre Cruickshank, Jane opens up about the inspiration behind #bossbabesATX, the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and the importance of riding hard for who and what you believe in. Prepare to get inspired as f*ck.
BC: Tell us about what inspired you to start BBATX (#bossbabesATX).
JCH: I founded BBATX in May 2015 as a grassroots series of meet-ups. I wanted to know how other women creatives, artists and professionals were navigating their industries and I was curious as to what communities and spaces of support might look like. I myself had been working in start-ups and media while making music on the side and I was navigating gate-keeping and shitty stereotypes left and right. Also, I was dead tired of the narrative that women are catty and don’t support one another.
"I was dead tired of the narrative that women are catty and don’t support one another."
After launching the first meet-up, thousands of people started coming out, so in 2017, after cycles of growth and community interest, I determined the organization needed to become a nonprofit to fulfill its commitment to amplifying gender equality within the creative industry and society at-large. We now offer year-round programs, are a registered 501c3 and serve about 20,000 people per year. We are still run by a volunteer board, headed up by Xochi Solis, Alex Perez-Puelles and Jasmine Brooks, as well as a volunteer committee, two part-time staff members and a network of volunteers. :)
BC: Why is it important to amplify womxn creatives, entrepreneurs and leaders?
JCH: When we don’t speak up for who and what we care about, we let our stories go untold, our voices go unheard and our votes go uncounted. Riding hard for who and what we believe in is a lifestyle and that’s what we’ve tried to bake into BBATX. We deserve to see our communities and our lives experiences reflected in culture at-large. We deserve to be recognized as decision-makers, leaders and people who have solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. We deserve to make our worlds beautiful.
"Riding hard for who and what we believe in is a lifestyle and that’s what we’ve tried to bake into BBATX."
BC: What are you most proud of since founding BBATX?
JCH: Surviving the first three years of BBATX was a game for my life. From the financial and social pressure of starting and sustaining the nonprofit to navigating things happening in my own life (in 2017, my fiancee’s parents lost their home to Hurricane Harvey while dealing with a Stage 3 cancer diagnosis), I didn’t think I’d make it and I almost gave up. So many times. I suffered from sustained depression and I struggled with suicidal thoughts and collaborative heartbreak. I did it all while smiling on the outside—and somehow through the miracle of human resilience and transformation, I was able to turn that pain and dissonance into something to learn from and build from. I was able to find support and community and healing. And that’s some kind of magic. I now have the privilege of building businesses and communities from a place of vulnerability. I work alongside people that treat work as what it is—fourth in line to our everyday lives, our minds and our bodies. We build policies and procedures and organizational processes that give us permission to breathe and be human. There are a million things that I am grateful for and a million things the organization has accomplished over the last five years, but ultimately I am so proud of that.
BC: How do you practice sisterhood in your daily life?
JCH: When I think of the word sisterhood, I think of having permission to be yourself and supporting others be themselves, too. I think of accountability and responsibility and laughter and fun and loyalty and letting your hair down. I try to make sure that my friendships and day-to-day life and choices are a blend of all those things. That’s how I practice and embody sisterhood. I show up when shit’s tough and when it’s fun.
BC: Who is someone that inspires you and why?
JCH: I am inspired by our board. Jasmine, Xochi and Alex really ride for me and for the organization. They talk me down from the ledge and they lift me up. It’s been a pleasure to work with and build with them. They’re also all creative leader boss ass geniuses in their own respects.
BC: What’s next for BBATX?
JCH: We are turning five this May and we’ll be launching a membership and making a couple other big changes. We are trying to make our resources more and more available and supportive so I’m excited to do that and see where all this growth leads.
Photo 1 credit: Brittany Halberg
Photo 2-3 credit: Jinni J (@heyjinnij)
Photo 4 credit: Maya Coplin (@mayacphotography)