A Kind Community

This is the second in a series of posts about the value and connections a peer or professional group - informal, semi-formal or formal - can provide to members.

The original plan was just a single event three years ago. Instead, Creative Babes was born.

 Hilary Buchanan & Megan Leigh Barnard

Hilary Buchanan & Megan Leigh Barnard

“We are a community that connects women,” says Hilary Buchanan, co-founder of Creative Babes along with Megan Leigh Barnard.

That original event was formed around the mantra “Fuck competition, build community,” and it’s been a guiding point since. Today, Creative Babes has an expansive reach across Columbus, with a chapter recently started in Cleveland. The group’s “bread and butter,” according to Hilary, are their Quarterly Gatherings. Expect to feel a bit out of your comfort zone, as they trend on the larger side, anywhere from 75 to 150 people, depending on the venue. Also expect to leave inspired and more connected to interesting, local women.

These gatherings always follow the same format. There’s a social hour that’s either BYOB or a cash bar with a planned activity (a collaborative mural at the last event). “We want to keep you busy,” Hilary adds. Then, the main event is a presentation from a “Top-Notch Babe.”

“A top-notch Babe can be anyone,” Hilary explains. “We’ve had an educator, we’ve had a business owner, we’ve had a designer, we’ve had a writer. We try to pull someone who will be excited and who has really good vibes”

Each quarterly gathering has its own theme, and the Top-Notch Babe presentation typically centers on that theme. The real goal, though, is to inspire and challenge the Babes community.

Creative Babes attracts all types of women - not just creatives. Because of that unique mix, the group is less about professional development and more about the relationships formed through Babes events.

“We care about bringing women together and breaking down walls. We’ve seen that happen.” Hilary adds, “I feel like we just want a space where people can talk about issues, talk about struggles, because that shit is really important for our wellness.

Hilary and Megan Leigh always get emails and social media comments after each event from women sharing the impact of the event. Responses range from celebrating the feeling of community and camaraderie, to relishing the challenges the group offers to the Babes community.

“We want people to feel like they can be themselves and share,” Hilary says.

That feeling seems to start with the founders. Rarely do Megan Leigh and Hilary not cry when sharing announcements and their own personal stories at Creative Babes quarterly gatherings, that open display of vulnerability sets the tone for each event. By sharing their own struggles and celebrations, Hilary and Megan Leigh push their community of Babes to do the same with each other.

If you want to make things more official with Creative Babes, there is a membership option, called Babe Booster Club.

“Through the Babe Booster Club, you can get more involved, there’s more events, more service events, we’re going to be providing more content, more challenges, more connection, things of that nature,” says Hilary. Members will also have the opportunity to volunteer at Babes events.

Membership reached 200 last year, but at each public event nearly half of attendees raise their hand when the two founders ask how many are attending their first Babes event. Mostly, Hilary and Megan Leigh are steering an evolving organization, and they want to be as inclusive and creative in how Creative Babes operates as possible.

Hilary sums it up this way: “Today, I would describe it as a kind community and I want it to remain that way and those are the people we want to attract.”

To learn more about Creative Babes or purchase tickets to their next event, check out their website.

Photos courtesy: Creative Babes