I arrived early. I always do. I did a power stance before entering. I was nervous. I arrived at my first networking event labeled a “Feminist” networking event, organized by Philly’s own Feminist Apparel clothing company.
My first impression: I’m here too early. The lobby was empty. The tables were still being laid out.
Where’s the bathroom? I asked, collecting myself. The girl at the door grinned up at me, her eyes outlined by gold winged eyeliner. Her smile and good will were contagious; a good sign.
More people filtered in. As young girls arrived, I realized this would be a “make friends” event. There were no trendy business owners hiring nor would I be speaking to high executives. The lobby space didn’t allow for that. However, didn’t I want to go the nontraditional job route? I decided to embrace the connections.
Besides the first few awkward instances of attacking strangers with the question: Are you here for the networking event? It got easier. And as the night wore on, I was surprised–I was meeting other young women exactly like me. Young women looking to make a career change. Women who’ve been jobless, women supporting families, women who’ve put themselves on the line only to receive rejection.
Throughout my fruitful conversations, I learned about young professional groups, Facebook housing groups, and resourceful job sites. By the end of the hour, my expectations had been met. More so, I had made friends! And didn’t all great partnerships begin with a hello?
The dynamic duo of the revolutionary film documentary, Dream, Girl began this way. The film was an integral part of the networking event and its message rings through my mind a week later. The dream project by Erin Bagwell and produced by Komal Minhas bangs down the door of the sexualized female media.
Erin Bagwell started the project after quitting her job. She was sexually harassed by her boss, the final offense, so she quit and started her dream project. The film Dream, Girl interviews powerful, insightful, and inspirational female entrepreneurs. Each woman explains their struggle, shares drops of wisdom, and inspires women to dream.
Many, if not all, of the interviewees, stood out to me. Most notably, Clara Villarosa, the owner of the largest black-owned bookstore in the US, owned in Harlem, NY. She was above 80 years old, but had owned three bookstores and only just created a black authors only publishing company with her daughters. Truthfully, she wished she started her dream younger.
Mariama Camara is a fashion distributor and marketer of designs and fabrics produced by African artisans. Her look, her hair, and her dress inhibit others from taking her seriously. But, what does she care? As she likes to say, “You go up to the door, you knock, and if no one opens it, break down the door.” A searing mantra to every disadvantaged young girl.
Annie Wang stuck out to me as the most brilliant. An entrepreneur, she uses 3D printing to produce industrial parts. In the tech communities, consumers like to approach her male partner with the tough questions, though she is the more experienced. She answers with confidence, but they’ll still continue to speak with her male partner. She’s proven herself and her intelligence over and over again.
Towards the end of the film, there’s a striking scene as young girls arrive on screen. Some appear to be twelve or younger. Each explains in earnest, their dreams and aspirations for when they grow old. Their answers are widespread, but determination and promise are shown in each of their eyes.
If we want more role models, we have to be those role models. If we want change, we have to be it. If we want to dream, we must dream it.
Women are starting over 1200 new businesses each day, why can’t one of them be yours?
Dream big, Dream, Girl☆
Dream, Girl. By Erin Bagwell. Perf. Komal Minhas, Annie Wang, Mariama Camara, Clara Villarosa. Dream, Girl Film LLC, 2016. DVD.
Apparel, Feminist. Feminist Apparel. Digital image. Feminist Apparel. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.