BY SALLY DESKINS, EXHIBITS AND PROGRAMS COORDINATOR, WVU LIBRARIES
What’s GLAM? GLAM stands for galleries-libraries-archives-museums, and, for this series, The Hub is partnering up with Sally Deskins of WVU Libraries to put a spotlight on what happens when groups and institutions related to these collaborate. As Sally says, “Sharing resources can bring in more audiences, and lead to a better course for sustainability amongst all, as opposed to seeing each other competitively and bringing each other down.”
Kayla Young is the Executive Director of Boss Babes WV, a statewide women’s empowerment organization. In this interview, Kayla shares about why she created this organization, how Boss Babes collaborates with various community organizations and women-owned businesses, her tips on collaborating, her hopes for the future of WV and more.
Sally Deskins: Tell me about your background and why you got into what you do.
Kayla Young: Professionally, I worked in foodservice purchasing for the past few years. While I love food, I wanted to do something more directly involved with the community. Boss Babes WV was born out of realizing there were so many talented women around me and wanting to know them and work with them.
SD: Tell me about your organization and your role/what you do.
KY: Boss Babes WV is a women’s empowerment organization, so as long as you identify as a babe, and are interested in being an active member of your community, we are for you in some way or another. We hold meetups, classes, panels, workshops around the state of WV and work to empower women. Boss Babes is about reclaiming the term “bossy” because there’s nothing wrong with being assertive and standing up for yourself and your beliefs, whatever they may be. We introduce women to each other and participate to make West Virginia better and more open and inclusive.
SD: So what are some ways you have or will collaborate with either outside organizations or groups?
KY: We’ve collaborated with a number of organizations. We hold our meetups at locally owned businesses and work with their owners – often women – to promote their businesses. We work with local movers and shakers to host panels and have conversations about innovation and entrepreneurship in West Virginia. We’ve worked with larger companies like Sephora to host private shopping events and workshops. We’ve also held fundraisers for local women-oriented groups like a comedy show with proceeds going to West Virginia Free, a reproductive justice organization, and a coat drive for Recovery Point, a women’s substance abuse clinic.
SD: Why is collaborating important to you and/or your position, and WV/society moving forward?
KY: Collaboration is at our core mission. We exist to bring people together, and think it is critical to moving forward as a state. The more people you get in a room to respectfully share ideas and work together, the better. Collaborating provides a sense of value, gets your brain working, helps you see another perspective, and promotes self-analysis. West Virginia is such a tight-knit state, and while our various communities have their own challenges, pooling our talents and skills and seeing the bigger picture as a state is imperative for our future to be successful.
SD: Any advice or tips for people wanting to collaborate—how do you approach people about it without knowing them? How do you think up such ideas?
KY: Just ask! You aren’t going to get something if you don’t ask for it, you have to put yourself out there. It’s scary at first, but realizing that people saying “no” to you isn’t the worst thing on the planet passes pretty quickly. When asking someone, especially a stranger for something, I’ve found it’s important to have a specific ask. Rather than just “let’s get coffee sometime” what works better for me is “Let’s get coffee to discuss (blank). Are you free on this day at this time?” It shows initiative and there is a clear plan. When thinking of ideas, I look around for things that have worked in other cities or groups that are similar to ours for inspiration.
SD: What are your hopes for future of WV?
KY: West Virginia has come a long way in the past decade or so, and I think it’s always important to credit that. There are great people around the state doing great work. Moving forward, I think a lot of changes need to happen at the top. We need a state government that spends time working to keep people here and advance our economy and technology. Our population is dwindling and young people need reasons to stay here. There are tons of grassroots efforts to retain young people, but it isn’t enough. Our legislature needs to find ways to grow job opportunities and make our state attractive to new industries.
Interested in having your group or initiative featured as a part of GLAM? Email Sally at email@example.com.