Feminism’ is the buzzword of the moment.
From Wonder Woman’s butt-kicking on the big screen to the push for more women in commercial kitchens.
But until a couple of months ago, I didn’t realise the new wave of feminism - a movement known as #girlboss - could help, inspire and empower so many… including a cynical journalist.
The idea of attending an all-day conference with 500 other women filled me with notions of high school-style cliques, sly stares and competitive ‘I’m better than you’ conversations.
But when I rocked up to the inaugural Girlboss Rally earlier this year, I was surprised by what I found instead - an overwhelming sense of community and sisterhood.
This group of women, who were as well-dressed and well-heeled as they were smart and determined, chatted as they waited to get into the loft space in Downtown LA.
It looked like an army lining up, ready to change the world (or at least hoping to do so).
These women from all over the globe mingled with each other, bonding over their mutual goal to live like a #girlboss.
The term Girlboss was coined by drop-out turned multi-millionaire businesswoman Sophia Amoruso, who launched an online eBay store from her bedroom at 23 and turned it into a millionaire fashion empire before she was 30.
Amoruso went on to release a biography by that name as well as a Netflix teen drama, detailing her (quite literally) rags to riches tale and later turned the phrase into the name of her foundation, giving grants to women to help them realise their entrepreneurial dreams.
But attending this rally, I realised ‘Girlboss’ wasn’t just a brand. It was a movement.
The rally, the first of its kind, featured 45 speakers across three rooms and among them, only one male - Kevin Systrom, the CEO and co-founder of Instagram (and a friend of Sophia’s).
It was clear from the line-up, the day was about sharing inspirational stories of triumph, with tips for the audience on ‘how to do it yourself’.
Despite knowing this, I didn’t expect to find myself taking notes and relating to what was being said, because well, yes, I am a girl… but I didn’t think I was a boss.
Turns out, I was wrong. So wrong.
At the time of being there, I was transitioning from employee to businesswoman but it was more than that.
The day wasn’t a how-to guide on opening your own business - it was about being the boss of your own life and your own choices.
It was about feeling empowered to take the first steps to doing that thing you thought was “not possible” or “just a pipe dream” and blocking out the inner voice many women have (even if we don’t admit it), which tells us we’re not good enough or not smart enough to try what we really want to.
And, it turns out, I wasn’t the only one.
I met plenty of others, who were looking to jump ship and wanting to learn where to find the confidence to actually do it.
Some attendees were university students wanting inspiration for what to do when they finished school and others were working in male dominated industries, looking for tips and tricks to going it on their own.
There were women already in business and seeking expert advice on taking their own empires to the next level and others who used the event purely as a chance to network and promote their companies.
Occasionally, the rally seemed a little more like a cult, but the power of this kind of sorority shouldn’t be underestimated either.
Women hung off guest speakers’ every word, cheering loudly as their icons shared inspirational stories.
It was about hearing from others who attempted that “crazy”, “stupid”, “brilliant” idea to help you find your own inner drive to take the reins in uncharted territory.
But it wasn’t just a happy utopia to build up people’s hopes.
There were also discussions about when it all fails… and the answer is, to keep on going.
Learn the lessons of what you did wrong and try again with your modified and educated new model, rather than build fear or think of yourself as a failure.
And the best example of that is Sophia herself.
The original Girlboss’s company Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy in November 2016 but there she was, on-stage, owning it and focusing on the new road she was heading down.
It seemed she had just as much (if not more) determination to succeed - not only to prove others wrong, but to prove herself right. And that, to me, is the essence of being a Girlboss.
This was originally published on 9Honey and has been reproduced here with permission.