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Becoming a babe for women’s creativity

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Creative Babes is an organization that brings women from Columbus together to get involved with the community. Credit: Courtesy of Megan Leigh Barnard

Being a Creative Babe has its benefits — discounts, connections and nationwide attention — and, beginning on March 29, becoming a “babe” will be as easy as purchasing a membership for the Columbus-based community organization.

Creative Babes is an organization that brings women from Columbus together to connect, network, talk and get involved with their community through events and gatherings, said Megan Leigh Barnard, co-founder of the organization.

“People contact us about at least once a week asking ‘How can I get involved? How can I become a ‘babe’? How can I know more about being involved in the community?’’ Barnard said. “We really wanted to have a place that we could say, ‘Here is a way that you can get involved, here are all of our past resources, here is a way you can connect with the other women in the community.’”

The organization hosts a variety of events, including  cocktail hours, hiking trips and fundraising for refugee and hospitalized children. The group recently created an exhibition featured at the Columbus Museum of Art of collaborative artwork made at a “Babes” event.

“There are a lot of women in Columbus, and let’s just say the world, that want to get involved in some way,” said Marti Babcock, special events coordinator for Creative Babes and 2009 Ohio State alumnus in film production and film theory. “So if you want to volunteer, you care about the environment, you want to create art, then you can go do something about it. You can create, you can get involved.”

Barnard and co-founder Hilary Buchanan, a 2008 alumna in international development, started the organization because they wanted to make sure women’s voices were heard both professionally and personally.

“I was in a meeting with alpha-men the whole (week), and I was struggling with the confidence in my own voice to speak up,” Barnard said. “I just thought how empowering it would be if a bunch of creative women got together and were there to support each other and to not feel competitive against each other.”

Buchanan said that while attending creative-industry events, she felt the strong focus on professionalism overshadow the creativity.

“There was that sense of ‘How many business cards can I give out?’” Buchanan said. “I wondered … ‘What would this look like to have a space where women could really collaborate and really feel comfortable?’”

To answer that question, the two created a Facebook event inviting women to explore their creativity in a casual, backyard cocktail gathering. Buchanan said it soon became evident that she and Barnard were not alone.

“It was very, very clear that these women, they did not want portfolio reviews, they also did not want that professional experience; they wanted something that was more casual, that was more about connecting and exploring creativity in kind of a different way,” Buchanan said.

The community is open to all women, regardless of whether they are in the creative industry.

“Anybody can be creative, creativity is everything,” said Meghann Bush, author of the Creative Babes blog and 2015 alumnua in communication. “It’s a really open community … We do the little things to make you feel welcome, and our community is an extension of that.”

From March 29 to April 8, the organization will have open enrollment for women to become more engaged in the community by purchasing a Creative Babes membership.

Barnard said members will have the opportunity to log on to a membership page and connect with other women they may have met at an event, or connect with new people. This will be the first step in allowing women across the U.S. to join the movement, she said.

“We have a lot of women from other cities and states that want us to bring Creative Babes to their city, so this is our first step to connecting our women here in Columbus to women in the country,” Barnard said.

The membership will also give women access to videos of past events, access to online resources for getting involved and discounts to “Babes” events.

Additionally, Barnard said women will receive a “babecard” in the mail that gives members discounts on merchandise from women-owned or co-owned businesses.

Barnard said Creative Babes still wants to stress that anyone, members and nonmembers alike, can be a “Babe” by attending events and signing up for the newsletter.

Membership costs $99 per year or $10 monthly and can be paid online via the Creative Babes website. Barnard said the funds will be used to advance the organization.

“We just wanted to have a way to be more connected but to also have financial stability coming into the company so that way we can do more and be less stressed financially,” Barnard said. “There’s so many other things and events and outreaches that we want to do but just can’t do because of the lack of funds.”

Upcoming events can be found on the Creative Babes Facebook page, blog site or by subscribing to the group’s newsletter. The first enrollment period will be from March 29 through April 8, with another enrollment period opening up in the fall.

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