A couple weeks ago, I sat across from Carrie Barker and Sarah Baucom in a warm, cozy upstairs booth at 300 East, an old house converted into a restaurant right outside uptown Charlotte; it was a sleepy, ordinary Tuesday afternoon. But, Baucom and Barker were lit up, joyful, excited. And a bit overwhelmed.
Those two are a really funny pair of friends who are close personally and professionally; Baucom is the talker; bubbly and fun, she'll tell you exactly what she's thinking. Barker is the eye, quite literally; the vision driving her Pink Toast brand; she's calmer, quieter, but can throw in a funny line at just the right moment. A couple of years ago, the two teamed up to launch a t-shirt line named Pink Social. Their collaborative spirits have been buzzing since.
Now, as we sat together scrunched in that low-lit, dark wood booth like the beginning of Treasure Island, I listened to them talk to me about their next venture - Pink Social Girl Tribe.
Pink Social Girl Tribe is this really quirky, powerful movement popping up here in Charlotte. It started as a Facebook group, launched by Baucom and Barker; a digital forum for women in the area to talk about what they do, who they are. The group's membership grew rapidly and consistently when it launched in October. Barker invited me. I accepted.
Initially, I was hesitant about the whole thing -- I've never had a lot of girlfriends, I wasn't in a sorority, I don't drink red wine and watch Scandal with a couch full of friends. But, what I came to appreciate was this wasn't about any of that -- this was about women in business. It was women sharing their experiences, their small businesses, their ventures, their ideas. It was quickly growing into a platform for women to support women. And even more importantly than that: it was more about women putting themselves out there for and in the world.
With so much small business energy fueling the group, Baucom and Barker had to conceptualize and mobilize that energy for the holidays -- Pink Social Girl Tribe's Holiday Pop-Up.
The concept: Bring together over fifty vendors to share their goods, businesses, services, jewelry, products, gifts in the same place at the same time.
The magic: All fifty-plus vendors are female entrepreneurs from Charlotte and the surrounding areas.
As we sat in that booth, we talked life, and relationships, and Girl Tribe's business; and the overwhelming question arose -- how do they spread the word about all this?
After that lunch, I started telling women about the event, casually asking if they'd want to write about, talk about, anything really. No one responded to me. And when I did get responses, it was about how much money were Baucom and Barker willing to pay to advertise it; or the story wasn't something people wanted to read about; I also heard a line about a publication calendar being full which oddly resembled the 'there's no room in the inn' line; I'm not suggesting this event is the dawn of a new era of religious consciousness; I just felt the phrasing and the timing during this Christmas season was both funny - and ironic.
I passed both Finance and Accounting; I get that the story has to sell for publications and websites.
But here's the lesson in all this that neither of those classes taught: Sometimes that's just not the point. And that's not the point during Christmas.
There are incredible women out there; and there are some who own and operate small businesses and who make incredible things -- gifts, art, jewelry, baked goods, you name it. Baucom and Barker are putting over fifty female entrepreneurs and their small businesses in the same place at the same time for the Charlotte community. Which is just awesome.
But here's what I think this event is really about: It's a grassroots, local stand for women; it's a grassroots, local stand for women supporting women; it's a grassroots, local stand for a whole new type of magic that must return to how women treat each other.
I scroll through the Pink Social Girl Tribe Facebook group, and I read story after story after story of local women who are three months into a venture they started when the baby was asleep or a year into the work they do on the weekends. They're sharing their stories, their adventures, their advice, their questions, their concerns.
Don't get me wrong -- there are dudes out there doing this very same thing, too. There's just something different about the way women treat each other. And, in this age, when I read and hear stories of just how gross and nasty teenage girls continue to be to each other - now via the cyber world which is something us 30-somethings never experienced when we were that age - it's nice to know that there are public, yet sacred digital spaces for women can share who they are and what they're up to.
Perhaps events and groups and women like this have the power to set a strong example, to quell the nasty texts or snaps or tweets.
Here's another way to think about it: When you take a stand for another woman who makes, creates, designs, builds, sells something, you're also taking a stand for yourself; you're taking a stand for what you buy, who you buy from, how you consume, where you spend the money you busted your tail making. It's short-term, mindful consumption with the long-term impact to boost a small business owned and operated by a woman.
And you can make this happen this holiday season wherever you live; whether that's in Charlotte or not; whether that's online, in-store, or at that afternoon holiday open house your friend from down the street is hosting with a handful of vendors.
I'm sure there's karmic energy laced in all this; you support someone else and it'll work its way back around to you; but, perhaps supporting someone else's side hustle, weekend venture, late night-lamplight business idea is just about just that. Supporting someone else becoming more of not only who they are, but also who they want to be. That's an entirely new sparkle.
Maybe that old, wooden booth in that restaurant has some magic in its fiber. Or maybe it's the magic of women supporting women.