We met Kayla Young last year when she was helping to launch MOV Restaurant Week. Now, she’s kicking butt and taking names between launching Boss Babes WV, reviewing films, and starting a new food truck. Awesome, right? We asked Kayla to share a little bit about herself and what’s she’s trying to do for the women of West Virginia.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a Charleston WV resident, born and raised here. I went to WVU for Political Science and Public Relations and then dropped out of the Integrated Marketing Communications Masters program! It’s a great program. After college I moved around for 5 years before coming back to Charleston. I’ll be 30 this year, I have a day job, I’m opening an egg roll focused food truck, and chase around my two toddlers Milo and Zella in all my free time.
How has it become harder to meet other women in West Virginia?
I think it’s hard to meet people everywhere, and there are several contributing factors to that. Younger generations are growing up behind screens and in turn place less value on in-person communication skills. As social networking goes up, real world networking goes down, because we’re all glued to our phones. Everyone I know has seen someone they recognize from the internet in real life but has felt uncomfortable talking to that person.
Another contributing factor is the insignificance placed on female friendship. Traditional society tells women they are successful when they settle down with a partner, and at that point it’s fine for their female friendships to deteriorate. Friends and parents often ask each other about their relationships with their significant other, rather than their equally important same sex friendships. Society encourages men to maintain friendships, but expects women to drop everything for a relationship, which dissuades strong bonds between women.
I’ve learned that if you self-identify as a boss babe, then you are one and that there are no limits to that, age or otherwise.
Women are also made to see each other as competition. In the workplace, women aren’t as likely to see other women in position of power unless a concerted effort has been made to do so. Women only hold 6% of CEO positions and 20% of senior leadership position and it isn’t due to a lack of education or work ethic, it’s due being marginalized and a lack or opportunity available. (I could talk about this for days.)
What was Boss Babes WV the answer to?
I spent the first half of 2017 away from WV. When I came back I didn’t have a strong group of friends. I’d hear about women doing amazing things around the state and wonder why I didn’t know them. Coupled with the election in 2016, and the women’s march, a fire was lit that I needed to be in more large groups of women. It resonated that I needed to join with the women in my community, so our individual voices would become a chorus. We aren’t a political group, but I want to feel solidarity and want others to feel the same.
What have you learned since launching Boss Babes?
I’ve learned that women need each other now more than ever. I’ve learned to be mindful of pronouns and vocabulary, and aesthetic choices as to not alienate. I’ve learned that if you self-identify as a boss babe, then you are one and that there are no limits to that, age or otherwise. I’ve learned that being in a large group of women is ALWAYS a good idea. And I’ve learned how to build a website.
What do you hope to accomplish through Boss Babes?
We hope to eventually establish as a non-profit organization, rather than just a community organization. Monthly meetups and occasional classes are great, but we want to be the resource for women in the state for whatever they need. We are also expanding to the rest of West Virginia and partnering with organizations to bring more to WV, like Sephora and Netflix. We are working with comedians, artists, makers, and writers to offer more workshops across the state.
We want it to be a resource for helping bring ideas to reality, and to act as a sounding board for everyone involved. We want to inspire women locally to help them figure out their goals and reach them.
Our main focus of 2018 is education for young girls. We keep talking about how much we could have already accomplished if we would have ditched society’s standards for women and friendships and bodily autonomy. We are in the process of writing programming for a girls’ day summit this summer for middle school girls. We eventually want to transition that into an afterschool program and a summer camp.
What is Boss Babes doing for the women of WV?
Our hope is that BBWV is instilling a sense of community and responsibility to that community. We want it to be a resource for helping bring ideas to reality, and to act as a sounding board for everyone involved. We want to inspire women locally to help them figure out their goals and reach them. Our main goal is empowerment, and that can mean something different to everyone, we are here to work through it and all learn together through broadening our scope of community.
Will Boss Babes be coming to Parkersburg any time soon?
Yes! We are currently working on Parkersburg as the fourth chapter for BBWV! I love the MOV and everything going on in Parkersburg and Marietta. It makes a great day trip from Charleston. There are so many women in the area doing great things.
What advice do you have for women in our area?
Preconceived notions are bullshit. Treat everyone the same, with respect and dignity. When you put your guard down, and let yourself be vulnerable and uncomfortable, you’re going to learn and be better for it. It’s important to say yes to things you are afraid of and talk to people you don’t know; getting to know people and being open to new experiences can open a world of opportunity.
How can someone get involved?
Following us on Facebook and Instagram is the easiest way. We’ve got a website, www.bossbabeswv.com, and a biweekly newsletter you can sign up for on our site. Those are great ways to see our digital content and find out when events are. If you have ideas or are interested in partnering with us as an individual or organization, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photography of Kayla Young by The Oberports!