If it’s a babe word game, it’s a good sign Creative Babes are around. This time, the group is at the Columbus Commons, gathered together to support Babe Jackie Kemble as she gets ready to head out on a cross-country bicycle journey. The group will pedal en masse to Seventh Son and raise a glass or two in celebration of their sister, or, babe-ster.
Started by local creatives Megan Leigh Barnard and Hilary Buchanan, Creative Babes is a support group of sorts for female creatives across all mediums. As many great concepts are, Creative Babes was brainstormed over cocktails. “Hillary and I were talking and it was, ‘Oh so do you know this creative woman? And this one?,” said Barnard. “And we thought that we all needed to get together … it’s so easy to put yourself up against each other and there seemed to be a fear of connecting genuinely.”
Two Manhattans in, and an event was in the works. A mixer, figuratively, as there was a make-your-own-Manhattan bar—er, Babe-hattan bar—and literally, as it was planned for the women to just get to know each other. “It’s not about networking—it’s about sincere connections,” emphasized Barnard. “It is so powerful, to have a group of women beside you in life. It’s about creating friendships.”
“I never considered myself a creative; it was not a term I owned until recently,” Buchanan said. “But this all happened so naturally. Looking back, it doesn’t feel like we started anything … it was just natural.”
The pair decided to hold the event in Barnard’s backyard, figuring people are more likely to be genuine in someone’s home. “We made the event public on Facebook and over 200 people responded,” she said. “About 40 showed and we realized we had struck a chord.” The creatives that populate the babe-iverse come from all imagination stations—dancers, musicians, writers, crafters, and idea generators.
Barnard, a local photographer—who freelances for (614)—and Buchanan, a graphic designer, decided to take a moment after that first event to mull over the arc of Babes. “We did surveys to ask people what they wanted,” said Barnard. “What they wanted was more backyard stuff. What they didn’t want was portfolio reviews.”
As women roll up on their bikes, greetings of “hey babe!” are shouted, tire inflators are shared, and sweaty hugs are abundant. Both Barnard and Buchanan smile as they watch the Babes gather, high-fiving and giggling, hugging each other and stretching before the ride.
As the Babes continue to mobilize, there will be larger quarterly get-togethers, as well as smaller informal meet-ups for coffee and whatnot. At each event, there is a Top Notch Babe spotlighted, not necessarily to discuss her “work,” but to discuss herself, her passions, her inspirations. In addition to the meet-and-greet-and-celebrates, Creative Babes all come out in force to support their own. Having a gathering at Igloo during the letterpress’s Kickstarter campaign to print up “May the Babes Be with You” flats was one such event, as is tonight’s rolling support of Kemble.
A month after the Commons bike ride, the group meets more formally in another Babe’s gorgeous, flower-filled Clintonville backyard. A sea of Babes stretched out on mismatched blankets to meet, greet, and support. Both Barnard and Buchanan are busy hugging and hosting, clearly awed by the more than 100 creatives that are crowded on the damp lawn. There are comediennes (can I use that word?), graphic artists, Roller Derby warriors, writers, public relations people, and more in the assembly. Marti Babcock takes the spotlight and talks to the group about creating a “creativity kit” to hang on the doors of young patients at Nationwide. Natasha Wheeler talks about her company, Outfit Good, which prints and sells T-shirts, benefiting various local causes. She unleashes what becomes the quote of the night: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” (attributed to Theodore Roosevelt)
Creative Babes don’t have a Facebook page; there is a website and a blog but the word gets out throwback-style. “We do an old school phone tree,” laughed Barnard. “We want this to be an organic thing—more genuine and face to face. We are getting to know each other on a relational level, the inner workings of people.” Certainly, the Babe duo has been logging lots of facetime lately. Recently they presented at Pecha Kucha and will present at the July 6 Motive event. In addition to relating their journey, there will be an interactive table for information and conversation.
These Babe-lationships are the foundation of creative support, exploration, and celebration. Purposefully rebuking the stereotype of competitive women, the two are serious about the Babes. “F*ck competition, build community,” declared Barnard. “Give a shit about yourself, encourage yourself.” “Women are so awesome when they get together,” echoed Buchanan. “We need this platform to encourage everyone.” •
To learn more about Creative Babes, visit creativebabes.com.
Motive takes place July 6 at The Table from 6-11 p.m. Find details on
the Motive July 2015 edition Facebook event page.