Jane Claire Hervey is the founder and creative force behind #bossbabesatx, a nonprofit organization that amplifies women-identifying creatives, entrepreneurs, and community organizers through event series, showcases, strategic collaborations and professional development programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Texas and is the founder of Group Work, a boutique creative production studio specializing in experiential design and brand management. We were able to spend some time with Jane before Banner Brunch this weekend and get her perspective on a number of issues.
This year’s banner theme is “Sisterhood is powerful,” which reflects the importance of women lifting each other up in work and in life. Given the mission of #bbatx, you have a unique perspective on this issue. What is the most meaningful way that women can support one another professionally?
Often, when we talk about women supporting women, it’s mostly lip service. Saying “I support you” and actually doing the work to support someone else are entirely different things. The latter is often not very comfortable. So, what does that look like in the workplace or professional settings? Pitch women-owned companies for jobs. Stand up for women coworkers in meetings when they’re being overlooked or their ideas are discredited. Speak out against workplace harassment, sexism and racism. But most importantly, tell your truth and allow others to speak theirs.
What is it about this community that has drawn you to focus your efforts for #bossbabesATX here in Austin?
I have lived in Austin for eight years. Prior to moving here, I lived in South Texas for 18. I realized quite a lot about my perspective on life and society at-large by simply moving from a 2,000-person small town to a city as large as Austin. That shift in perspective motivates my work here. I think there’s a lot about this city to love, but there’s a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to gender and racial inclusivity. For that reason, though, my plans and goals extend beyond Austin. I want to eventually take our programs all over Texas, especially to the small towns like my hometown that could really use them.
One of the most unique aspects about #bossbabesatx is its ability to bring together women of diverse professional backgrounds, from creatives to those in more “traditional” industries, many of whom might never cross paths otherwise. What is it about your organization that appeals to and helps create value for such a wide audience?
You tell me! Haha. In truth, though, our programming prioritizes creativity and interdisciplinary approaches, which is really just a fancy way of saying we like to learn things from people who don’t do the same things we do. We like to problem-solve and think critically. To me, that’s something we need no matter what we do or where we work. Learn from whoever you can, wherever you can, whenever you can.
How do you feel you’ve “stretched” or grown, either personally or professionally, in the process of helping create this space for women in the Austin community?
I didn’t launch this with the intention of starting a nonprofit, so professionally, that’s a new little notch on my resume. Personally, though, #bossbabesATX has changed my entire life. I have learned to embrace the gray areas, uncertainty and complexity of humanity, and I have truly done the work of assessing my political stances and determining what I stand for. That’s hard work. I am tested on that almost every day.