A Glimpse into Gainesville’s Girls-Only Group
I am, by all intents and purposes, a Gainesville entrepreneur.
I’m supposed to love mixing and mingling with other local business-y types and talking shop every chance I get, but truthfully, I don’t. I tend to OD on hardcore networking events pretty quickly.
Although I adore meeting new people (and I try to seize all opportunities for free drinks), there’s something about the way that people have their business cards locked and loaded that makes a lot of networking events feel forced. I always find myself creeping into full Patrick Bateman mode and making some idle comment about the smooth feel of the paper they chose for their card.
Luckily for me (and other female entrepreneurs in Gainesville), there’s a new networking event in town and it doesn’t revolve around networking at all.
Meet Gainesville Girlbosses, a monthly event where female professionals from the Gainesville area meet up to unwind, make connections and hang out. There are no monthly dues, no application process and no daunting time commitment.
The idea for Gainesville Girlbosses was the serendipitous brainchild of Opeola Bukola, a 24-year-old communications whiz, and Carly Barnes, a 25-year-old educational research guru.
“Ope and I were constantly introducing each other to folks in Gainesville who we thought were super cool, and a lot of them happened to be women,” said Carly. “So, after putting that all together, we thought, ‘Hey, why not just start a Facebook group and get all of these cool chicks together?’”
That Facebook group has grown organically from a handful of Carly and Ope’s gal pals to 240+ Gainesville women.
From women who have been running their own successful businesses for years, to young professionals that have just made roots in Gainesville, the meetups are filled with diverse, empowered women and even more diverse conversation.
“I like that it’s simply a casual, social group,” said Angela Betancourt, a 35-year-old Licensed Massage Therapist and Gainesville Girlbosses participant. “Sometimes connecting people and then letting conversations flow without an agenda is the best way to come up with exciting new ideas.”
The group meets at breweries, coffee shops and restaurants around town, offering attendees a chance to check out new local spots and use their hard earned dollars to support other small businesses.
As Gainesville Girlbosses expands and gains attention, will it morph from a grassroots chill sesh for ladies into a structured professional organization? Opeola certainly hopes not.
“It’s just a bunch of cool ladies with other sh*t to do making time to hang out once a month.”