“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
Wise words from Maya Angelou. The world is hard, and it’s important for women to support each other in both our personal and professional lives. Ladies’ Night PDX helps women in Portland do exactly that.
What is Ladies’ Night PDX?
“Ladies’ Night is an event series platform that is dedicated to inclusive conversation, collaboration and community in a safe space. It is our goal to provide women of all backgrounds (regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, age, religion, or socioeconomic status) an ability to come together to share their experiences with each other.”
Founded by a group of professional women in Portland, Ladies’ Night PDX is a quarterly happy hour hosted by local agencies (Wieden + Kennedy, Instrument, and Struck have hosted in the past). Each host is required to pick a theme then diligently plan for three months to create a place for professional women to gather and talk about anything from their latest good read to their current work projects and passions. The atmosphere is one of empowerment, support, and community. All of these attributes are important to us at Bonfire, which is why we stepped up to the plate to host the fall networking event.
Women helping women
Our Ladies’ Night focused on “Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace.” Kickass quotes by kickass women served as decorations; DJ Lady Listen was our musical guide; and our Power Pose Photo Booth was never empty. The absolute highlight of the evening was our writing wall. We gave guests three prompts: “Goal for yourself,” “Something you’re proud of,” and “Advice to your younger self.” The responses absolutely floored me. From, “When people tell me I’m badass, believe!” to “Do what makes you happy,” the honesty and vulnerability expressed was nothing short of inspiring. Women were sharing stories and lifting one another up and it was beautiful.
Marion Olsen, Bonfire’s VP of operations, spoke to the culture here at Bonfire and how supportive the women are of each other. This gif explains it perfectly:
(illustrated by Libby Vanderploe)
As Marion spoke about Bonfire’s goals to support the female workforce in our industry and our community, she quoted our Editorial Director, Jenn Tibbett, “I don’t think I’ve found a work environment that begets female empowerment the way Bonfire does … we have a unique collection of very strong, independent women who have an amazing rapport with each other. The underlying sense of support is something that makes me grateful to come to work every day. I wholeheartedly believe that my advancement within this company has been made possible by the community of women I work alongside.” After she finished speaking, a young woman approached Marion with tears in her eyes. She had just quit her job two hours before our event and told Marion that speech reaffirmed her decision to leave her job and her ability to find a group of people who appreciate her hard work and dedication.
As part of our involvement, we also partnered with Dress for Success: “The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” Attendees brought more than 15 bags of clothes to donate and we were extremely moved by the amount of support.
The energy in a room full of women pursuing their dreams was overwhelming. I learned so much from so many different people, got some new vinyl recommendations to add to my collection, and was coached on a new strategy to try at work. Looking around and seeing so many women laughing, talking, and just being themselves was amazing to experience. It reignited my own excitement and reminded me why I love what I do and how I got where I am today. Whatever you want to achieve is possible, and Ladies’ Night PDX just reinforced that for me. Mark your calendars for the next Ladies’ Night. You’ve got the support and the team behind you, now all you need is the power within yourself. Go get ‘em, girl, we’ve got your back.