Inside The New Gang That's Re-Inventing Girl Power

Jenny Proudfoot

Introducing GRL PWR: the new network of 'nice' girls who are making it their mission to encourage female support in the world of creative industries. Everyone is welcome in their gang...



Finally!
A girl gang that we can all be a part of. You may recognise some (or even all) of the members of this 'nice girl' sqaud. Boasting models, musicians, YouTubers and some of our favourite bloggers, this GRL PWR GANG is the way forward. Their aim? To create a collective of creative women, coming together to help young girls break into the creative industries. Shunning girl-to-girl hostility, this movement is all about friendship, creating a female support network that benefits all.

We decided to find out a bit more about these inspirational women and their growing girl gang...



Kirsti Nicole Hadley. 42, Brighton.
MD of creative agency Kirsti International and Co-founder of parenting network @mumanddadlife

 
Why did you found GRLPWR?
We wanted to create the ultimate gang of nice girls: a fully functioning inclusive support network for women within the creative industries. We're showcasing and celebrating their work and in turn these women want to actively help young girls looking to break into the creative industries to achieve their goals. Many of the girls in our network are freelance too so it gives us all a sense of being part of a team. We've got each other's backs.

What should women be focusing on in 2016?

We still hear a lot of stories about girl to girl nastiness in the workplace. This usually stems from feeling threatened or insecure so working on our self-confidence means that we won’t feel threatened in the first place.
 
Which women do you look up, listen to and admire?
There are so many. Kate Moss and Adele for their zero fucks given attitudes - they're doing it their own way and are all the more successful and loveable for it. Patsy and Edina for being the ultimate timeless icons, Lena Dunham for being the voice of her generation, and Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks for the songs, the sass and the style. Plus all my girlfriends, I couldn't get by without them.

What does female friendship mean to you?

It's a sisterhood isn't it? Girl time is as essential to my wellbeing as time spent on my relationship and as a mother. My girlfriends keep me sane and focused and silly and naughty. We're always there for each other no matter what. A great female friendship can last you a lifetime, they're such an important part of your formative years but really special friendships can come along at any time - they're not just for your youth. I'm still making the most amazing new friends now I've entered my 40's.

Tell us about your first ever girl gang…

I was never really the girl gang type - I was really shy. Growing up in Birmingham my first best friend Lisa and I used to be a right pair, we would match our outfits and we even ended up getting expelled from school together!

Why do you think IWD is important?

I think it's double edged. We shouldn't really need one, but yet we do because across the world things are not yet equal. Having a day that gives us a platform to shine a light on all things female-related is a powerful thing. It’s amazing that everyone embraces it so much, that’s how change happens.



Kylie Griffiths. 29, London.
Creative Director, Stylist and DJ

 
Why did you found GRLPWR?
Kirsti and I are both passionate about girls supporting one another. From this idea we wanted to create a network where we could bring creative and empowering women together to support each other, as well as helping the next generation break into the creative industries. It was all about creating a gang of nice girls that people of all ages and backgrounds could be a part of. A girl gang that is accessible and more importantly inclusive.

What should women focus on in 2016?

Supporting one another. I’m completely against bitchiness and I think that we all to need work together to support how amazing we are all doing.

Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?
My mum. She has always encouraged me and supported me in whatever I do. When I chose to be a DJ over going to University, she encouraged me. She has always let me make my own decisions and has been there when they’ve not worked out.

What does female friendship mean to you?
Female friendship is so important to me and my closest girl friends are like sisters. I’ve had some of the greatest laughs with my girl mates as well as crying into their shoulders over boys and breakups. Everyone needs a solid network of women in their life.

Tell us about your first ever girl gang…
My first girl gang were Cat, Laura, Carla and Kim. We met when my mum moved to Ealing when I was 13. I was furious that we moved away but in fact meeting those four changed my teenage years! They shaped who I was and to this day I always know that they are there if I need them. We had a lot of fun going to various emo gigs and throwing house parties, and we still have a laugh at the memories to this day. Girl gangs come through the years and even to this day I’m meeting the loveliest girls who are becoming close friends. I’ve had various girl gangs through my life all of whom I love dearly!

Why do you think IWD is important?
I agree with Kirsti in that we shouldn’t still need one but it is lovely how people do embrace and celebrate women.



Emi Ozmen-Prendergast. 33, Stamford.
Columnist and Agony Aunt

 
How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?
Kirsti and I work together on a parenting network called mumanddadlife and I knew of Kylie and had always loved her styling so I knew that anything they were involved in would be fun!
 
What does female friendship mean to you?
To me girl power is celebrating strong women but by no means placing ourselves above men. I love my best girl mates but I equally value male friendships. I only have about ten people in my life that I consider a best friend. I've also learnt to surround myself with friends that breed positivity. The older I get it's liberating to think that I don't have to pretend, I can just be friends with people who I really like being around.
 
Tell us about your first ever girl gang…
My first proper girl gang was at secondary school. I went to an all girls school and had the best time in the world. We liked to think that we were the cool group: head to toe kickers and Kangol, all with gross boyfriends that were way too old for us. We even got matching love heart tattoos on our bum cheeks and now we still What's App at 2am, only now it’s to ask which nappy cream is best!
 
What do women need to be focusing on in 2016?

My 2016 is going to be focussing on my career, my family, and trying to be hot again after my second baby. Honesty is what I think women should be focussing on, that and doing whatever makes them happy!
 
Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?

My mum and my sister. My family breed strong women thanks to my granny who used to be the crudest woman in the world. She will always be my hero, teaching us to be ladylike but crude and funny too! I’m a sucker for funny and clever women like Sophie Heawood and Laura Dockrill. Total girl crush on them.




Liz Ilsley. 21, Birmingham.
Artist/Model

 
How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?

I met Kylie on a shoot with Charlotte Rutherford and it was really fun, (I was topless most of the time), Kylie and I kept connected on social media and she asked me to be a part of this awesome collective.
 
What does female friendship mean to you?

Female friendship is the closest thing to a mother's love, a maternal bond when you're really close to someone. There's an unspoken support system when you're friends with girls. I think it is important for everyone to have good girls in their lives!

Tell us about your first ever girl gang…
I think my first ever girl gang was me and my mum, I wore the fairy princess costumes and ballerina leotards that she made for me and she killed it in Levis 501's.

What do women need to be focusing on in 2016?
I think in 2016, as well as working hard on amazing projects together, we should remember to have fun also! We are all still young and 2016 promises to be an amazing year.
 
Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?
The women I look up to and admire are my best friends, the girls in my gang, and artists like Tracey Emin, Nina Simone, and my biggest hero : David Bowie. He may not have had the female anatomy but he was a feminist and did a lot for women and the art we are able to produce.
 
Why is International Women’s Day so important in 2016?
I think IWD is important because it is good to celebrate the positives that have happened and are happening and inspire generations of women to come!



Soki Mak. 27, London.

Creative director and fashion stylist



How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?

Kylie approached me and I loved her enthusiasm to help others so it was a no brainer really.


What does female friendship mean to you?
It is so important. You will never know how much they mean to you until you need them.


Tell us about your first ever girl gang…

We bonded in primary school over our mutual love for the Spice Girls.


What do women need to be focusing on in 2016?

We are moving in the right direction: I see less body shaming and jealousy. Stick by each other, rising together is much more fun.


Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?
Ladies that take time out of their busy schedule to appreciate, educate and support each other.


Why do you think IWD is important?

It is important for reminding us that no matter how we feel, whether its ups or downs, we are woman and we are amazing.



Felicity Hayward. 27, London.

Profession Curve Model



How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?


I was contacted by Kylie asking if I wanted to be part of a girl collective helping other girls, it was a no brainer really.


What does female friendship mean to you?
Trust, support and love.


Tell us about your first ever girl gang…

I remember in year 6 I started a girl group called FAB (I can even remember the lyrics to the songs ) definitely inspired by Britney and the Spice girls. I then left the group and became their manager, I think we lasted 3 weeks after singing in assembly, but the group itself was empowering at that age and something that I'll never forget.


What do you think we, as women, need to be focusing on in 2016?

Ourselves, and not listening to the media’s absurd views on body image.


Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?

Adele and Beth Ditto for being unapologetically themselves.


Why do you think IWD is important?


We are half of the world’s population, we bring new life into the world and yet there are still global equality issues and it needs to end.
 


Kate Stewart. 21, London.
Singer



How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?
I heard about it through my stylist Kylie Griffiths. I thought it was a really great concept as I'm all about female empowerment. All the girls getting involved were so talented and amazing at what they do, and it was such an honour to be asked to be a part of it.
 

What does female friendship mean to you?

I think it's the most important thing to have a group of amazing girlfriends around you. There are so many things that you can't talk to your parents or boyfriend about, so to have your girls to confide in is really crucial. I have the best time with my girls, whether going out or chilling, you can always be yourself and have a laugh, and I think that's really important.

Tell us about your first ever girl gang…
I have always had my girl group that I've grown up with. Jalouse was our spot when we were 16. Since we have all grown up we prefer chilling, going out for nice meals and the occasional drink. We just enjoy each other’s company and make each other laugh. We all have similar taste in fashion, but a few of us are more daring than others. 


What do you think we, as women, need to be focusing on in 2016?

I think that we need to focus on encouraging each other. I feel like these days women aren't very 'pro other women' and there is a lot of bitchiness and competition when there really doesn’t need to be. If everyone stopped worrying about what other people think, we could all start being happy for each other. 


Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?
I look up to all my favourite singers: Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Beyonce to name a few! I want to be where they are with my career and they have all inspired me with my music, and my drive. If I could one day be on the same level as them, I will have reached my goal.


Why do you think IWD is important?
Some women do so much without any recognition, so it's really nice that we can celebrate and support each other.
 


Mairead Nash. 33, London.
Music manager, record label owner and record and coffee shop owner.



How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?
Kirsti has always got great projects on the go, and in some way, shape or form I always end up being a part of them. She’s cut from the same rug as me in terms of mentality, we’re all about girls going out and doing it for themselves together. As soon as she told me about GRLPWR, I was in.


What does female friendship mean to you?
I don’t know what I would do without female friendship, it plays such a key part in my life. I have so many close female friendships and working relationships, I even consider most of the people I work with as best friends.


Tell us about your first ever girl gang…

At school I was a total indie chick and was always drawn to other girls on that scene. We wore bindies, Girl Riot t-shirts, corduroy bell-bottoms and tight zip-up tops from Adidas. Every Friday night we would get very drunk on the cheapest wine we could get our hands on, usually Lambrini, and then head out to the local indie disco.


What do you think we, as women, need to be focusing on in 2016?

The current cultural climate makes it a tough time for everyone, especially women, and especially within the music industry. Right now us women need to stick together more than ever. Good ideas come from sharing ideas with others, that is where the GRLPWR idea came from.


Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?
I admire Patti Smith for her honesty, strength, independence and ‘do it yourself’ attitude. She is the one artist who is able to be in both the boy’s and the girl’s club at the same time.  


Why do you think IWD is important?
Most industries are so male-dominated and women deserve this one day for recognition in their own right.
 


Millicent Hailes. 24, London/LA.
Photographer/ Director
 
How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?

I’ve known and worked with Kylie for many years and she approached me to be a part of GRL PWR. My work is centred around challenging the ideas and notions of femininity, how I see women and more importantly uplifting women through my images, so of course I was really happy to be on board.
 
What does female friendship mean to you?
Being honest with each other, working together and giving each other strength…and not being afraid to say if something is shit.
 
Tell us about your first ever girl gang…

I was in primary school and had a group of girl friends: they all wore tiny mini skirts and I wore Key West flares and Tesco loafers. We used to hang out after school outside the local newsagents. We’d push each other in this pit that we made called the ‘sex machine’ and if you went in there too many times you couldn't be in the group for the rest of the day.
 
What do you think we, as women, need to be focusing on in 2016?
We need to be celebrating other women’s acts of courage and determination and trying to find our own voices to do so.
 
Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?
Any woman that isn't afraid to be who she is, or who she wants to be.
 
Why do you think IWD is important?
It’s a day to celebrate womanhood and connect with other women. It’s important to remember how far we’ve come together, and how far we still have to go for gender equality and women’s rights.




Sydney Lima. 22, London
Profession Model


How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?

Kylie Griffiths asked me to get involved and it sounded like a great opportunity to support one another in a variety of projects. I’ve found that careers in hair, make up, modelling etc. are often looked down on in male dominated industries. We’ve got to stick together!


What does female friendship mean to you?
The same as any friendship: friends are great.

Tell us about your first ever girl gang…
At school when I was 14 my friend Izzy and I made a two man band - Izzy was the drummer but she could only play one song… we were destined for success.
 
What do you think we, as women, need to be focusing on in 2016?  
We need more female MPs. Cuts to domestic violence funding is an absolute outrage!

Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?

One of my best friends: Antonia Marsh. She curates art exhibitions under the name ‘Girls Only’. In a few months she’ll be heading to India to find work by local artists to bring back to London and exhibit…and also she’s really fit.

Why do you think IWD is important?
It’s an inclusive approach to feminism, celebrating women globally and acknowledging political and social achievements.

 


Sharmaine Cox. 26, London.
Hairdresser and bar owner
 
How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?

I’m always happy to be part of something that promotes girl power, and the other girls in the gang are incredible.
 
What does female friendship mean to you?
Female friendship can be better than any relationship. I adore my friends!

Tell us about your first ever girl gang…

The Spice Girls! I think that every girl played the Spice Girls with their friends when they were younger - I was always Baby.
 
What do you think we, as women, need to be focusing on in 2016?

Building each other up instead of tearing each other down.
 
Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire?
My Mum, my sisters, Cher, Kate Bush, Debbie Harry, Joanna Lumley and Beyonce.

Why do you think IWD is important?

Because sadly women are so often overlooked, so it’s really important to have a day that makes them and their issues the focus.


 
Zoe London. 26, London.

Full time Blogger, YouTuber and DJ.



How did you first hear about GRLPWR and what made you want to get involved?


Kirsti is always at the forefront of cool new things so when she called me to explain, I wasn't surprised nor hesitant to join. Kylie is one of those people who I'll always have the utmost respect for because she's always done exactly what she believes in, and has done it right. Being part of GRLPWR isn’t just an exclusive honour for me, it's a movement that I'm proud to be at the front of.



What does female friendship mean to you?

Everything. My girls are there for me always and forever. When I'm down, when I'm happy, they celebrate and cry with me. They're the reason that I'm the person I am today. Girls always have to help other girls. It's unproductive to tear each other down.



Tell us about your first ever girl gang…


I had girl gangs at school - we thought that we were The Sleepover Club, you know that Nickelodeon generation? playing DreamPhone at midnight - but to be honest, my first ever girl gang and my favourite girl gang is the one that I started the day my little sister was born. We have had the best times and she is my primary girl gang for life.



What do you think we, as women, need to be focusing on in 2016?


Not letting anyone say no to us, not letting anything get in the way of what and who we want to be and standing up for other women, knowing that together we are always stronger. 



Which women do you look up to, listen to and admire? 


The rest of the GRLPWR gang inspire me and I constantly look up to them. That's why I am so proud to be a part of this gang. Otherwise, I've always looked up to Lady Gaga, a voice who's stood strong when the music industry needed her, allowing those who felt trapped by social convention to be free, and be who they are. She's done a lot for people across the world and I'll always look up to that. Also, I can't understand her tweets or her manifestos as I can't speak Russian, but Nadya Tolokonnikova will always have my support and ear for listening, because speaking up in a country like that is beyond powerful and I can't even comprehend the life she's had fighting for what she believes in.



Why do you think IWD is important?

I think that every single day should be women's day, but this day in particular is important to remind the world why we need to shout about days like this. When there are still so many injustices against women in the world it's important to use our voices. We shouldn't have to, it should just be the norm, but as it isn't right now, we must continue the work our suffragette sisters did for us.

Want to be part of the GRLPWR gang? Us too.
 

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