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‘Babes Fest’: A look behind the BossBabes Austin festival

BossBabes ATX hosted their annual festival featuring music, art, film, comedy and education from women and non-binary creatives across the Austin area.

AUSTIN, Texas — BossBabes ATX held an event on Saturday called "Babes Fest," gathering more than 1,500 primarily women and non-binary creatives throughout three days. 

To better understand what the festival is about, it's helpful to know the organization behind it. 

"#BossBabesATX" is a Texas-based nonprofit founded by Creative Director Jane Hervey. Alongside being the founder Boss Babes, Hervey is an artist and writer.

The organization seeks to amplify and connect women and nonbinary creatives, entrepreneurs and organizers. They also believe that representation, education and intersectionality make for more resilient leaders and communities.  

Hervey founded "#bbatx" in 2015 after she had moved to Austin and was searching for some sort of creative mentorship or resources, but fell short. 

The young creative spoke to other women in the creative industry and realized that "no one knew where to go," pushing her to create the first meetup in 2015. 

The meetup was a massive success as she was expecting 50 people. But to her surprise, there were 300 people in attendance as the event was made public on Facebook. 


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"I founded BossBabes but there were so many people who have worked on it," said Hervey. 

She is also proud that 75% of her staff are women or non-binary people of color. 

Communications Designs Assistant Margeaux Labat said she wanted to work for BossBabes ATX after she volunteered and attended multiple events. 

"I found myself not only having fun at these events but also met many genuine and like-minded women and non-binary people that were all involved in creative fields," said Labat. 

Boss Babes ATX gained their official non-profit status in 2017. 

PHOTOS: Boss Babes Fest 2019

So, what is Babes Fest?

Babes Fest is a three-day, seven-event festival. They also included a pop-up market called "CraftHER Market" that features small female and non-binary own businesses that sell their goods.

It was facilitated and produced by their staff, board, committee and volunteers. 

"The work BossBabes is doing is really important. Babes Fest is the event that brings what they're all about together," said volunteer Paula Horstman. 

According to Hervey, Babes Fest was #bbatx's first official event.

She found that as much as she loved going to festivals, it was disappointing to see the low number of women on stage in comparison to the high number of women in attendance.

Babes Fest showcased a diverse group of women and non-binary artists, comedians, filmmakers and business professionals. 

One of the featured acts was Kiran Gandhi, who performs as Madame Gandhi

Gandhi has been involved with Babes Fest from the beginning and her relationship with the organization began after being invited to a BossBabes ATX showcase at SXSW in 2015. 

Gandhi is an "electrofeminist" producer, percussionist and activist, who gained their initial recognition from drumming for notable artists like M.I.A. and Kehlani.

"I really wanted to be involved, so it's amazing to come back and support one of the few female-led festivals that exist today," said Gandhi.  

Another featured woman during the festival was Evelyn Ngugi

Ngugi is the writer, co-host of "Say it Loud" on PBS and is also the creator and face of Evelyn from the Internets, her YouTube channel that was featured on Beyonce's Lemonade tour

Ngugi not only screened one of her videos at the film showcase but was a panelist for the "Finding a Career in Creative Media" panel. 

This wasn't her first encounter with BabesFest. She has taught a class and has been a part of screenings, workshops and some of their parties they have thrown. 

"If you surround yourself with BossBabes, girls out here doing it and here to encourage you. you'll go a long way," said Ngugi.

BossBabes ATX holds monthly community events and will be accepting submissions for Babes Fest 2020 this November!

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