Interview: Girl Gang Manchester and the Mean Girls Event
This post marks the exciting moment of my first ever blog interview and it couldn’t have been with a more wonderfully, inspiring woman. I got the opportunity to chat (and giggle!) away with Megan Griffith, the founder of Girl Gang Manchester. Read on to find out all the giggly gossip about the upcoming, not-to-be-missed, Mean Girls Event!
1. I feel like 2016 is the year of the Girl Gang, which is amazing! There’s your girl gang, Jemma who blogs at Dorkface set up her own girl gang and I’ve even noticed brands like ASOS and Ban.Do getting on board with the Girl Gang! It’s all really exciting stuff, so tell us how did Girl Gang Manchester start?
It all began in March 2015 with our sister movement Girl Gang Sheffield, founded by my best friend of 15 years, Ellie, who runs the Handmade Cinema in Sheffield, and Vanessa, who owns the clothing line Creeps. What was originally supposed to be a quick coffee meeting about creating a one-off event for Vanessa’s Mean Girls inspired clothing line escalated into a 6-hour chat about young female business owners trying to find their feet in the world. It’s in this huge brainstorming session that Girl Gang Sheffield was born. A few days later they came up with the Girl Gang manifesto (T: scroll to the bottom of this post to see the powerful Girl Gang Manifesto!). They then went on to host their first event, the Mean Girls event and so many other events followed including another immersive film night, 4 club nights, a Halloween party and film festivals…just to name a few!
In January 2016, Girl Gang Manchester was spawned! I’m originally from Sheffield but I’ve been living in Manchester for 8 years and felt that with it’s immense creative scene, Manchester was the perfect place for the Girl Gang. So I got together with 30 incredibly talented creative women to plan the Girl Gang Manchester event-series. From here, we did call-outs on social media to which we received an overwhelming response. We had people offering to help out, artists wanting to get involved, girls saying they would love to come to the event- the number of positive responses was incredible.
The Girl Gang event-series are all about celebrating creative women in a fun, celebratory, silly way. We want to talk about serious issues and engage with young women in a ‘popular’ way, using things that they can relate to. We just want to bring people together in a silly way, that’s accessible for all. Through this event we hope to encapsulate the spirit of the Girl Gang.
2. Wow, it sounds amazing. Obviously, Girl Gang Manchester hopes to give women a platform to express themselves. You currently have your first event, the Mean Girls event, coming up next week on the 11th and 12th February. What can we expect to see at this event?
The Mean Girls event is a re-making of the original event that took place in Sheffield. But so much has changed since there and there’s a few exciting surprises that won’t be revealed until the night! Jenny, one of the designers, has thought up some truly amazing things that I don’t think would have happened without her! The event is filled with workshops that have all been created based on Mean Girls quotes. These events tackle a variety of issues including assertiveness, body positivity and intersectional feminism. There’s going to be cake decorating with the a cake made out of rainbows and smiles workshop, a danceathon, poetry, a pop up performance called ‘Personally Victimised by Regina George’ (T: this sounds amaaazing by the way!), an Anti-Burn book where you can Reclaim your shame, a mini-market, Mean Girls themed cocktails and so many other things for you to get involved with. There’s bound to be something for everyone and it’s all just going to be light-hearted, fun and empowering.
3. What made you choose the film Mean Girls for your immersive film screening and jam-packed event?
It was kind of coincidental really, it was the theme used for the Sheffield event so it made sense to use it for our first Manchester event too. Though a lot has changed since then! Plus, I’m a huge Mean Girls fanatic ever since I first watched it with my girl friends when I was 15 years old. It’s one of the best films of all time! It’s based on the non-fiction book self help book Queen Bees and Wannabees which touches on issues experienced by so many girls. I feel like the film Mean Girls is a perfect fit for the Girl Gang as it explores issues surrounding high school cliques, rumours, self-identity and reinvention in a fun, inclusive way that everyone can relate to. We want to inspire women to surround themselves with other inspiring women. Through this event and the Mean Girls themed workshops, we want to promote positive mental health and confidence. We love that girls are happy to turn up to our events with their own girl gang that they’ve been friends with for over 10 years or on their own to create new girl gangs. We want to promote the importance of building a strong friendship circle and we hope that girls can find their own girl gang through our event. I’m lucky because I’ve grown up with an amazing circle of friends but I know that some girls don’t always have that strong support system available to them so through this Mean Girls event we want to inspire girls to have the power to break free from negativity. This immersive screening has strong Mean Girls themes running throughout to enhance the importance of creating strong female friendships and celebrating your own uniqueness too!
4. It seems like there’s a wonderful amount of positivity surrounding the Girl Gang! Including all of the amazing people you get to network with, the Sheffield Mean Girls even winning an award and the Friday night of your Manchester Mean Girls event selling out in 6 days, what’s been the highlight of it all so far?
Honestly, I think the highlight is still to come – the event itself! For me, one of the highlights has to be that it’s allowed me to connect better with people I know and to create new connections with other talented, creative women. It’s also great to see others connect and form friendships through the Girl Gang. When my own little Girl Gang moved away, I was left to go it alone, so the Girl Gang has been a great way to create new networks and to build on existing friendships too. It inspires a can-do attitude among women and brings people together, which I just love. Another highlight has to be launching the manifesto, which was created by Ellie and Vanessa. The manifesto has received such a strong, positive response. As for the third highlight of it all, I guess I’ll have to admit that selling out in 6 days was something I never expected. To have so many people interested in attending the event that it sold out that quickly and we had to put on a second night is incredible!
5. It sounds like such an inspiring and empowering community, what things do you have planned for Girl Gang Manchester in the future?
For one of our next events, we’re looking at doing a fun speed-dating/speed-networking mash-up, which is really just going to be a bit of a silly event to bring people together. I think it’s important to give everyone an opportunity to get involved by setting up these non-threatening situations which allow them to push their boundaries, get out of their comfort zones and make new friends. We want to make it create events that are as non-threatening as possible and give you the opportunity to put yourself out there and get involved. We also want to put on a punk night inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement, we have LadyFest coming up in autumn and we hope to put on another immersive film night in the Summer time. There’s so much more we want to do, there’s just constantly ideas bouncing around! The future of Girl Gang Manchester is really just determined by who gets involved!
6. How can people get involved with Girl Gang?
Absolutely anyone can get involved, lads too! We want to keep the majority as females, just to keep it a non-threatening environment that gives women the space to talk, but we are more than happy for lads to get involved too! The main way people will be able to get involved is through call-outs. There’s going to be so many opportunities available to give you a chance to get involved in Girl Gang. We also love if you have the initiative to contact us and put forward your ideas. If there’s something you would love to do, let us know and we’ll bounce ideas around and help you out where we can. We’re happy to let you take the reigns with an event and we’ll be the girls in the background to cheer you on, offer support where we can and help you connect with others.
7. The Mean Girls event is part of Manchester’s Wonder Woman Festival, a feminist festival that celebrates art, music, film and debate. Are there any other events happening that week that you’re looking forward to?
As the Mean Girls event is on the Friday and Saturday, I’m going to be super busy preparing for that, but I’ve booked myself onto a few events I want to attend. The launch event What Is She Wearing at Manchester Art Gallery looks brilliant, I’ll have to make sure I go along to that! I also want to take part in Fannie Sosa’s Twerkshop, which is all about empowerment, sexuality, learning about the deep roots of twerking and challenging the negative preconceptions created by media. There’s so much going on that I want to get involved in like Here come the grrrls at Band on the Wall and Film Nite’s reinterpretation of Thelma and Louise.
I’d like to say a Massive thank you to Megan for chatting to me about all things Girl Gang, Mean Girls and female empowerment. It was lovely and personally, I can’t wait to head down to the Mean Girls event at Hope Mill Theatre on Saturday 12th March. I am so so so unbelievably excited! If you fancy getting your girl gang together, putting on your best spring-fling frock and heading to the event you can get tickets here for just £12. I promise you it’s going to be an event you do not want to miss out on!
In the meantime, give Girl Gang Manchester a little follow on twitter (@GirlGangMcr) to stay up to date with their fab girl power tweets and to find out about upcoming events! Show your support for this self-funded movement that wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for all the creative, incredible, wonderful volunteers!