This Thursday night, Ideas in Motion Media gathered women from across the Region to hold one of its favorite events of the year, the Fourth Annual All About the Girls! Hosted and organized by Jenny Craig-Brown, the event comes around once a year to inspire and empower women from all walks of life.
“All About the Girls is my baby and it was brought up just to have the chance to showcase all the strong women in the Region,” said Jenny Craig-Brown, founder of the event and Executive Team Leader at Ideas in Motion Media. “There’s so many of us, and so often we’re a mom and we’re working and we’re an employee or we’re a boss or we’re a team member, whatever it is, and we don’t often get to showcase that.”
The evening was held at Sand Creek Country Club for the third year in a row, and opened with wine and beer tastings, appetizers, fun music, and great conversation with some incredibly strong women. This year’s topic, “Like a Girl: Inspiring Strength,” challenged women to examine what this traditionally negative phrase means to them, and how the association could be flipped on its head.
“For me the premise was, growing up as kids [‘like a girl’] had such a negative connotation,” said Craig-Brown. “Women are really coming together and switching that mindset to make it empowering. I want it to be an empowering statement versus something that has taken away from our power. I want to showcase it and I want to help that movement switch it.”
Craig-Brown first took the stage to thank everyone in attendance and get the crowd revved up for what would truly be an inspiring evening. In advance of the event, Ideas in Motion’s ‘Lady Lifers’ got to speak on what “Like a Girl” means to them.
The featured guests then took the stage. This year seven women had the chance to speak their truth: Judy Kukelka from StoryPoint of Chesterton, Erika Lubeznik from Purdue University Northwest, Amy Blaker from Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana, Kathleen Szot, Ashleigh Marlow from Frontline Foundations, Traci Brubaker from Team Chevy of Valparaiso, and Robin Rock from 93.9 LITE FM. Each woman had inspiring stories to tell, bits of wisdom to share, and words of encouragement for all in attendance.
For some women, the evening offered what was some much needed girl time.
“This is my third year coming,” said Kukelka. “I’m surrounded by boys and men in my life, so to have an evening surrounded by women, you couldn’t ask for anything better! The fact that we highlight just ordinary women from the region who are able to share stories and empower each other...that’s important.”
Amy Blaker has been coming since the beginning and was thrilled to be chosen to speak about what “like a girl” means to her.
“I like that it’s a girl power event. I like that it celebrates being a woman and female friendships. I think it’s really important to celebrate that,” said Blaker. “I think that a lot of times people look at girls supporting girls and [they think] it doesn’t always happen. And this is the event where it happens and you see it and you get to see people tell their stories about girls supporting girls... [Like a girl] means doing things with confidence, never doing it alone. You know you always have a tribe of women with you.”
Everyone was experiencing some nerves that evening. Nevertheless, with such a strong, supportive group of women present, the nerves quickly turned to excitement.
“This is my first time here. I think when you’re with a group of women, you always feel a little more supported, so I think that’s helping bring down the nerves a little bit,” laughed Szot. “[There are] so many things we should be celebrating that girls do well because you sometimes get negative ideas - ya know, throw like a girl, play like a girl. There’s so much that girls do that is worth celebrating, and I think that’s a really cool thing to tie into tonight.”
For Ashleigh Marlow, women are particularly blessed with the power to overcome and fight for the things they want in life.
“We’re here with a purpose,” Marlow said. “Like a girl to me is taking the opportunities that are presented to you and just attacking them. It’s about not letting other people, what they say or their thoughts, get to you. Just knowing that you can do whatever you can put your mind to.”
Kindness was also a big theme of the evening. Robin Rock explained that the growth of her three daughters has been a major inspiration to her, and that in light of social media, everyone has the responsibility to exercise kindness deliberately.
“It’s about [empowerment]. All it takes is one word, one tweet, one sentence to tear somebody down. This is such a cool opportunity to build each other up. I love that,” Rock said. “This is what it’s all about. I have three daughters and they’re all in their twenties. And to see all three of them, and to see their personalities and how they take on different challenges in life, it’s pretty amazing to me how my definition of what a girl is has changed as they have grown. It’s powerful. It’s strong.”
Traci Brubaker also stressed that strength and kindness go hand in hand and acknowledged that women have an incredibly ability to be flexible and discover their calling along the way.
“Everyone’s stories from last year and the energy in the room... just gathering so many business people together and women at one time to celebrate each other is great,” Brubaker said. “I think women are amazing! We need to celebrate each other’s successes.”
To celebrate those successes, Erika Lubeznik spoke about how going back to one’s roots might just be the way to be the best versions of oneself.
“To me, like a girl is going back to being a girl and not having anyone judge you,” Lubeznik said. “When you were growing up, you didn’t look at another girl and judge her. You didn’t judge what she was wearing or how her hair looked. You had fun! Enthusiastic and carefree.”
All in all, the evening allowed for laughs to be shared, tears to be shed, and hope and determination to be fostered.
“I want them to leave feeling empowered and inspired. I want them to get motivated by the speakers and know that whatever it is you want to do, you can do it,” said Craig-Brown. “Being like a girl doesn’t mean you have to be perfect or fearless, it really means that you have to know who you are and love that. That’s what I want to get out of every year - love yourself and love the girls next to you.”
Much thanks to our sponsors including Albert’s Diamonds, General Insurance Services, Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Services, Team Chevy, NIPSCO, Strack & Van Til, Party DJ’s, Community Healthcare Systems and CertaPro Painters of Northwest Indiana for their support!
For more information about Ideas In Motion Media, please visit www.ideasinmotionmedia.com.