Babes by any other name
Austin creative network Boss Babes steps into the future with new name
Since its inception in 2015, Boss Babes has been one of the most inviting groups in Austin (for women and queer folks, anyway), hosting free and meaningful events in cool locales. But the name wasn’t working anymore.
“Boss babes” and riffs on the same concept proliferated online until it was hard to tell who was working with the organization, and who was just, like, really enjoying their hot girl summer of productivity. It also raised the question: Who are the Boss Babes?
A two-year rebranding project has re-established the group as Future Front Texas. The new name avoids any doubt over who is already an established boss babe, and who isn’t, offering a legion to join at any stage of your career or creative development. It also anchors the organization in the entire state, as 30 percent of its partnerships are beyond the city of Austin.
“When we started it, we were solely having meetups and we're no longer just a meetup group,” says board president Xochi Solis. “We wanted something that structurally communicated that we were an organization ... We are rooted in more than just one type of program.”
Indeed, Boss Babes started as something between a social group and a networking group, simply for the purposes of finding out what other creatives in Austin were up to, and how to share resources among each other. As it grew to the scale Future Front now represents, it gained full-time employees with benefits, started craft fairs, attended rallies in solidarity, and continued holding meetups and creative seminars.
A new membership program that kicked off for the public in January is making those meetups available digitally, which is further expanding the organization’s reach, even outside of Texas. Just like during the in-person meetups, 200 or so current members share tips and references that go much broader than creative networking.
“‘Do you know about an accountant? Do you know an OB GYN?’” offers Solis as examples. “In addition to keeping us in communication about Future Front Texas programming, we're also using our membership platform to ask each other sort of simple life hack kind of things.”
Members also get access to a Texas jobs board, access to exclusive interviews with featured creatives, invitations and discounts to ticketed events, and “peace of mind” per the website, from supporting the organization through dues. The website doesn’t mention social clout, but scroll through the Instagram and make note of who liked each post. There are a lot of creative people in Austin who would consider Future Front an effective icebreaker, should you ever need one.
Most companies find a rebrand deeply intimidating, and despite their confidence, Future Front was no exception. The organization took cues from like-minded systems, and held focus groups with 1,000 community members and leaders. Asking for opinions from people the organization had worked with in the past meant they were retapping their own collaborators to get at the heart of Future Front’s collective identity. Participants were asked to comment on the name Boss Babes and share adjectives about their understanding of what the organization does. The staff even made a wish list and identified businesses they would like to partner with, to make sure their new outward identity would be an encouraging match.
“The posts that we have shared about our new name have been some of the highest engaged messages we've ever put out on Instagram or Twitter,” says executive director Jane Hervey.
The name change reflects natural changes already made, more than anything specific to come. Future Front is still about all the same things it started with, and this announcement is more about straightening up than stepping out anew. Staying true to its past success, Future Front is reemerging with The Front Market and Festival, a combination of the former Babes Fest and the craftHER Market. The two-day event, starting August 21, will bring together 100 vendors and creatives for all-day DJ sets, craft demonstrations, and art installations. All those events are free, and if you’re still feeling the spirit by dusk, you can stick around for $15 film and music showcases.
“We're working alongside so many people who are also really excited about building new community in Texas and making creativity something everybody can do,” says Hervey. “What does it look like to nurture yourself and support other people who are in your community? It's been fun to celebrate that with this restructure because we really are getting to reintroduce, this is what we are about.”