At her first media job out of college, 21-year-old Jane Claire Hervey saw problems within the industry that she was determined to solve. She began interviewing other women pursuing creative paths asking what was lacking in their careers and life, and she saw an opportunity for change. She arranged an in-person get-together with all the women she interviewed to simply connect, with about three hundred women showing up. That was in 2015, and that first meet-up spurred what is now known as #bossbabesatx. The nonprofit produces Meet-Ups and larger events like Babes Fest and craftHER, bringing out 17,000 people annually, and serves upwards of two thousand artists, entrepreneurs, and leaders through educational programming. Along with founding #bossbabesatx, Hervey runs a boutique creative production studio and is a musician with her first EP, Sour Grapefruit, under her belt. This is what the Rio Hondo native does On Texas Time:
On finding time to do it all:
First of all, I don’t do it all. At #bossbabesatx we serve women and nonbinary creatives, entrepreneurs, and leaders. I myself am three of the things that we serve. One of the things that we teach is that you don’t have to be all of yourself all at once. As far as what that looks like for me in practice, I have a lot of interests and projects, but I’m not all of those things all of the time. I allow myself freedom. That’s how I manage my time. I work on music a few days a week. My production studio work is what keeps the lights on and pays the bills. #bossbabesatx is a nonprofit, and it’s something I’ve had to invest a lot of my time in for free, so I’ve designed a lifestyle around that. Despite how crazy it seems, I do actually sleep eight to ten hours a night and I have time to hang out with friends.
On finding work-life balance:
I wouldn’t say that I have work-life balance, mostly because if someone else were to look at my schedule, they’d say, “Damn, you work too much” or “Your life is too overwhelming.” I think more so, my approach is that I let myself be all the things that I am. I am unapologetically those things no matter where I show up, but I don’t put pressure on myself to be everything every single day or against some measured outcome. I try to just be the things that I am. That’s how I achieve balance—it’s not really a balance, it’s more of an ebb and flow.
On her work icon:
This is going to sound so cheesy, but I really look up to one of our board members, Xochi Solis. She’s an Austin native and head of two of the vinyl clubs here in Austin. She’s someone that I know and work with every single day, but she’s definitely an icon to me. I’ve watched her prioritize her own needs as well as the needs of her community when the time necessitates it, and I really appreciate that. I think it’s so hard to take care of ourselves and to take care of the communities that we come from—especially as women when there are so many pressures to be every single thing to everyone, but not the things we want to be to ourselves. She’s really taught me a lot about setting boundaries with work and appreciating yourself at the end of the day.
On Texan artists that inspire her:
I’m definitely inspired by Solange and Beyoncé—I like their duality within their careers. I think it’s interesting how they’re sisters that both came out of Houston, yet ended up so different. I love that they represent Texas in different ways. Lizzo is another Texan artist I’m a fan of. I’ve also been inspired by a lot of the artists we work with at #bossbabesatx. Ladi Earth is a rapper we’ve worked with who’s based here in Austin, and I love her work. She’s a visionary. I’m also inspired by Alesia Lani, an incredible singer with an Erykah Badu vibe. I appreciate her hustle. She’s been doing music for a while and remains true to her vision and sound, continually taking her music to the next level.
On starting a nonprofit:
With thousands of people coming to our events when we started, it was just evidence that these things I was experiencing—not having what I needed to navigate in the world or the workplace, which had a lot to do with my gender and socioeconomic background—were things thousands of people experienced. Those first two years were realizing that I wasn’t alone. Those first two years, we were just running events and doing things as opportunities arose. It was one of the most overwhelming experiences in my life. I decided in order to keep doing what we were doing, we had to become a nonprofit that had a more stable funding structure and a nonprofit-oriented mission. Now, we’re a board of four strong and we’ve got eighteen committee members that work with us throughout the year on our program to ask questions like what we’re doing and why.
On fostering a community:
I could have started a Facebook group, but one of the reasons I wanted to meet in person was because to me, that’s what was a real community. Data suggests that now, we live in decontextualized communities, meaning when we think of our communities, we don’t think of the people who live next door or the cities that we live in. The problem with that kind of thinking is that our physical communities start to fall apart. So instead, we believe in illuminating the communities that we already live in and providing spaces where people have physical access to each other. We want for people to realize that there’s more to the place that they live in than they initially thought. I think beyond that, what we’re trying to teach is that if you can pay attention to the community that you live in, with diversity and inclusion and gender equality in mind, you can really change the places that you live in and you can change the culture.
On upcoming plans:
We have our annual arts festival, Babes Fest, coming up in September, and I’m hoping it’s going to be our biggest one yet. We also just launched a grant program that offers a $500 and $2,000 grant, thanks to The Curly Executive and Richelle Ouellete. Personally, I have a new EP coming out in the fall. And I’ve also been developing a curriculum based on my research around equity and creative entrepreneurship.
On advice for entrepreneurs:
Pay attention to your own data. What I mean by that is trust your experiences. Trust what you see, what you feel, what you know. There are so many factors that are outside of our control that it gets very easy to believe everything around us but ourselves. That can be the difference between taking money from a really awful investor versus bootstrapping something on your own. Those types of decisions matter. You might not always have everything you need to make decisions or have the resources, but if you can at least rely on yourself to be thinking critically and to be looking at our own data, then you’ve inched your way a little closer to the truth.