It will take a long time to be taken seriously. You need to accept that right away. Especially if you’ve decided to tailor your social media to supporting a cause and away from the more vain things in life: travel, beauty, lifestyle, etc. I still struggle to this day to be taken seriously by my own community in Denver. But there will always be people encouraging you, too. Those people are YOUR people and you should hold them close.
As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Mims, founder of Currently Colorado and non-profit Bad Bettie Project. Lauren graduated with a degree in PR, which allowed her to effectively pursue social media in the travel space via her brand Currently Colorado. That work led her to discover a serious need for sisterhood in the Denver area, thus Bad Bettie Project was born in 2016.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It wasn’t until my “junior” year of college that I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Previous to that I tried majoring in acting, then music business and even flirted with the idea of political science. With a creative background and a passion for working with people, it’s honestly not a surprise to most that I fell in love with public relations. I switched majors after a PR 101 class that had me buzzing as I left, knowing in my heart, “this is what I was meant to do.” All this came after nearly dropping out, my boyfriend at the time having passed away in a motorcycle accident. I was ready to just work retail forever (no shame.) Public relations pulled me out of a dark hole that I wasn’t sure I’d get out of, but here I am!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
Honestly, in the world of PR — a lot of really interesting things happen every week! It’s kind of hard to keep up. I’d say in the past year, the most interesting thing to have happened to me was my invitation to the 2019 Facebook Communities Summit from Facebook HQ themselves. Me and a friend were flown out and put up in a nice hotel for two days and spent our time immersed in Facebook culture. The level of detail they go to in all they execute during these in-person events is always incredible to watch, let alone be a part of. We heard from the COO, CMO and Mark Zuckerberg before breaking out into workshops and lectures. It was such an incredible experience.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Easily, the funniest and most embarrassing mistake I’ve made (ashamedly, several times) is not recognizing someone. Public relations might as well be personal relations, really. There’s nothing more awkward than reaching out to a fellow influencer to collaborate and not realizing they’re like, a person you know in REAL LIFE. I’m over here, slipping into her DM’s like “Hi, my name is Lauren!” No sh*t. We’ve had coffee. Honestly, I’m human and I have a LOT going on. If your Instagram bio name is different from the name you use IRL, I might fumble. I’ve since learned to slow down, do a bit more digging if I’m unsure and if all else fails, “Hey there!” will always work.
Ok Super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?
I’ve been building up the Currently Colorado brand for years now and other than encouraging people to be great towards the environment, I never had any social good goal there. It wasn’t until I moved to Denver from Dallas and noticed a serious lack of sisterhood that I knew I could use my platform to nudge a little change in that arena. A friend of mine that had been living in Denver about 6–9 months previous to me started a small Facebook group called “Denver Sad Girls Club.” I quickly signed up to get involved, was eventually handed the keys and started really pushing my community to get into that space. We re-branded and formally registered as a non-profit in early 2018, giving birth to Bad Bettie Project: a women’s social club focused on the personal development and success of millennial women.
Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?
Girl gangs are an amazing thing, y’all. I’d say weekly, maybe even daily for periods of time we see active positive impact in our online community that is entirely member driven. What I mean by that is we’ll have women asking for advice — sometimes asking for physical help — and our members rise to the occasion. I’ve seen more women talked off a ledge than I can count and more families fed during storms than we’d ever like to see. Earlier this year, we had a member who’s partner passed away unexpectedly. She decided the best choice for her mental health was to move back home (85% of our members are transplants). The apartment they shared was under lease and the company refused to let her break it without adding on insane fees. As someone who’s lost their partner, I could not understand how anyone would be callous enough to treat another human that way. So, I put up a call to arms of sorts and asked the 1400 members of our group to contribute whatever they could so we could get her home. Within 30 minutes we had received all the funds we needed. I commented a hundred thanks and that they could stop, but more kept pouring in. For days, we had women contributing with notes encouraging us to use the money for anyone else that may need help. That night, the Emergency Bettie Fund was established and we use it to this day to put food on tables, transport women to appointments, cover medical bills and more.
Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?
When my boyfriend passed away I developed an incredible amount of anxiety. I fell into an abusive relationship that only fed into that even more. Sometime near the last 6 months of our relationship I was added to a “girl gang” on Facebook titled, “DFW Sad Girls Club.” It was basically a group of badass alternative women and a space you could vent in and what not. Like most good things, it grew too quickly and drama bombs went off. Ultimately, it dissipated but several sub-groups survived. Since joining in 2015 I’ve made so many amazing connections with the brightest women, but there was a void for that in Denver. With so many transplants, no one knew each other. Add in a heaping dosage of millennial anxiety and no one is meeting anyone. With my skills in PR and my audience, I felt pretty confident that I could grow a community that fostered sisterhood, personal development and culture. We’ve hit our fair share of bumps, but I’m only human. My tipping point really wasn’t a negative one. The community existed and after being given a dozen or more testimonies from women in our online group about how it changed their life for the better, I knew I had something special here. I knew I had to take it more seriously and that’s when I registered us a non-profit.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
We don’t have one specific problem, in a lot of ways we’re more of a community trying to create a lot of change in civil human rights. Our organization has a heavy focus in helping members find housing, jobs and medical help in Colorado. Supporting us is directly supporting young women in Colorado trying to succeed in life, and since the majority of our membership is women that want to help the community as well, it becomes a circle of never-ending giving. You don’t have to just support us, any girl gang will do. Here’s my top three ways:
● Support your local girl gang! If you’re not part of one and want to be, chances are there’s one in your area — a Facebook search for “women [your city name]” might bring up some leads
● Support Bad Bettie Project: if you’re a local business or ecommerce we have a dozen different sponsorship opportunities that will expose you directly to our 1500+ members as a business we trust. We also have merch, all proceeds go to the Emergency Bettie Fund — bit.ly/ShopBBP
● Support SISTERHOOD! If you haven’t noticed, lately it seems the world is at war with women. If joining a local community for women isn’t your thing, simply being a voice of empowerment and encouragement to the women in your life is an incredible thing!
What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?
As a community, our main focuses are on providing resources for women and supporting them in their goals for personal development. To promote this messaging, we rely heavily on social media and events. In addition to my personal brand, Bad Bettie Project has its own social channels where we have more tailored messaging and promotion of our events. Our events are where the real magic happens. These experiential, girl power focused events bring local businesses and the community together. A big thing I encourage all people with a cause to pursue is grassroots efforts. Sure, social media is a super powerful tool for getting your message out to the masses, but in-person events is what really creates engaged participants in your cause. See how you, as an influencer or voice online, can get involved in local efforts. If there’s a non-profit already fighting for what you care about, be their spokesperson! If there isn’t an organization already in action, host a fundraiser yourself! You don’t have to make it complicated, simply encouraging your followers to care about something you’re passionate about can cause lasting change.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish someone had told me that working in a women-only environment can be just as toxic as it is empowering. Having stable boundaries and thick skin is a must. When you manage a women’s club, drama is bound to happen. I hate to back that stereotype, but it’s just true. The important part is to not let it affect you. As a leader, I often feel that the issues that crop up in our community are a direct reflection of me or my leadership. You have to accept that people’s poor choices of words or actions aren’t controlled by you, just keep doing good work.
- Don’t get caught up in the haters! When Bad Bettie Project started being more public-facing with our merchandise, I did a lot to hype it up and drive traffic to our pages. We had this badass t-shirt a member designed that said, “Dead Men Can’t Catcall.” The shirt was selling quite well and we were really thrilled with the donations coming in — until we got a message from a local influencer/brand with a huge following claiming we were feminists trying to kill men. There’s a ton of things wrong with that claim, but I won’t dive into it. Point is, I was wrecked for days over this message. I tried to open up a dialogue about it, but they refused and I was met with hostility, so I let my emotions get the best of me and I responded out of emotion, too. Questioning why a woman-owned operation would have any issue with a t-shirt calling out catcalling. As you can imagine, I didn’t get a response and the world moved on as usual. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t fed into it. People are going to have different opinions and criticize you, even if what you’re doing is for the greater good.
- It will take a long time to be taken seriously. You need to accept that right away. Especially if you’ve decided to tailor your social media to supporting a cause and away from the more vain things in life: travel, beauty, lifestyle, etc. I still struggle to this day to be taken seriously by my own community in Denver. But there will always be people encouraging you, too. Those people are YOUR people and you should hold them close.
- I wish someone had told me in the beginning to “ask for anything.” Working in public relations in general, I kind of adopted the mantra, “you never know what you’ll get if you don’t ask!” I worked with a lot of nonprofits in Dallas and the community was incredibly generous. You could ask just about anyone for anything and they’d do everything in their power to make it work. This really does apply to just about anything, though. As an influencer, you have much more pull in what you ask — it’s all about your approach. If you’re fighting for a cause, be sure to put that at the forefront of your ask so brands know you’re not only looking for a freebie.
- Be relentlessly bold. I was so incredibly bold out the gate after college, it really did land me whatever I wanted or needed. I lost that boldness when I moved to Denver and I wish someone had kicked me in the butt to bring it back sooner than I did. Being bold, you will rock the boat. You will shake things up and people will not like it. Refer to tips one and two to offset that. But you will go so much further if you boldly pursue your passions.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the world, I would want to teach every young person how important empathy is and how their actions directly affect the world . I focus a lot on women, that’s because a lot of women naturally surround me. But really, I think the only way we will see a positive change in the world is through our youth. Some say old dogs can’t learn new tricks, I think they’re just stubborn. If the generations above us refuse to take civil rights and environment seriously, we have to instill a standard of excellence and empathy in those we are raising. Empathy is such a key component to personal development and ultimately how we treat the world around us. I think if we all practiced empathy on a more regular basis and enriched our youth’s lives with this type of understanding, we’d see a dramatic shift in how our world operates.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I shared this earlier, but “You never know what you’ll get if you don’t ask,” is easily my favorite Life Lesson Quote. Asking for anything, whether it be goods or help is a very hard thing for most to do. It requires a bit of vulnerability, some trust and of course — the ability to accept rejection. In public relations, I ask for a lot of things every day. Some come through and some do not, you start to learn quickly who you want to continue working with based on that. Social media is the exact same way, just in an online bubble. It’s up to you if you want to use your influence in an altruistic way or for yourself. Or you can be like me and do a little bit of both. Who says you can’t treat yourself occasionally?
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Easily Nora McInerny. It took me an incredibly long time to feel strong enough to listen to her podcast after losing my boyfriend and my Dad. I felt it would be way to real, way too relatable to handle. I’m so glad I did eventually start listening to her podcast, “Terrible, Thanks for Asking,” because it made me feel a lot less bad about the dead boyfriend jokes I make. Those events really changed the course of my life, I think Nora can relate and is a shining example of making lemonade out of really sh*tty lemons.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Follow my travel/lifestyle & girl power focused brand Currently Colorado on Instagram and Facebook under @currentlycolorado! You can also follow Bad Bettie Project, @badbettieproject. If you’re a womxn living in the Colorado area, you can join the community here: www.facebook.com/groups/badbettieproject.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!