I am SO excited to have Amanda Faye Cowan on the blog for today’s Shero Spotlight! Not only is Amanda a working mom, she is the founder of her own public relations company and the mastermind behind GRL PWR Projects. GRL PWR launched as a networking collective for post-grad women in October 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since then, the organization has expanded to three other cities and plans to launch 13 additional collectives this July!
What was your education and professional background prior to launching GRL PWR?
Yeah, so I went to John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, and my degree is in journalism with a minor in English writing. I started out as a French major and then figured out that that is not what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to work for the government and I didn’t want to be a teacher. So, I enrolled in some communications classes and I always like the thought of being a journalist, and you know, watching “Devil Wears Prada” and all that good stuff … Right out of school, I interned for a music magazine, and got to use my journalism degree and from there I did music journalism for about six or seven years … While still working in the music industry, I transitioned from a journalism position to a public relations position … and from there, I decided that I liked that a lot more than journalism at the time. So I hung out with that for a bit and then a few years after, I ended up starting my own PR company, Faye PR, so that is actually my full-time job.
What was the inspiration behind GRL PWR Projects?
So, I was actually the first of all of my friends to have a child and I was realizing that work from home as a stay-at-home mom was a little bit lonely and I realized that I wasn’t getting out to network as much and there weren’t really very many organizations or groups in the city of Pittsburgh that allowed for more than just a networking experience. I wanted to gain some not only mom friends, but I wanted to gain some friends that were adults, it’s hard to make friends as an adult. Especially post-grad after having a baby. So, after doing some searching, I found that there wasn’t really anything like this type of inclusive community in the city of Pittsburgh, so I decided to start it. We started just with monthly happy hours open to anyone and everyone we like to call our happy hours a non-networking networking happy hour because yes, of course, you’re meeting new people and you’re networking, but it’s a different form of networking. You know, we’re not handing out business cards or wearing name tags. That’s not our jam. But yeah, we started with the monthly happy hours and from there, we started to add in some more curated events, and it just grew from there.
Why do you believe it’s important for post-grad girls to have a community like GRL PWR?
I think the most important thing is, you know, you’re in college and you’re with your friends but then once you graduate, everyone kind of disperses and, yes, you keep in contact with your group of friends and the connections that you made during college, but it’s different. Post-grad is totally different than when you are in school and I think it’s such a transitional phase in your life that you’re trying to discover what you want to do, applying for jobs, what type of industry you want to work in, but then also, you know, trying to make friends as a post-grad, whether you’re a new city transplant or you’re back in your hometown, or you’re living in the city where you just go to school, it’s very difficult. So, having a group of women who you can meet up with and make friends with and who are encouraging you and who are going through similar experiences as you are or may have already gone through those experiences in the past, it’s very important to be able to form that network and that community so that, you know, people can get inspired and motivated and encouraged by each other.
What has it been like to see your idea grow into a real thing and then expand into multiple cities?
Oh my goodness, it has been remarkable, but also scary. Yeah, it’s been so good. I think my first big step was launching in Philadelphia and handing over the reins to some women over there, because obviously, I’m based in Pittsburgh and cannot be in two places at once. So that was kind of just my first stepping stone, a test run, but it’s been great. I’m realizing when you run your own company it’s basically your child. It’s hard to really give up a lot of priorities and duties to other people because you know, how you want things run, you know how you get it done the best and the most efficient so handing over those tasks to other people is a very scary step but once you find the right people to manage it, it’s like they can run it better than you could sometimes.
In your own words, what is the mission of GRL PWR?
GRL PWR Projects is an inclusive community for women seeking growth, both personally and professionally. We do that through creating a space to network, collaborate, get inspired and share your story through events and workshops, virtual programs, weekend retreats, conferences, all of that good stuff. But really, we are a safe space for women seeking growth. So whether that means you are looking to make connections in your career, if you are looking to personally grow and really work on your self-care and develop a self care practice and work on loving yourself, we are there for that too. So we kind of have a little bit of everything for everyone.
What are your long-term goals for the organization?
I would love to continue expanding but also I would like to take GRL PWR Projects in a more philanthropic route and obviously run the collective but my heart and soul would be to develop some type of mentorship program for middle-aged and high school girls. So that they are connected with women in the community who can help them excel before college. Anything from learning how to do your taxes, which we don’t really learn too well to perfecting your resume to applying to schools. But obviously these would be focused on communities that are lacking these types of mentoring programs for girls and young women. So that is still of course down the pipeline, but it’s something that I’m continuously thinking about.
What advice would you give to girls who are nearing post-grad life?
Start building a small network of women who are in a similar situation or around the same age as you. Like I said, it is so difficult to make friends as an adult, but if you can find at least two to three girls who are going through the same experiences as you, whether it’s someone you work with someone who lives in the same apartment building as you, that way you guys are able to have someone to talk to or ask someone for advice and kind of just form a strong bond and hopefully carry that into years to come.
Stay connected with GRL PWR Projects on Instagram!