Inspiring Your Daughters — Behind the Scenes with RAD Girl Revolution

Motherhood

May 17, 2018

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I am very excited to share today’s blog post. One of my best friends, a New York City mama of two darling girls, has teamed up with another mama. They’ve created a book about girl empowerment. Their book, “Rad Girl Revolution,” shows young girls that they can be anything – from a CEO or astronaut to an athlete or (of course) President! This is such a cool, inspiring idea.

To publish the book, the team did a Kickstarter campaign last month, and their goal was met within a week of the launch. (Go Sharita and Jen!) Over the next few months, they will be completing the book, and aim to have it out in November (the perfect holiday gift for the girl or boy on your list).

You may pre-order a copy of Rad Girl Revolution at radgirlrevolution.com over the next 4 months.

Keep scrolling for the interview with the women behind Rad Girl Revolution.

These women are mamas too!

Before I share the responses of Jen and Sharita to some questions, a bit about the creative mamas…Sharita left a career in marketing after she had her first daughter. She began writing and eventually developed a television script for NBC. Jen left a property management career and started a photography business shortly after giving birth to her son. Both women have a passion for social justice and gender equality.

The 2016 presidential election propelled Sharita and Jen to start working on RAD Girl Revolution. When Sharita was a new mom (a few years before the election), she spent hours imagining all the things her daughter could be. She took her daydreams to paper, writing a poem describing different careers.

Several years later, during the 2016 presidential election, Sharita and Jen found themselves living in the same building and sharing playdates and socially conscious parenting ideals. It became apparent to them how few children realized a woman could actually be president. Sharita’s poem seemed more important than ever. Since Jen had photographed her family before, Sharita approached her about taking photo illustrations of the careers described in her poem and turning them into a book! Jen enthusiastically agreed, and Rad Girl Revolution was born.

What started Rad Girl Revolution?

Like most new mothers, Sharita spent hours imagining all the things her daughter could be. She took her daydreams to paper writing a poem describing different careers. Several years later, during the 2016 presidential election, Sharita and Jen found themselves living in the same building and sharing playdates and socially conscious parenting ideals. It became apparent to them how few children realized a woman could actually be president. Sharita’s poem seemed more important than ever. Since Jen had photographed her family before, Sharita approached her about taking photo illustrations of the careers described in her poem and turning them into a book! Jen enthusiastically agreed, and RAD Girl Revolution was born.

Why RAD?

We wanted an uncomplicated title with a lot of impact. We felt using an acronym would suit our intention! RAD stands for Rising Above Doubt to Reach Any Dream.

RAD Girl RevolutionPhoto

What are some of your favorite careers that will be highlighted in the book?

(Jen’s response) I’m personally very excited about our astronaut, paleontologist, and author photo sessions. Space, dinosaurs, and creative writing were always my favorite parts of school, and I am giddy to think of other little girls seeing those pages and feeling as inspired as I was. I’ve also really loved our firefighter and presidential cabinet sessions, as my son was especially surprised to hear women could hold those positions.

My son is most excited about our chef and astronaut photos. Those images have been visually inspiring for him, but he also gets excited about the possibilities of collaboratively working in a professional kitchen or on Mars (better yet- a professional kitchen ON Mars!) with his best friends (who are female).

How has your view of work changed since becoming a parent?

(Jen) I believe I underestimated the immense responsibility of raising a good human being. That cultivation is a 24/7, 365 labor of pure love. So when society doesn’t mirror the ideas and ideals I am attempting to foster, the role of parenting becomes more complicated. When I see stereotype or gender bias defiance in the real world, I celebrate it with my son! I declare, “Yes! Look over there! You see that officer, buddy? She’s helping keep us safe!” Or, “Your doctor is a mom too!” or “She’s directing a movie you will love!” So my feelings about work, rather, my feelings about gender balance and diversity in the workplace, stem from a passion for a better balanced, inclusive, more successful society, but also stem from a hopefulness that society will better reinforce the ideas I’m trying to teach at home.

What has been your most touching or amazing moment you’ve experienced as a result of this project?

(Jen) By far the most rewarding thing is the parents. My eyes are focused through my lens and on their daughters, but I can feel the energy of the parents next to me on set. They are beaming at their inspiring children, but they are also brimming with optimism about what their daughter’s role in our project can mean for the future of every little girl in the world.

What have you learned from this experience thus far?

(Sharita) It’s been eye-opening on a number of levels. We have learned a lot of statistics about the lack of female representation in children’s books, as well as about the low percentage of women in certain careers. Less than a third of children’s books have a central female character and very few of those show them as having a career or ambition, compared to male characters.

On a personal level, we have also pushed ourselves to live by our motto “Rise Above Doubt” and “Reach Any Dream”. We have each had to step outside of our comfort zone to learn new skills and promote our project.

Who has been an inspiration to you in your work?

(Jen) I’m very focused on honest expression. I’m not a photographer who gravitates toward a smile in a photo unless it’s 100% authentic.I appreciate storytelling photographers and am always drawn to their work. While our RAD Girl Revolution images are staged to a degree, it’s still important to me to maintain the authenticity of the child as well as provide storytelling emotion in every shot.

You don’t have backgrounds in publishing, public relations, etc. How have you launched such a successful campaign?

(Sharita) My background is in marketing, so some of my previous experience came in useful. Before we launched our Kickstarter, I spent months doing research on self-publishing and crowdfunding. We talked to creators of successful Kickstarter campaigns and got advice and tips from them. We have friends in public relations and online advertising who have given us crash courses and we took a few webinars on all these topics.

How do you balance motherhood and creating and promoting this project?

(Sharita) It’s not easy but it definitely helps that we both have supportive husbands. When they are not at work, they are very involved in spending time with the kids and sharing in household duties. As Sheryl Sandberg discusses in “Lean In”, women whose partners share the duties of home life, are more likely to succeed in their careers. We also help each other out a lot. Since we live in the same building, we can send the kids to play at each others place while one of us gets some work done! It truly takes a village!

You mentioned the website to pre-order a book. Are there any other ways that readers can learn about Rad Girl Revolution?

(Sharita) They can follow Rad Girl Revolution on Facebook, or @radgirlbook on Twitter or Instagram. We share behind the scenes videos and photos from our photoshoots, and also profile “Rad Girls” and “Rad Women” who are following their dreams, overcoming obstacles, or doing their part to make a difference in the world.

Are there any other inspiration sources you can introduce readers to that address girl empowerment?

(Sharita) We have been introduced to many amazing girl empowerment brands since starting this journey. Bravery Magazine, Girls Can! Crate, and Strong Magazine are three that come to mind.

Any advice to moms and dads to raise children in a way that promotes girl empowerment?

(Sharita) Kids learn by what they see, so parents need to model an equal partnership at home and make a conscious effort not to pigeon hole a child by their gender. Give them a wide range of toys, books, and activities. We feel it’s just as important for parents of boys to model this, so they grow up to be supportive of women in the workplace and at home.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

(Jen) Thank you so much for sharing the story of our project with your readers. We are so enthusiastic about the movement and appreciate your support.

Presidential photo shot with Hillary Clinton quote for Rad Girl Revolution book.

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