We’re sitting in the garden at Tamper Sellers Wheel and these two bubbly young women, Vanessa and Ellie, are explaining how they started the Sheffield-based events company, Girl Gang.
Ellie turns up first. With a wide-smile she introduces herself and while we wait she makes chit-chat about the city – Doc/Fest and the like. After about five minutes, Vanessa turns up. She’s bouncily excited and can’t wait to tell Ellie about some new DJs she’s managed to get for a night they’re hosting. The two take a moment to catch up before we begin to really talk.
Over the past few months, the girls have put on various female-centric events in the city. From music nights to film screenings, they’ve been the masterminds behind them all.
— GIRL GANG SHEFFIELD (@GIRLGANGSHEFF) April 11, 2015
“I think everyone wants to be part of a girl gang.” explains Ellie. “It’s just that sense of something that’s fun, powerful and strong.” But, it’s more than just a quirky sleepover club these pair are trying to start (as nice as that would be).
No, they see Girl Gang as a way of connecting people in the city; a way of bringing creative people together and allowing them the space to get to know one another. If anything, hosting events is merely an offshot of this desire.
“We don’t want it as a way to promote ourselves. We want it as a way for other people to promote themselves in a safe community. The main goal is that it’s not for selfish reasons.” says Vanessa. She’s so enthusiastic when she talks about her goals; it’s a pleasure to hear.
“It’s to really put something positive back into this city because it has the potential there to be a really strong thing we can provide.”
Full House. pic.twitter.com/ckcboTIRlc
— GIRL GANG SHEFFIELD (@GIRLGANGSHEFF) May 2, 2015
Of course, the pair know what it means to go it alone in this city. Ellie runs the Handmade Cinema – an “immersive, interactive cinema”, she tells me. She spends her time putting on workshops and screenings for families. Vanessa, on the other hand, is the owner of The Creep Store fashion label by day and a DJ by night. She’s been playing sets here for more than nine years and only recently decided to delve into the fashion sector.
Despite having mutual friends, it was Vanessa’s Mean Girls inspired line of clothing that ultimately brought these two together. The first time they met, they spoke for over three hours and realised that they had a similar idea of what they wanted to do in Sheffield. Thus, over a simple drink one fateful January day, Girl Gang was born.
Though there are some rather well known indie companies in the city, these two want to encourage more. “We know that there are other people there who are trying to be heard and want to reach out to them, but that starting point is the most difficult place.” admits Vanessa.
She’s talking about people who want to start their own company or just reach out to others, but don’t know how. When the two first met, they found common ground over the fact that they’d struggled to find support for their independent ventures. It was then that they realised that they could help each other and, indeed, others like them.
— GIRL GANG SHEFFIELD (@GIRLGANGSHEFF) April 29, 2015
“The goal is to support women.” affirms Vanessa. “We just did it because we think that the tide has turned recently. Women are finding their voices and wanting to be heard. We deserve just as much as our counterparts do.” Playing regular sets in the city, Vanessa has seen her fair share of inequality. She says that she knows about a hundred male DJs here in Sheffield, but only about five female ones.
This imbalance inspired her and Ellie to host last month’s Babes Party – all female DJs playing exclusively feminine music in Bungalows and Bears. The event was a massive hit – glitter tattoos and all – and they already have another planned.
But that’s not all, Girl Gang will be curating Saturday at The Great Gatsby over Tramlines, hosting a picnic in Endcliffe Park in August and planning a Halloween party (Bats and Babes) in October.
They also want to plan a free cinema screening if they happen to have time. In fact, their schedule until December sounds pretty jam-packed.
When I ask them what they’re planning, they start to reel off an almighty list of things – some concrete, others mere notions. “We just want to inject some fun back into things. Sort of low-cost and interesting events where you don’t feel intimidated.” Vanessa tells me. “We’re just dweeby weird girls, who want to have fun.”