Meet Erin Bagwell: She's the director and creator of Dream Girl, a film that is encouraging girls everywhere to become leaders and realize their entrepreneurial dreams. This documentary is redefining what it means to be a businessperson, by highlighting the voices and stories of female entrepreneur.
For a little background, Erin and I met virtually more than a year ago, when she first started her website Feminist Wednesday. She reminded me that I was her first ever submission and I couldn't be happier to have supported such an amazing blog and person!
Erin created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the film and not only met her fundraising goal of $57,000, but managed to almost double it, her final total coming to $104,157.
Clearly, this is one woman who's not afraid of dreaming big. I spoke with Bagwell to get some insight on her project, as well as her success.
Tell me about what inspired you to create Dream, Girl?
I've always considered myself an entrepreneur. I've been freelancing ever since I left college, so I've always really enjoyed working for myself. When I first moved to the city (New York) I was working for a bunch of startups and guys owned them all. So my perspective of the startup business life was pretty traditional; men ran the companies, as they do across the board in America.
Through my career and founding Feminist Wednesday I got exposed to this totally different environment of female-run companies. I had the pleasure of being really inspired by them.
I think growing up in the 90s there was this persona that you had to be masculine to be in business. The women that I'm seeing look and sound and dress like me and it's very reflective of this new young generation of leaders that I wanted to capture.
Why do you think this film is needed?
I read a lot of business books and all the books I read are about male-founded companies. I felt like everything I was seeing in this space was really male driven and being a person who's really interested in business, I wanted to at least have another example of that.
I went to a NastyGal event in SoHo at the Apple Store where Sophia Amoruso was speaking; I got there really early so I could sit in the front row and the Apple store was filled! There was this crazy energy of all of these young people who were really into business and into female empowerment-I are getting goose bumps just thinking about it- they were so hungry for these stories.
You used Kickstarter as your crowd-funding platform, asked for $57,000 and ended up raising over $104,000! Why did you choose Kickstarter and how did you succeed on the platform?
I decided to go with Kickstarter because I knew that I couldn't make the film with $30,000 or $20,000. I knew that I had to make $57,000 as the bare minimum and I didn't want to use IndieGogo and get underfunded and try to bootleg a film together.
As far as being successful, I am a freelancer and an independent contractor by day; I do graphic design and animation so I was really able to control my schedule during the whole process and really work full-time. I was really able to just go for it, which I think really helped.
I put off my work and put my whole savings into it, it was a really all-or-nothing gamble. I think having no Plan B really made me push that much harder. I even knew if Kickstarter didn't work out, I would go a different route. I committed myself so fully to the project that I was taking it hell or high water.
There's so many things that you can do leverage yourself. We are lucky that were living in a very digital, very social media based culture. It's nice to be able to spread it around and work with blogs and things like that to get PR.
What kinds of prep work and promotion did you do? I saw on the Kickstarter page you've been featured in BUST, Elle, The Daily Beast, among others. How important is press to the success of a Kickstarter?
That's a really tough question because the different platforms and blogs I was on were so different. Trying to find your target audience, I think, is really important. You can be on really big blogs but if those people aren't necessarily interested in your content, it doesn't really matter.
It was interesting because sometimes we'd be on really big blogs and nothing would happen and sometimes through the smaller ones it (people) would come through.
We had a lot of success even on smaller millennial blogs that drove a lot of traffic because millennials are really interest in entrepreneurship.
It was kind of hit or miss honestly; I was in a space where I was trying to get it out to as many people, on as many different scales as possible. I just did everything and picked up on what worked.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Kickstarters?
I think first, acknowledge that having a really big idea is scary and that that's okay. You really only need to start the initial step to get comfortable.
When I started I was so nervous to even tell anyone what was in my mind. I talked about it with my fiancé but I was so scared to tell my friends. Saying, "I want to direct a documentary," just seem nuts! So for me, the first step was talking about it.
Asking yourself what is the first small step you can take the get there is really important.
What's one thing you want young girls who want to be leaders and entrepreneurs to know?
I want young girls to know that they already have what it takes to be a leader. Just because they don't see it right now, that doesn't mean they aren't who they are supposed to be already.
I think girls already have what it takes to be a leader, but we need to now show them more examples so they can feel more comfortable in their science and technology classes and in their business classes.
It's so funny, when I went to school my major was international business, because I was too afraid to start digital media arts. I didn't think I was a technical enough of a person to be able to produce film, which was ultimately my dream. I had been editing since I was 16 as well and had produced maybe a half a dozen films before I went to college. So I had the experience and already had the technical knowledge, the organizational skills, but I still didn't think that I could do it. I didn't think that was something that women did, that that was a possible occupation that women could go towards.
When I did my college campus tour, my tour guide had the major I wanted and was a woman. She had a cool purple streak in her hair and just seemed awesome. I was like "Oh, well maybe there are girls in this major, maybe it would be okay for me to do that." I switched my major because of it.
When you see more women in your field, you feel more accepted. There are tons of studies that show that psychologically we put up barriers based on what we think we should be.
If Erin hadn't seen a woman who had her desired major in college, she might not be where she is today. This is a really important lesson about the power of representation.
Dream, Girl is going to pass on this reality to thousands, if not millions, of other girls around the world.
So what's your dream, girl?