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Courtney Greenberg

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Extended interview with the badass founders of the Bad Girls Collective

Extended interview with the badass founders of the Bad Girls Collective

Kate Chippindale and Kara Wark at the Drake Hotel with November's book selection, Milk and Honey by Toronto poet Rupi Kaur. (Photo: Lance McMillan/Metro)

Kate Chippindale and Kara Wark at the Drake Hotel with November's book selection, Milk and Honey by Toronto poet Rupi Kaur. (Photo: Lance McMillan/Metro)

I was scrolling through my Instagram explore page when I saw a post about the Bad Girls Collective, a book club inspired by and dedicated to connecting women and discussing great literature. I noticed the reaction they were getting from not only Toronto locals, but women around the world. The founders, Kara Wark and Kate Chippindale, shared their stories and why they felt the need to create this platform for an article I wrote for Metro News, but you can check out the extended interview below.

How did it all get started?

KW: Bad Girls Collective started as a book club about four years ago with just a small group of our friends. We’re a pretty eclectic group of girls. We’ve all come from different jobs and brought different girls to the table and I think after a few months of having our book club in a living room we realized we had a pretty bad ass group of girls getting shit done in toronto and making moves. After two years of our book club, we grew from 8 to 25. It was a little too big for our living room.

Over the christmas break, we had a brainstorm and said this needs to be a bigger thing. With everything going on in the world, with the election and everything, women’s rights coming to the forefront, there’s no better time to start this as a collective and invite other book clubs in the city to meet up every other month, talk about a book, hear about women in the city who are making moves and making an impact—and also just a way for women in other parts of the city to meet that you wouldn’t normally cross paths with.

We’re all creative and kind of feeling that we need to extend our group of friends to the financial district and to the medical field. We just felt like we didn’t know enough women in the city. (We’re) broadening our girl gang.

KC: We both felt in our separate career paths that there was a tendency to be really competitive and sometimes knock each other down. Our intention and our goal is to reverse that mentality and support other women no matter what they’re doing. We bring people together. We have a run club that we do and people are welcome whether they’re marathon runners, or they’ve never run before. We love to support other businesses and entrepreneurs. On all different levels, our goal is really to support women and reverse that kind of negative trend that tends to happen in the workplace or in a friend group.

How can readers get involved?

KW: You buy the book that’s selected each month. RSVP to the event. You show up. We encourage women to invite their own book clubs out, and come as a book club. You could fly solo and come on your own. All ages are welcome. Guys are welcome, too. We haven’t really advertised that. We want women to feel like it’s a night for women, female focused, and then if the men who want to support women want to come, all for it!

KC: Follow us on Instagram to learn about what’s happening. There’s lots of different ways to participate whether it’s through the reads or the run club. Or different things that we’re doing. Even we’re noticing people who don’t necessarily live in Toronto are joining the conversation and reading the books where they live. So the intention is to grow it beyond Toronto eventually as well and create a movement with something that is really positive.

What do you focus on at the meetup?

KW: Usually when we do the book club nights we’ll gather a theme from the book. Last month, it was about how images of femininity are changing and the book we read was written by a man…about his perspective on how women feel about men so we thought it was interesting to speak about that as a theme. Each book we pull a theme out of it and then choose speakers based on that theme.

KC: We always have an element of entertainment and fun to it, too. We had a female comedian. We had a drag queen and we had Ralph perform at our last one. So as much as we want to keep this tied to the book club idea at its core, we also want to make them fun and interesting. Even if you haven’t read the book, you can come and participate and enjoy yourself and network and meet new gals at the end of the day.

What was it like to seeyour book club dreams become reality?

KC: I think that’s been really interesting. It’s amazing to see how people open up and share their own personal stories, their perspective on things, for me and for Kara, I feel like our minds have really just been opened by being exposed to new people and new ideas. That’s been really cool.

And I think, too, getting people all together in a space where nobody looks at their phone—a group of 20 to 40 year old women for several hours and people are there in real life talking about real things, which is a really rare opportunity these days given the social media landscape and how busy everybody is. It’s been a really nice real mental pause and it’s so nice to connect with somebody on something that is meaningful and promote meaningful conversation in a group of women.

What should we read up on next?

KW: The next book is Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. She’s from Toronto. She’s an amazing poet... She has a new book coming out and she’s touring that book.

KC: Her poetry is very much the voice of our generation as females. She covers a lot of topics that relate to us. Female empowerment—but it’s in a very real, raw way. We’re super excited. It was by far the popular vote. That’s how excited people are about her. The event is November 1 at Saints Editorial, an amazing office space at King and Spadina. We’re really excited to be there.

Within the ticket sales we are supporting a lot of charities. That’s really back to the community. Our tickets are $25. Within that, it includes your experience for the night, all you can drink, and food. As much as we can after our expenses, we give back to charities. We’ve worked with a number of amazing causes so far. The Stop community food centre, Canadian Women’s Foundation. The charity has been on site themselves to really speak to their causes so that’s been cool.

Wark and Chippindale (Photo: Lance McMillan/Metro)

Wark and Chippindale (Photo: Lance McMillan/Metro)

Check out the Bad Girls Collective here.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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