Our Founder, Amanda Owens, Shares What It’s Been Like Building FFL And Her Vision For It In The Future
Image Credits: Michael Walsh / Twitter
As a Cabinet Member of Future Female Leaders, I get a lot of questions about how we started, Amanda’s vision for the organization, and what we’re all about. Recently, I got lucky enough to do a personal interview with our founder, my mentor, and the girl boss herself, Amanda Owens, to ask her what I really thought readers would want to know. Here’s what she said:
Who inspired you to take FFL from a Twitter account to a conservative women’s organization?
My father. He’s always believed in me, even when I haven’t believed in myself. He taught me from an early age that no dream is too big or unattainable with the appropriate amount of tenacity and hustle, while never hesitating to give a major dose of tough love. I brought him on board pretty early on as an informal advisor. He is an experienced entrepreneur and I value his advice and counsel tremendously and take it into account when I make major decisions for FFL. He selflessly has given his time, when his plate is already way too full, to move FFL forward, because he truly believes in and supports my dream and the mission of FFL. We’re a team and I couldn’t imagine this adventure without him.
When did you know you wanted to build your team and expand? How did you decide to do that?
The first time I told the idea I had of the Cabinet and Contributor programs to someone, they laughed. In my face. I bent a lot of ears on the idea, got both positive and negative opinions about it, really thought about it for a long time, and in the end, I decided to pursue it. There was a huge demand from our audience that wanted to get involved with our organization in some capacity. I pulled in my friend, Kayla, who now serves as our Cabinet Program Advisor. I met her through FFL – a true testament on how FFL brings women together.
She helped me create the Cabinet and Contributor programs. We found things that worked and things that didn’t work. We made mistakes. We’ve learned A LOT and we still are. There has been changes in it in the past and there will be in the near future. Introducing these programs was a big deal for us and was a huge step in our growth. I look back and smile on how young and nervous we were when we did our first round of interviews for the Cabinet, but boy were we full of life, optimism, and excitement. We have a great team that we get to work alongside daily.
In addition, the introduction of columns on our website. Once upon a time, we were just a Twitter account with a tiny little website, but I wanted it to be much more than that. I hoped the columns would create a sense of community and support system with our audience while also being a destination to women to engage, empower, and actively inform themselves.
Moral of the story: Trust your gut, but always be open minded and listen to what others have to say.
When you faced trials, obstacles or severe criticism, how did you find the strength to keep going?
I’ve never been particularly poised or well spoken, I’ve learned as I’ve gone, I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I always try to be genuine and real. The readers have watched FFL, and me individually, grow throughout the years and I’ve always tried to be candid about the journey. While there are great and accomplished days, there are also extremely dark days. A lot of people see the good days. Not many people see the bad. That’s not just exclusive to me. That’s true for almost everyone. Growing FFL has been passionate, difficult, rewarding, sometimes defeating, and always empowering. There are a few things that I use as my “check-points” that keep me centered and in perspective through the trials and obstacles.
First and foremost is my family. I know no matter how horrible or defeating a day might seem, my sisters and parents will be there to listen, offer words of encouragement (or sometimes, some necessary tough love), and put things into perspective.
In addition, the FFL team and our readers. I have a big box of every handwritten note anyone has ever sent FFL and a folder on my desktop of every email. In moments of defeat, I reflect on these and try to remember why I started. Hearing how much FFL has helped women find confidence always empowers me to suck it up (buttercup!) and keep going.
When dealing with criticism, it’s important to know there are two different types of criticism. There is criticism that is meant to demean and be hurtful for the sake of being mean and snarky, but there is also constructive criticism from those that are giving honest feedback. We’ve gotten our fair share of both. I try to welcome and value constructive criticism – even if it stings to hear it. Listening to others is important. Hint: I don’t know it all, and that’s one of the best ways I learn – by listening.
In regards to hurtful criticism, especially in today’s digital age, it can be tough. People are so quick to demean others, without knowing their inner battles. Words hurt. I’ve been guilty of it as well. I would be lying if I said I haven’t found myself upset over the criticism FFL, our team members, or myself personally, have received. It’s hard not to. We’re human. At the end of the day, you know who you are. It’s easier said than done and some days are easier than others. I find the best way to deal with it is to take a deep breath, keep going, and prove them wrong.
What is your favorite thing about FFL?
Seeing it connect women together. We had 10 women fly in to DC for our first Cabinet Retreat in 2015. It was our first get together for FFL. These women had communicated with each other daily for at least six months prior on social media and our messaging system, but they had never met in person. I remember being so nervous having them meet each other for the first time. I feared it would be really awkward and forced. I came prepared and had plans B, C, D, E, F and G ready to go if things got really awkward.
To my surprise, when they met, it was like they had all been friends for 10 years. I remember the overwhelming feeling of happiness I felt watching them all connect, hit it off, and jump into a Uber XL to hit up McDonald’s with eachother. I’ve had that feeling time and time again every time we’re at an event and women meet each other from across the country and become connected. I’ve had that feeling time and time again when women tweet they saw another woman in their class that had our sticker on their laptop and that alone connected them with each other.
FFL truly brings conservative women together into our own network of support and encouragement. Watching that happen is my favorite thing about FFL
What would you say to young women who want to speak their mind but are scared of the criticism from their friends/family?
Liberals and conservatives can co-exist – some of my friends are liberals, but what we share is mutual tolerance for each others’ beliefs and know our friendship goes well past party lines. Know that your friends may not agree with what you believe, but if they are your friend, they should care about you and they should still support you in your endeavors… just like you should support them in theirs. If they don’t, that’s incredibly telling.
Finding a group of like-minded people is essential in growing confident in your beliefs. Expand your network by finding conservative groups in your community and campus. There are so many great groups, organizations, and events to be be a part of. FFL can help you find those organizations – shoot us an email!
Research the issues and truly understand why you stand on one side of an issue and be able to articulate why – past the partisan talking points. Read books you agree with and books you don’t. Don’t stop there. A true leader never stops learning.
Lastly, know that just because you’re a woman that you do not fit into a box. You are a individual that is worthy of making her own choices and you are able to choose what political ideology to align with as you please. Don’t let the media, family, professors, or peers tell you any differently.
Do you have any big goals or plans for FFL in the future?
The future will be spent growing as a center-right women’s organization. We look forward to hosting and being apart of many events in the future. In addition, we want to continue to grow to a lifestyle destination filled with tips, empowerment, and tools for conservative women to live their best life. We look forward to the opportunity to feature and interview conservative women (and men!) in elected office, in leadership positions, and highlighting the work they’re doing along with their advice, mentoring, etc to our readers. We want to continue to be a voice that truly speaks for conservative women and give a platform to them, something that we really feel isn’t there right now in women’s magazines.
So, that’s the story of FFL, ladies! From one girl in her bedroom sharing her thoughts, to over 120+ women nationwide coming together to further conservative ideals, FFL continues to grow, and it’s all because of young women just like you who read, tweet, and support the movement. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of our merchandise gets reinvested into our organization and allows us to continue to spread conservatism to young women nationwide. Please consider supporting our organization by purchasing some of our signature conservative merchandise here. Here’s to all FFL has done, and all it will be in the future.
FFL Cabinet Member
Corrie is a Cabinet Member at FFL. She enjoys long walks to Starbucks and is always checking her planner to see what's next. If she isn't talking about law school, being a Camel, or FFL, she's out trying to turn hard work into chicken nuggets.