From Vision to Reality: It Girls of Charleston – A Community of Acceptance and Friendship

By Mark A. Leon

Charleston is changing before our eyes. We are a melting pot of
locals and transplants sharing diverse ideas and lifestyles. Finding true
and life-long connections is a challenge we all face. The It Girls of
Charleston has created a solution for the women of the Charleston
area. By creating a safe environment built on relationships,
community partnership and social engagement, they offer women in the
Charleston area a place to connect and find personal and emotional connections.
We had a chance to sit down with the founder/organizer Jamie
Sprenger to learn a little bit more about the driving forces that led to this
energetic community that will be hosting a Brunch and Bachelorette
auction to support the Children’s Tumor Foundation [1] later this
month.

CD:? What is the catalyst and driving force behind creating this networking community??

JS: I moved to Charleston this past February and knew only one
person in town, my best friend. However, she is on call a lot, has a
serious boyfriend and her own group of local friends. I was very lonely and
wanted someone to go explore with, without having to bug my best
friend all the time. I searched online for social groups, but the
ones I found interesting either had no upcoming events, were composed of
members in their 50s-70s, or were co-ed. I was looking for an
all-girls group around my age range that was very active. Since it
did not exist, I decided to create one. In forming this group I’ve
found my true passions – organizing events, being a leader in the
community, and exploring Charleston with a truly amazing group of women.

CD:? What are the challenges your members face and how will this group help to reduce some of the pressures?

JS: 99% of us are not from Charleston, so we didn’t have any
friends when we moved here. It Girls is a place that fosters close
friendships. We also don’t know what venues are good (restaurants, hair
stylists, etc.) and need advice on where to go. Whenever we need advice on
local venues or anything Charleston related, we post in our Facebook group
and several people always respond with their feedback and
recommendations.? Some of us are finding it hard to adjust to life in a new city, away
from family, with a different culture and everyone else in the group
understands each other and supports each other. We are planning a
Friendsgiving dinner for those who cannot travel to their families
for the holiday.? Over half of us are single and are having a hard time dating in this
town. It Girls provides a safe space where no one needs to care how
they look or worry about getting hit on, because every night is Girls
Night. We can vent to each other about dating, get advice, and feel
like we don’t need a significant other because we have such a
great friend group.? A lot of us struggle with eating healthy and exercising. We created
a separate Facebook group for those interested where we hold each
other accountable for our goals and motivate each other. It is a personal
development group to improve physical health, self-esteem,
happiness, and well being.

CD:? What type of community engagement do you plan in the next year?

JS: We plan on organizing at least one large charity
event per year. Our first charity event is October 23rd at 5Church and it
is a date auction and silent auction benefitting the Children’s Tumor
Foundation. My childhood best friend, Alison Garrard, came to me
with the idea and we have enjoyed planning every detail of the
event and knowing we are making a difference in our community. We would
like to make this a yearly event. I also host a monthly book club, a
monthly murder mystery dinner, a monthly canvas painting night,
weekly wine nights, and sporadic dinners, movies, beach trips, girl’s night
out, exercise and dance classes, weekend getaways, Sunday brunches,
local festivals, spa parties, arts and crafts nights, and anything
else members suggest.

CD:? Does this group have a professional networking element, social or both??

JS: The primary focus of our group is the social element. However,
professional networking naturally occurs as well. Members will post
on our Facebook group looking for recommendations for services, etc.
and if a member is in that business, she will comment, or if
a member knows another member in that service, she will recommend that
member. For example, a member was looking for a professional
photographer and we found three within our group. The purpose of the
group is to develop deeper connections than professional contacts,
however, professional contacts are naturally made as people get to
know each other and talk about what they do.

CD: What makes the It Girls of Charleston different from other
female based networking groups?

JS: It Girls fosters close, lasting friendships, not just activity
partners. We are a close-knit group – several smaller groups have
formed based on who clicks with who, of course – but overall the
people who come regularly are good friends with each other. We call
each other when we’ve had a bad day to vent over a glass of wine.
We chipped in to send a member Edible Arrangements when her father
died, and sent another member a spa day when she was stressing about her
sister being diagnosed with cancer. Most meetups and other social
groups (at least in my experience) do not focus on fostering
meaningful friendships, they simply focus on getting people together
to do activities with each other.? We are a lot more active than other groups. We do things multiple
times per week. Not every member comes to every event, of course,
but they have so many options.? I have been told by many members how amazed they are that our group
is not caddy, we don’t gossip behind each other’s backs, and we
are truly supportive of each other. We build each other up instead
of tear each other down. Despite how difficult it is at the beginning
to put ourselves out there with new people, we are all committed to
making genuine and deep connections. We all strongly believe that
having a close-knit group of girlfriends is essential to every
woman’s happiness.

Testimonials

“I’ve worked in predominately female environments all my life.? I’ve never experienced a group atmosphere of women who are so kind, generous, fun and genuine as I have in this group.? Everyone has your back; everyone is so open and you can tell that there is a genuine vibe of wanting to be there for each other.” – Rachel M.

“What you have built is amazing and inspiring.? I look at all these girls who have come together every day and know that you have made a place for all of them to become friends and be themselves.” – Alison G.

“Been feeling down lately wondering if I made the right decision moving far from home, but seeing all the different activities coming up is helping.” – Jami M.

 

From Vision to Reality

With an idea, a passion and a community that thrives on outreach and
relationships, Jamie Sprenger created a place where women in
Charleston can share thoughts, ideas, emotions or just feel a sense
of belonging.? It is that level of passion and innovativeness that has given birth
to the It Girls of Charleston. We expect great thinks from these
ladies.