Women-Owned Business Series: Sydne from GABA Creative Collective

Our latest Women of Business feature is covering Sydne Leavitt of GABA Creative Collective. Sydne set out to create not only a company for herself, but also a place for other artists to connect and flourish. We’re incredibly impressed by the impact she’s made so far, and we can’t wait to see how her work continues to serve others in the future. Learn more about her business, her inspirations, and her advice for other women business owners (or owners-to-be) in the post below!

Tell us about your business & why you started it

My business is a creative collective that aims to help marginalized groups create art, provide a platform for resources and voice amplification, and form a community of artists and freelancers. The name is GABA Creative Collective. The website is www.gaba.nyc. I started GABA because as a freelancer myself. I couldn’t find the community and spaces to share my art and voice that I felt heard in, so I wanted to create it myself and lift other artists up, too.

Why do you feel a connection to your work?

I grew up with two parents who ran a design agency, painted, and emphasized art my whole life. In school, it was the only thing I had any interest in, and seeing how powerful, therapeutic, and expressive art in all forms has been to myself and my peers made me realize how important it is to have the resources to not only create but also share those creations. I feel that by having this collective of artists, I am helping give them spaces and hopefully open doors for them that they might not have otherwise thought about or had the confidence to.

As a business owner, community is everything. In what ways do you serve your community, and how has your community served you?

The core of all that I do is centered around community. My goal in starting GABA was to create a community, but also nurture and grow that community. I have always been an advocate of volunteering, and the communities I volunteer with always fulfill me more than they are probably aware of. I try to serve with my time, my privilege, and my ideas, but my community has served me with belonging, support, and encouragement to be myself.

What advice would you give to young women who want to start a small business?

Stop thinking so much about it and just do it. Take whatever step you need to complete to get something started. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and you don’t have to come up with some monumental new way of doing something. Do what you feel good about and the rest will follow.

What women inspire you and why?

Dolly Parton, Cher, and Jane Goodall. Dolly Parton is such an anomaly — she has such a presence in conservative spaces but she’s anything but that. She addresses issues so authentically and gracefully and also takes actions to align with injustices that she speaks on. Cher also feels like she has always been herself. I love her social media behavior and admire the issues she has been an activist for. Jane Goodall for obvious reasons relating to her work with primates, but she inspires me mostly because I wish I could be her in another life.

What do you think are the most significant challenges for women business owners or women in leadership positions?

For me, the most significant challenge I’ve faced is just being taken seriously, so I guess gender biases. I also recognize I come from an extremely privileged position, but way too often in my career, I’m spoken down to or doubted because of my age or gender. I’ve had to develop a male alias (that’s just me with a man’s name) to handle issues that come up and the way people react when I’m being demanding under a male alias versus when I’m demanding as myself is crazy. As a woman I’ve been called a bitch or a brat, as a man alias, people don’t insult me and whatever I’m asking gets done easier.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about GABA Creative Collective and check out Sydne’s first Visual Journal under GABA Creative Collective! It includes work of hers and four other artists. They currently have a gallery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn showing the artists’ work as a launch event for the book that’s on display until July 31! Congrats Sydne!

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