Networking the focus of Fredericton Galentine’s Day

The event focused not just on friendship, but also on empowerment, inclusion and networking connections between women. (Hana Delaney/AQ)

What started as a popular TV show’s invention to empower women has found its way to Fredericton.

Two local female-run businesses, Little Hair Shoppe and Readytoo, hosted a Galentine’s Day Variety Show at Gallery on Queen on Feb. 13.

Galentine’s Day originally drew inspiration from an episode of Parks and Recreation in which the main character, Leslie Knope, gathers her female friends together for a day of appreciation and friendship before Valentine’s Day. Now it’s a common tradition in Western culture.

Their event focused not just on friendship, but also on empowerment, inclusion and networking connections between women.

Organizer Leah Gallant, the owner of Little Hair Shoppe, said this event was to help promote the women in attendance.

“We do so much self-promoting, and that gets exhausting, so this is a space where we don’t feel like we have to be catty, we can just support.”

The variety show included performances by stand-up comedians Maggie Estey, Gill Salmon and Mary Green as well as drag queens from Phun House. They also had all-you-could-eat sweets and snacks made by women, as well as a chance to network with local “business babes.” Everything at the event was women owned and operated, from the food to the venue and the chairs everyone sat on.

The night began with mingling and making name tags. While networking between women entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals was the focus, the night also featured talks on everything from social media to starting fresh at 42.

Freeda Whales (left), Heather Silk (centre left), Barb Wire (centre right) and Leah Gallant (right) were some of the women professionals in attendance for Fredericton’s Galentine’s Day. (Hana Delaney/AQ)

University of New Brunswick graduate student Emma Robinson and her friend Emily Eddie came to the event together. Eddie, who is new to town said it was a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow female professionals.

“I’m currently the only women in my workspace, so this has been an amazing opportunity to meet and networking with other women in the community.”

By 7:30 p.m., the space was standing room only. This came as a huge surprise to organizers who had been unsure how many would attend.

Gallery on Queen owner Nadia Khoury said nights like Galentine’s Day were exactly what she envisioned when she first opened the gallery in 2016.

“This is exactly the type of vibe I like in this place,” she said.

“Young and eager to start a career or a business or they like to help each other. The energy is really exciting. We are a progressive, very open-minded gallery. We don’t discriminate.”

Drag performance group Phun House spoke about inclusion alongside presenters from Planet Hatch and Underground Communications, who gave talks on entrepreneurship and social media. Women also did makeup demos.

“[It’s a] time to celebrate women,” said drag queen Heather Silk.

“As a woman, you are often expected to lose your individuality to your man, so it’s important to celebrate individuality.”