May 25, 2018
By Lianna Norman
Photos by Yazi Davis
Babes Who Hustle
Who run the world? Working women.
Chelsea DuDeVoire knows this to be true, and has launched an entire brand from this notion. Babes Who Hustle is a movement that was born here, in Jacksonville, after Chelsea saw a need for a constructive companionship amongst the hustling women of our city. She met that need with an idea that launched into a brand that has bled out of Jacksonville, and out of Florida, and has even reached the global sphere. By interviewing close to 200 women about their personal lives and hustles, and connecting with women through book clubs and events, what was once Chelsea’s personal hobby has blossomed into a thriving web of girls supporting girls.
Where are you from? Where are you living now?
I was born and raised in Bradenton, FL, a beach town about 45 minutes south of Tampa. After attending college at Florida State University in Tallahassee, I moved to Jacksonville for work about three years ago, where I lived in Atlantic Beach. Currently, my boyfriend and I live in a little blue bungalow in San Marco.
What inspired Babes Who Hustle? How did it feel taking the first step when launching?
I started Babes Who Hustle out of a few personal needs. The first being a need for a positive, uplifting and educational online outlet (smack dab in the middle of election season, where the media in general was kind of a bummer.) The second was a personal need for camaraderie and connection with women, as I was in the beginning of my post-grad journey into the ‘real world’ in a new city. And the third, as a space where I could interview others in an attempt to help figure out what kinds of careers and professional opportunities I wanted to pursue. At the time, I didn’t think it would be much more than a personal hobby and creative outlet. “Launching” didn’t even feel like a launch, as I frankly didn’t really know what I was even creating at the time.
What has been your biggest challenge along the way and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has definitely been continuing to juggle BWH with my full-time job and additional part-time work; I’m not quite ready to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship just yet (and I’m scared to let go of my steady salary, healthcare and benefits, if we’re being honest.) There is so much I want to do and so many places I want to take BWH that I just can’t yet due to time constraints and other obligations, so I’m in that tough stage before taking my business full-time where I want to do all the things and am struggling to be patient. I’m looking forward to the season of my life where I can look back at laugh at the time in my early twenties when I was juggling three separate workloads, never sleeping, and constantly sick (see: currently.)
Did you anticipate it impacting as many women as it has?
Not at all. The coolest part about BWH is that it has grown completely organically (and globally) by word of mouth. In less than two years we’ve had the absolute privilege of interviewing over 170 women, and organically cultivating a readership of over 60,000 people, with a social media following of over 20,000. It’s insane and incredible and I could have never imagined it.
What do you see in the future of BWH? Any big projects coming up?
I don’t want to say too much, but we’ve got quite a few exciting things up our sleeves, and we’re launching something pretty huge in 2019 (keep an eye out!) In general, I foresee BWH becoming a full-time, full-fledged publication that creates a whole lot of magic (and a whole lot of jobs for other people.) I can’t wait for us to have an office space of our own and to expand our team. We also look forward to hosting a conference or two in the future - so look out for that! In the meantime, we appreciate the support of our community, so keep attending our events and meetups! And buy our merchandise! And nominate babes to be featured on the site! And follow us on Instagram! And sponsor us! And sign up for our bookclub! And email us to ask about what our partnerships look like! The more support and engagement we receive, the more work we are able to create, and the more we’re able to grow.
Tell us about your team. How do you get everything done?
I’ve truly hit the jackpot with our small but mighty dream team. I didn’t foresee this being a team effort when I created it, though, so hiring on employees to manage was (and is) still very much new for me. Mara, my right hand woman aka Executive Assistant -turned- Creative Director, was someone I met in the very early stages of BWH and instantly clicked with both professionally and personally. She is insanely creative and a big-picture, forward-thinker; both our work and personalities complement each other so well. She was my first official employee on payroll, and has played a major role in everything from brand and content curation to social media management, event planning, and managing our team of 15+ contributing writers. Heather is our (Seattle-based) editor and copywriter; everything we publish on the website is first edited by her and she does a wonderful job with content and brand development. Our newest addition, Ina, is our administrative intern. She’s a rockstar, and helps with a little bit of everything, with a focus on interview pitching and coordination, merchandise packaging and fulfillment, and events. As for how I get everything done, it’s with a whole lot of help from our team as well as SO many members of our community who volunteer their time and resources to push us forward, day in and out. (That, and lots of coffee.)
Who has been the most influential woman in your life?
My Grandma. She is the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known. She has seen the depths and undergone an ungodly amount of pain, yet remains the most graceful, hilarious, strong-willed and gold-hearted woman. She’s chic and glamorous and can put together an outfit like no other, can whip up a five-star meal for 70 people at church at the snap of a finger, bakes her pies crusts from scratch, slings lattes during the day at a local coffee bar, and can outdrink anyone at a bar. She also maintains a full backyard garden, plays on her local bowling league, attends regular bible study, and still continues to make traveling the world a priority. She has taught me to work hard, love harder, do what I’m passionate about, and not take life too seriously. Should I go on?
What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon?
My boyfriend and I almost exclusively spend our Saturday afternoons brunching at Community Loaves in Murray Hill, where you can find me with an iced americano in one hand and an egg sandwich (everything bagel, add avocado) in the other. See also: Bold Bean - San Marco (our neighborhood coffee spot), hitting up local breweries, events and markets, or tracking down our favorite food trucks. (We really like to eat.)
What inanimate object do you love most?
I’m currently loving the few simple pieces of handmade jewelry that I picked up from women-owned boutiques on a recent trip across Europe. I wear them each day as reminders of the great big world out there and the adventures that await.