Girl Gang Entertainment co-founders Yanava Hawkins and Rayna Moncrieffe have been friends since childhood. From middle school through high school (City Honors) and college, (University At Buffalo), the two have had an inseparable bond that has grown from friendship to empowered young women in a healthy business partnership.
While in college the two were inspired to change the narrative of how parties and events were hosted, primarily by men. They saw an opportunity to focus on women- hosted events bringing some balance to the full entertainment experience to close the gap giving birth to Girl Gang Entertainment in 2017.
“Many of the parties in college were hosted primarily by men, especially the successful ones, and this was when the first spark of wanting to start a business that was women run came to be. We noticed that many of the events that we were going to in college were not only hosted by men, but most of the creatives that were hired (DJ’s, photographers, etc.) were also primarily men,” said Yanava.
Girl Gang Entertainment successfully started out as a woman owned and oper
ated event-based company with a mission to host events and book as many women as possible . “Our first event was a graduation party, and it was one of our most successful events to date,” she continued. ” Our second most successful event was a summer pool party ‘Wet Fete’ where we had about 75-100 attendees. We converted Rayna’s backyard into an exclusive backyard pool party experience with VIP cabanas, a bar, and food!”
When they initially launched Girl Gang , Yanava and Rayna, both worked full time jobs in addition to running the business. Last June Yanava decided to quit her full-time job and became a full-time entrepreneur. Rayna, who was working at a law firm, was furloughed which led to to joining her friend and co-founder in becoming a full-time entrepreneur as well, as they made Girl Gang their daily priority.
What also shifted amidst the pandemic was their mission and focus. Girl Gang went from being an event planning and hosting company that focused on hiring and supporting as many women as possible to company with a mission of enriching the lives of Black people. Girl Gang also adjusted their experiences to the proverbial “virtual” flow for the time being and focusing their events on entrepreneurial skills as well as financial physical, sexual, and mental wellbeing in the Black community.
Ready for the challenge that all entrepreneurs are faced with during these uncertain times, Girl Gang is well into their 2021 planning stages and intent on continuing their popular sexual health virtual series on Facebook. Every third Thursday of the month they host a Facebook live mini web series called ‘Let’s Talk Black Sex’ where we discuss topics of Black love, relationships, and sex and discuss why healthy Black sex is important.
They have also just released their “Healthy Black Sex Matters” merchandise and plan to start podcasts with virtual guests addressing topics related to their newfound and much needed overall wellness focus for a wider and more diverse audience. “Even though we are no longer only looking to support women, we wanted to keep the name Girl Gang because it holds power and Girl Gang will always be a business that has been founded by two strong women.”
On December 19 Girl Gang will host their first 2020 experience “SOUL SIPPIN”- a virtual wine tasting and soul food pairing event. The experience will include a professional DC based sommelier (wine expert) that will facilitate a virtual wine tasting experience with three wines from Paradise Wines that have been paired with a three course meal from Brother’s Takeout Cafe and Catering as well as Angel’s Treats of Heaven.
“All of our event partners have been intentionally chosen as we wanted to support local small businesses, specifically Black owned” she concluded.
Find more info and tickets for the SOUL SIPPIN at www.girlgangent.com
-About the Co-Founders-
A former athlete, and executive board member for the UB step team Yanava Hawkins, 26, holds two degrees from the University at Buffalo, a BA in Communications as well as a BA in Health in Human Services with a Concentration in Community Mental Health. Rayna Moncrieffe, also 26, holds a degree in Finance from the University at Buffalo and has life-long experience planning events including the first Natural Hair Convention for the UB step team. They are both proud Buffalo natives!