January 20, 2021
Author: Heather Lowey
Leslie’s excitement, outlook on life, and belief that ALL women have a story to share is infectious.
There were amazing nuggets of wisdom scattered throughout this entire high energy discussion!
Leslie Bailey is the Co-Founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of Indy Maven. Celebrating their one-year anniversary last October, Amanda Kingsbury and Leslie founded Indy Maven over a friendship fostered by their mutual love of women in history.
Leslie has two children, a stepson, two cats, and a slobbery dog named Winston. She and her husband are partners in this rat race that is parenthood, starting a business, and living life to its fullest.
Raised outside of Detroit, she described her parents as “older parents who LIVED – THEIR – LIVES and were FUN.” Her father worked in the auto racing industry for over 60 years and her mother was a hairstylist.
Throughout her entire childhood and adolescence, both of her parents battled with cancer. In fact, her mom lived another 25 years after being given a stage 4 diagnosis with only months to live. With humor as a medicine, including weekly comedy club trips, and a will to survive, Leslie speaks fondly of her mother’s love and zest for life.
“I am not romanticizing this; she and I had a tumultuous relationship. We were not friends until I was 18 and moved out of the house. The day I moved out of the house, it was like, OH, you’re great! We should totally hang out!”
After a stint in California, Leslie decided to attend IUPUI for evening classes while working at a law firm. “My dad had romantic visions of me attending Butler University, walking around campus under all of the trees. I just wanted to work. I loved working!”
She also referenced the influence of her parents as being amazing storytellers as well as adventurers.
“My mom was a hairstylist; you know they know stories! They know about listening and they know about telling stories.”
WRITING AS A PROFESSION
After a chance meeting on the streets of Broadripple, Leslie initially began blogging for Indy.com sharing her adventures. Then a Metromix column. After doing some freelance work for the Indy Star and realizing her talent for writing, she began penning a featured column called the Adventuress.
The Adventuress became a way to explore her city and share those stories with people through activities like flying planes, riding around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Mario Andretti, playing horse polo, and so many other tales.
She also spent time as the Lifestyle Editor for Indianapolis Monthly and Managing Editor of AAA’s Crossroads magazine.
Leslie understood her mom wasn’t going to be here forever, but work would be. In turn, she spent portions of her career bouncing between full-time writing roles and freelancing to ensure she could spend as much time as possible with her mother.
Beyonce, Oprah, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Entertainers? Yes. Strong women that did things their way? Yes, but Leslie showed us these women because they are incredible storytellers.
While we may not think we HAVE a story, much less BE a storyteller, Leslie calls this bogus.
“Storytelling is quite possibly the most human thing you can do.”
Humanity is put into our world through storytelling. Who they are and buying into their story are all parts of what make a news story more than just the facts. We’re drawn in this way.
The power of storytelling is also important in making change and has a trickle effect. We get the pleasure of seeing who people are through storytelling. Even how we can help each other. For example, storytelling played an integral role recently in antiracism work, activism, women leaving the workforce due to the pandemic, and even the new female Vice President.
ALL stories are important and powerful.
“It doesn’t matter what they think. It only matters what YOU think.”
In addition to the loss of her mother, Leslie took us through another tough portion of her own story… being sexually assaulted in adolescence by a close family friend who was also her chiropractor whom she also babysat and worked for. He was a prominent member of the community and this experience served as her first dose of understanding people may not always believe you.
“You can’t just share stories and it’s automatic that they will be believed.”
She was shocked by how unsupportive and extremely nasty some people in the community, including women, were to her during this time. While an awful encounter, Leslie utilized this as a learning experience in mental toughness. In fact, this mental toughness is something she feels fortunate to have today.
Anxiety, depression, and postpartum anxiety are all a part of her story as well. It’s in these moments, the mental toughness coupled with Zoloft and admitting where she is mentally, she finds her true self again.
After her mom passed, Leslie found herself with a 1-year old baby and unclear on what she wanted to do professionally. Although admittedly not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom, she wanted freedom and flexibility. Through her work with a life coach, she picked one of the many projects floating in her mind to focus on first.
This is where Amanda came in. After many evenings of wine and sharing ideas, the idea of Indy Maven took form with the help of an organized friend.
Indy Maven is a community built around storytelling for women. She proudly discussed the website, high amount of content per month from this small team, as well as the amazing editorial board. She and Amanda want to ensure Indy Maven always represents a lot of different voices. This is why the editorial board meets quarterly to discuss the content and ensure variety.
“We always know we’re on to something when it’s 20 minutes later and we’re STILLL talking about it!”
You can find Indy Maven in a number of formats as well. Leslie is particularly fond of newsletters, so this is one way they weekly engage with their members. However, realizing not everyone enjoys this style, they also have social channels and the website to appease others.
Content is and always will be free on the website. Membership is for additional content and more opportunities to connect.
Additionally, events are a keystone for Indy Maven. They moved to a virtual format during the pandemic to continue this offering. She also spoke very fondly of their advertisers and partners giving them the ability to be a philanthropic organization.
Finally, they are particularly inclusive to other groups and organizations around the city.
“When we came into this, it was never intended to take over the space. We are here to amplify others’ voices and be the vehicle to get out what organizations and individuals are doing in the community. We are built around your stories. As a whole, we are only as good as we are when we’re doing this together. “
Leslie’s belief is you need to have your voice. It then becomes your responsibility to share your story. In this, you advocate for others.
She acknowledges you may not know what your story is… yet… But as your voice evolves, you truly can show people who you are.
“You can have armor, but make sure it’s removable.”
- You have a choice. Live in your filter or show your truth.
- Don’t be afraid to tap into your vulnerability.
- Ask people and let them know what you need.
- Imagine the woman you want to be and start showing up like her.
- Share your story. You never know who it will speak to.
When asked what her favorite story is to share, she replied, “something that makes me walk away and want to take action.”
How can you support Indy Maven and this community? Share, read, forward, and support their partners and advertisers. This is truly a community group set up to do great things in this space.
Want to connect with Leslie or Indy Maven? Find her @lesalina or more at @indymaven and www.indymaven.com.