If you ask Instagram influencer Ambar Driscoll about her organization, “Bamby Collective,” she’ll make it clear that while the group has some of the elements of a small business, they’ve released an author product, the her brand revolves around a central principle, and her followers are many who love her mission: it’s really about creating a safe space for young women everywhere.
In fact, in Bamby Collective’s first Instagram post, the caption reads: We are an online community and a safe space for girls and young women to talk openly, seek advice, be motivated, learn to take care of themselves, and feel excited.
Ambar started the Collective in 2019 not because it had a spark for an innovative product or had a lot of business knowledge, but because in the past it benefited from online spaces. Specifically, Ambar had used a fitness app that, in addition to providing users with workouts and workouts, also included a community aspect where girls could connect and support each other. But to access this space, individuals had to pay a subscription fee. This made Ambar think about how to recreate a similar space for others.
“I just wanted to have a community accessible to any young woman from anywhere, with any background, to be able to come together and have that community aspect for free,” she said.
But before the idea of the group came together, Ambar was already known to hundreds of thousands of fans. Although she was initially put in the public spotlight due to her relationship with YouTuber Casper Lee, Ambar quickly made her own name on social media. In particular, users resonated with their openness about body positivity.
Ugne Jurgelenaite, a 24-year-old member of London-based Bamby Collective, initially met Ambar through Caspar content, but said she eventually followed Ambar for her body positivity posts. Ugne was able to relate to Amber’s content, as it was one of the first times she saw this particular message spread by someone who wasn’t necessarily large in size. One publication in particular, where Ambar set out how his stomach looks naturally without flexing, caught Ugne’s attention.
“Instagram was, and still is, a place where you think all these people have these amazing bodies,” he said. “But that’s how it goes, [Ambar’s] I’m not afraid to show it. “
Talking openly about her body was not always easy for Ambar. For years, he had struggled with eating disorders and even had an eating disorder. But eventually, she found solace in other instagrammers who posted content that revolved around body positivity which in turn helped the influencer heal and develop a more positive self-esteem. He then realized that he might be sharing similar content with his 269,000 followers.
“I thought, well, if this is the content I’m enjoying and if I have a large number of followers, and yet none of my content shows my vulnerabilities, I didn’t want to be one of those people. [their followers] compare without seeing the really vulnerable sides beyond that. ”
And while Ambar was already helping girls like Ugne through her personal account, the itch to build something bigger that went beyond herself and became a network of young women with like-minded ideas propelled her to launch Bamby Collective.
It started with a Facebook group
Ugne’s first adventure at Bamby Collective, like most members, was through the private Facebook group. While he had been following several other Facebook groups, including one for new girls in London, he was amazed at how active and engaged the members of Bamby Collective were. On any given day, you can find posts that ask for advice on relationships, body positivity, and moving tips. But no matter what the conversation turns out to be, Ugne said members are always kind and help each other.
This open and supportive environment was exactly what Ambar had imagined from the beginning. But even she was amazed at how quickly the members were able to connect with each other even though they had never met.
“It’s pretty emotional to see the girls share their vulnerable sides in Bamby,” he said. “Many are quick to offer support, help or just be someone to talk to. So it’s amazing to see the impact Bamby has had on members’ mental health just thanks to the support of other girls.”
Although Bamby Collective was initially launched in late 2019, it closely coincided with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, something that seems like a divine moment for Ambar. At a time when many people faced confinements, limited social gatherings, and only felt isolated in general, having an online space like Bamby became a great outlet for those who were stressed by the pandemic.
While many Bamby Collective members are in or around London, where Ambar herself resides, this online community includes young women from around the world, allowing participants to bond and connect with people. with which they would not normally have the opportunity to do so. to meet. For Ugne, scrolling through his Facebook feed and seeing the group’s various posts has been a positive addition to his routine on social media.
“The girls are not afraid to post on it alone and everyone is very supportive,” Ugne said. “No one will ever judge you. It’s a cozy, safe space.”
In addition to networking through the Facebook group, members of Bamby Collective are also invited to online meetings, such as monthly Zoom book clubs and Netflix parties where girls could watch a movie together virtually and chat on through the comments.
But once Covid’s restrictions were eased, Ambar wanted to create personal opportunities for members to meet and develop deeper relationships with each other. The group has had several meetings, such as an ax throwing event, yoga for puppies and a galentine art event.
Bamby members often come to solo events, hoping to connect with others there. Presenting yourself at events for yourself is just one example of the ways Bamby members can express their vulnerabilities.
“The events are amazing. Most girls come alone, which I think is a pretty brave thing, “Ambar said.” I feel that in our culture meeting a stranger so far is so normalized, but it’s not. [normalized] meet to make friends “.
Initially, Ugne refrained from going to a Bamby meeting for the same reason: he had no one to go with. But after connecting with some girls through the Facebook group, he ventured to his first in-person event: yoga for puppies.
He even attended Bamby Collective’s first nightly retreat this July. Ugne had so much fun spending time with other Bamby members that she and a group of girls she met at the retreat are planning to have her own personal getaway. As a person who has recently moved, this community has provided Ugne with opportunities to meet new people.
“I moved to London nine months ago. So in addition to people at work, or my roommates, I didn’t know a lot of people and now I definitely have a wider network through going to these [Bamby] Events. I’ve gained a few new acquaintances and friends. ”
And while meeting other members has been a highlight for Ugne, being able to connect with Ambar has also been a positive experience for her, especially because of the relationship she says is influential.
“The first time [meeting Ambar] it was a little intimidating. But he is very kind to everyone and makes everyone feel very welcome. It’s very real and not intimidating at all. ”
Bamby Collective positive affirmation jewelry
In keeping with Bamby Collective’s mission to provide an encouraging brotherhood to young women, Ambar launched a collection of positive affirmation bracelet jewelry. Customers could buy the delicate bracelets in any style: “I’m Enough” and “I’m Strong.” Creating these products was something Ambar had been thinking of doing even before the collective started, as these phrases were mantras for her to grow up.
“My mother is an art therapist and has always been very grateful,” Ambar said. “And she’s always used positive affirmations. So ‘I’m strong’ and ‘I’m strong enough’ literally come from her and the impact it had on me and seeing the power that words can have.”
Implementing these affirmations into his daily routine has allowed Ambar to reverse negative thought patterns and has helped him live a more balanced and healthy life. While she was excited to launch these products so that her followers could benefit from these claims, she was also cautious. The influencer said he never wants to make Bamby Collective members feel like they are trying to take advantage of it.
That is why it was also important for Bamby Collective to donate 5 per cent of the proceeds from the jewelery collection to Imkaan, a UK organization with a mission to tackle violence against black and minority girls and women.
In this way, Ambar is thoughtful and deliberate in everything she shares with her fans, including her love of exercise. Recently, the influencer has participated in multiple marathons and incorporated the long distance race into her daily routine. However, he is careful not to send the wrong message about training and has made it clear that he is exercising for his mental health and not to get a slimmer body.
“I think [exercise] it’s a life trick, “he said.” If I feel like shit and then I’m going to run, I feel 10 times better afterwards. “
The future of Bamby Collective
Currently, most Bamby Collective events are centralized in London, but Ambar was able to host an event in Cape Town, South Africa, as she has a lot of fans there due to her boyfriend’s South African heritage. Caspar.
Hosting more meetings outside of London is a goal for Amber, as she would like Bamby Collective to grow. She imagines that one day the organization might even have several locations around the world: Bamby Collective centers in big cities. And while Ambar plans to be closely involved in these potential locations, it also feels comfortable with eventually allowing them to be run by local Bamby leaders.
In this way, Ambar wants to focus on the individuals who make up the collective, and not on it. A feeling that Ugne can already relate to.
“It’s a pleasure to meet Amber, but the community is not about‘ getting to know Amber, ’” he said. “It’s about, ‘Let’s get together as a community of strong women.’