Kim created a space for growing girls to inspire self-awareness and self-love with the Yaya Sisterhood. She holds circle workshops to bring tweenage girls together.
Kim has 3 daughters, and when her first grew older, she felt there was ‘something more’ needed to guide her through life. She wanted to help her through the tumultuous waves of growing up as a female in todays society. One that hasn’t yet grasped the importance of supporting and celebrating women.
She salutes and inspires all women, girls and females to be held, heard, seen, celebrated and LOVED.
Kim’s Podcast: The future is female
- How to empower our girls to be all they can
- Being honest and real about the realities of business
- The power of a having a strong and decisive WHY
- Messages for our eight year-old selves
Brand You Magazine and Podcast exists to inspire, motivate, and invigorate woman to step into their businesses as truly themselves. Full of real life stories, practical solutions and inspirational ideas from fellow entrepreneurs. Each issue has a different theme that showcases the many values, beliefs, and morals that women build their businesses around today. So be your business and brand you.
With everything that has happened this year 2020 could have easily been a year of disconnect and hatred. Instead I’ve seen communities coming together and rediscovering their common humanity, through connection and inclusivity. Each woman in this issue was chosen because they embody these beliefs, heart and soul, both personally and professionally. Welcome to issue one of Brand You Magazine and Podcast, the together issue.
In this episode, you’ll meet Kim of the Yaya Sisterhood. Kim’s magnetic positivity is infectious, a guiding light between age girls on the cusp of womanhood. She embraces all it means to be a woman in today’s society. With Kim guiding the next generation, there’s no doubt the future will be female and amazing.
Yaya Sisterhood is a really empowering space and it’s come about because you have three young girls all of very impressionable ages. What I would like to hear more about and our audience probably doesn’t know is what Yaya Sisterhood is and how it came about.
Okay. What Yaya Sisterhood is and how it came about. Well, Yaya Sisterhood, as it stands today is a monthly workshop that I run here in Cairns, far North Queensland for girls aged eight to 12, we come together in circle, we explore topics like body positivity, social media safety, healthy friendships, nutrition, that kind of stuff. It’s all held in a circle setting. So we all sit in circle and we share talking ball around. It is very much set up to be a safe and intimate space for girls.
And how it came about is essentially off the back of having conversations with my own children, where they were expressing their frustrations about friendships and being excluded from friend groups and kind of their confidence levels with their body and social media things. As you know, that started becoming part of their conversations at school. And I guess what happened from those conversations was I was realizing that they might’ve been having this awareness through our own conversations at home. However, other girls were maybe not having the same conversations or expressing being able to have a space to express that with their parents or even the dialogue or awareness around things like what a frenemy is.
And then I thought, well, what if there was a space where we could come together as girls and not saying too much educate, but just have a space where these conversations can even be had? But I think the real spark, because that was just an idea or even just a Ugh, I wish that existed. I wish I could enroll my children into something like that. And it kind of sat in that way, stagnant and dormant for a while until I myself sat because I had spent time in my adult life being in women’s circles through my 20s and through my pregnancies. And I had witnessed the magic and the power that that happens and transpires when sitting in circle with women and everybody’s there to champion one another on, you’re there to hear people, see people, celebrate people and there’s that equality, that’s there in a circle. There is no hierarchy anymore.
And what had happened was an older woman, I think she was around 55. She had expressed in the closing kind of sharing circle that I wish I knew this when I was younger. I wish young girls could know this magic when they were younger. I wish that I didn’t have to go through my teens, my 20s and motherhood all essentially alone. They were the word she used. I never really understood women coming together could be so nurturing in this way.
To her and like many of us because of conditions, societal beliefs, women are mean and competitive and spiteful and we gossip and we rumor or send rumors and all that kind of stuff. And what she was saying was that she’d never really experienced women coming together in a sisterhood in that way. Whereas I had been, I guess, a little bit luckier having had experienced it at 20 and in my 20s and moving forward. But then I realized like, wow, what if my girls knew this? I mean, they’d heard it from me. They’d heard about women’s circles. They’d seen it when I was pregnant with my third daughter, we had a mother blessing circle so they’d seen it. They knew it existed, but it didn’t exist for them. And for my girls, I think they thought, well, that’s something we get when we’re older. Right now, we kind of have to deal with mean girls and gossiping.
And then I was like, wait, no. How about we stop and imprint now when you’re eight, nine, 10 so that by the time you’re 20, you’ve already fully formed and ready for this like full on sisterhood as you all go through the season of motherhood or whatever is in your future? And then really it was one evening at home and I thought it doesn’t exist. It needs to exist. I have experience as a participant in this, perhaps I might gather that and give it a try.
And then the name Yaya Sisterhood is actually coming off the back of when I was pregnant with my third daughter, a friend of mine sent me I guess, a meme and it said Yayas, and then it said a group of three or more girls that come together to celebrate the glorious journey that is life, love, laughter or something to that effect. And then I referenced my three girls as Yayas from that day. So I always knew when I was going to bring girls together, that was it. They were going to be a sisterhood and I would refer to them as Yayas.
So that’s essentially what started it off. Perhaps you could say it was my selfish own need, needing some way for my girls to go. But now I’m realizing having seen those girls in that space and the conversations that sparked from there, that they get to bring home and bring to their schools and their friendship groups. I know that it just benefits everybody. It benefits everybody.
This issue is all about connection and inclusivity. And 2020 has been, let’s be honest, a bit of a ride off for everyone. It’s been hard for people in so many different ways. And I feel like it’s brought people together, right? And we’ve started having conversations that we maybe haven’t had. I think I’ve talked to people more on the phone this year than I have, oh my gosh, for like the last five years. I think we got to the point where disconnection was normal. Whereas COVID as much as we were apart, it actually made us stop and it made us appreciate those things. And so you’re probably about to go into the space where you’re about to get back into your zone of genius. How excited are you and what sorts of things, conversations do you feel you’ll be having with some of these girls about what’s been happening over the last few months?
Of yes. Firstly, COVID was a time.
That’s it, full stop.
Full stop, that’s it that’s the answer. But I’m so ready to be back in that space. I think what I’m ready for is knowing that these girls, they’ve all gone back to school after having a break and in that break they were spending probably more time in their parents than they have in a long time. But then also… At first it might’ve been a relief like, Oh, I didn’t have to deal with the girls at school or the boys at school or the teachers or the homework. Well, that was definitely the feedback from my eight-year-old.
But moving outside of that, I could see her, even her need for connection and friendship and having conversations with people that were her age or her interests. I think going back into that space with the girls, what I’m ready for is, well, the need for them to all be just around each other and hugging and sitting near each other and leading up to what was COVID. The last couple of weeks workshops I made sure to really reiterate that when you walk in these doors, that outside world doesn’t exist. You’re not the school captain anymore. You’re not the girl that gets As or you’re not the girl that gets bullied and you’re not the weird girl that has been ostracized since prep or anything, all those labels go away.
You’re not your mum’s eldest daughter, who is her helper. You’re not the grumpy big sister. You’re none of those things. This is your space to just be without the labels and everybody’s equal in this space. And I think coming back, I think that’s what they will be most looking forward to being able to like, Whoa, that was a time. And now we’re back in a space where all of that stuff doesn’t exist because they would have had this quick injection back to school post-COVID and probably haven’t had time to really recalibrate into who I am and they’ve had to shift back to home school life or home life back into, Oh, wait, I’m that girl again. I’m the academic girl or I’m the tomboy girl.
So I really think the space coming back will be for all of us, a recalibration of sorts to find our groove again, and for them to just know, Oh, wait, this exists, this exists again. There is a space for me to just be. That I think is what we’re most looking forward to. I mean, I could have reintroduced the workshops a bit earlier than what I have post-COVID, but I knew it would hinder the integrity of the circle, which is connection at its core. Sitting in circle, being able to hold hands with the girl next to you. Being able to swap your artwork with the girl next to you, because that’s a component of the workshop. We always do a craft and I get them to not only analyse or compliment their own work, but also, someone else in the circle or usually the person next to them. And all those things we wouldn’t have been able to do if I had to go by the guidelines of hygiene and things. Yeah.
And being able to be 1.5 meters away from some people all the time doesn’t really facilitate hand-holding.
No. So I do like everybody, myself included, are just looking forward to being back in a space where we can just be one without labels, one without the fear of the outside world. And if I touch this, someone might get sick. One without the labels of, Oh, we’re back at school. I need to be back on my game. And they might have realized that friends they thought were friends in the COVID break or maybe not friends, or maybe they realized friends that they thought weren’t friends, they really missed in the COVID break. And it would just be a chance for us to be back in the space and connect and kind of instil that awareness again of self and friendships.
Now as a fellow parent of a girl who is very, shall we call it high-spirited, I love what you do. So my youngest, my only girl has pushed me every single step of the way. It has been a journey of self-discovery for myself as well. I feel like as I’ve seen what she is going through, it has pushed me to actually learn more about myself and more about, and encouraged myself to be stronger for her. I often, I’m really hard on myself in that space, but a lot of it comes from, I was one of those girls when I was younger that I had undiagnosed anxiety. I was always the high-strung girl. I was always the energetic girl. I was always the one that went full tilted everything. And if I’m honest, the world really smacked a lot of that out of me, until I’ve come full circle again, I found myself.
And we were talking earlier about the have dos and the should’s in business. And I feel like it’s really powerful. And it has been a milestone journey to step into myself. If no one knows I’m not afraid of colour now, possibly curse at the most inappropriate times sometimes. And I love a cheesy dad joke. Those are all things that are just intrinsically me, but when it comes to a business, the should’s, the could’s, the woulds’, the maybes, all of those things just feel so ingrained into that space. You mentioned earlier to me, before we jumped on that there’s a lot of other people doing what you do in the space. How have you branded what you do differently?
Well, first I thought you were talking about my spirited also six-year-old daughter to be fair, but going on that question, I think it’s important to note that Australia does, as it stands, has already some phenomenal youth programs for young girls, for teens, for tweens in that industry of girl power and girl empowerment. How I, however, have chosen to move forward with Yaya sisterhood is just also sticking to what is me. So the workshops that are currently kind of operating really well and vibrantly and successfully, a lot of their branding and marketing is very pink, is very girl power using those kinds of powerful statements like, well yeah, the classic girl power girl gang, girl squad. I can do this and I can do that. And body positivity, I love me. And very strong in presenting their workshops in that way in a very educational format.
For me, I like to, when I make sure this is woven throughout my copy, that I’m not there to educate anybody on a particular topic or theme. I’m there just to facilitate a space that is safe and open where we can explore these topics and themes. So within my branding, I guess I’ve just kept it as me. So what you see on that social media, the way I talk, the way I show up on stories or a selfie or even a branding shoot is exactly what you would meet, see if I said let’s meet for coffee on Tuesday at 9:00 AM. That’s what you would get.
Not to say that the other businesses don’t operate in that way. There is in this industry, a kind of energy and a power and that kind of vibe and that pace where it’s up, up, up, and go, go, go and walking in on stage with a Bluetooth headset and okay girls, everybody up and Adam and some bedazzling lights and all that kind of stuff. Whereas the Yaya Sisterhood is almost on the other side of the spectrum. It is awhile still, and I’ve been very conscious about making sure the landing page for everything is yellow and bright and fresh and clear. I don’t want people thinking this is a sad space to come into, but it definitely is that still young and fresh space. But I have definitely decided to just stick with what is me. The business is synonymous with who I am as a person. For the most part yes, absolutely.
And I think it’s important to go through that way because the vision and the values that I hold with Yaya Sisterhood, if I can hold onto that and anchor into that, then I can continue to show up in that way. If I was to show up in any other way with the big bedazzling lights and okay girls, today we’re learning about our bodies. And can you say, body, body. I feel like it would be crunchy for everybody. And not just saying that I don’t do cringe things. There are definitely some, okay girls, let’s do this, but it’s all within that construct of this is a girl circle and in a girl circle this is we’re coming together we’re a sisterhood. We’re not here to sit in a group and all look at the leader at the front and learn things.
I really wanted to shift away from that construct because that’s still to me is like, okay, we’re in a classroom setting or a workshop setting. That’s why I flip between the two, I interchange workshop and circle, just to remind everybody that, this really is a way of being, I guess. I want this to be normal, like girls coming together and how I see the future of Yaya Sisterhood growing is it is important for me to stay as myself, move through business as myself so that the values, the values stay and on anchor to that.
And after meeting you today, I can honestly say your branding is so youth through and through. I follow you on Instagram and it’s sunshine, it’s spiritual, it’s connection. It’s not forced happiness. It’s more of a peacefulness that I get from you and I get from that space. And I feel like that’s something as a teenager and as a young girl, it wasn’t understood back there. It’s a generational thing. Like, yes, I suffered through it for of anxiety through my teenage years and into being an adult. But there wasn’t a language to use around those things as a young girl. And I want so much more for my daughter.
I want her to be able to have the words to express herself, but also have the power to know herself and be content enough in herself that when she needs to step up or she needs to speak up or she needs to comfort herself, she’s got that knowledge. There’s that mindfulness about it. That for so many years, I feel like I just threw myself at the world. Whereas I want girls out there to understand like, you know how everyone says as you age towards 40, you basically you just like stand up and stand out as yourself because you’ve got zero fuck to give basically?
I want girls to be able to have that power, that knowledge that who you are right now is exactly who you need to be.
Yes, 100%. So, Ugh. Yes. So the language I use in the workshops, and I guess through the branding and the business is tools, giving girls the tools. We have a tool belt, let’s add to that tool belt, which is also how I structured the workshops and the theme. So the tool we might be learning in this workshop is affirmations. The tool we might be learning in this one is how to have honest conversations and communications. The tool in this one is maybe self-love or those kinds of things.
Going off everything you just said is showcasing that dialogue to the girls. One very prominent and it’s just so important to me. I wrote a post about it the other day. We explored the term passive aggressive in a workshop, and it was something that you could see the posture of some of the girls as I was explaining, Hey, have you ever had this happen to you? And I did a mini role play of a passive aggressive situation between two fake people. The posture and the kind of eyes that shot up and looked at me as if to say, wait a minute. I know that feeling, that has happened to me. That does suck.
And being able to share things like a term like passive aggressive. It’s definitely normal with my conversations with my children, but judging from the 25 girls looking back at, it was almost as if to say, we’d never had a name for that before. And now that we have a name for that, it’s labelled and we know what that is. And when that happens again, and then I also, we spoke about, okay, how can you call out passive aggressive behaviour when it’s happening to you? Or how can you call yourself out when you are behaving in a passive aggressive way? Because that’s what I like to also create in this space is we can’t just assume that we’re the only ones being bullied or blah, blah, blah. There have been times in the circle where I’m aware of a girl because of her parents have told me, okay, so my daughter is a bit of a bully and the teachers have said she’s a bully, or she’s been instigating situations at school.
So when we speak of those things, I always flip things back to, okay, I have maybe done this and how hurtful that could have been to somebody else. So I think creating these conversations and giving these things like passive aggressive words, a meaning to them, something that these girls can go and recognize in the future, will then maybe imprint them to not further that kind of behaviour with other people or allow it and be able to say like, no, I don’t stand for that. And that’s what I like to bring it back to. I am worthy of X, Y, Z. And that’s what pretty much the synopsis of every workshop is I am worthy of good friends. I am deserving of good friends. I am worthy of loving myself. I am worthy of all the things, just all of the things.
And I think having these girls know that at eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, like what a movement that will make if these 12-year-old girls are then going into high school and going, actually, I know what that behaviour is. That’s passive aggressive or you’re excluding or you’re ghosting. And that’s a frenemy or that’s unhealthy social media use. If they could start calling this sort of behaviour and having an awareness and a responsibility around it, that’s what I like to share is we can have self-awareness and we also have self-responsibility for ourselves and how we move through the world. And if everyone took responsibility for themselves, maybe there’d be a lot less friction.
I feel like if someone had had this exact conversation with me as a teenager, or as a tween, as they’re called these days, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache in my 20s.
Yes. And this is what I like to with share them. So my secret not so secret is that my eight-year-old version of me sits in that circle, every workshop. And when I deliver I’m delivering it for her what she would have wanted to hear, what she needed to hear. And I didn’t have friends at eight. I went through my parents’ marriage separation. I moved across the state. I was constantly the new girl, constantly the weird girl, the chubby girl, the girl with brown skin, all the things back then in the ’90s. And being in this circle with this space, that’s me, my eight-year-old me with my friends. But at the same time, the 33-year-old me saying, girls, you are aware that you have this. You know that, right? The world is going to tell you otherwise, but from experience because I’m in the other side now this is the deal.
And kind of throw it at them, but in an intimate workshop, fun and safe way, even though it’s completely driven by my own need for healing that part of my childhood, but what I’m seeing my own girls go through, even though they do come from a very well-rounded and emotionally supported home, they still are dealing with friction on a daily basis. And to be able to have a space that these girls are learning that awareness and their own magic from eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, it just like blows my mind what could be. And it just imprinting, that’s the word, imprinting. I’m not there to give anything, just to, little seeds that may grow for them to just know the magic that is them now, today.
And some of them need different visualizations or words or tools to figure that out. And I like to think we have a whole well-rounded way of doing that each workshop. But I think their favourite is when I share with them what I was like at as an eight-year-old girl and my daughters who attend, my eldest and my middle daughter, when I share about how I was really chubby and I had an awful haircut and I looked a bit like a potato. And you see these girls because they see me now as 33 and I’ve got weighty hair and I’m there and I’m smiling in a pretty dress. And I seem confident and educated and all the things. And they’re like, Oh, there’s a really cool, cool woman. What do you mean she was a potato?
My two daughters every time without fail will say, “It’s true. She was a potato. We’ve seen those photos. It’s true.” And I think not to say anyone in the circle as a potential, but it gives them that kind of relatability like, Oh, you were awkward and young.
It’s the me too moment.
Yeah, the me too moment. And having 25 sets of eyes looking up at you going, Whoa, me too. And for me to be able to say yes, me too, and you’ll get through it and you’re not alone. And that’s…
And I feel like as women in business, the space you are in, I mean, we’ve both been floating around each other in the cans pool of businesses in the last few years. And as a woman in business, those me too moments are really powerful limelight. When you start to find your tribe and you start to that connection and that inclusivity is so essential so that you don’t feel alone and that you sort of, you’ve got the people to celebrate with. And you’ve got the people to commiserate with when things are potentially turning peer-shaped. How important is your support network to you as well?
I’m so happy you asked that question. I could not shout it any louder from the rooftops, how 100% essential it is to have that support network of the me toos, and the you go girl, and the you are not alone. And I know this isn’t everybody’s flavor in jam when it comes to business, but I am 100% I have been so honest from the beginning, everything from my first crappy little logo to how I was printing things for a dollar 20 at Officeworks. And everything was just clunky. And I shared every step of the way. Every time I came across a new resource, I would share it straight away.
And that has been my own need and process to do that. But the amount of feedback I get, Oh, thank you so much. Or I followed them. And thank you so much because me too, because me too. I didn’t want to come online in a space that already glorifies the laptop lifestyle. I did not want to be another one of those because it’s not that. I have been in Bali with my laptop working. And it’s definitely not a glorious time at all. I didn’t think, Oh, this is my office today. This is great. I thought this just sucks because I’m in Bali, still working.
And I don’t have the laptop by my hands and I’m not getting a massage.
Exactly. I think it was really important for me to continue being honest, even as the Yaya Sisterhood brand begins to grow and generate success. I still think it’s important to be honest about those processes. And finding that in other people online, other people being honest, other people saying, today’s sucks. Other people saying I lost a client or I lost big money, or I made a mistake or I have terrible follow through because I definitely, that is me. I leave emails, I don’t open them until I’m kind of ready. And then my first line is always apologies for the delay, apologies for the delay. And until I kind of work the muscle memory to get out of that, I’m very honest about that’s where I’m at. And I wouldn’t be able to be honest about that if I didn’t see other people being honest about that.
And I’ll never forget when one of my kind of favourite business coach mentors was sharing online about her at the checkout and her card declining, because the reality is she would generate money and put it back into her business and all this kind of stuff. I feel like in Cairns, we’re quite lucky. There is a big collective of people. Cairns is so heavily based on small business. And I think it is important that we remember that, that some people might be at phase one or concept phase, start-up phase and others are launching or beyond and are scaling in huge ways.
But I think for me, if I didn’t see other people being honest about their journeys and those me too moments, I don’t know how far along my own journey I would be because I would be stuck wallowing in my own space and self-doubt and anxiety and how come her social media grid looks so great. But having people go, my social media looks so great because X, Y, Z. And that was like, Oh wow. And just that whole, I am actually, I am the hugest fan of appreciation posts, shout outs, retagging and resharing. Even if it’s something minuscule, like I loved this donut from blah, blah, blah. And if just one person saw that I’m going to get a donut from there. That helps that small business have one more person and get a donut from there. And I think that.
It’s six degrees of separation, but by business. Right?
I think that’s how I found you was because we both follow the same person on Instagram, Oh, that person got tagged or Oh, that person looks great. I’m going to follow. I love that story. And so it starts to foster this really positive space. I mean, you would know this more than most, positivity fosters positivity, just like realness also fosters realness. Like we’re all just people. I feel like so many of us have been stuck in a corporate grind where we have been told to fit into this perfect cookie cutter mold. Right? And there’s a set of rules and this is the way that your career progression is going to go. It’s really freaking powerful to actually be in charge of that yourself. But it’s also really, really, really, really, really scary. I think when you actually start to step into that space for yourself, you’ve going to rediscover yourself in a way.
It is like a personal development journey, yes. That coincides with business. Yes. That is a hundred percent, a million percent that everything you’ve just said.
Every single time I invest in myself and my business. So I went through a coaching course and loved it. It was woman like you said, in various different stages. And we shared the lows and we shared the highs. And part of this course was a really big mindset component. And there was part of me that’s like, I’m totally going to get through those mindset modules in like two weeks. Watch this. No. When I dug deep and I broke down some of those values that had crept in from a corporate world, the belief system that my teenage years had installed on myself and broken down some of the things that probably weren’t the nicest or the most positive. Once I started taking ownership of that, every single time I took ownership in my business as myself, everything this week, zoom. It just went flying. The fact that these young girls are going to have that skillset to go out into the real world. Seriously, the future is female.
Buy the shirts, get the jacket the future is female, 100%. I think what happened very early on in the Yaya, I guess, building phase, I had set up my initial first workshop back to myself and thought, okay, I’m going to do this. Did it, generated a lot of interest and a lot of success with great testimonials. And then I did nothing for eight months because I thought I need my logo to be perfect. I need my grid to be perfect, I need to be perfect. I need a blow dryer and I need power suits and I need everything to be shiny. And I need an interactive white board at these workshops.
And I was basing that off A, the comparison of other successful, youth wellness and development workshops and basically business women thinking that the word business meant suit and blow-dried hair. And basically all those traits that I didn’t feel that I had yet when working on mindset things that you said, and having to really dig deep. It’s like I do have those. Let’s give those parts of me a chance to shine and build those parts up, which then obviously translates into the circle space with the girls. Everything that gets shared and explored and discussed and communicated in those circles is 100% what I feel like you would have experienced as a child, I would have experienced as a child and what we all would have needed as children. So 100% of the future is female. And I’m not sorry about it.
Preach it, sister.
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