Interview: Lifting Women Up with Leslie Lozano

A few years ago, Leslie Lozano helped cofound Austin’s #bossbabesatx with her best friends Jane Claire Hervey and Ashlee Jordan Pryor. They saw that there was many professional women in the city, and created the organization as a safe space to meet like-minded women. For their first scheduled meeting, they expected about ten women to attend. Instead, they received 900 RSVPs to the event. Boss Babes answered a need for the women in Austin: a need for community, inclusion, and resources. Since then, she has listened to her community and helped center the community around entrepreneurship and activism—opening doors that were previously closed to these boss babes.

 

What advice would you give to women who feel knocked down?

Always remove yourself from bad situations—whether that be work, relationships, or anything else. These struggles are a small part of your journey. Let them be done when they are done. Recognize your self value, and trust that the universe will always provide for you.

In a governmental context, join an activist community. If it is not around you, make it. If your don’t feel like you can go to marches or donate to fundraisers, use the internet to be active. And don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. I have never been afraid to be “that bitch.” When you speak up, you will find other people who feel the same way.

When pursuing dreams, you don’t need to drop everything. There is sometimes a level of privilege to drop everything. That artist you love may also be a teacher, barista, accountant. It's all about timing. It’s ok to take the “slow journey” to where you want to be, but still prioritize your side hustle.

Tell me about the woman that inspires you the most.

Gloria Anzaldua. She is an activist, feminists, queer chicana poet, and from a town near where I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley. I didn’t always identify as a feminist because of the stigma. But, then I found out about intersectional and queer feminists. Anzaldua provided vocabulary to the ideas that I already had. Seeing her work was super helpful throughout college. Because she is also Latinx, I feel like she is just one of my tías. Another big influence are the women in my family. They were my first example of what leadership, female power, and divine feminine was.

What is something you think people need to recognize about women?

You cannot silence us and it’s about time we are taken seriously. If a women shares her experience, it is real; listen. We are smart capable human beings. Just because you don’t understand, that doesn’t devalue it. Listen. Don’t gaslight me.

What is a social movement that you are passionate about?

Immigration. Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, I did not understand the complexities of having papers, because so many people did not. There is a checkpoint at the border, and another a few hours north. This device literally trapped people in the Valley. This disconnect limits their access to the resources and communication many people would need to live fulfilled lives. It makes me think of my own family and what they did to come to America. After all, Mexicans have been here. This was our land. Texas used to be Mexico.

Black Lives Matter, colorism, and racism are incredibly important to me as well. I have never had any chill over these issues and know the latinx community has a whole lot of learning and unlearning to do.

Advice on how to live your life while lifting up other women?

Show up for other women. You are likely experiencing similiar things that other women are. Give her a ride, babysit, support her business, be a text away, be financially there. We have to support women owned businesses. But remember to check on yourself. When you’re burnt out, be there for yourself. When you are good, be there for others. If you know someone who needs something, share your resources.

 

What do you love most about yourself?

My vulnerability. It has not always been this way. I started asking myself in college: who am I? what do I want? I was able to love myself and be vulnerable with friends, family, and myself. I was able to be more vocal and put things out on the table about health, relationships, and politics so others feel comfortable doing the same. I have a soft power; I am able to be more gentle, kind, and channel divine feminine energy. You don’t have to try and fit the template of what society thinks a man is to be listened to and get what you want.

I also love my eyes because they are just like my mom’s and grandma’s.

Finally, I love my willingness to love and be present.

How did you get to where you are today? 

I am pushed by the fact that I came from The Valley. My community was loving and supportive—but not what I wanted my future to look like as far as the choices that were presented to me.

Right after I moved to Austin, I lost my car. My apartment was flooded. I worked three jobs, and all of my money went to rent. Often times I had to make $10 last for two weeks. There wasn’t a community of entrepreneurs and activists to talk to about real life issues, struggles, and aspirations. Hitting rock bottom is what really pushes you. I know what it is like to be broke, to have no community, and to be unhappy in my relationships. But going through those things helped me figure out what I want, although its ever changing.

I have always had a supportive family, though I always felt like the weird one.

Whenever we started #bossbabesatx, I was working 3 jobs. For the whole first year, I felt like a fraud. I was hosting workshops, but not doing what I really loved; I had/have imposter syndrome. Through our community, I was able to find value in myself and leave the jobs that no longer served me.

What items do you carry with you at all times?

I always have a snack with me (I’m that friend). Also, lip balm, headphones, a hair tie, a good lipstick, and business cards. Oh! and I always have a jacket (for fashion) and a phone charger, because life is wild and my phone is always dead.

What mottos/mantras do you carry with you? How do they help you?

“Stop. You are smart, you are strong, and you are important. Carry on.”

“You are beautiful and special.” This one comes from my grandma, and my family always repeats it to each other. I even have it tattooed on my ribs.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

My mom told me that it is okay to ask for help. I went through lots of shit because I never asked for, or was willing to receive, help. But, it is okay to be messy and receive help. It comes with being vulnerable.

To others, be true to who you are. Especially in this digital age, we are asking ourselves, “should I be the ___ girl?” But you don’t need to live for other people.

If you could receive a superlative, what would it be?

Most likely to brighten your day. I received this superlative in high school. At the time though, I wanted best dressed and was not happy about it.


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