We couldn't be more thrilled to be partnering with Girls+ Rock Ottawa for Black Friday this year! Girls+ Rock Ottawa means so much to our community. The women who volunteer and run this organization put their whole hearts into it, empowering young self-identifying girls and women to learn an instrument, make new friends, form a band, and make music. Something that is truly not encouraged enough in society.
On Black Friday we will be donating $5 from each sale of any item over $20.00 to this incredible organization. So if you purchase 2 items that are over $20 each, that's a $10 donation, and if you purchase 3 items over $20, that's a $15 donation, and so on. Feeling good about where we shop and what we buy is important to us, and we hope it is to you too!
We are also carrying their merch all season long, so you can shop in store or online for their tshirts, sweaters, and tote bags that were designed by two very talented Ottawa artists, Kaylie Seaver and Sage Mosurinjohn! All proceeds from the sales of their merchandise go back to Girls+ Rock so they can rent instruments, coordinate future jam spaces, and keep their amazing camp going . They also make the best gifts for your daughters, nieces, sisters, parents, kids, - whoever you want to show a little love for this amazing organization!
Now here's a little backstory of my (Ainslie!) time at Girls+ Rock.
I was involved with Girls+ Rock for several years, and it was truly a life altering experience for me. It opened my eyes to all of the amazing female-led music that was happening in my city, at a time when I was only ever seeing boys with guitars.
My first experience with Girls+ Rock Ottawa was in 2009. I had been taking drum lessons since my pre-teen (or "tween") days, and my drum teacher asked me if I would be interested in volunteering as a drum teacher for this all girls rock camp. I was 17, and not only did I need volunteer hours for my high school diploma, but I also had never even heard of this organization before and was so excited by the idea of it existing, and being a part of it!
Growing up, I was lucky that my parents encouraged me to play music, and I was always in pretend bands with my friends, but I was also shy and quiet. Picking up the drumsticks for the first time and playing the loudest instrument was actually a really scary thing for me. When I think about how at 12 years old, that was the instrument I picked, as much as I loved it (and still do!) it really didn't match my personality and for the following years, I always felt too nervous to play in front of people - especially boys! None of my girlfriends really played music or were as into the idea of forming a band as I was, so I ended up mostly drumming with some guy friends and eventually playing in a band with all boys, who only wanted to play Foo Fighters and Iron Maiden covers. It did help me get over some of my anxiety and shyness about playing with people, but honestly, it was kind of awful.
The weekend of Girls Rock Camp came around and I woke up early to head to Capital Rehearsal Studios (which was also the coolest thing I never knew existed!) in its old incarnation on Bank Street. Arriving there, I met some of Ottawa's coolest women, and being 17, I was the youngest teacher so I was sort of in between being a peer to the campers, who's ages ranged from 12-17, as well as these really cool women (who many of which I became friends with over the years!). All of a sudden this whole new world opened up to me. Being from Ottawa and being a teen in the mid 2000s, I had only been exposed to ska music and boy punk/hardcore bands, so this was basically a million times cooler and I was totally in awe of these bad ass women holding their own and making their own music.
Hanging out with the other volunteers and the campers, I immediately felt like this was a space that was supportive and so far removed from my own daily life of being an insecure high school girl. All of sudden, I was in a room with women who were confident, and who wanted everyone to feel comfortable and happy and excited about playing music. We were all different, but we all shared this mutual love for music and the drive of wanting to learn and make noise and just be a part of this world that we were always told wasn't for us.
Seeing those girls pick up an instrument for the first time, and go from 0 experience to learning how to play an entire song, with a band, and then perform it on stage in front of an audience of 50+ people, was something truly incredible. I've cried at every showcase I've been to because it's honestly one of the most beautiful things to witness!
The first year I volunteered, I actually was in one of the bands because we were short one drummer, and the girl who played guitar had written her own song to perform. It was so beautiful, I still remember it to this day and I wish she and I had stayed in touch! It was the first time I had ever played music with another girl who's musical style and taste matched my own.
I continued to volunteer as a drum teacher with rock camp for several years after that, and I can honestly say that this organization has lasting and meaningful results. You see it by the end of the first day, how friendships form, how girls who were too shy to talk to each other at 10 am, are best friends by 4 pm, and are already 10x more confident after learning only a few chords or a simple drum beat. They don't want to stop playing, they're making plans to jam together after the weekend is over, and they are just so happy!!
I also saw the positive changes in my own life after the weekend was over. One of the other teacher's asked me to join her band, and over the course of a year we played countless shows, and recorded an album. That was one of the most fun and exciting experiences and it gave me the confidence to continue playing with other bands.
Girls+ Rock Ottawa and Victoire have both been really influential in my life and I am so thrilled to see them intertwined!