Javacia Harris Bowser is the self-made businesswoman behind See Jane Write, blogger behind The Writeous Babe Project, freelance writer and Early American Literature teacher whose passion for empowering women and girls drives her not only to grow her company, but also to help people courageously unearth their true voices. She cultivates respect and encourages personal growth in the classroom, with her clients and friends and within herself. Besides being a self-proclaimed Southern-fried feminist, Javacia is also a fashion lover, fitness enthusiast and StyleBlueprint Birmingham’s newest contributing writer. We are delighted to welcome today’s FACE of Birmingham, Javacia Harris Bowser!
What is your earliest memory of wanting to be a writer?
I wrote a poem for my best friend when he was moving away. I was only 7 or 8, so it was terrible and I’m sure it included the lines “Roses are red, violets are blue,” but once I started writing, I never wanted to stop. I fell in love with the written word.
What made you decide to form See Jane Write?
I was born and raised in Birmingham, but I left for about a decade for school and to work as a newspaper reporter. I lived in Berkeley, CA; Seattle, WA; and Louisville, KY. I moved back to Birmingham in 2009 to teach at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and while I loved my co-workers, I missed having a community of female writers. I kept asking around town about a writing group for women, one that would welcome nonfiction writers like myself and one that embraced blogging. I couldn’t find the organization that I wanted. So in March of 2011, I started my own.
About a dozen women showed up to the first meeting, and the topic of Twitter came up, so I decided our next event would be a workshop on Twitter. Forty women attended. Next, I hosted a panel discussion on blogging, and 75 women showed up for that! Clearly, I was on to something. Today, through See Jane Write, I host monthly events including workshops, panel discussions, networking events and an annual blogging conference. I also offer e-courses, coaching and consulting to help women with their writing and blogging.
You are a self-proclaimed Southern-fried feminist. Why is feminism important to you?
The simplest answer I could give is that I’m a feminist because I believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, but that answer would not be complete. I’m also a feminist because I believe in sisterhood. I feel a kinship to nearly every woman and girl I meet. I believe that empowering women and girls is why I was put on this planet, and my desire to do that drives everything I do.
As an Early American Literature teacher at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, how does your sense of feminism inform your job?
I try to teach feminist texts as much as I can, but I also believe in creating a feminist classroom. To me, that means creating an environment that encourages my students to treat all people — regardless of gender, race, class, religion, sexual orientation or ability — with dignity. Creating a feminist classroom means making my students feel that they have a voice, helping them find that voice and helping them use it.
What is the most challenging thing about being a writer?
The most challenging thing about being a writer is the constant pursuit of perfection. I never feel as if any work is complete. I always want to continue to tinker with anything I write to make it better. But I can’t because, you know, deadlines.
What is the most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing about being a writer is when I get an email from someone who has read one of my personal essays or blog posts and in the email they say, “I thought I was the only person who felt this way. I thought I was the only person struggling with this. Your words let me know that I’m not alone.”
What do you do when you’re not working?
Once a week, I have what I call Self-Care Saturday, a day when I do no work and only do things that are relaxing or fun. On those days, I like to have brunch with friends, go for a walk or run in my neighborhood or at the Lakeshore Trail, or spend the day catching up on my favorite TV shows and magazines.
What do you love most about Birmingham?
I love the energy of Birmingham right now. For instance, the spirit of collaboration … so many people, businesses and organizations in Birmingham are eager to help others. For example, I host many See Jane Write events at the Desert Island Supply Co., better known as DISCO, a nonprofit in Woodlawn that provides creative writing workshops and camps for kids. But DISCO often opens its doors to other organizations in town — like See Jane Write — that have similar missions. The city seems to be full of entrepreneurs, creatives and activists that are determined to make Birmingham truly live up to its nickname of “The Magic City.” I see Birmingham changing, and it’s an honor and privilege to live here now and witness it all.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
Something interesting has happened within the past few years. Many of the women I admire most are actually a decade or more younger than I am. Millennial women are so courageous. They’re not just breaking the rules; they’re completely changing the game! They’re showing us all that you don’t have to follow traditional paths to success. They’re showing us that you can be yourself, unapologetically, and still be successful. And they’re showing us that you can follow your heart and follow your dreams and win!
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Last year, I was selected as one of Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40. This was a huge accomplishment because it taught me a valuable lesson. It was in August of 2014 that I started to really take myself seriously as a businesswoman, and six months later I was selected for this prestigious honor. That showed me that if you want others to take you seriously, you must take yourself seriously first. And now I can say I turned a small women’s writing group into an award-winning business.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I love watching professional wrestling and superhero movies.
Any guilty pleasures?
I listen to profanity-ridden music when I’m mad, stressed or working out.
What is your best piece of advice?
Find your tribe and love them hard. This is actually a quote from Danielle LaPorte, and it’s a mantra I live by. Finding your tribe — a group of people who understand you and support you — not only helps you succeed at professional pursuits, but it just makes life better, period. The women I’ve met and grown close to through See Jane Write have not only helped me grow See Jane Write into a business, but they’ve also helped me love my life here in Birmingham.
With the exception of faith, family and friends, what are three things that you cannot live without?
Essie nail polish, my Day Designer planner and Beyoncé
Thank you, Javacia! To learn more about See Jane Write’s upcoming events, consultation or coaching opportunities, or to book Javacia for a speaking engagement, visit See Jane Write. And check out Javacia’s blog, The Writeous Babe Project.