Raising a daughter or growing up as a tween/teen girl in the digitally-preoccupied world comes with its fair share of difficulties. Following endless talks with other parents about raising daughters in the age of social media, Katie Welch Len searched for an online community to help navigate the tricky landscape. She found nothing, so she decided to build the community herself, crafting a social media platform called GirlChat Media, where moms and daughters come together to discuss and learn about essential topics affecting their lives.
“Everybody knows middle school and high school, they’re hard ages to navigate,” Welch Len says. "We wanted to be a resource for moms and daughters where they could go to look up hard questions.”
After a year and a half in the making, GirlChat Media launched in October 2018. Rather than placing the sole focus on the blog, GirlChat Media uses each social platform to spark discussions tailored to moms and daughters alike.
As the mother of five daughters, Welch Len aims to create a place where moms and daughters can talk about anything from not making the varsity sports team to not being invited to a party to eating disorders. Along with the tougher topics, lighter content, including hair and makeup tutorials and movie recommendations, circulate on the platform. “I want to be able to sit down and talk to my daughters about an eating disorder or talk to my daughters about the fashion trends that are out right now or talk to my daughters about products that just launched from Sephora that look really cool,” Welch Len says.
Co-creators Kelly Plummer and Rebekah Wood help Welch Len write for the blog and post on social media. Plummer works as a media relations consultant for NewsWorthy Communications, an agency based in the Twin Cities that Welch Len started and heads up as president. Wood worked in TV news for 15 years and met Welch Len as a host of Twin Cities Live. Wood now works for the Home Shopping Network in St. Petersburg, Florida, after ending her career on KSTP Channel 5 in Minneapolis as a news anchor.
“There is such a new climate for kids in general, but especially for girls when you look at social media,” Plummer says. “You now have a complete road map to all of the things you are not invited to, to all of the things you don’t have, to all of the things you are not, and you have to develop a really thick skin and a strong sense of yourself in order to get through the modern age now.”
All of their daughters partake in contributing to the platform. They write product reviews and blog posts and share taking over the GirlChat Media Instagram account. Contributing writers and experts, including a regularly contributing emergency room doctor, also offer their advice and expertise on the platform. Wood says moms have already reached out to her with blog posts they wrote about bullying and how to parent when your kid is at college. Those posts are now up on the site. “We really want parents and teens to help us drive content,” Plummer says. “We know what we know, but we don’t know what’s going on in Maplewood or in different communities in Minnesota or all over the country.”
“It’s such great way to not only bring different ages of moms together but different ages of daughters together,” Plummer says.