Abigail Gibbons, recently referred to as “Lady Boss For the 20-Somethings,” is the founder of The AG Collective (AGC), a social networking company advancing women and equality in the workplace. Abigail and I crossed paths after being connected to each other by our coach, Emily Merrell of Six Degrees Society. I found that she and I both had similar missions in wanting to bring women together so they could cultivate relationships and learn from each other. Abigail’s inspiration to form her own company came to her after working a traditional corporate job in Manhattan, New York. While working, she attended numerous networking events that catered mostly to her male-counterparts. She struggled to find reliable and genuine resources to help her navigate her career and the challenges she faced in her early twenties.
Frustrated, she took action into her own hands and set on a journey to create new networking opportunities and resources for other young women and thus, The AGC was born. Her true passions are connecting and learning from others and finding ways to change the world through human connection. Find out how her shameless approach (and genuine interest) in meeting new people coined her nicknames such as “the ultimate wing-woman” and “connector of humans” in our interview below!
KN: Abigail, let’s dig into your beautiful story! Can you please share how you got to be where you are today as an entrepreneur?
Abigail Gibbons: The best way to explain my journey is to share about my “eat, pray, love” year. I had always been a person of structure. I think I developed this structured nature of mine mostly from playing competitive sports my whole life. Risk-taking, I thought, was not really in my vocabulary. But finally, after almost two years in corporate, I began to question what I was doing, why I was doing it, and “was this it” for me and my life. I got to the point where these questions were keeping me up at night and I had to answer them.
So, I quit my job, took my savings and traveled for more or less for a year. I tried many different jobs and met countless numbers of people from around the world who began to expand my worldview – particularly, I learned about what a successful life and career can look like. After being inspired by many women and men who had started their own businesses, I began to brainstorm what I had to offer to the world, and how I could turn my inspiration into a business that channeled this purpose of mine. Cue, The AG Collective!
KN: Taking a risk on yourself is truly the best thing you can do! I love what you are building with The AG Collective. Can you share what your company is about for those who don’t know? How have you gone about building your business and ensuring what you wanted to do was successful?
AG: I would love to share! The AG Collective is a social networking company that advances women and equality in the workplace. We do this through our events-based programming and accompanying digital platform. We advance women and equality by giving women a platform to be heard in our “Woman Of The Week” also known as the “WOW” series. I began a WOW Instagram series in 2019 where I feature women who have personally inspired me on The AG Collective’s Instagram. These women share who they are, challenges they have overcome in the workplace and their advice for other young professionals. This series quickly took off, and today our WOW Series exclusively features these women as speakers in our event series and our digital series. Our digital series features women on Instagram through posts and live videos, and soon on our upcoming Instagram TV channel. These women share their experiences, stories, and advice related to achieving equality in the workplace, and based on each woman’s experience, they share and recommend tools to improve the workplace.
We take a different approach than a traditional social networking company because we host events that allow people to connect directly in person, allowing all AG Collective members to form a genuine human connection. Our social networking app brings our community together pre- or post-event and gives WOW members from around the world a medium to connect on. While many companies like to develop the tech or apps to connect people first, we sought to bring people together in person first to create trust, meaningful relationships, and tackle difficult conversations and learn from each other. I never in 100 years would have thought I would be creating a company that is expanding into the competitive tech and social networking space, but now I am more confident than ever in what we are building.
Our social networking app (launching winter 2020), is really just a medium to help our community stay connected, and it is not the end-all-be-all of our business. The AG Collective’s desire to form genuine relationships is what will always keep us motivated, growing and successful.
KN: This is incredible! I can’t wait to see what The AG Collective app is all about! Can you tell me what has been the most rewarding and most challenging part of starting and running your own business?
AG: The whole process makes me emotional and overwhelmed with gratitude. At 26 years old, I feel I have really owned who I am and what I have to offer the world. I have found confidence and a feeling of empowerment I have never had before. Starting my business has just brought to the surface my true self and best qualities, and I am so happy to help other young women do the same and have this experience as well. It’s been so humbling and rewarding, especially to meet such incredible and inspiring humans who so powerfully and genuinely want to support each other.
The most challenging part is burnout. I think it is important to share this with others so friends can better support their entrepreneurial friends, and other entrepreneurs know they are not alone in their challenges. I recently had what felt like a week-long panic attack, between working two jobs and personal drama it felt like the world was swallowing me whole. My sisters forced me to cancel my plans on a Friday night and showed up at home with a bag full of face masks, lotions, and tea. I felt a weight of relief off of my shoulders having them there to remind me to relax and take care of myself. Everyone needs sisters and friends like that!
KN: Burnout is real and something I can 100% relate to. It’s critical to ensure you’re taking yourself, especially as you grow in your career. What do you love most about what you do right now?
AG: The impact. Hearing stories from other young women and men that this community has really impacted their life, inspired them to make a change in their life, or start their own business is why I do what I do.
I love collaborating with other women and businesses who are doing something similar to what I am doing too. We are the definition of collaboration over competition. My biggest lesson or advice is that we are only stronger together. If you get lost in being competitive or wanting to keep business operations or successes only within your network, you are missing out on the true meaning of entrepreneurship. Imagine what would happen if we all came together to pursue our missions to change the world? We would change it even faster and greater. My relationships with Six Degrees Society, Anecdote, and The Network Of Women sums this collaboration up perfectly.
KN: Yes! I couldn’t agree more. And I can’t wait to see what we do together in the future too! What would you say keeps you motivated to keep going?
AG: My passion to make the world a better place by connecting others who can learn from each other keeps me motivated. I continually find myself learning from others which enables me to keep going and growing. Also, it is just fun!
KN: Amazing, Abigail. What would you credit your success to?
AG: My support systems: former financial advisor clients at UBS, new relationships, other business owners, huge companies like SAP Next-Gen, and my friends and family. Those who followed and believed in my journey from the very beginning and continue to support me are the reason I am able to do this.
My new professional network of other entrepreneurs and businesses who have believed in me now, and into the future, have also been integral. We can never achieve anything alone, and for them, I am so grateful.
KN: You are the true embodiment of collaboration over competition, Abigail. It’s so inspiring. Who inspires you and why?
AG: This one is easy, my Woman Of The Week members! I reach out to these women to have them be a part of the series because I have been personally inspired by them. It is thanks to them that I can keep this community alive.
More personally, I am very inspired by my family, my sisters in particular. The endless love and support they have for our little trio is inspiring in itself. My identical twin sister has the most incredible, stubborn determination I have ever seen. My younger sister is a super-genius who is also extremely empathetic and has high emotional intelligence.
KN: I love that you are so supported and inspired by your family. Now, as we all know, entrepreneurship is not an easy path. How do you balance your work and your well-being?
AG: This is tough because I am not sure I do balance it, ha. I try my best to set boundaries and schedule as much as I can. It is not easy! I personally welcome any advice on this one. My “come chill with us” community of wellness professionals has been integral in helping me find balance (check them out on Instagram: Lee Noto (@leenoto_), Sophie Shepherd (@shetalkshealth), Ani Manian (@ani.manian).
KN: It definitely is tough and I appreciate your honesty. Work in progress, right? Speaking of work, what does the future of your business ultimately look like?
AG: Ultimately, a global takeover. (The good kind of takeover, obviously!) The details… I can’t really say because I do not know. My goal is just continuing to create impactful, purposeful communities and resources for the world to connect and make it a better place. Stay tuned to find out with me!
KN: You know we will! Lipstick & Ink is all about encouraging women to make their mark on their lives, the lives of others and on the world. What does “making your mark” mean to you?
AG: It means leaving a lasting impression on someone I met, whether it’s a dear friend or someone I met in passing for a few minutes. For me, making my mark is forming a connection with someone where I’ve inspired them to do something different for the better. It means connecting people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met.
KN: That’s a wonderful interpretation! Thank you for sharing that. If you had one piece of advice for women trying to make their mark, what would it be?
AG: Itch that little scratch that keeps you up at night with what you might want to do with your life. And, please, please, take risks (big or small), to do so. When you pursue your passions, you make the world a better place.
KN: Thank you so much for being a part of this series, Abigail! Do you have any parting thoughts or advice?
AG: It may be hard to do something different, you will be questioned by everyone, and it is difficult. Just remember you know you best. You will never fail or regret exploring and testing what you might want to do with your life, even if it is challenging and confusing. Take risks and explore your passions to the point of exhaustion and how to bring them into your career. Finally, find a community that will encourage you to do so!
To connect with Abby or find out more about The AG Collective, check out the links below:
- Website: www.abigailgibbons.com
- E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @abzgib, @ag.collective
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce and has over 10 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.