Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Geek Girls Gab with International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club

There are just some people you are destined to meet, Leslie was one of them for me.  I love telling the story of our connection it makes the world such a small place!  One day while scrolling through Instagram I saw a picture of a baby I recognized.  I looked at the screen name and it wasn't the father, who I knew.  I messaged Leslie about it and she said it was her niece.  Come to find out that one of The Hunny's college buddy's was married to Leslie's sister!
Leslie is the founder of International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club which connects like minded nerd girls with their pen pal counterparts!  Iggppc was just nominated for a Geekie Award in 2014 in the blog category!  In our interview I talk to Leslie about how she came up with the idea for the club and where she wants to see the site go in 2015!

The Nerdy Girlie:  The internet age has definitely taken over the youngest generation.  They have everything at their fingertips and don't have to wait long for anything, mail is about extinct.  What made you want to start Iggppc?
Leslie:  It actually never came out of a desire to handwrite long letters, though admittedly that has become an acquired and favorite taste of mine to date. I was friends with Emily Farquharson via the typical way online friends meet, Twitter and blogging. She had made some necklaces for me and my belly dance troupe. I was fascinated by the fact that she lived in England (which I am SURE you can relate to, Little Miss Queen of the Union Jack!) and I definitely had many questions for her about living there. Long story short, I had asked her to mail me some English goodies, more specifically a few Curly Wurlies, an English caramel and chocolate delicacy, and she and I promptly agreed that more International girls should meet up in this way. We felt lucky to know each other but wondered if we could talk other geek girls/bloggers into uniting across the globe to send mail, candy and local goodies to people. Thus the IGGPPC was born! The success of the project was immediately evident, as we had 1,000 sign ups in our first 24 hours in business. We were selling pen pals like hot cakes. After starting it and seeing the demand, it was easy to keep going.

The Nerdy Girlie:  That is so great to hear that people are still open to snail mail!  I love the concept as well!  That feeling of waiting, anticipation and surprise is such a great feeling!  Who was your first pen pal and are you still connected?  What is your favorite thing you have received in the mail?

Leslie:  It’s so true, and I think that’s a very important part of the club. It cultivates patience and attention to detail. You not only have to wait to be paired, but you have to wait for your letters. You also want to make sure to please your new friend and cultivate that fabulous friendship, so the attention to detail about them and their life is important in sending them mail they will like! I consider all 7 other staff members my pen pals, and we send each other letter, treats, Christmas gifts, and candy on the regular. I also have 1 pen pal through the club named Fabi whom I love! She is from Germany. We are still connected. My favorite things I have received in the mail include TimTams Australian candy and a very kawaii cameo broach from Emma, Curly Wurlies from Emily, Archie comics from Jen, a wonderful Wednesday Addams pin from my secret santa, and a plethora of amazing cute stickers!
Meeting for the 1st time at The Geekie Awards!

The Nerdy Girlie:  You just took your very first to California where you attended The Geekie Awards which you were nominated for the very first time!  Congratulations!  How did you feel when you heard you were nominated and what was it like attending the awards show?

Leslie:  Thank you my dear sweet friend!!! Truth be told, this was my second time in California, though my first time was in San Francisco and I did NOT get to go to Disneyland, which was a dream come true! Hearing our name was very exciting and I can tell you exactly how I reacted. I made special arrangements to make sure I would be able to watch the live announcements. My fellow IGGPPC staffers and I are all in a continued Facebook conversation to help us organize and coordinate tasks for running the club, and we were all in the chat room watching the video. As soon as Olga announced our names, I think I typed “WE DID IT. OMFG WE DID IT. *explicative deleted* WTF OMG ALL OF OUR HARD WORK. OMG OMG.” Something very ridiculous to that effect.  We were all screaming and running around our houses, but we knew we had worked so hard on this club, so we felt very honored and also like all of our hard work had paid off. It felt amazing!

The Nerdy Girlie:  Iggppc finished up its first online Summer Camp in August, 2014!  Tell us how that came about and what the reaction was like.  I really enjoyed being apart of the in the Everyday Cosplay panel {thank you!} and participating the ballet panel!

Leslie:  I am so glad you liked it!!! The idea for camp actually happened while I was on my honeymoon, so I am not exactly sure how the idea came about, but I just know Emily always has really good ideas, so it is no surprise how her amazing brain works.  Camp received an overwhelmingly positive response. We had 130 girls sign up to be allocated into “Troops” which were led by amazing Iggles who played the part of Camp Counselor. The girls focused on bonding with their fellow troop mates, participated in chat rooms and online Google hangouts, and did troop activities together like scavenger hunts. Even if you did not sign up for a troop, you could still join in all the webinars, tutorials, and whatnot happening. We learned so much – it was a baking, sewing, crafting, writing, dancing, super learning experience packed full of fun campy things to do! This year, we are throwing around the idea of asking $5 for a Camp Registration fee and donating all proceeds to women in STEM or some other positive cause.

The Nerdy Girlie:  After a Geekie Award nomination and a successful online summer camp where does Iggppc go from here?!  Any special plans for 2015?

Leslie:  I think it’s important for everyone to try to improve themselves, because we never reach a perfect state, and the new year seemed an appropriate time for us to do that. In December, we sent out a survey asking our community how we can improve and change in 2015. We’ve taken all the results from that survey, mulled them over, and done a few pretty exciting things with the club (which you can read all about HERE which includes a restructuring of our Houses, seeking to promote more members of our community into different positions such as House Prefects and Head of Activities, introduced a fun Calendar of events, trying to expand our International offering by bringing on more non-USA iggles into our fold, introducing mixed gender pairing (so girls and guys can be matched up as pen pals), and finally, working on hiring a staff member

So if any Nerdy Girlie readers are interested, or know anyone who might be interested, please, join up! 

Long term, our plan has always been to expand – more members, more penpals, more magic! My own personal goals for the club include: to expand more in Africa and Asia, to get our own special stamps sold by the post office, let our mascot Jimbob take over the world, and, of course, facilitate more and more international friendships than I can count. I want to encourage everyone to sign up for a pen pal on the 15th of every month, and swaps are also open beginning on the 1st of every month. There is so much fun to be had at the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club!
You heard Leslie!  Head on over to the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club site and sign up now!  What better way to grow the nerdy community!  Thank you Leslie! Follow Leslie on Twitter @darlingstewie and check out her adorable personal blog:  http://darlingstewie.com/

4 comments:

  1. Two of my internet favs! <3 Worlds colliding!
    That story about how you met had me cracking up at this line for some reason "it wasn't the father..." Need to go watch those panels now!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a fun interview! And the world really is a small place when you think about it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this connection!! I've been writing back and forth with a girl through this site and I absolutely love our emails!! Yay penpals :)

    ReplyDelete