(The following excerpt from Why #BuiltByGirls Is The Next Big Thing recently appeared on aol.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
What do 3D makeup printer Mink, online fashion community Polyvore and the new Cambio Celebspiration meme generator have in common? They’re all for girls, built by girls – and they’re all part of the growing #BUILTBYGIRLS movement.
What is #BUILTBYGIRLS? At AOL our aim is to inspire women and girls to claim their place in the tech-enabled economy by imagining and building the great products of the future or by tapping technology to power their work, play and passions.
With that in mind, earlier this year AOL’s premiere entertainment destination for millennials, Cambio, reached out to Girls Who Code, a vital organization founded by Reshma Saujani with an audacious goal of its own – exposing 1 million young women to computer science by 2020. We asked GWC to help us re-imagine and rebuild Cambio as a site for girls, built by girls. Could they take over Cambio as a lab for real girls to create a site they’d want to visit every day, one that truly reflects their varied interests and passions?
In June, 17-year-old interns Michelle Polton-Simon, Roxy Banik, Natasha Driver, Lily Yuan and Nikki Allen, all grads of GWC, moved into AOL’s offices to take up the challenge. They redefined Cambio’s editorial vision (adding new topics like tech, beauty, fashion, DIY, inspiration, advice and more), wrote articles and built two unique new products for the site – Celebspiration, which allows users to create and share inspirational celebrity memes, and the Col[lab], a blogger network that enables girls everywhere to develop their voice on Cambio.
“We wanted to find a balance between a website that is fun, that talks to young women, not down to them,” Natasha says. “We wanted to build something where girls can empower one another – we should be lifting one another up and motivating each other.”
“Ultimately, we wanted to create a place where girls can find anything about every topic they care about – because you may like video games and coding, but also fashion and celebrities – you don’t have to be defined by one thing,” says Michelle, 17. “To us #BUILTBYGIRLS means inspiring girls to see themselves as creators – to believe they can build a bigger and better world. Whether their interests are coding and science, or fashion and beauty we want to encourage other young women to take advantage of technology to fuel their passions and drive their success.”
The five interns built a hub on Cambio to aggregate the stories of every young woman builder, under the hashtag #BUILTBYGIRLS, and to empower other young women to believe they can be builders. Lily Yuan, one of the interns, says, “I was afraid to join AOL and Cambio and was going to turn it down, thinking I was not good enough for this – and then I did the program, and I realized that I can do anything if I try. I learned to be fearless.”
Cambio found the perfect launch partner in Samsung Galaxy Note 4, a partner that prizes innovation. Samsung also supports the movement to encourage women and girls to be proficient in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects through its various corporate citizenship programs. As part of the relaunch, Samsung presented a native editorial series on Cambio, Girls Who Code Run the World, which highlights the unique stories of the five interns and how they were motivated, inspired and mentored to learn how to code. Cambio is also featuring a five-episode video series powered by Samsung chronicling the girls’ journey as they rebuilt the site.
The new Cambio not only entertains but empowers young women to build anything they want to build and be anything they want to build. It’s a site for girls, #BUILTBYGIRLS. We want you to help fuel the #BUILTBYGIRLS movement and inspire the young women around you to to build a bigger and better world. Tweet or insta something you or the special girl in your life has built and tag it #BUILTBYGIRLS. Cambio will proudly display it on the new #BUILTYBYGIRLS social hub.