From social networking to professional networking, we’re inundated with ways to connect with each other. But it’s apparent that many still feel isolated, especially as technology rules our lives. An innovative new solution in San Diego is causing quite a buzz, as local Audra Leigh has found a fresh way for ladies to get together and socialize face to face.
The bUZZ Ladies, launched in October, is a new kind of social club-meets-networking group that invites women of all ages, backgrounds, and professions to network at events spent dining and reviewing local restaurants. Good food and girls-nights-out is just what the doctor ordered, and just what women need to get out of their comfort zones. Audra envisioned this distinct idea after her life as a stay-at-home mom restricted her to interaction solely on Facebook and Twitter. Now she’s giving women a reason to get together and meet— and at what better place than our San Diego restaurants, from swanky hot, to brand new, to family-owned local eateries. Events take place through every weekend of each month, and women are encouraged to stay connected with other bUZZ Ladies in between with restaurant, product, and trend reviews.
This take on real social networking celebrates women and simultaneously celebrates our city. Single, married, worker bees and homemakers are all welcome to make our diverse San Diego feel much more connected. Upcoming bUZZ nights include Jasmine Chinese Seafood in La Jolla, Bistro 39 in Del Mar, and House on the Hill in Poway. Learn more about Audra, her vision, the women she helps, and the ways she is shaping our community.
DiscoverSD: Hi Audra! First off, can you tell us about what bUZZ Ladies is?
Audra: The bUZZ Ladies puts the social back in social networking. Everyone today is so glued to their computers and mobile devices that we’re spending less and less actual face-time with each other. We’ve found that giving everyone a reason to go out, like to review a restaurant, keeps the experience fun and open while offering an instant source of conversation. I know so many women who wish they had more female friends. This is a great way to meet new people in a fun, relaxed environment, form lasting friendships and really just support each other, as women.
DSD: How did you get come up with this concept? What inspired you?
AL: A few years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom that had become a “stuck-at-home” mom. Somewhere between the soccer games, carpools, diapers and a divorce I started to lose my sense of self. I was missing the connection and support that comes from face-to-face “girl time.” One night, I gathered five of my closest friends to go out to dinner and review a local restaurant. It was such a blast and the support and camaraderie was something I realized I had been desperately missing. We all agreed we needed to make this a regular event, so the next month, we did it again and this time invited more of our friends. From there it just grew and grew. The restaurant reviews really were the key in making sure the group continued – it gave us a reason to get together. We’re really excited to expand to greater San Diego, we now have bUZZ Nights from Oceanside to La Mesa and everywhere in between. It’s just a great way to get in some quality girl-time and to get that support we all need from each other as women – both personally and professionally.
DSD: Are you a local San Diegan? If not, what brought you here?
AL: I consider myself a local, yes, but I’m still a transplant. I moved to San Diego in 1989 and went to high school in the Del Mar area.
DSD: Tell us more about yourself. What are your interests, hobbies, and passions?
AL: Being a single mom, I have a huge heart for other single parents. When I became a divorced single mom I felt so alone; like the world was against me. I don't want anyone to feel like that especially considering that so many of us are single parents. I didn't want just a blog to read for support or an online group. True support comes from connecting face to face and building relationships.
I LOVE to travel and trying new things, but I HATE to fly. I am in need of a hypnotist!
Dancing makes me truly happy. Whether it's when I'm substituting tap classes every now and then or if I'm in the kitchen with my kids having a dance "party" or if I'm out with my girlfriends and a good beat comes on. You'll find me by the speaker.
DSD: What do you hope to accomplish with bUZZ Ladies?
AL: I am working on creating a community of women across the country who support one another personally and professionally, and have a ton of fun doing it!
DSD: How has the overall response been? What sorts of achievements have you made?
AL: The response has been great. Every time we host a bUZZ Night, I get to meet someone new and I’ve made so many lifelong friends. It’s really fulfilling to see the women in this group connect, get inspired and just improve their lives. That’s the biggest achievement by far.
DSD: Can you tell us a success story or two about a particular woman who has been influenced through bUZZ Ladies?
AL: There are two women that immediately pop in my head, and it just so happens that they are both Kelleys (with an e). Kelley B. was transferred here with her husband who is in the marines. She had been in San Diego for a year and hated every minute of it. She worked hard and took care of her son through one deployment and found it impossible to make good friends. A bUZZ Lady dragged (and I say "dragged" because she really didn't want to go) Kelley out to a bUZZ Night at Casa de Bandini over 2 years ago. Since that one bUZZ Night she’s made many great friends that helped her through another deployment. Kelley had always told me she wishes she met the group the first year she was here and how she wished the bUZZ Ladies were in all of the towns that she may be transferred to. This past July she was transferred to Quantico, VA and is now starting to put together her very own bUZZ Nights there! Another Kelley, Kelley F., heard about us and came out to one bUZZ Night last year. Since then, she’s come to almost every bUZZ Night. Being a hair stylist as well, she advertised with us and got quite a few new clients that absolutely adore her as much as I do, and this is when we were still just word of mouth. Kelley moved to New York in August to finish her degree and is bringing the bUZZ Ladies with her. Her first very own bUZZ Night is going to be held the third week of November.
DSD: What sorts of bUZZ Ladies events will be taking place in November?
AL: We’ve got a lot of great bUZZ Nights planned in November. We’ll be going Rhythm City Grill in San Marcos, Bistro 39 in Del Mar, Fish House Vea Cruz in Carlsbad, The Balai Hai in Mission Beach, the La Jolla Brewhouse -- these are just a few of the restaurants to host bUZZ Nights in November. For the full calendar, you can go to our website.
DSD: In your opinion, why is networking an important part of a woman’s lifestyle?
AL: When people say “networking” most people think of the business world and making professional contacts. I’ve discovered that when you make a connection personally, it ends up helping professionally. And for us, it’s these personal connections and friendships that are the most important aspect of what we do. So many of us can’t find the time to go out and socialize with other women. There’s something really fulfilling and important about being around other women and supporting each other in all aspects of our lives. We need to get off the internet and get back to meeting our girlfriends for lunch, going to movies, shopping and getting in that face-to-face time that seems to be happening less and less these days. I didn’t realize how much I was missing time with my girlfriends and what an impact it had on my life until I started the bUZZ Ladies. Now, I can’t imagine not having it. I still have my Facebook, but even more importantly, I have Face TIME.
DSD: What are some of your personal and professional goals in the next 3 years?
AL: Professionally, I’d like to see the bUZZ Ladies expanding to other cities across the country. Everywhere I travel I have women who want to start bUZZ Nights in their communities – it’s really exciting and it’s the next chapter for us. Personally, I will continue to be a supportive mother to my three beautiful children. And I’m long overdue for a trip to Europe!
DSD: Anything else you’d like us to know about bUZZ Ladies or yourself?
AL: We invite all women (regardless of your age, job, married, single, kids, no kids, etc) to come out and join us for a bUZZ Night. We have a brand new website where we post our restaurant reviews and allow our members to stay on top of the hottest trends and products. We also promote women-owned businesses across San Diego. It’s absolutely free to join and it’s a great way to keep in touch with other bUZZ Ladies. The website is www.thebuzzladies.com.
Love Audra? So do we! Get involved with the buZZ Ladies by visiting their website and head to one of their November events.