If you live in Austin, Texas, chances are you’ve caught wind of 28-year-old Jane Claire Hervey’s work, whether or not you’ve heard her name.
Through nonprofit Boss Babes ATX and creative studio Group Work—both of which she founded and runs—Hervey’s been pushing the creative and entrepreneurial community in Austin and beyond to think differently about who gets funding, tools and opportunity. With big-name partners like Doc Martens, OkCupid, Red Bull, Tito’s Vodka and the University of Texas, the work she’s doing is reshaping the industry landscape.
“I’m just trying to figure out how to make things work for people who are not typically centered in the design of entrepreneurial and creative spaces,” Hervey explained. “It’s a design problem, in my mind.”
After graduating from the University of Texas in 2014 with a degree in journalism, Hervey spent the first few years of her career in communications and marketing at media startup Neon Cantina and boutique design agency In-House International. Through those experiences—some of which required her to participate in projects she didn’t agree with or support—Hervey sharpened her focus and strengthened her commitment to the values that guide her work today: inclusion and collaboration.
Out of a desire to act on those values, Hervey founded Boss Babes ATX in 2015 with a mission to connect women and nonbinary entrepreneurs, creatives and community organizers. Through Group Work, founded in 2017, Hervey takes branding, creative and event curation clients on a project-by-project basis in her spare time. The studio’s name, Group Work, speaks to Hervey’s philosophy of inclusive, values-driven collaboration.
“I like to challenge this concept of a target market,” said Hervey. With each project, she asks, “Who does this exclude, and why are they excluded?” Using this as a guiding principle, Boss Babes ATX has also been able to work with its partners to extend funding opportunities and connections to communities that have been historically sidelined.
She admits that digging into systems of exclusion can bring up issues that are hard to look at. “A lot of those things are rooted in sexism or racism or other discriminatory belief systems that we’re not always conscious of,” said Hervey.
Early in her career, Hervey said that she often failed to trust her instinct, instead choosing to sidestep the conflict or gray area facing it would have unearthed.
“You have to be able to—at the bare minimum—trust yourself,” she said. “You have to trust your emotions; you have to trust your read; you have to trust your lived experiences.”
Focusing on the gray areas led Hervey to the harder yet more rewarding work that she does now, both through the nonprofit and creative studio. Trusting her vision has allowed her to lean into “group work,” building effective projects.
How She Got the Gig
Hervey created these gigs herself, founding Boss Babes ATX in 2015 and Group Work in 2017.
“I will not work with someone who does not have a written set of values,” said Hervey.