Who are the ladies? Obvi, we are!

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When Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle returned to her high school in Elk Grove Village, Illinois two years ago to speak to a crowd of young girls, she realized that many of them didn’t trust anyone to talk about certain things with.


“They asked me so many questions even though they barely knew me. And I realized that no one was talking to these girls.”   

At this point, Mary Kate had already launched Obvi, We’re The Ladies, but it was still just an online platform. Its goal was to provide a space for women to share and discuss their stories and the hope was to expose and highlight shared experiences, similarities and ultimately “build solidarity and sisterhood” by way of storytelling.


“The only rules were that we’d never disparage another woman to make a point and we would never generalize our opinion as the over truth fact.”


The idea for Obvi came about Mary Kate’s senior year of college when she took a term off from working. In her free time she started reading a lot of different articles online, learning more about what interested her and through that she realized that she couldn’t find a place that offered perspectives from other women going through similar experiences.  


“Where’s the other woman telling me what she did? It was just like, I can’t be the only person who feels like this, and through all that time I came up for this idea for Obvi, We’re The Ladies.”


With no writing background, Mary Kate found friends to help her edit the stories and slowly both the project and the team began to grow. In 2014, her best friend from high school, Madelaine Walker, moved to Chicago after graduating and shortly after became Managing Editor, and later when they became a nonprofit, Chief of Staff.

 
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“Being able to understand what it could be, outside of that initial vision, came from having other passionate people involved in it with me.”

Since the launch of the website, Obvi has evolved to become a tax-exempt nonprofit. It is an online platform that allows women to share their experiences, a storytelling workshop, a high school program, but most of all, a safe space.  

“At the core of Obvi, we are a community dedicated to the idea of ‘women helping women’ no matter the situation. We strive to reflect that message in our work, our interactions with other Ladies, and most importantly, our everyday lives. We believe that the power of sisterhood and storytelling can and will make the world a better place.”

 
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You can support Obvi by sharing your story or donating to the nonprofit here.

 

 

Author

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Gosia Labno is a photographer and writer based in Chicago. She holds a B.S. in Media and Cinema Studies and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies. She is working on a collection of short stories chronicling the lives of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Follow.