New York City can be a lonely place when you don’t know many people. New to the City and eager to make the most of it, Shakayra joined Meetup to find people she had things in common with. She grew up in Germany, so when she stumbled upon a holiday event for German expats, she decided to check it out.
On a chilly day in December the group sipped Glühwine at a festive winter market inspired by the ones back in Germany. As much as Shakarya enjoyed the event and the people she met, the group only helped her connect with one part of who she is, the German part. She felt there was still something missing.
“As a mixed-race woman, I’ve always felt it’s difficult to completely fit in with any one group of people.”
Realizing that Meetup could help her find exactly who she was looking for, Shakarya started the Mixed Girls Meetup Group to look for women who have had similar life experiences growing up mixed race.
“Within just a few days I had a handful of interested members. As the women started talking in the group chat, I realized I wasn’t the only one looking for this type of community. Someone just needed to start it. I was immediately thankful I had taken that first step.”
The first event
As the women of the Mixed Girls Meetup Group — who were little more than strangers — sat around the table drinking wine and talking, Shakayra was taken aback by the depth and ease of their conversations. Having a shared identity is bound to spark some conversation, but the success of this event really came down to its design.
“I wanted my first event to be a success, so I searched hard for the perfect venue. It had to be lively but not too loud, and cozy and intimate while still allowing for plenty of space. I finally found a great bar in my neighborhood and stopped by to check it out and talk to the host.”
After she secured the space, Shakayra made notes on who would be attending so she could welcome them at the event. It was important to create a comfortable space where people could share openly and form real connections, so she spent some time writing flashcards with different prompts to use as an ice breaker activity.
The start of something bigger
After that first successful event, Shakayra was buzzing. Something magical had happened, and she knew it had the power to set something much bigger into motion. She started capturing her thoughts on paper — thoughts that would, within a year, grow into a published memoir.
“I wanted to help more women feel comfortable and confident owning their identity. I move around a lot for my job, so decided to try launching a second group in London. Immediately I found an even bigger response than I found in New York.”
Today Shakayra organizes three Mixed Girls Meetup Groups in New York, London, and Los Angeles. Her book, entitled But Where Are You Really From: A Collection of Real Life Experiences From a Mixed Girl, is available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. Follow additional updates from her group on Instagram @TheMixedGirlMeetup.
Last modified on June 23, 2021