Jade Thomasy and Rainee Browder

Jade Thomasy, left, and Rainee Browder, founders of the Overcom(h)er Conference.

All over the country, the effects of the emerging women’s empowerment movement can be felt. Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope, on the television show "Parks and Rec," might embody the movement better than real-life individuals. I always wish I could grab a stack of pancakes with Leslie, goddess/glorious female warrior, and talk about her commitment to uplifting women in the state of Indiana. This is why I love the idea behind the locally organized Overcom(h)er Conference ー empowering women to live more fulfilling and impactful lives.

After living in larger cities for a decade, I moved back to Bakersfield and have seen a need for honest and inspiring groups like the one behind this event. I came here with my husband to pursue a dream to make a difference in our hometown. As a business owner and entrepreneur doing this kind of work, it can feel awfully stressful and lonely at times. I love the narrative behind Overcom(h)er, and gathering women together to encourage and motivate one another is desperately needed here.

But organizing a conference is quite a task! And it’s not a decision that founders Rainee Browder and Jade Thomasy came to lightly. I asked them, as two busy working women who wear a lot of hats, about their motivation for organizing the event.

Question: What led you to create the Overcom(h)er Conference?

Answer: We were both tired of the lack of self-love and encouragement we see in women today. We both knew that we wanted to do something big — we just weren’t quite sure what that was or how we were going to do it. We knew that a conference would be the best way to reach a multitude of people and get them excited about reaching their goals and becoming who they were made to be.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the mission behind this conference.

A: The mission is to better our community by changing the way women feel about themselves and each other. One person doesn’t have to fail for another to succeed. We’re all different. Even two people running the same type of businesses or living under the same circumstances could be so drastically different because of how unique each individual is. And we want to celebrate that.

Q: What specific topics will be covered by speakers at the conference?

A: Our speakers are amazing. They are still working hard on what they want to bring specifically, and this takes a lot of refinement. But generally speaking, we are going to cover topics like overcoming your past, being PRESENT in your present, grit and goal-setting/the reality of chasing your dreams, and creating a you and a life that you love.

We will have breakout sessions provided by Brooke Bratcher Design, LVL Fitness, Theresa Wooner Photography, Olivia Thompson, The Beautiful Life and The Gifting Garden.

Q: This conference seeks to encourage women to pursue their dreams, many of which may be entrepreneurial in nature. Do you think Bakersfield is a good place to start a business?

A: Any place is the best place to start a business. If you can dream it, you can do it. Bakersfield is in this fun growth phase, where we’re seeing a lot of new and interesting businesses start up. Places like Locale, Rig City, Dot x Ott and fun things like that. People are going for it, and we love it. We’re just excited to be a part of it.

Q: Where did the name “Overcom(h)er” come from?

A: (Thomasy) Before Rainee and I decided to do the conference, I felt compelled to write a book or start a podcast to share my story from a wife’s perspective when circumstances got out of our control and how we overcame adversity as a couple. When I thought about a name, it just came to me. I love using plays-on-words and puns are my jam, so fast forward to the decision to put on a women’s conference, I put the “her” in "overcomer" and The Overcom(h)er Conference was created.

Q: What sets this endeavor apart? How is this conference different than the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference?

A: The Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference has a focus on business. We are focused on the woman BEHIND the business. We’re focused on the mom who wakes up every morning and thinks she’ll never drop those last few pounds, the woman who is having a rough time in her marriage or is going through a divorce and is wondering why this is happening to her, and the woman who is too afraid to make the plunge toward her goal because she thinks she’ll never be able to do something that big. This conference is for them. It’s for every woman, of every age, with the intent of genuinely getting them excited about who they are and the pursuit of their purpose.

Q: Why do you think it’s important to have this conference in Bakersfield?

A: Bakersfield is special. It’s our home. It only makes sense to start here. This is where our reach is the widest. Bakersfield is a big-small town and there is a great sense of camaraderie here, but we could do better. Regardless of where we’ve been, we’ve all had struggles and challenges — and we’re all in this (town) together.

Q: How did your background inform this business?

A: (Browder) I think we both have gone through a lot of difficulties throughout our lives, and we’ve both, at times, been too hard on ourselves for too many things. I own The Nanny Network, but Jade is my right-hand gal. I couldn’t do anything without her. I started my business very young, and I’ve learned a lot over the years about myself and just how valuable a team is but also how easy it is to get down on yourself when you fail at something. The truth about failure though is that it’s a necessary part of any success. I’ve learned through my years (and through lots of trial and error) both just as a person and as a business owner that nothing comes easy. There are a lot of sacrifices. There were a lot of nights where I wondered if I was good enough or smart enough or capable enough or even if I was following the right calling. We’ve all been in this place, and what makes it even more special is finding that common ground and using it to impact the world.

Q: Who do you hope will attend this conference?

A: We hope that every woman in Bakersfield who wants to make a difference in the way she views herself will attend this conference. Anyone who is worried about whether they fit in, or whether they are strong, smart, pretty, capable, energetic or whatever-enough, this conference is for them. We just hope that they leave with the sense of belonging, value and purpose and REALLY understand that they CAN do big things.

The Overcom(h)er Conference will take place Sunday, November 3 at Stockdale Country Club. If you’re interested in attending, tickets are available now through www.overcomher.com, starting at $75.

Anna Smith writes a weekly column about Bakersfield. She can be reached at anna@sagebakersfield.com The views expressed here are her own.

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