At just 25, Amanda Owens has built an impressive network of 120 leaders nationwide, with some 150,000 social media followers and a reach of millions of impressions each day. These leaders, all young women, help Owens spread her mission to foster, grow and empower conservative young women through their communities, college campuses and social media.
Owens runs her network, Future Female Leaders — originally Future First Lady — from her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, managing her team of young leaders who build and collect entertaining social memes, publish blog posts and design and sell clothing and other humorous swag items promoting conservative and Republican ideas.
“If someone would have told me five years ago that I’d be building a conservative organization today, I would have never believed them,” Owens told Opportunity Lives. “This journey has been ever-changing, but exciting. The fact that I get to do something I’m truly passionate about is such a blessing for me that I try to never take for granted.”
“If someone would have told me five years ago that I’d be building a conservative organization today, I would have never believed them”
Owens said she started FFL as a Twitter account in her childhood bedroom the summer before her senior year at East Carolina University. That also happened to be in the midst of the 2012 presidential election. Owens said FFL didn’t start as a business, but rather more of a platform for her to speak freely about politics, current events and the personal events happening in her own life.
“This account allowed me to be bold, sassy and really grow confidence in many aspects of my life,” she said. “I also found that there wasn’t a distinct voice out there that could get important issues to resonate with young women in a way that would mobilize them to get involved.”
FFL resonated with women — specifically young, conservative women — and grew quickly.
“I was a young woman too, navigating the successes and failures of life,” Owens said. “Without initially knowing it, I was creating a community and also inspiring women to get more involved in the political process.”
“Without initially knowing it, I was creating a community and also inspiring women to get more involved in the political process.”
Owens said many right-leaning women were attracted to the FFL community because they felt alone on their college campuses. FFL members encouraged, supported and learned from each other.
“I realized just how big it could be when I noticed how much confidence and support I felt from being in this community as a conservative woman,” she said.
Eventually, Owens took her paycheck from a part-time job and began the steps into turning a Twitter account into a real organization. She said that having FFL center around politics was imperative because she knew how hard it could be to feel confident in being a conservative woman.
In the beginning, several people suggested Owens ditch the political aspect so she could reach more women and be less divisive. But she believed center-right women were too often ignored and untapped, and she wanted to speak to them directly.
Establishing the organization wasn’t easy, Owens said. “I had no professional contacts. I knew next to no one in politics or the media industry,” she said. My own professional development was novice, at best. My confidence, pretty much zilch. To say the least, I had very little experience.”
Owens said she thinks the grassroots nature of the organization, as well as the lack of formal support or a Beltway-centric presence became a benefit in the long run because it forced her to be creative and execute more effectively.
“I had to build working relationships with contacts and other organizations brick by brick,” Owens explained. “I had to learn the lay of the political landscape as I went. I had to learn how to process criticism and build thick skin — which was particularly tough for me.”
“All these were certainly obstacles for me, but the passion I had for what I was doing helped to combat it,” she added. “I can choose to look at these things as obstacles or I can choose to turn them into benefits.”
When starting out, Owens said she had a false sense that everything would get easier and be almost perfect once the organization hit a certain point of success.
“It sounds pretty naïve, but I think women fall into this way of thinking often,” she said. “It’s like that killer outfit that you admire on the mannequin because you think your life will change and your problems will be solved if you own the outfit. It most likely won’t.”
While people warned Owens that founding FFL would be difficult, she said their warnings were understatements and that nothing could prepare her for those enormous hurdles. But she’s quick to add that her passion and love for FFL made the journey bearable and overcoming obstacles has made her into a better person.
“Being an entrepreneur is not always glamorous,” Owens said. “It’s hard work and long hours. It’s not always flashy conferences, pretty outfits, and smiles. It’s having to jump hurdles, daily, no matter what level of success you might be at. Problems don’t just magically go away. Some days you feel accomplished and the next day, you feel like the scum on someone’s shoe. That’s the truthful reality of it.”
“Problems don’t just magically go away. Some days you feel accomplished and the next day, you feel like the scum on someone’s shoe.”
On the question of Donald Trump, Owens said the FFL audience of young women was overwhelmingly not fans of Donald Trump in the primaries. He wasn’t many of their first, second, or even third choice to be the nominee. And once it became clear he would be the nominee, each member of our audience faced an important decision — do they support the GOP nominee or look into other alternatives? FFL’s audience was fairly split, Owens said, but supporting the nominee became more popular as the election drew closer.
“For many the stakes were too high, and for others, no matter how high the stake were, they were determined to stick to principle,” Owens said. “I respect that very important decision each of our readers and members had to make and know it wasn’t an easy one — no matter what they ended up choosing to do. As an organization, we tried to stay above the political fray and cover both sides of the Trump phenomenon while uniting on the core principles of conservatism.”
Owens said now that Trump is in the White House, she thinks conservatives can unite around him issues including his likely appointment of a conservative justice to the Supreme Court.
“This is a great win for conservatives,” she said. “In addition, we can hope for less regulation, lower taxes, and restoring national security.”
Owens said wants FFL to be “the ultimate lifestyle destination and community” for conservative women.
Looking toward the future, Owens said wants FFL to be “the ultimate lifestyle destination and community” for conservative women.
“The next few years will be spent building our credibility and scaling as a center-right women’s organization,” she said. “We look forward to hosting events in the future, as well as providing empowerment, tools, tips that will assist our readers and members to live their best life — in whatever path they choose.”
Carrie Sheffield is a senior contributor for Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @carriesheffield and on Facebook.