By Maddy Vitale
Caitlin Quirk is a social media maven. At just 28, she has a successful business, Bowfish Kids, located on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City, and markets herself and her store through social media platforms.
Quirk, of Ocean City will host a free #GirlsGetReal Rally on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m. in the Ocean City Free Public Library.
The event is designed to help girls ages 10 and up make the best use of social media.
Specifically, Quirk hopes the program will open up the conversation about how young girls can use social media in a positive way to empower and support them.
The presentation will include a panel discussion by five social media influencers, including blogger Caity Martinez, clothing designer Katie Possage, Peace of Wood owner Kristina Young, Magdalena Kernan and Quirk.
There will also be a photo shoot where “professional looking” profile pictures will be available to those in attendance.
A workshop will provide advice and information on developing a positive bio and social media image.
“I think the biggest part of this is being conscious of what content you are digesting. That is something we will look at,” Quirk explained. “You keep scrolling, ultimately, at the end of the day, you become the content you consume.”
That can be good, or bad, she pointed out.
“If you want to be a makeup artist and you are watching videos on how to do makeup that is one thing,” Quirk said. “The goal of this event isn’t to tell teen girls they are doing something wrong. The event is just to make them aware of how best to use this powerful tool to have their best social self out there and celebrate the best ways to use social media.”
The thought of helping young girls, specifically those in their teens, did not just come to Quirk. Over the last six years as a business owner, she has seen customers literally grow up.
“It wasn’t something that I had envisioned doing. It was more of something that came through my experiences of seeing all my young customers come into the store. I’ve gotten to see young kids grow up in six years,” she noted. “There is one young girl I had known, and just seeing how she used social media, what she was doing, it pulled on my heart strings. I thought maybe I would try and be a more positive role model for these young girls.”
That was when Quirk began her 100-day challenge through social media. Her followers could see something positive she did in her job or out daily.
“After 50 days in, I started to tell people why I did the 100-day challenge. Then I also started this #GirlsGetReal. I was reacting to what I was seeing,” Quirk said of some negative uses of social media by young girls. “I started an internship program for the store to get the girls into interacting with more positive role models.”
By day 75, Quirk decided to host a rally.
“I said, ‘What else can I do to show how we can use social media in a better way?'”
She enlisted the help of public relations guru Dana Linthicum, a married mother of two from Ocean City.
Quirk credits Linthicum for putting the program together.
“Dana has been amazing, handing out flyers and getting us into the community center,” she said. “I am so lucky she is donating her time to help.”
Like Quirk and Linthicum and the panelists, there are many young women role models in the community, Quirk said. In the last 10 days of her challenge, she has been featuring them in her social media campaign.
Quirk hopes the rally spurs interest in more events like it to help keep an open line of communication about the smartest ways to use social media.
“I don’t know what will happen after this rally,” she said. “We’ve had less than a month to put it together. “I just hope it leads to more events because I want to keep exploring this idea.”