After ending a long-term relationship and being alone for the first time in her life, Chloe Bow created Toronto Girl Social, a space where women from all walks of life can come together to make friends and connections.
The 30-year-old content creator hosts events and partners with local businesses and companies in Toronto, but only issues one ticket per person so they are pushed to meet new people.
Bow believes bringing women together from all different lived experiences and backgrounds is empowering. “There’s so much power in the diversity of experience, background and culture because we learn from each other and see how capable we are to navigate struggles and challenges. It can make you feel less alone or that you could do the same thing.”
Being an extrovert, the registered social worker and former poverty reduction policy specialist said through sharing her breakup experience on TikTok, she connected with others online, often giving people advice and forming bonds with those in similar situations.
“The question I got asked most often was, ‘How do I make friends in the city?’” Bow said.
After hosting an evening with Toronto TikTok creators at her house, Bow thought, “This was amazing. How do I bottle this feeling and make it so that other people can have this experience?”
Bow took to TikTok Bow in February 2022 and posted: “I’m going to start an inclusive social club for women because I feel all women should have an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and have fun.”
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Now the Toronto Girl Social Instagram account has just under 10,000 followers and has hosted over 16 events including attending a Toronto Maple Leafs game, movie premieres, a Toronto International Film Festival party, spa nights, karaoke, fitness classes and restaurant visits.
“It’s great to have a presence on social media and have a community of women because that’s where you get these brand deals and unique opportunities,” Bow said.
Nidhi Ahine, 23, has been to multiple Toronto Girl Social events, calling them “unique and fun.” Plus, she gets to dress up for a night out. She loves that “conversations go beyond that day,” and she now considers Bow a great friend.
Sophia Nazari, 29, has been following the account for a while and attended her first event last week — describing it like dating. “This is so needed. It’s an opportunity to meet amazing people you wouldn’t normally get to meet.
“It helps [that] the purpose is to make friends, [so] there’s no shame because everyone’s here for the same thing,” Nazari said.
Bow calls the women who go to these events trusting and courageous for trying something new and putting themselves out there.
Monique Clarke, 27, attended her first event last week and said after being out of school for so long, it’s rare to meet new people. “There aren’t too many events like this outside of networking,” Clarke said.
Teresa Tolo, 23, is new to Toronto and said, “Social media makes it so easy to find people and it's wonderful that Chloe creates these spaces to meet people.”
Chloe Dimerman, 23, reached out to Bow for relationship advice long before attending an event. She loves that Toronto Girl Social has a diverse age range and enjoys being able to talk to older women with different experiences. Outside of clubs and school, Dimerman said when you don't have a defined friend group, where else do you turn to meet people?
“Chloe has identified a unique challenge of adulthood, which is not only making new friends in the city but also finding like-minded friends as you grow and evolve [into] the most authentic version of yourself,” said Kristen MacLellan, 28, Bow’s digital manager and friend.
Bow said her social work background absolutely plays a role in how she manages and builds the community. Recognizing people of different backgrounds may not feel welcome in a space created by someone with her privilege, “I try to be intentional in the community that we’re building because building diverse communities and spaces has to be intentional,” Bow said.
“We have people joining from all walks of life and I feel so proud of making a space where everyone can come together,” Bow said. “I am striving for TGS to be reflective of the diversity of Toronto and the GTA.”
Nairah Ahmed / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer