Jane Taylor is a woman on a mission to change the world or at least New York City through kindness. Growing up in Australia, she moved to New York at eighteen to pursue a career in acting. Along the way, she discovered that what she was searching for was a place where she could connect with other women in the vastness of the city. Jane started the camaraderie to create a space for genuine friendship and fascinating memorable experiences providing an open space for women that is free of pressures and pretenses among the hustle and bustle of New York City.
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Alice: Jane Taylor is a woman on a mission to change the world or at least New York City through kindness. Growing up in Australia, she moved to New York at eighteen to pursue a career in acting. Along the way, she discovered that what she was searching for was a place where she could connect with other women in the vastness of the city. Jane started the camaraderie to create a space for genuine friendship and fascinating memorable experiences providing an open space for women that is free of pressures and pretenses among the hustle and bustle of New York City. We are talking to Jane all about her life, her group, womanhood. Thank you for joining us, Jane.
Jane: Thank you. That was such a flattering introduction. Thanks for that.
Alice: You are a wonderful individual.
Jane: I felt like I got my life together.
Alice: We are all like the figuring that out at the same time.
Alice: Yeah. We kind of start this podcast with some more fun questions. What is your favorite word in the dictionary?
Jane: I have an answer for this. It is kind of funny. There is a word in the English dictionary that has an actual meaning. I love this word not for the meaning that it has but for my experience with the word. The word is “footing”, which you would say, “You can foot the bill” or “You can put in a letter”. It is not why I like it.
The reason why the word footing is hilarious to me is because I recently started learning Spanish and in the process of learning Spanish, I have been teaching some Spanish people English. A hilarious discovery is that in Spain, they think the word for jogging is footing. We were in the park and you are like looking— no, I am serious. We are in the park and you see someone walking or running or you see someone jogging, and somebody was like, “Oh they are footing” and I was like, “What are you talking about?” Having gone to the bottom of where that came from of why that happened, but then this friend asked another friend like “Hey, in English, what do you say for that?” And he was like “Oh that is footing.” I was like “That is what is it.”
Alice: That is amazing. I have not used “footing” for a little bit.
Jane: I know. In English, it is hilarious. You should have seen my face when I first heard it. It is amazing.
Alice: Amazing. Oh wow.
Jane: You did not expect that one, huh?
Alice: Jane, what is your favorite thing to cook?
Jane: This is hard. I love cooking. I love cooking, which I do not really know if you can call it cooking because I do not like following recipes. I like to just create things in whatever is in the house.
Jane: Yeah, most of the time it is edible. One of my favorite things is cooking any Thai soup like lemongrass, ginger based or coconut milk curry.
Jane: Yeah, I love them. They taste so good and they are like warm comfort food but they are still light.
Alice: I should learn how to cook them.
Jane: I think I ate a lot of them from takeout places. You know what the key is? It is discovering lemongrass. It is such an interesting ingredient that when I first heard that lemongrass is a thing. It is so far and most people do not know about it. But if you sieve that in a soup and simmer for a while, the flavor that comes is so intense and so rich and it warms your soul.
Alice: My gosh, I do not even know how to cook lemongrass but that sounds delightful.
Jane: It is pretty easy to figure out and then it is amazing because you can add things like bamboo shoots and mushrooms. They are one of my favorite ingredients ever.
Alice: Wow. That is amazing. You always host Camaraderie cocktail parties every month. What has been your favorite cocktail from one of the parties?
Jane: I love the month that we… it was last year obviously. Cocktail parties and taking a back seat this year, Zoom game night, but I love the month that we served Aperol Spritzes. I discovered them one summer in Venice. Right around four or five o’clock everyone in Venice City goes to a bar, sits outside and has an Aperol Spritz with some potato chips as a way to start their evening.
Jane: It is the most refreshing, relaxing thing ever.
Alice: You have traveled everywhere. You have mentioned Spain, you have mentioned Venice already in this conversation. Where is your favorite place you have ever been?
Jane: I think I have to say Spain. It is for the food the culture and the music. The way of life of the people, from my experience so far, there is not a lot of competition there. Just the way they view other humans that they encounter, there is not a lot of judgment. It is just like you meet somebody and if you like each other you are straight out to being considered family level and I think that is beautiful. I also adore Greece and Croatia. Going to Greece and Croatia in the summertime is like the pinnacle of existence. It feels like you are just living the dream.
Alice: My gosh. I want to make it there so badly.
Jane: You have to. I mean flight prices these days, for better or worse, usual stuff.
Alice: Okay. If you could have any other profession than your own, what would it be?
Jane: Well, let us see. I spent a lot of time when I was a kid or maybe even an adolescent thinking that I wanted to be a florist because I thought that it would be beautiful to wake up every morning and go into my office or shop and just smell flowers.
Alice: Gosh. That would be amazing.
Jane: I know, right? Given everything that is going on in life in the world right now, I think I was on to something. I feel like that is probably one of the best professions you can have. It would also be interesting to challenge myself more than I ever really have dared to. I think it would be so cool to be an Astrophysicists or I do not know. Marine biologist, of course, is a typical one that people say, but how cool would that be?
Alice: It would be so cool.
Jane: The things you would study and discover are kind of otherworldly. Either in the universe or under the ocean. I do not know. They always say it is never too late to start. We will see where life takes me.
Alice: Yeah. You could do it. I think my favorite marine biologist that I knew on TV were the girls on H2O because like transitioning to… you are from Australia.
Jane: I am.
Alice: Yes. I like just dreamed about Melbourne and where that would take me.
Alice: Can you talk about what brought you to the US?
Jane: Yeah. So I moved here when I was 18, which I plan to be here for 2 years going to acting school actually and then I got real lucky with visas and things that allowed me to stay afterwards. I think I am on my 11th year now which is a different plan. But yeah, I came for acting school. I was conservatory trained in theater and then I spent five or six years auditioning, doing short films, doing theater pieces, things like that before I discovered what was my passion of bringing people together and started the Camaraderie and that is kind of taken over my life happily since then.
Alice: Amazing. What is your favorite part about the city?
Jane: I think my response is going to start out kind of cliché— the diversity, but it is true. New York City, given how much I have been fortunate to travel in all the different places I have seen, there is nowhere like New York, absolutely nowhere. I think if you spend more than two or three years in New York living, after that you encounter a lot of love hate, a lot of challenges.
The city is really rough to live in if you speak about realistic logistics of living in the city, things that people do not talk about too much. But no matter how much it challenges you and you long to be in the middle of a forest, living in a tree house, as soon as you are in the middle of the forest you are like “cannot wait to come back to the city”. There is a reason for that.
I think it is the best place on planet earth for people who are curious like myself. You just get to, all day long, people watch. People living their lives in so many different types of ways and that is the coolest thing ever. There is just so much energy. It is like the air vibrates. I do not know more than anywhere else. Yeah, I think anything is possible in New York. Again, it sounds super cliché, but it is so true. There is just not a lot of limits. I love that.
Alice: I think that is really true. Right when I got back home to California, I was like, “Okay, when am I going back to New York?”
Jane: Always the same, honestly. It does not matter if I am in Greece or Croatia or wherever we have mentioned. Somewhere like fairytale, you just like “Back in New York, man”.
Jane: You get back here and it is like you can breathe again, until it starts to feel like you cannot breathe here and then you take a break.
Alice: Yeah, that is true. Life has been a little different right now. Can you talk about what you have been up to in quarantine?
Jane: Yeah. It has been a little different for sure. I think what kept me most busy, The Camaraderie, which we will talk more about in a moment I am sure. We are an events based social group for women in the city. It is funny. Now looking back in hindsight, it is like “Oh well, everyone is stuck at home. It is the perfect way to figure out ways to keep women connected to each other and keep the social part of their mind and hearts beating for the sake of mental health.”
But everything with the quarantine situation and the current landscape of circumstances in the world and New York happened so fast, I really had to figure it out on a whim. We did manage to transfer all of our events online pretty quickly. So, over the past six months of staying at home a little bit more. We have done about more than 40 virtual events.
Alice: That is amazing.
Jane: That has kept me very busy, but it has been really cool to see how that can work.
Alice: Can you talk a little bit more about what is The Camaraderie for all our listeners.
Jane: Sure. The Camaraderie is a social group that I run. We are just a couple of days passed our four-year anniversary.
Jane: Thank you. I actually missed it. I realized the next day how that happened sometimes.
Jane: Yeah, it has been really cool to see that it survived for this long. A lot of time on pure passion of mine, but it started out very much as an experiment. I was trying to figure out if I was the only crazy one in New York who was super lonely. I feel like I can make friends with a tree. Like I really do not have problems connecting with people usually, but about the five or six-year mark of living in New York City, I had made two best friends and in the same week, they both move back to the countries they had come from because of their visas.
Jane: I have no family in the states and after being out of my home country for six years, my friendships there had kind of started to weaken a little bit too as they naturally do. One day I just woke up my two friends were gone and I felt so crushingly alone. I felt like I had to start again and that is why I would like to have to build your support system from the ground up after six years of living in a city and I was like, “This cannot be normal.”
I tried to breach the subject a little bit when I would have coffee with somebody, a friend or any social situation I found myself in, I would be like “Are you kind of lonely? I do not know. I do not really have any good girlfriends that I could just call up and cry too if I needed to.” I found that me sort of opening up that little Pandora’s box let a lot of people that I was speaking to be like, “Yeah. I am borderline depressed a lot of the time”, and that is not fair. That is not fair to have a city that so transient and so difficult to live in sometimes, but there is no real way to make authentic friendships.
Most people are expected to be friends with their co-workers, which I think is kind of crazy. Lucky if you have great co-workers, but having a wider range of possibility is important too.
So I started The Camaraderie with a focus on kindness, authenticity, laidback-ness. It is a really cool group place in the city where we do not take ourselves so seriously. Like most other things encourage you to around New York and it is also not industry-based. You do not have to be like in architecture to be part of it or in Tech. It is just open for every kind of woman and it is formed the most beautiful community. I am really honored to be part of it, let alone running it.
Alice: Yes, and I have to tell everyone listening. I am also part of The Camaraderie and I had to reach out to Jane because it is the greatest community in New York. I think that is so true. There are so many people all around you all the time and yet you can still be very lonely when you live in the city. I think especially right now, we need this community and we need a social thing that is not about competition or being friends with your coworkers. I had trouble with all of my friends, we were in direct competition with each other because I knew everyone from graduate school who was a director and we are all competing for the same jobs. It is hard.
Alice: It is nice to be with so many people in different industries and in a group that is not about industry or networking, which is so unusual for New York.
Jane: Thank you. Yeah, it is crazy to me. I mean this idea came during the realization of the need for this. It is not even an idea, it is just a necessity. What this group offers and it became increasingly obvious to me when I was acting and any event I went to, most of them were not supposed to be networking events. I was there for a totally other sort of different purpose and the first question out of people’s mouths in New York is always what do you do. I would be like “Oh, I am an actor” which is hard to call yourself an actor when you are not in blockbusters and getting paid. I was going to say getting paid by big bucks. You are getting paid all the time.
Jane: You call yourself an actor but that is what I was trying to do. So I would say that and they would be like “Oh, what have you been in that I have seen?” I would be like “Oh, probably nothing. I doubt you have seen what I have done” and I would go home every time feeling terrible. Feeling like I had no value because I did not have anything solid that I could gloat about. It dawned on me like why does it seem that my only value is what I do? So I actively encourage people not to talk about that unless the conversation naturally leads there but not as the first thing.
Alice: Yeah. I think that is awesome because you connect on so many different levels then and with women that you would never meet otherwise, which is great.
Jane: Yeah. Thanks.
Alice: Could you talk about some of the hurdles you have faced starting the group?
Jane: Yeah. Wow.
Alice: How did you overcome them, if you want?
Jane: I do not even know which hurdle to reference. I do not know how I found myself running an events-based business in Manhattan. It is insane.
Oh gosh, the most simple example is I started the group by running monthly cocktail parties. They had no premise other than come as you are, come ready to just open yourself up to others and explore humanity and spread kindness and positivity and that is it. One of the first really amazing things that happened was right from the get-go, we got a really good wine sponsor for our cocktail parties and a really good venue sponsor that would host us. Bootstrapping this business and having no funds coming into it from the beginning, it helped us to put down some roots and be able to grow from there. But one of the stipulations of the wine company was that for the pictures and things, which of course the wine has to be drunk out of actual wine glasses. So I invested in like 50 wine glasses and I had to cart them around and I was like it was just one piece of 50 pieces that I needed to cart around for every cocktail party in the logistics of running events in New York.
Transportation, just the expense of everything. It is insane. Then we are living in a city which, during normal times, has so many options of things that you can do. So, convincing people to come to the events and being like, “You know, you are going to get a lot of value out of this. I promise. It can open up a whole new world for you. You just have to try and come.” It is really hard.
It is really hard spreading the word amongst all the different messages that are going around the city and all the different options for things to do. But I think we have come as far as we have through purely my passion and perseverance and just not stopping. I am very excited about where we are going to continue to go with this.
Alice: Yay! It is awesome. What has been your favorite event that you have organized? There have been so many.
Jane: It is crazy. I think we have done more than 400 at this point really.
Jane: We are averaging six to seven a month, happened in the past three years. So that is cool. I have gotten to do this whole thing.
Jane: Yeah. The crowd favorite by far is that we did yoga one day. We took three carpools of girls upstate. We partnered with a farm. We had a yoga instructor come and it is like a trendy thing to do, where you are doing a yoga class and there are goats walking around.
Jane: Yes. Have you not heard about this?
Alice: No. Where was I?
Jane: It was in a beautiful farm, but you can do it in many places. If you form partnerships with people who run it. The idea is that because goats, I guess, our mountain animals, they love to climb unto things. So when you are doing downward dogs or whatnot, they are like jumping on your back— not jumping, but getting on your back.
Alice: Oh my God.
Jane: It will forever be probably the favorite event of The Camaraderie. No matter if we do skydiving, people are still going to remember Go Yoga.
Jane: It was actually so funny because we all expected the goats to be baby goats and they were not necessarily. So, you are in the line between hilarious and painful because goats are getting on your back some of the time.
Alice: Oh my gosh.
Jane: It was so funny. You would have to just kind of Google it. There is really not much to say about it more than what I just said. That is literally what it is, but it was such a fun, fun day and I love the possibilities that come out of it, gives us a plan and host events that are out of the ordinary. You know, we are not just…
Jane: We are doing like a lot of cool things. That is the crowd favorite. My own favorite, I do not know. I love every single event. It is like trying to choose between your children. I do not know.
Alice: That makes sense. I mean just for instance, everyone who is listening. They just went hiking up in the mountains and went apple picking, so lovely. They are having a Halloween pumpkin carving. It was like they have book clubs. Those are my personal favorites or puzzle night like trivia nights. They are so fun.
Jane: Everything. It runs the gamut. We actually have an event later this month that is, we are going to go the town of Woodstock and check out the flea market there and go to an orchard and do some apple cider tastings. And in the evening, we are going to a drive-thru haunted house, which is a coronavirus times creation because they cannot do a walk-through haunted houses, I guess. I am really nervous. Somebody is going to be driving the cars and I really hope that we can pump the brakes instead of the accelerator.
Alice: Oh, yeah.
Jane: I am pretty jumpy as it is and I am going to be one of the drivers.
Alice: Oh my gosh.
Jane: Check out what it is like later on to see how that goes.
Alice: That is so fun us.
Jane: We really got to explore all corners of New York for events. Yeah, we are a social group like none another, I would say.
Alice: It is something that we always ask on this podcast, Jane. What is your definition of womanhood?
Jane: I love this question. I love this question because it allows me to be completely honest, which means that I will preface this by saying I saw that question in your notes as a possible talking point and I was like, “Oh my God, I have no idea. I am going to have to Google what other people say” because I do not know, I still feel like I am 17. I am almost 30 so I probably should know.
I love the beauty of this because it allows the person who is answering this question to get really honest with themselves about their personal experience of life as a woman. I realized upon thinking about it, for me, womanhood is having the ability to slowly grow into a period of your life where you learn that all of the things you were conditioned to believe or told when you were a young, all of your childhood experiences do not have to define you.
I am definitely somebody who has spent my 20s still, for some reason, thinking that I had to fit into a cookie cutter of what other people expected me to be or achieve or believe in. I think as you get older you start to care less slowly, for anyone who is younger listening, you really care less. I am so excited to turn 30 and just get there because I do not know, I feel like it is just going to be a new phase of just accepting that this is who I am.
Alice: When is your birthday?
Jane: It is next April. It is like so far.
Alice: I was like “Oh my gosh.”
Jane: No, no, it is not that soon. I just feel it coming. I do not know. I think I have increasingly had time lately to realize the beauty and the magnificence of women. It is something that you thought was like a taboo topic or you had to f be a little bit rebellious to believe in the power of women because of society’s messages or messaging so much of the time. I am just realizing we are magic. We are pure magic. The capacity that we have for creation of beautiful things and the way that women empathetically, naturally see humanity and existence. If you really tune into that, the positivity and just the endless possibilities and the creation that can come from women in general is so inspiring and so exciting. So, yeah.
Alice: I love that. The endless possibilities that we can all create, like what you are doing with The Camaraderie. That is womanhood and that is creating a sisterhood within a city.
Jane: It is really womanhood and the creation of The Camaraderie has been very challenging for me to drop my fears. For so much of your young life, you want to believe that you are capable of anything and you can do really powerful things, but you are not sure. Finally, as you arrive into womanhood, I feel like it is just like “Okay, I can do whatever I want. I just need to decide what that is and go for it. No one is going to tell me otherwise.” It is a really cool thing.
Alice: That is amazing. If someone asked you on the street for a piece of advice, like a woman talks to you and you had just a minute to share something with them. What would you say?
Jane: Oh, man. I feel like I need to ask people for this.
Alice: Everyone please tell me.
Jane: I think I would say something along the lines of just constantly, quietly check yourself and make sure that you are, for your own benefit, always behaving from a place of love and open-mindedness, and that you are not behaving and going through life with a defense or a fear. I feel like I spent so many years just limiting myself and hesitating in different ways because of deep-rooted fears. There is nothing to be afraid of. I think taking time to realize that is really important. Then for the benefit of others, make sure that you do not allow yourself to just fall into the trap of behaving from judgment.
A lot of the time, I feel like our society put so many stipulations on everybody and everything that it really gives us a structure of how we should be and then we can judge other people based on that. That is so ridiculous and so unfounded. So, making sure that you are always acting with empathy and compassion and slowing down to get curious about other people and realizing that we are all so naturally different and nothing’s ever going to change that and that is the beautiful part.
Also realizing that everyone is on some level struggling or currently being challenged with something. I do not think challenges ever go away. Do not be hard on others when you do not have the right to be and you should not be.
Alice: That is such a good reminder right now, especially we all have different notions of what this time means to us and how we are dealing with it like we talked about a little earlier.
Jane: Yeah. It is important to remember that what works for you is not going to work for everybody else. It is another cliché, I guess, you hear people say we are just doing the best that we can. Meditate on that for a little while. We are all doing the best we can. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we do not have direction, sometimes we do things “wrong” but we are really trying and you cannot impose your entire set of beliefs on everybody else. You really have to allow people space to be who they are and behave in a way that works for them.
Alice: That is wonderful, Jane. Thank you. How can listeners find out more about the The Camaraderie and how to come to an event and join?
Jane: We have really cute website. Everyone says it is cute. It is not supposed to be cute.
Jane: Plus you find it is easy to navigate but apparently, it is cute. It is thecamaraderieny.com. Figure out how to spell it, it has taken me years to figure out the spelling but I am sure you can find it easily. Then we have our Instagram page. We often post our upcoming events on there.
Alice: Amazing. Awesome. Well, everyone, go check out The Camaraderie if you live in New York or think about how you can apply some of these amazing insights that Jane has given us in your lives.
Jane: Thanks. Thank you so much for having me.
Alice: Thank you so much for being on.
Jane: I am so happy to be talking to you. Alice is amazing. I told her earlier she is the perfect person to be hosting a podcast like this. It is such important work to be able to share the stories of women from all over the world in all the different places that we come from and things that we are doing. So, thank you for this.
If you loved hearing about Jane, check out the rest of our interviews with women from all over the world. And if you want to feel your best every day of the month try our OAA Supplement (oxaloacetate) to help with the emotional side of PMS from the stress to anxiety.