Redondo Beach resident Catherine Grace O’Connell is working hard on “Bridging the Gap,” a campaign launching Oct. 17 to bring bloggers and influencers together across a wide range of demographics.
The purely volunteer, grassroots effort is a personal as well as professional triumph for O'Connell. Just two years ago, she was afflicted with deadly late stage Lyme Disease. After a near-death experience, she had almost given up, but as a survivor, she is now committed to serving others.
“My message is that I am 56-years old, and the power of belief, particularly belief in yourself and a connection to passion, purpose and serving others is the key to changing your life.”
The “Bridging the Gap” campaign works through a message of empowerment, she explained. She’s determined to empower women at midlife to believe in themselves, and to end divisions and blur boundaries among all demographics.
The campaign involves more than 200 influencers, with 100 in the millennial and 100 in the midlife age range, for a total following of more than 8 million individuals. Ages 20 to 88 are represented.
“The bloggers connect personally and share their stories and write a blog post on one another’s blog, and all will be linked to go live on October 17th. I don’t know any way to shift a paradigm and perception other than connecting through our hearts and our stories, allowing judgments and misperceptions to naturally fall away,” she said.
According to O'Connell, influencers signed up for the project include Heidi Nazuridin, The Ambitionista from LA with a social media following of 1 million and Kristina Bucaram with a following of 1.5 million. Celebrities lending their names include Meredith O’Connor, Taylor Dayne and Kelly Emberg.
“We are intentional about being very inclusive and have brand new bloggers like Madeline Stuart, a 20-year-old with Down syndrome. She is the first model with Down syndrome to walk the NYFW Runway and has the largest social media following of a person with Down in the world,” said O'Connell.
The idea for the online "Bridging the Gap" project came from a campaign O’Connell launched earlier this year called “The Fierce 50,” which brought together 75 bloggers over the age of 50 on the 50th day of the year, Feb. 19.
“We were shocked by the response, as it hit quite a nerve," said O'Connell. "We decided to take it a step further and begin uniting more influencers across disparate demographics to blur boundaries, as we believe we are stronger together. We see value in each generation, and when they come together and share these gifts, they each benefit.”
The idea for the Fierce 50 concept hit O’Connell while she was attending a class at Yoga Loft in Manhattan Beach.
“It came through so loudly that I ran out of class, and called some virtual blogger friends who hopped on a plane in two weeks. We pulled off the launch in about five weeks, and had no idea what we were doing.”
The campaigns are just one of O’Connell’s many creations. She is also a local fashion/lifestyle blogger at https://catherinegraceo.com, as well as working as a radio host, journalist and producer.
“We launched a production company overnight. We produce message-based content for national brands such as Chico’s and Madison Reed. It’s run by two 56-year-olds who had never done this before. My business manager had never taken a photograph in his life and taught himself Photoshop and Lightroom in the blink of an eye, and is now a professional photographer. There’s immense power in the midlife and up demographic. It’s time for the world to see it.”
According to O’Connell, “The truth is there are so many women at midlife and beyond discounted by society as not relevant. Goodness, the message we are sending to younger generations is one of fear and negativity toward aging. My daughter is an actress in her 20s and has to lie about her age already.”
O’Connell is working to change all that.
“I’ve been shocked at how I’ve been able to bring all these people together when I had no idea how to do it. It came from my heart and a lifelong deep desire to change this crazy world and unite us rather than divide us.”
O’Connell says that she has finally found her purpose in life, and after being near death, she has created six businesses in two years. She adds that if she can do it, anyone can.
“When we combine our gifts through connection and collaboration rather than the old paradigm of competition, we become stronger together.”
For more information about Bridging the Gap, visit https://catherinegraceo.com/meet-women-fierce-50-campaign/.