Emma McCabe has turned her passion for reading and writing into a small business that has gained momentum in the last year. It all started with a blog called AGirlWeKnow, and that has now become her brand and includes a website and a merchandise line, as well as a book of poetry she recently published.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I was born and raised in Atlanta but moved to the Ponte Vedra area after I graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2019. I got a degree in print journalism and a minor in English, so I did a lot of writing all throughout college on the print side, as well as the creative writing side.
When I was in college, I started a blog just because I love to write. It started as book reviews and personal-life essays, and a lot of times people would ask me for book recommendations, and it wasn’t always for themselves, but sometimes finding something their grandmother would enjoy reading.
Where did the idea for A Girl We Know come from, and when did it get started?
When I was thinking of what to brand by business, “A Girl We Know” just came to mind, because I knew that a book recommendation does not just come from me but can come from anyone you know, and I wanted it to remain more universal.
Since we moved to Ponte Vedra, that blog has really grown and transformed into a brand and a small business. I know have a website and just released a poetry book, as well as having a book club and selling merchandise.
I found that during COVID was when I really took off because people were turning to books for comfort and solace during that time. It has really developed into something much bigger than just book reviews.
My poetry book I just released is called “things I think about while I drive,” which was a series that I started this past spring because I realized that so much of what I think about comes to me when I’m driving homework or just driving to go somewhere.
I’ve found that you just don’t have distractions during that time, and its usually just music and your thoughts. Usually when I’m driving home, the sun will be setting or the moon with be out, and it makes me very introspective.
A lot of what my poetry and writing is about being in your 20s and how it’s very messy and confusing. There’s a lot of heartbreak, whether it’s romantic or with friends and family or work, but there’s also so much joy and success.
Have you always had a passion for reading and writing?
I’ve been a reader my whole life and I very strongly believe in the power of literature, and I personally love to read things that I relate to, and that’s what I try to capture in my poetry.
I used to feel very embarrassing by how much I liked to read, because back then nobody thought it was cool when I was younger. I’m all about changing that way of thinking.
In my poetry book, there is a poem in there that talks about protecting my 15-year-old self, because that’s when I first remember realizing that I was kind of embarrassed by how much I liked to read. My parents have always been the most wonderful people and always encouraged me that I could make it cool.
One of those ways was in the winter when we started making tote bags. The first ones were sold to just family and friends, but then we had a lot of other people wanting to know where they could get one. We sold trucker hats that said “buy me a book” on it, and they completely blew up.
We now have three colors of hats, and they can all be found on my website at agirlweknow.squarespace.com. They are really fun, especially when it comes to living at the beach.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur and writing?
People ask all the time about how I’m able to do all that I do with AGirlWeKnow because it’s not my day job but is a small business I do on the side.
Everything is made possible through community. My book club was start through the community, my merchandise sells out because somebody orders it for their best friend and then suddenly five people in Texas are asking me for a hat.
I did a book retreat last year in Asheville, North Carolina and I didn’t know probably half of the people who came until I met them that weekend, because it was a friend of a friend. Getting to know new people who share my love of reading is so much fun.
I like to say that AGirlWeKnow is really a two-person process and half of it is my sister Audrey. We’re roommates now, and she is just so super trendy, cool and smart.
A lot of times I will get this thing in my head about an idea to write about and she is the one to think about the best way to brand it. She really pushes me a lot when it comes to the merchandise perspective.
What are some of the aspects that are more challenging?
Things have really moved along so rapidly. Last July was when I put my first piece on Instagram, and just a year ago we didn’t have the merchandise or the website. The only thing we had was the book club.
It’s pretty crazy because it went four or five years of not much happening, but now the momentum has taken hold. Before it was just a fun thing for me to do, but now it’s my business.
What are the primary future goals you have?
My two big goals for this summer were to release the poetry book and have the website go live, and both of those were able to take place, so I’m still in shock and riding the wave from that.
In the near future, we’ll have a sweatshirt drop, and I did write a fiction book so I’m hoping to find an agent to help me get it to a publishing house.
What do you enjoy most about living in the North Florida area?
When my parents moved here, I was pretty much sold hook, line and sinker. I feel like the community is so strong here and that is what has really drawn me in. As soon as we moved here, there has just been so many people that are looking out for you. That is something that’s very important to me.