The Women Behind Indy Maven: Leslie Bailey

Get to know our fearless leader who talks about how this whole idea began, her dream dinner party, and why local journalism will always matter.
Leslie Bailey


We often refer to our “small but mighty” editorial team at Indy Maven that works hard to bring you interesting, informative content and expert recommendations, and weed through the noise out there so that you don’t have to. But who *exactly* are we referring to? We’re here to answer that with a special edition of Maven to Know where one editor chats with another to learn more about her. Next up: Indy Maven co-founder and editor-in-chief, Leslie Bailey.

There are probably a lot of our readers who are curious just exactly how they came to be reading this website. So, can you tell them the Indy Maven origin story? 

In April 2019 I approached Amanda (Kingsbury, co-founder and contributing editor of Indy Maven) about bringing back an event we used to put on together called Style Swap. My son had recently turned a year old and I was working with a life coach to figure out my next steps. We had a lot of ideas that needed channeling so we approached a mutual contact Crystal Grave to help us come up with the plan to launch Indy Maven, which we did in October 2019. Essentially, it stemmed from my and Amanda’s frustration with seeing major gaps in storytelling for women in our city. It’s our goal to fill those. 

What have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned from starting your own business? The biggest surprises? The biggest challenges? 

Well, I definitely didn’t expect to find out I was pregnant days before our launch party so that was by far the biggest surprise and therefore the biggest challenge of trying to figure out how to grow and bring two babies—one being Indy Maven, the other a real life human—into the world back-to-back. Lesson wise, I’ve always known to trust my gut but starting this business has reinforced that tenfold. 

What’s your BIG dream for Indy Maven’s future?

We designed the business so that it could expand to editions in other cities which would be cool to see because there are plenty of locations similar to Indy where I think women could benefit from and enjoy our model. I have a list of some other big plans but I don’t spend much time thinking about that. I’m focused on trying to make sure that we’re delivering to our audience, our partners, and our own community right now.  

“Local journalism is storytelling and that’s been around since the beginning of humanity. It’s important because it’s a record and reflection of who we are and the times we live in—good and bad.”
What have been your favorite stories we’ve done so far and why? 

That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! No way. What I can tell you is the Single Foster Moms, Janet Easley, and Jenni Berebitsky stories all brought me to tears. Like, full on sobs. I also have a special place in my heart for our Mavens to Know because they remind me of why we do what we do every week. 

You’ve spent the majority of your career working in local journalism. Why do you feel it’s so important and how do you see it evolving in an ever-changing media landscape? 

Local journalism is storytelling and that’s been around since the beginning of humanity. It’s important because it’s a record and reflection of who we are and the times we live in—good and bad. Unfortunately I don’t see a lot of local journalism evolving fast enough in all areas for how quickly the landscape is changing. 

Your brain is basically a Rolodex of local recommendations for just about anything I could ever ask you about. What are most beloved go-to spots or services in Indy and what new discoveries have you made lately?

I’m six months pregnant and running a business so I’m not quite up to my usual speed but a few things I’m excited about are food related and that would be the opening of Blu Point Oyster Bar and Kan-Kan Cinema and Brasserie at Bottleworks. And Furious Spoon, the hip hop ramen spot. And The Harbour, McNivens’ Fish and Chips joint. I’m pretty much just going to move into the Bottleworks Food Hall. I’m so hungry now. What were we talking about? 

I find you to also be an excellent curator of people, making interesting connections between people who otherwise might never have met. If you could put together a perfect dinner party, who would you invite?

Alive or dead (but limited to the last 100 years though I think Celopatra would really mix things up), for a wide variety of reasons, and in no particular order: Diana Vreeland, Maya Angelou, Zelda Fitzgerald, Martha Stewart, Oprah, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Julia Child. We would start with martinis. 

On that front, what’s on your reading wishlist right now book-wise, you know with all that spare time you have? 

The Widow Clicquot which is about Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, the woman behind the champagne empire. After her husband died, she defied convention by taking over their wine business.the wish being that I actually read it. My husband bought it for me two birthdays ago—which was 17 days after my son was born. He’s two now soooooo yeah. I’ll be happy if I finish that one book this year. I love learning about fascinating women in history. Oh! Let’s invite her to that dinner party.  

There’s been a lot of talk lately (and for good reasons) about #GirlDads, but as a #BoyMom what do you think are the best and most challenging things you’ve found about raising a little man?

Besides all things penis-related, I think the challenges specifically related to that are yet to come because he’s still so young. But I have a 10 year-old stepson and another son on the way so I take the responsibility of raising men very seriously. 

Abby Gardner is the executive editor of Indy Maven. She is extremely happy Leslie asked her to lunch one day last summer to tell her about a “little idea” she’d been working on.

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