April Diaz Dreams of a Girl’s World

October 15, 2022

Photos by Alyssa Olvera

People look at you all the time. They  ask where you got your clothes from or what shade of lipstick you're wearing. You always know where to be and when to be there. Strangers are dropping your name at entrances begging for plus-one status. This might be one side of the glorified “it-girl” lifestyle, but sometimes growing up in a girl's world means fitting in and looking like everyone else. Maybe for the conformers and the cliques, a girl's world means being like the rest. For April Diaz, the founder of Girlsworld512, a girl’s world is about “friendship, creativity, and vulnerability.”

April’s colorful presence on Instagram is expressed through moments in monochrome outfits, colorful cowboy boots, and the ability never to forget a matching pair of sunglasses. Her feed perfectly complements her lively personality and desire for love and connection.

Young April, who sported short hair, a unibrow, and a mustache (claiming her mom felt waxing was unnecessary), was inspired by muses that brought out her inner child: Lizzie McGuire, Zoey 101, That's So Raven, and Tumblr. They never failed to remind her of the glitter and pink and slumber parties she was missing out on. After growing up as an outsider and being raised in a strict Hispanic family, April Diaz created Girlsworld512 to rejuvenate the teenage nostalgia she never had, for she believed that you don't need to look a certain way to feel girly or like the color pink. Everyone is welcome at Girlsworld512. Except for boys, of course.

For people who don't know Girlsworld512 yet or only keep up with you through Instagram, how would you define yourself? If someone asks you, who is April? What would you say?

I'm just a very outgoing creative. I have a very entrepreneurial mindset, so I'm constantly thinking like, okay, what can I do next? How can I be my own boss? How can I create something for myself? So I think in general, I would describe myself as a creative human that's just trying to create a safe space for friendship, creativity, and boldness. Boldness and vulnerability. I'll start off by [saying] that— I’m just a creative trying to heal the teenage nostalgia that I didn't have.

How do you coexist with your life online? Does it ever get in the way of real life?

AD: I get that question a lot. I'll get messages of people asking me, “How are you doing this? How are you?” A lot of people think I'm wealthy, and that I come from a wealthy background, and obviously people only believe what they see. So online I'm eating out, I'm going out, and so they’re like, does she even work? But no, I still work a full time job, and aside from working a full time job, I'm still a freelance content creator. And I still help the jobs that I've left to keep my connections with them. How I am online is how I am in person. I've always…love[d] taking pictures of everything. That's kind of how I started because a lot of people asked me, “How did you become an influencer and content creator?” And it's just because back home at the time, nobody was doing this.

Would young April see herself where she is now? What was your life like growing up?

AD: No, not at all. I grew up in a very strict household, so that made me very sheltered and quiet. Behind the scenes, I would never volunteer to speak up in front of a classroom. I actually had to give my speeches after class, during lunch, because I was so shy and introverted. I wasn't like the ideal blue-eyed girl with long hair. I had short hair growing up and a unibrow and mustache because my mom didn't let me wax my lips. I was not the girl that guys go to or the girl that girls want to be friends with in general, and I think that really motivated me to just want to be my own cool version of myself.  I would have never started Girlsworld had you told me that idea. I would have been like, no. That's a no for me. I have to meet people? There's no way I can do that.

What would young April think of her now? What would you say to her?

AD: Young April would not believe her life now, and I wish I would have just been more kind to myself growing up. At some point, I hope that Girlsworld can go talk to a high school or a middle school and just remind those girls that this is not your life forever because I really thought that this was it. It's like, okay, I'm not going out. I don't have a boyfriend, I'm lame, and I'm a loser because that's kind of what I thought growing up. I wish I had told that April, “Hey, you're going to be creating content for brands and you're gonna meet girls at events and you're gonna change people's lives.” I've seen girls who have attended our Girlsworld events, and fast forward six months later, they're best friends with the person they met at the event and it's just like, whoa. I created a space where they met each other and I was able to create a friendship, something that wasn't given to me growing up.  I wasn't like a popular kid so I think that just in general I would be really proud of myself and accomplished and fulfilled.

Tell me about your personal style evolution. Who was your inspiration?

AD: Obviously, in the ’90s, growing up with Disney, you grew up watching Zoey 101 and Lizzie McGuire. You see Lizzie having her best friend, and I always romanticized that. I was just like, oh my God, if I were to ever be a cool girl I would do my hair like Lizzie, and I would dress like Lizzie, so there goes my nostalgia again. I grew up with a financially unstable family, so we were very thrifty growing up. I think that really rooted who I am as a person because thrifting is the key to success for me. I think after seeing all these shows and sitcoms and how they always had these cliques, my thing was that I felt like that was what was happening in my real life. I wasn't being welcomed into these cliques because I didn't look a certain way. So I want[ed] to make sure that with Girlsworld512, I created a space where everyone feels included, no matter your background, your age, or color. My whole motto is: This is the party that your mom didn't let you go to when you were a teenager. This is what I want to create for girls: A safe space where we can all be silly without worrying like, oh my God, my boy crushes, or, oh my gosh, my ex, I'm gonna run into him here. Like I just wanted this to be a place for females, or female-identifying non-binary, gender non-conforming people to all feel welcome. They can like the color pink and pink nostalgia and glitter and Y2K without having to look a certain way.

So do you think your whole inner monologue of the things you missed out on translated into Girlsworld512? What was your inspiration behind the Girlsworld aesthetic?

AD: Yeah, absolutely. Even now, if you turn on Disney Channel, there's nothing like Lizzie McGuire. There's nothing like That's So Raven. The future generations, they're not going to see that. And I hope that Girlsworld can live on for them. Whenever Girlsworld512 started, our first project was a diary. So we had like a diary notebook and we had girls in Austin pass it to each other. So it was just like me bringing the nostalgia of actually writing in your journal instead of like making a blog post with the actual turning of the pages and little colorful pens, all of that, just connecting to our younger selves.

Was there a specific moment leading up to Girlsworld512? What's the story behind its creation?

I moved to LA because my now-fiancé was acting. I noticed in LA [that] there were so many events happening constantly. Then I moved to Austin because I got really homesick, and I looked for that everywhere in Austin. I had just moved to Austin, so I had no friends to go out to drink with and I had no buddies to go dancing with, and my fiancé doesn't like to dance or drink like that. It was just a very lonely time. I tried Bumble BFF. I tried to do it like three times and I just couldn't click with people, I just went home feeling empty. One day I kind of hit rock bottom and I cried to my fiancé and I was like, I'm not making any friends. I'm ready to move from Austin. I just wish there was someone out there creating events for girls like me! It makes me so emotional because I think about it and I have come so far. It is so crazy. I just wanted someone to, like, I don't know, plan a sleepover or a happy hour where we all dress up, or just have a shopping day, like, I want to do all the girly girl stuff. And he was like why don't you do that? And I was like, What do you mean? Who am I going to do it with? I don't know anyone here in Austin.

He was like, you follow some girls in Austin, and some of them follow you back. What if you make a story asking if anyone wants to have a picnic with you? And that's kind of how it started. I started hanging out with people, and I was just like, wait, it's working for me, and I'm meeting people because I'm making a post on Instagram asking, like, does anybody want to hang out with me? Now imagine the power of an actual space for everyone where it's not just for me. There's just a lot that I didn't get to experience. Like, I didn't get to sneak out with alcohol, I didn't get to have parties, I didn't get to do any of that. So I was just like, what if we did?

Girlsworld512 is not just one member – there's several of you guys. How would you describe your relationship with the other members? How has the creation of Girlsworld512 played into the friendship and how has it changed?

AD: I started off with my friend, Peyton. It was just me and her, and then she stepped down to just focus on her. I'll be honest, we've had people where we bump heads and we want different things, but I'm proud of myself now. At the time, it was really hard for me to speak up and be like, no, that's not what I want to do with Girlsworld. So there [have] been challenges as far as communication. And I think when other people step up to help, it's really hard for me to set up boundaries and be like, no, this is my baby, so I need you to respect it. As we get bigger, it's really hard for us to keep up with everyone attending the events and DMs in general because I think a lot of people don't realize that it's not our full time job. So I asked for additional help as volunteers only to help us set up events, and when we opened up applications, we found a good four core girls.
They all started off as volunteers, and then over time, they took on more responsibility and kind of have just been on board since then. They help us with events and reply to DMs. I'm still the one in charge of the content and events, so it's just been really helpful having other people on the team. I've also been able to learn a lot through them. We have a member who I want to say identifies as she/they. Again, I come from a Hispanic household, and Spanish is my first language, so I didn't know much about pronouns and identifying as non-binary. So when I started Girlsworld – that’s why I named it Girlsworld – I started it with the intention of just being space for girls.

When one of my team members jumped in, she asked me if I had ever thought about opening the space to non-binary people who still like the color pink and like to do girly stuff. And I really appreciated that because I didn't have much knowledge about it. I think having members that can educate me in that way is really, really helpful because we've opened Girlsworld to be for everyone instead of just like one sex, and I couldn't have done that without them. We all bounce ideas off each other, and we all, like, support each other mentally [and] emotionally. I wasn't close friends with any of the girls— I was just mutuals with them on Instagram, and over time they’ve become some of my best friends. Like if my car were to break down, I know I can count on calling them. They're like my sisters. So Girlsworld has not only opened friendships for others, but it's also opened new friendships for me and has allowed me to learn to trust others.

We’ve emphasized how Girlsworld is a safe space, so what would you consider your safe space?

AD: A space where I can be a version of myself without fear of judgment. It’s where I feel the most connected to my most truest self. Just not feeling judged, not feeling out of place, and I think just knowing that we're here all for the same thing is the definition of safe space for me.

So amongst every and any possibility, how do you hope to see Girlsworlds and yourself grow in the future?

AD: I would love for us to become an official nonprofit organization that provides resources for all girls of all ages, from elementary students to seniors. I just want this to be a space for everyone. I want Girlsworld members to be mentors to younger girls. That's my biggest focus— I just want to create a space that teaches others not to give up and to be themselves. My ultimate dream would be to have a nonprofit and a storefront where girls could visit and enter a creative room where you just paint or work on a tote or a t-shirt. And then we have a room where we spotlight other vendors in Austin and a room where we spotlight the news that's hot. I just want to make a change in Austin. I feel like it's too cliquey, and I think that was the hardest challenge with making friends because once there's already cliques, it's really hard for you to push your way into those. So with Girlsworld, we're all equal. We're all here for the same thing, which is friendship. ■

videographer: Maddie Abdalla
set design: Ashley Martin

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