Gals Need Pals is transforming the way women make friends as adults

click to enlarge Gals Need Pals is transforming the way women make friends as adults
Jennifer Debarros photo
Kinley Schmidt (left) and Lauren Trivison.

Making friends used to be easy.

As children, it was as simple as sharing a toy or a snack on the playground. In high school, being in the same math class or on the same sports team was all it took to form lifelong bonds.

As soon as you step foot into the real world, though, things become a little more complicated. Friends don't come as easily as they used to when you're working a 9-to-5.

When Kinley Schmidt moved to Spokane from Utah in the summer of 2020 — or as Schmidt calls it, "in the heart of the plague" — she didn't know a single soul in the city and had no clue how to go about making friends. She turned to a Catholic women's group but wanted to make friends outside of the church as well, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

She began planning an event for women over the age of 21 to come together, chat and make friends. She called it Gals Need Pals — an apt name for the problem she was facing at the time.

"I launched the Instagram in September 2022," Schmidt says. "I just wanted to see if people would be interested in this, and it was an extreme response. People kept saying that it was such a need and that everyone needed something like this."

The first Gals Need Pals event happened just one month later at the New 63 Social House in downtown Spokane. It was a big success. More than 50 young women showed up to eat, drink and socialize with one another, desperately seeking connection with peers in the area.

In early 2023, Gals Need Pals events were happening monthly, and its Instagram followers grew every day. Schmidt needed help managing the project while also working full time as a third grade teacher. Local social media influencer Lauren Trivison stepped up to the plate after attending a few Gals Need Pals events herself and becoming invested in its mission.

The two have been a dynamic, pink-power-suit-wearing, friendship-forming duo ever since.

Trivison takes care of the business side of things, running the Gals Need Pals social media accounts while also reaching out to local businesses about partnership opportunities. Schmidt, meanwhile, is the mastermind behind Gals Need Pals' perfectly pink branding and event decor.

Walking into a Gals Need Pals event is like crossing the threshold into utopia.

Everything smells like flowers, people greet you with smiling faces, and everyone accepts you for who you are.

"The only requirement for attending one of our events is that you have to be a gal over 21," Trivison says. "Other than that, we don't care who you are or what your story is. Just show up and have a good time."

"We're also all about inclusivity," Schmidt says. "Gals Need Pals is all about butterflies and love and unicorns and sparkles. I don't want anyone to feel like we're not including a diverse population because they see our faces on Instagram a lot. The LGBTQ community is always welcome."

UPCOMING EVENTS
Raise the Barre: Thu, April 25 from 6-8 pm, $35, Soul Barre Studio
30 Going On 13 Adult Prom: Sat, May 11 at 7 pm, $35, Davenport Grand (all genders welcome)

For a recent event called Glitz and Glam at The Studio hair salon in downtown Spokane, about 15 gals came to get pampered and do a photoshoot afterward at Electric Photoland next door.

Gals Need Pals event prices vary, depending on the scale and costs for things like decor, promotion and adorable branded merchandise. The duo relies on community partnerships and collaborations to keep their events affordable and exciting. Memberships ($49/quarter, $149/year) are also available with perks like discounted tickets.

"Our community has been so generous," Schmidt says. "We're always trying to support local, small businesses. We never meant for Gals Need Pals to have such a platform, but now we have partnerships and sponsorships that benefit us and the businesses mutually."

At the recent glamorous event, makeup artists from the Studio carefully placed glitter and false eyelashes on attendees. Shouts of "You look stunning!" could be heard over hair dryers and other friendly chatter. Attendees stood around in a circle, exchanging phone numbers and Instagram handles with smiling faces.

Melanie Lawrence, a Gonzaga University graduate originally from Nevada, has been to a few Gals Need Pals events in recent months.

"Breaking into communities in Spokane can be really tough," Lawrence says. "So [Gals Need Pals] just brings like-minded people together in a way that's safe and fun. You're not worried about the things that you'd normally be worried about in social situations. Each event appeals to different people and different personalities. If you're nervous about coming to an event by yourself, you shouldn't be, because it's such a great environment with amazing people who are open and ready to meet friends."

Between conversations with guests at The Studio, Schmidt and Trivison announce that two longtime Gals Need Pals regulars-turned-friends each got engaged to their respective partners in the past few weeks. The founders present flower bouquets and cards to each. Hugs are exchanged, and everyone gathers around to take a look at their engagement rings.

Because Gals Need Pals has been so successful in Spokane, Schmidt and Trivison decided to take the fun to the Seattle area.

"Now that we have a good grasp on how this works and what makes us unique, we can copy and paste it on a much larger scale," Trivison says. "So far, girls have been so excited. We're getting messages constantly from people who want to attend and from businesses who want to participate."

Along with the expansion to Seattle, Schmidt also recently announced that she's stepping away from teaching to take on Gals Need Pals full time. That means more events, more fun and more opportunities to make friends for women all around the Inland Northwest are on the way.

"There is nothing like your girlhood friendships," Schmidt says. "I have an amazing future husband who I adore, but there's nothing that will compare to my girlfriends. You need your girls — it's a different kind of love." ♦

Instagram: @galsneedpals, galsneedpals.com

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Madison Pearson

Madison Pearson is the Inlander's Listings Editor, managing the calendar of events and covering everything from libraries to mid-century modern home preservation for the Arts & Culture section of the paper. She joined the staff in 2022 after completing a bachelor's degree in journalism from Eastern Washington...