After the birth of her first child in 2021, Stephanie (Engle) Morrison ’13 co-founded Babes and Brews and became the ambassador for her local Mom’s Walk Collective. Most women who attend these group events are moms, so Stephanie wanted to ensure the events are a safe, welcoming space for women to find comfort in the stories, advice and love of their mom tribe. Morrison was a public relations major at Chapman, played on the softball team and participated in Alpha Gamma Delta. She describes the Chapman community as a main draw to attend the university and is now giving back to women in Orange County through her moms’ event initiatives.
What are Babes and Brews and the Mom Walk Collective?
Babes and Brews is a monthly girls’ night! A night with no babies, no husbands, and all FUN! We gather at Dos Amigos in Huntington Beach to eat tacos, drink margaritas, sometimes play games, and laugh the whole time. The night is for all women! Most of our babes are moms, but you don’t have to be to join in on the fun. Every month there is a different set of about 10 to 25 women who fill up the whole side of the restaurant, and every month I walk away with a few new friends.
Another group I’m involved with is the Mom Walk Collective in Huntington Beach, a safe space for all moms. We meet two times a month (minimum) to walk, grab a coffee and find our tribe within motherhood. About 40-100 of us cross PCH to get to the boardwalk, depending on the day, and it’s always quite the spectacle when we take over the Pirate Park on the sand. Despite the numbers, it’s a very welcoming, safe space for all moms to create their community and find comfort in other moms’ stories, advice and love. It’s also a space for moms to be celebrated, and in doing so, I strive to include sponsors for every walk or event. Some past sponsors have been Lululemon, Olipop, Morning Lavender and Francesca’s, along with other small, local women-run companies that want to give back to the moms. This month we are also partnering with a nonprofit, Something to Hold, to come together for a night of blanket-making to gift to the moms in our community who will go through infertility, miscarriage, infant loss and stillbirth.
Can you tell us some of the backstories of how these groups came to be? Where did the idea come from? How did you get started?
A girlfriend and I started Babes and Brews in August of 2021 after both having children and realizing we needed a night out with no kids, no husbands and just some girl fun. We poured into our family all day long and we needed a night to fill our cups so we were running on something other than empty.
The Mom Walk Collective was started by a mom, Jamie, after giving birth to her son and realizing she was in the thick of postpartum. Needing to find her mom tribe, she posted on social media to see if anyone was interested in meeting up for coffee and a walk. It turns out more than just a few moms needed connection too, and since that day in June of last year, the collective has grown to almost over 200 cities across the U.S., Canada and Australia. A few months after having my second kiddo, Dustin, I learned about the collective and joined the Newport Beach walk. Without initially realizing it, I walked and chatted with the founder Jamie and quickly saw the magic in what she was doing. Within minutes of talking, I offered to become the ambassador for Huntington Beach, and our first walk was seven days later.
What is the main goal for the groups? How have they grown, and what does the future look like?
Truly the main goal of both events is connection. I simply love connecting women at Babes and Brews who need a night out to fill their cups again. Some come extremely nervous, not knowing a single person, and yet they leave with the biggest smiles on their faces to return next month. And I find so much joy in connecting two moms in the same season of motherhood at the walks. It’s hard leaving your house with the kids in tow to come to an event not knowing a single person — but to find your tribe, the moms have to leave their houses. Motherhood can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. There is nothing cooler than seeing two moms at the end of a walk exchanging phone numbers — that right there makes everything worth it. Babes and Brews is growing with four additional locations in different cities (Bakersfield, South Orange County, Santa Clarita and San Clemente). We truly can’t wait to see that number continue to rise. As for the Mom Walk Collective in Huntington Beach, I can’t wait to implement a “family night” at a local brewery or beach days in summer. I also want to continue to grow as a one-stop resource for my moms, whether that’s a discount code for formula or the best place to get lactation cookies in Huntington Beach. I also guarantee that we will continue to grow and spread our love to all the moms in Huntington Beach.
How did Chapman prepare you for life? Any skills or lessons that have stuck with you?
One of my main draws to Chapman was always the community. The small but mighty laid-back vibe of campus was a huge selling point to me when choosing colleges. Once I got to experience it for myself, it truly taught me the importance of being a good human because you never know whom you are going to be partnered with for a class project, who is going to be joining your sorority, which incoming freshman at orientation is also on the softball team, whom you’ll rely on for help or a favor down the road, etc. It taught me the life lesson to treat everyone with kindness and respect, and to lead each day and interaction with a giving heart.
Share about your involvements (clubs, study abroad, research, etc.) while attending Chapman and how it impacted your experience.
I was on the softball team and a part of Alpha Gamma Delta. Again, the word “community” just seems to be at the forefront of my mind. I loved the sense of belonging that both communities on campus provided me. Even being a part of Dodge College in the public relations major was its own community. And I loved my softball community so much that upon graduating, I became the volunteer softball coach in 2013 and then the assistant softball coach from 2014-2017.
What’s your favorite Chapman memory?
I really did love my time at Chapman and had so many core memories to choose from. Greek Week, my first softball game, Senior Week, Formals, Capstone projects, Bruxie runs, Undie Run (lol), campus in Spring, etc. But the memory that comes to mind is my first Homecoming weekend as a Panther. Being a transfer student, my goal after graduating high school was always to attend Chapman and be able to bring my parents to the homecoming football game to celebrate achieving that goal with them will always be a memory I look back on and smile at.
Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman, and why?
As cliche as it might sound, my softball coaches, my teammates and the athletic department. They gifted me my dream of playing college softball. The sport taught me life lessons I’ll cherish and pass down to my kids, but when I graduated and felt lost and unsure about the world, they gave me a place to land. There is empowerment when you bet on yourself, but there are true life-changing vibes when someone else does too. And for that, I’ll forever be grateful for my time post-graduation coaching at CU; it shaped my entire life.
What advice can you share with students or recent graduates?
Life has a funny way of working out, so try to live like a surfer. What I mean by that is ride the waves (the good times, the promotions, the graduations) with the acceptance and knowledge that those waves end. So be grateful but also aware that the good times will lead to not-so-fun times (heartbreaks, job change, death). However, if you know that the next set of waves and celebrations is on the horizon, you’ll become grateful for the stagnant time in the water. Gratitude is a magnet for miracles, and life is a set of waves with the highest and lowest highs, but the quicker you can be grateful for every chapter, the brighter your life will become. Also, be bold and trust your gut. It’s always possible to change your life’s course, grow and evolve. I’ve lived about five lives since graduating from Chapman, and each has led me to my next great adventure.
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