As mentioned in my poorly written post on Friday, I attended the Create & Cultivate conference over the weekend. The conference is focused on connecting and empowering creative women entrepreneurs, and using creativity to leverage impact and social change. I have followed this cool group of women for a few years now, drooling over the almost-annoying amount beauty and motivation that fills up their website, and when they announced the NYC conference, I swooped up tickets immediately.
Then, I forgot about the tickets, booked a bunch of travel around the same time, got myself sick, got delayed, and spent under 48 hours in the greatest city in the world. At least the conference was cool.
Things I loved
- Being in the presence of Gloria Steinem, and hearing her talk about her life, activism, and her badass leather pants. I was sitting in the second row, and she 100% made eye contact and now we are linked for eternity.
- Aurora James. If you do not know about Aurora James, I highly recommend doing so. She’s the force of nature behind Brother Villes, the gorgeous ethical fashion brand who makes my dream boots. (I wear a 6.5 if you are interested in making a friend forever.) She discussed the need for people with a platform to use it for something worthwhile, and when discussing the issue, she didn’t retreat into safe over-politeness, she stood up for what she does. Her defense of the importance of educating yourself on where your clothes come from and the responsibility that people with an audience have, made me feel like there is someone on my team out there that is doing the things I want to do in the best way possible.
- A MOBILE BALL PIT. See figure A.
- The panel on fringe roles in fashion and social media, where a wide range of people who didn’t conform to basic standards of beauty, race, gender and sexuality all talked about their experiences within an industry that tends to veer towards problematic versions of those things. It was incredibly substantial, and I wish it were a whole day, I would go to a conference just on that.
- Free snacks everywhere. See figure B.
Things I loved a little less
- There were two camps in the conference, or at least it felt that way to me. There was the group of people who want to become “influencers” and get paid to promote products and take sexy selfies. The other group of people was there to empower other women, and use creativity and entrepreneurship as a catalyst for social change. I am not going to tell you which camp I am in.
- A lot of the conference was beauty-based, there was lots of “glam” stuff, which is totally fine, and the lines for it were crazy long so clearly people are into free makeovers and braids and shit, but I found myself (with three hours of sleep, mind you) being sort of grumpy at that side of things. Don’t get me wrong, I built my own Birchbox when I had the damn chance, but I guess I just wish that beauty products and looking sexy didn’t have to be such a huge focus for a women’s conference.
“Wouldn’t it be amazing if Jessica Alba just surprised everyone here?”
“OMG, old people are so cute, I just love them”- Girl sitting behind me, probably talking about me
“Who do I have to blow to get a goddamn flower crown?”
“Those meatballs, do they have meat in them?”
“I couldn’t find the coffee place, but I found this rosé. Don’t let me ask any questions.”
This is not to make fun of the conference at all, I found it incredibly valuable. I am happy that I went, and next time I go, I will come packing more questions, more business cards, more coffee, and more than 3 hours of sleep.