I woke up for the Inaugural EmpowerHER Conference in NYC after sleeping for two point seven five hours. Yep. I took a nap. A whole entire poolside nap on the eve of a business conference. Instead of sleeping, I decided to finally do the thing that was looming over my head. I decided to finally add content and images to Gayima.com. I needed to show up to that conference feeling accomplished and comfortable with myself. “My Rules for Me” #3 was at play here. As if the clothing line isn’t enough. However, that is the way that I felt. A saying that I heard often while growing up that still resonates with me kept me motivated that night. “ Don’t just speak about it. Be about it.” Although I have owned Gayima.com for years, it’s just been sitting there, parked. However, as I grow, I am learning that I have a voice that can capture the attention of the masses in a way that is uncommon. I have a lot to share and I want to create a safe place where people can visit and learn from others and myself. I want to share with the world what it is to be a first-generation African American businesswoman who wants to:
- Empower people through conversation and education
- Slay daily and show others how to slay in ways that compliments who they are, inside and out.
- Have historically difficult conversations about things that people of African decent should be discussing.
- Share how I love to have fun and practice self care.
That’s about it. So I started it. I published it. I have way more plans for it, but hey. It’s out there. Watch me grow.
After making my eye bags disappear, I grabbed water and jumped in the whip (aka The Uber) and went to EmpowerHER 2016. Now, the day was long and amazing with so many details that I could give you a two hour recap and still have more to say, however, I’ll give you 10 reasons why EmpowerHER 2016 was empowering:
- The Perfect Entry Greeter: As my uber driver pulled off, I saw a tall, dark-brown skin, well-dressed African-American man standing with broad, confident shoulders in an opening who welcomed me to the event with a 1000-watt smile. Welp. Good Morning to you sir! Okay Blavity! This is nice AF already… (and I KNOW that his FINE black life matters too). Also, I am certain that this is how I will be greeted when I arrive to heaven. Shouldn’t EVERY conference I attend from here on have a man such as that gentleman at the doorway to greet me? Should it not? Take notes from Blavity’s planning team. Amen.
- A Perfect First-Impression: I walked up and was greeted with smiles from beautiful black women. One of the first to greet me happened to be Blavity’s founder, Morgan DeBaun (and I didn’t even know it). All of the women were just so radiant and beautiful and professional and melanin rich. Once my name badge and complimentary bag of goods was in hand, I immediately walked over to the breakfast table. They had fruits, cute mini bagels and cream cheese, cheese Danish and more greatness. The orange juice was refreshing and after elegantly scarfing it all down, I was ready to socialize and get focused.
- An Awesome Host: Our host for the day was this beautiful, radiant, upbeat lady named Danielle Leslie. She was all smiles and kept the crowd engaged and excited to listen to each presentation. She even contributed to the dialogue by using herself as example of how she can testify personally to successfully being about your business. She was also stylin’ in her fierce leather jacket. Great selection Blavity!
- The Keynote Speaker Dropped Gems and Usies: I met THE Awesomely Luvvie a few years ago when she was handling her business in Washington, DC. I follow her online and fell in love with the online community that she has created. She is just as smart as she is funny, passionate about the Popes (#SCANDAL), a voice to be reckoned with when discussing social issues, and above all, she’s African. I knew that she was going to come thru with Gems of knowledge and she did not disappoint. With the goals that I am working towards, the knowledge that she dropped was received at the perfect time. Yaaaasss Universe! Yaaaaasss! SUBSCRIBE AND GET YOUR LIFE TOGETHER. The Queen has even written a book!
- Self Care is necessary to attain & maintain success:
Imagine a panel of women with different skin tones, hair textures, economical statuses, shoe budgets, educational backgrounds, and hip measurements that took a moment from their successful, busy lives to share with you what they do to ensure that they maintain their sanity while still reaching for their super high goals, and ACHIEVING THEM. Imagine this same panel of women taking moments from their delivery to compliment each other and bond with one another, as well as with the audience. If you attended, then you know how special it was to watch these women, especially Hey Fran Hey (#mygirlcrush). If you attended, then you know that you saw yourself in some way in each woman on the panel, and as you took to Instagram to follow them or shared their IG with the person sitting to your left, you felt amazing because you were in the presence of greatness and you knew that you are also great.
Let me just leave this here: This amazing panel of #blackgirlmagic was moderated by Elaine Welteroth!
6.The Greatest Lunch Break was at EmpowerHER 2016: In the upper level of the space, you could shop & network with vendors while snacking on a cute muffin. In the lower level, the panel members made themselves available to chat and take pictures with them. Or you could just chill and eat fresh cold cut sandwiches with all of the trimmings and meet new friends. It was dope!
7. The only time a Breakout was wanted by a Woman: The breakout sessions were pretty informative. I actually took a moment to sit and observe what was happening around me. I wanted to take it all in. This was my first business conference of 2016 as a full-time entrepreneur, no longer earning a paycheck from a Corporate America firm. The moment was surreal. I watched in amazement how all of these African American were quickly organized into 8 different smaller groups based on like-minded goals and talked with each other, shared ideas, listened to ideas, took notes, exchanged business cards and allowed the spirit of togetherness to take control. I was watching a fantasy happen around me and to me that I did not even know that I had.
8. I finally got to ask my question! Yay! One of the things that was challenging was getting selected to ask your question to the panel. I get it. It’s more of us. However, I quietly negotiated with the microphone man and then… it was my turn. Because I am extra, I asked two questions. #shrugs
Q1. What book(s) do you recommend reading as an entrepreneur?
Q2. What quality do you look for when deciding who you want to join your team of workers?
A1. Kelechi, the owner of Zuvaa response resonated with me. She mentioned the book #GirlBoss, by Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal.
A2. Kelechi also mentioned how critical she felt it was to work with people who will show up and ACTUALLY work. Value team members that will put forth their best effort regardless of their compensation.
9. Netta. Nine is for Nettaaaaaaaaa. The Black Lives Matter Movement is real AF. I appreciated how Morgan took us down the path to help us understand the Blavity team’s connection to the movement and Netta. Netta share a bit of her life journey and her motivations as well as some of her future plans. Her story will make you proud to be in her presence. She is a brave young woman who is simply inspiring.
10. The Beauty of Femininity: As I looked at my phone that was dying a slow death, I couldn’t believe two things. The first moment of disbelief was how in the world did I allow myself to walk out of the house without my phone charger. Because my phone is petty AF! My phone hits 20%, begins to graciously Serena Williams twerk on me then quickly slides down the pole to 0% shamelessly in a matter of 7 minutes. “Sorry“ by Beyonce’ should be the ringtone during this moment. The second moment of disbelief was how did I not know that Feminista Jones was my hero until this conference? She made me laugh. She made me cry. She made me reflect. She made me sigh. She made me love being a woman, even more than I already do. Feminista Jones and her panel mates discussed the realness of being an online activist. We heard from ladies behind the scenes with Change.org as well and the power that a simple hashtag can have like #Oscarsowhite. With great hashtags come great responsibility, and it is not all that glamourous. They kept it real. The work that they do is not for the weak in spirit.
EmpowerHER 2016 was indeed empowering for me. I cannot sit and wait for someone to make my environment comfortable me. I must take action and work to create a space that is comfortable for me to flourish in. I must celebrate all of the moments, big and small and remember to take care of myself.
We all deserve to be seen. We all deserve to be heard. We all deserve to be empowered. I am empowered to be about my business.
Thank you Blavity.
EmpowerHER 2016 was a success.
Did you attend EmpowerHER 2016? What were some of your favorite moments? Do you plan to attend the next event? I highly recommend it! Drop a comment below.