Come Backstage to DSW’s First-Ever Runway Redone Event in NYC

This post is in paid partnership with DSW.


In life, there are some rules you’re meant to follow, and others that are meant to be broken. Say what? Yup, you read that correctly.  We believe that in order to live a fulfilled life, you might need to bend the guidelines every once in a while—and some just really never made sense, to begin with. 

Let’s take the rules of the runway for example. For as long as we can remember, there has been a standard size, weight, and height that qualifies you to walk. Create & Cultivate and DSW recognize these outdated criteria and decided it was high time we throw out the rule book. So, in honor of fashion season, we joined forces with DSW to host an inclusive runway show called Runway Redone that was all about breaking down cultural barriers and celebrating inclusivity, individuality, and self-expression. 

This was no ordinary fashion show. For the casting-call, DSW opened it’s entries to everyone across America. Instead of choosing people based on their appearances, we looked for those who have big personalities, charisma, and a unique story to tell—because that’s what really translates to beauty on the runway. The response was monumental with over 4,500 heartfelt entries and we read every single one. 

After choosing the final 10 winners—which took an entire week—we flew them to New York City for a full day of beauty and confidence workshops hosted by Be Strong Representative, Shira Blumenthal, in conversation with model, activist & runway host, Hunter McGrady and Be Strong Speaker, Kechi Okwuchi. Be Strong is DSW Gives’ philanthropic partner and were founded as a national non-profit organization focused on preventing bullying and inspiring positivity and confidence. The Runway Redone models took part in one-on-one styling sessions with celebrity stylist Samantha Brown and glam sessions to perfect their looks for the fashion show. The following day, Hunter McGrady introduced our incredible winners who walked the runway alongside five DSW-selected stylish influencers and five DSW store associates to showcase the brand’s stunning new Fall ‘19 campaign. It was truly a moving experience to witness what a runway show should really look like—inclusive and vibrant. 

The message was clear—we want representation, we want to see ourselves reflected on the runway, and in the clothing and footwear we want to wear. Our hope is that the momentum from this show lives on and becomes the norm for every fashion week. Follow along for some incredible behind-the-scenes moments caught on camera at the show—we hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 

Watch the full fashion show here! #DSWRunwayRedone

Click to view the event slideshow!

Hey Bay! Here's What to Expect at Our San Francisco Conference

Has anyone told you that San Francisco is boomin’? Maybe you already knew that but we wanted to remind you that the golden city is a cultural hub, technology epicenter, and foodie paradise—Oh, and it also happens to be the lucky location for our final conference to close out the 2019 calendar year! With all the excitement that San Francisco has to offer, it only made sense that we would make the trek up north to host our next event. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with our conferences, they are the biggest and best events C&C has to offer. But this time around, San Francisco promises to be even bigger and better than any other conference we’ve held before. We always bring our A-game but this time we’re putting some serious A-list talent on the stage, the pop-ups are poppin’ and the on-site experiences are major—and we even teamed up with PLANOLY to create a limited-edition Instagram stories template collection

Before we give away too much, follow along to see what the day has in store.


Our SF event location doesn’t include on-site parking, however, there are paid lots nearby. We encourage you to take advantage of the city’s incredible public transport or ride sharing to set yourself up for a day of success. 

When checking-in on the day of the event, you will receive your access badge, super cute At-A-Glance notebook, and track 1 or 2 schedule card outlining the day ahead. Depending on your lanyard you will be setup for track 1 or track 2—but we have that all mapped out for you so don’t stress. If you’re a VIP, you’ll get some additional swag and opportunities as well, including Alaska Airlines VIP lounge access and your own beauty bar (see below for more perks)! 

If you need assistance throughout the day or have accessibility needs, then we’re only too happy to accomodate. Just look out for the friendly faces wearing blue tees with our San Francisco logo on them around the event—shoutout to Dazey LA for making these custom tees for our team. 

Heads up, the event venue is massive with so much to see and do but this also means a lot of footwork. So, we suggest wearing your favorite pair of sneakers or comfortable shoes to make sure you’re using the ramps and stairs with ease—it’s a long day!

Bathrooms & Pump Room 
We have two bathrooms at the venue but the biggest one (and chicest thanks Rael) is located on the 2nd floor. Pump rooms will be located on that level as well. 

Our events fly by, so we suggest planning ahead see below for all the amazing activities! 



10 S Van Ness Ave,

San Francisco, CA 94103

Enter on 12th street


We love our VIPs and this time the perks are jam-packed! Take a look below to see what is in store for you: 


Our Insiders’ members get a ton of on-site perks and San Francisco is no exception. Not an insider yet? Well, don’t miss out—you can sign up here and pick up your membership kit at the Insiders pop-up on level 2 by the food hall in San Francisco. 

If you are a member, here is a rundown of what you can expect as a C&C insider in San Francisco and beyond:

  • Hate waiting in line? Receive expedited check-in, and front of the line access for meet and greets 

  • You’ll have priority seating at the main stage and second stage (yup, that means front row).

  • We have some swag for you at the C&C Insiders booth to pick up on-site

  • Skipped a panel to explore the pop-ups and activations? Insiders get access to all the panel footage after the event on your C&C Insiders dashboard.

  • Tarot card reading at the OLLY pop-up between the times of:

    • 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm

    • 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

    • 8:00 pm - 8:30 pm

  • Insider Meet & Greet at second stage between 6:35 pm - 7 pm with the below talent: 

  • And last but not least, four lucky Create & Cultivate Insiders will each receive two round-trip tickets from Alaska Airlines. We’ll be announcing the winners on stage before the keynote speaker at 7 pm. 


NuFACE is coming in hot with their retro airstream for special Microcurrent facials done by appointment. Not familiar with NuFACE or Microcurrent technology? Read up on what they’re all about here and see what they’ll be doing at their pop-up in the floor-by-floor break down below! Trust us—you’ll want to RSVP to this exclusive and lavish skincare activation. If you don’t sign up now, there’s a chance you might not get a spot once we’re on-site since it will be first come, first serve to those who didn’t fill out this form. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

Select one of the time slots below that you’d like to show up for (reference your track card for the specific times that align with your schedule). Note that the order will be dependent on who arrives to the airstream first and will go in order accordingly!

Name *
Appointment time *


Want the full lineup? Check out the play-by-play schedule to map out your big day. It’s going to be huge so we recommend getting a head start on planning out your day now. 


Key points for level 1: This is where you will find registration, beauty lounge, second stage, mentor power hour, and much more. 

Come and see for yourself why Batiste’s dry shampoo is a cult-favorite with celebrities and beauty editors. Have your hair styled and get the full model experience with their fun wind-blown photo moment. 

Beauty Lounge
Want to have a major beauty moment? Come to the Beauty Lounge to have your hair styled by Olivia Garden with makeup touch-ups by Glamsquad

We all know Birdies after seeing Meghan Markle wear them but now you can experience the range first-hand and see their new design before anyone else at their pop-up. Be the first to try and buy on-site! And bonus—anyone who shares a photo of themselves wearing the shoes in front of the Birdies’ Instagrammable moment will go in the running to win free Birdies shoes every month for an entire year! For C&C attendees, you get this one time offer to receive 20% off Birdies shoes when you use: C&C20.

Bluejay Bikes 
E-bikes are the next frontier in commuter travel and Bluejay bikes are leading the charge. Come and test ride their new power assist bikes on Level 1 right by registration. This company is very cool so don’t miss out on chatting to their team and trying this new bike out—they’re open from 10 am to 6 pm—PLUS, they’re giving away a bike (worth $2995) to one lucky C&C’er who test rides that day! 

Chandon Bar 
Our conferences are jam-packed with exciting things to see and do, but it’s also a place to celebrate and have fun. So make sure you stop by for a glass of Chandon’s delicious sparkling rosé or pick up a cute Sweet Star AluMini with a new (or an old) friend.

Codex Beauty
The clean beauty movement isn’t going anywhere and we’re excited to have one of our favorites, Codex Beauty in San Francisco. Take advantage of their exclusive 20% off deal only for those purchasing from the pop-up on site. Not sure which product to buy? No worries, they’ll have samples for you to try and a team of experts to answer all of your questions, along with some fun giveaways!

If you haven’t heard of NuFACE then we highly recommend you checkout their game-changing line of beauty tools in their retro airstream by registration. You can RSVP above for timed appointments during the breaks throughout the day for a microcurrent facial with their on-site team and test out their incredible skincare products—plus they’ll be doing plenty of product giveaways! This will be a pop-up you won’t want to miss. 

We’re beyond excited to have Kourtney Kardashian as a keynote speaker in San Francisco. She has been super busy with her new project, POOSH which has launched a ton of exciting collaborations this year with major brands such as Swell, Aquis, Vital Proteins, Saje, and Hora. And you’ll be able to check out (and purchase) all of them in person at their exclusive pop-up. 

Pottery Barn
With all the things to do, see, and learn, you’ll want to take a break here and there to reset and recharge. When that happens, we highly recommend heading to the Pottery Barn Lounge near the second stage to kick your feet up and take a chic pic at their stylish set up. And when you share your experience on social using the hashtag #PotteryBarn they will make a donation to Girls inc.—so get sharing!

Vital Proteins 
By now, you all know how much we love our Vital Proteins so don’t miss out on trying their delicious collagen water in a variety of flavors at their pop-up. Who wouldn’t want some yummy water that doubles as a glowy skin boost? Sign us up.


Key points for level 2: This is where you will find the food hall, C&C Insiders pop-up, and Instagrammable moments created by Corrie in Color and Shift Creative.

We all know the importance of a killer to-do list, and your notebook is a major player in your productivity. That’s exactly why we’re bringing our team’s favorite notebook brand, At-A-Glance, to the conference for all of our attendees. At their booth, you’ll be able to customize their notebooks thanks to an onsite calligrapher—love a monogram moment!

Chameleon Cold-Brew 
Sip on some cold brew while you become an Instagram Storytelling guru at the PLANOLY pop-up workshop.

Insiders Pop-Up
Grab your C&C swag at the Insiders booth. It’s not too late! You can also sign up here if you aren’t a member yet.  

Jade Leaf Matcha
Love your matcha as much as we do? Head over to the Jade Leaf Matcha pop-up cafe where their team will be whisking up complimentary Iced Matcha Lattes. Attendees will receive free samples of their new products that include their Matcha Latte Infusions and Matcha Fruit Bites. Bonus: Get your camera ready because their matcha latte art designs are so pretty, you’ll want to gram them.

The entire C&C team is obsessed with Olipop. Why? Aside from the fact that it tastes delicious, this healthy alternative to soda only has three grams of sugar and not to mention prebiotic properties. Grab a can from their retro drink cart and decide which flavor is your favorite. (We love the Cinnamon Cola!).


Instagram Stories is where it’s at in terms of content creation right now and PLANOLY is leading the pack with their IGS template app, StoriesEdit—be sure to download our exclusive San Francisco templates. If you want to up your Instagram game, then don’t miss their Storytelling with PLANOLY workshop that will teach you about the importance of brand storytelling and so much more!

Purely Elizabeth 
You’ll need some serious fuel to get you through all the walking, talking, and learning you’re about to do, so don’t miss out on breakfast at the Purely Elizabeth booth. They’re also serving up a seriously cool Instagram moment so don’t forget to take a picture with your breakfast.


BREAKFAST powered by OLLY 
This is your time to supercharge before the big day ahead with smoothies, yogurt parfaits, grab-and-go breakfast bars, and vitamin samples provided by OLLY. 


Urban Remedy 
We’re obsessed with the healthy (and delicious) meals from Urban Remedy so we’ve partnered up with them for lunch. Select from two different kinds of salad bowls that will keep your energy levels up to power through the rest of the day. 


Beyond Meat 
There’s a reason for the buzz around Beyond Meat. Pick up one of their burgers and discover this delicious meat alternative that will fill you up without compromising on flavor. You won’t believe it’s not real meat!


Core Water 
It’s a long day so we want to make sure you’re staying hydrated thanks to our favorites at Core Water. Pick up a bottle at any of the bars on-site. 


Batter Bakery 
When you need a quick energy hit, pick up the delicious caramel nib brownies and shortbread cookies from Batter Bakery. They’re sure to cure your sweet tooth cravings!

Lush Yummy Pies 
Close out your busy day of panels, new learnings, and new friends with the yummy “Butta Cookies” from Lush Yummy Pies.

Made by Melissa 
It wouldn’t be a true happy hour without cupcakes! Try Made by Melissa’s—you’ll crave them forever even after one bite. 

Sparkling wine and low-cal cocktails will be flowing at happy hour, provided by our friends at Ketel One Botanical and Chandon

The Pop-Up Market: LEVEL 3

Key points for level 3: This is where you will find restrooms, the pop-up market, charging stations, and Instagrammable moments created by Tiffany Lusteg and Dazey LA

Alaska Airlines VIP Lounge
Calling all VIPs. The Alaska Airlines VIP Lounge is where it’s at. Drinks will be flowing all day, you can get glammed up by Glamsquad, revive your skin with NuFACE facials, and freshen up your hair with Living Proof. Call it your one-stop-shop for all things rejuvenation and relaxation provided by our friends at Alaska Airlines. Those who come hang will also get the chance to win a roundtrip ticket to anywhere, so make sure you stop by.

Alaska Airlines Confetti Corner
Not a VIP? Don’t sweat it—Alaska Airlines also has a fun Confetti Corner in the pop-up market you won’t want to miss. Snap a photo at this awesome Instagrammable moment—your friends will definitely be feeling the fomo with this one. 

If there’s one brand that’s completely reimagining clean beauty it’s Biossance skincare. At their pop-up, you’ll learn all about what makes their products “clean” with testing and samplings of their best sellers. Snap a pic in front of their “raise your standards” art piece. They’ll have sales happening on-site along with samples to test out the products before you buy.

Bluejay Bikes 
If you could ride a bike anywhere, where would it be? Stop by the Bluejay Bikes pop-up to write on their chalkboard to write where you’d go. We’re excited to share that you can test ride their bikes on Level 1 by registration and one lucky rider will win a Bluejay bike worth $2995! 

Bumble Bizz
Bumble Bizz puts the fun in networking and business building. Make sure you set up your profile before arriving at our SF conference because Bumble Bizz are offering free professional headshots at their pop-up to all users. Bumble Pro Tip: Change your radius on Bumble Bizz to one mile to match with other attendees on-site for the ultimate networking experience. 

No-one does cooler office décor than our friends at CB2—just take a peek inside our CEO, Jaclyn Johnson’s badass boss office to see what we mean. If you’ve always wanted to experience it in person, then don’t miss the CB2 photo moment at their pop-up. Snap your next profile picture here and get inspiration for you home office design. 

Sip on delicious sparkling wine from their adorable Sweet Star AluMini’s while you snap a picnic flat lay selfie for the gram. Share this pic for a chance to win a trip to Domaine Chandon in Napa. Yes, you heard right, a trip to the Chandon HQ in Napa! So, get snapping.

We all know Dyson has some of the best cutting-edge vacuum technology on the market but have you tried their blow dryers? Test out their hair tools for yourself at the Dyson Lab pop-up for complimentary styling with their latest hair-care technology. During your appointment, your hair will be analyzed by a Dyson stylist to pick the best techniques for you and show you how to do it yourself, as well. They’ll also have a super fun social-worthy photo moment for your post-blow out ‘do. 

We all know how frustrating it can be to buy the right bra. And with so many options now, sometimes we all need someone to help us cut through the noise. Well, now you can thanks to our friends at ELOMI. There will be a team of on-site experts to help guide you through the process and find a supportive, comfortable bra that works for you. So make sure you stop by their pop-up for bra fittings and walk away with a free bra that’s made to fit your body.  

The future of car ownership is here, and it’s called Fair. The car-buying app makes the big decision much less daunting and far more fun. At the Fair pop-up, there will be swag giveaways along with a fun photo moment. Not sure how the app works? No problem. There will be an app how-to video so you can understand how easy it is to avoid the dealership. 

Fountain of Truth 
We’re obsessed with Giuliana Rancic’s clean, high-performance beauty line, Fountain of Truth. Swing by to test all their products including fan fave Truth Insta-Face Elixir. All of the products are available for purchase. Create & Cultivator’s receive an exclusive 30% discount with every purchase on-site using the code 30CCSF at checkout.

You won’t need to fret about doing your hair before our event day because GHD is here to save the day. Head to their pop-up to have your hair styled by one of their experts then watch their celebrity hairstylist lead a master class on how to create the perfect waves with your flatiron. Fill out an inspirational post-it note while you’re there and put it on the wall for everyone to see. 

Grove is the first online retailer to deliver natural home and personal care products right to your door. Come visit their pop-up and be the first to experience their new Clean Beauty experience "Roven" before it goes live. Roven is there to help you find clean products that work without the guilt, fear, or jargon—so come test, play and explore! Plus, share and tag them on social by using @heyroven and get a free full size clean beauty surprise and an exclusive make up bag!

If there is one leader in the technology space who continues to innovate, it’s Intel. Now they’ve done it again by making technology portable and easy with their latest Nuc tablet. This mini PC fits is packed with all your entertainment, gaming, and productivity needs. Visit their pop-up and see for yourself why Nuc is at the top of everyone’s conversations. They’ll be playing exclusive videos from your favorite creators including Jess Franklin and Deepica Mutyala, discussing how technology plays a big role in their lives and careers.

Love the outdoors? This pop-up will take you there. Come visit the Kamik Lodge to step inside a cozy fall escape and preview their latest Fall/Winter footwear collection—and leave with a tasty Canadian treat.

Ketel One Botanical Bar 
When it’s time to unwind, hit up the chic Ketel One Botanicals bar. Their bartenders will be serving three of our favorite delicious, low-cal cocktails.

Everyone’s favorite carbonated, sugar-free soda will be passed out at the Lacroix pop-up along with colorful, branded swag. 

Living Proof
Test drive Living Proof’s beauty-editor approved, cult-favorite dry shampoo at their pop-up. While you’re at it, you can get your hair styled so that you look and feel ready for a jam-packed day of panels and activations!

Drop into the Match pop-up for some cotton candy and one-on-one dating advice with their dating coach. Spoiler alert: if you come by at break time, you’ll have the chance to meet fashion icon and content creator, Little Black Boots

Microsoft Teams 
Check out our mini-documentary to see how the C&C team brings events to life with the Microsoft Teams feature. Plus, snap and share your “Team Goals” photo in the Microsoft Teams pop-up for the chance to win a free pair of Surface Headphones!

Sample the best-selling gummy vitamins and learn more about their benefits from a deeper sleep to vibrant skin. Be sure to snap a pic in their cool “California Dreaming” photo moment. Are you an Insider? Swing by to sign up for exclusive tarot card readings at their pop-up.

Olivia Garden  
If you’re looking to invest in professional grade hair styling tools then Olivia Garden is your destination. Pop by their pop-up for complimentary hair styling and a special Instagrammable photo moment inspired by Game of Thrones—yes, that throne is involved. This is a can’t miss opportunity you won’t find anywhere else!

Get a professional IG moment at the PicMonkey pop-up and receive the edits in real-time along with a cute PicMonkey template. You won’t be leaving empty handed either—grab some PicMonkey swag before your next panel! 

RAEL Bathrooms 
Who wouldn’t want female founded, natural feminine care products at a fair price (and globally)? RAEL is making bathroom breaks at our SF conference easy, enjoyable, and seriously chic. They’ll also be providing some sweet goodies and tote bags in the lounge area. 

See why one of our favorite drugstore brands, RoC is renowned for their game-changing retinol line. The team will be showcasing their product range for you to test and try while providing cute and tasty macaroons too.

Rodan + Fields
Visit San Francisco-based, prestige skincare brand, Rodan + Fields at their #RFxCC booth to get an exclusive sneak peek and hands-on experience of their newest innovation! Learn first-hand why this brand is a go-to for skincare experts about their groundbreaking proprietary technology and how it delivers visible results. You’ll leave with an instant, glittering, holographic glow and have a chance to win the new launch!

Sun protection, but make it fun (and cute!). Come sample and purchase the extensive suncare line at Supergoop! Their retro pop-up is totally grammable so snap a photo in front of their fun photo op!

Tamara Mellon 
Shoes for women, designed by women that break the rules—now that’s a mantra we can all get behind. Come see what Tamara Mellon is all about and try (then buy) your favorite pair (or two) on-site at their pop-up. You’ll also receive an exclusive gift card in your gift bag at the end of the day!

Tampax PURE 
Tampax PURE tampons are organic AND give you the trusted protection you expect and deserve—no need to compromise. Visit their pop-up to snap and share a picture of what you are not willing to compromise on this year. For every post shared, Tampax and Always PURE will donate period product*, up to 5,000 pads and tampons, to people in need through their partnership with Feeding America®.

 *Tampax and Always will donate one pad or one tampon for every Instagram post made before Sunday, (9/22), 11:59 pm ET. Instagram profile must be public and tagging @Tampax @FeedingAmerica and #PUREandEasy in post.

Vanity Fair® Lingerie
Are your bras lacking in comfort, support, and style? Not sure if you’re wearing the right fitting bra? The team at Vanity Fair® Lingerie can help. Head to their pop-up and be measured to determine your perfect size and receive a free bra. If you come during the break between 1pm-2pm, you’ll be able to meet TV personality and lifestyle blogger, Ali Fedotowsky-Manno!

Vince Camuto
Elevated, stylish and comfortable boots and shoes that are made for walkin’? Vince Camuto has you covered. Be sure to head over to their pop-up for a very special meet-and-greet with chic content creator, Hapatim, during the break between 6:05 pm - 7:00 pm on Level 3. 

Life is stressful, we all wear a lot of hats but Volvo is here to save the day. In celebration of their new luxury SUV plug-in hybrid XC90 vehicle, they’re helping attendees to recharge and reset with a complimentary massage station. Get in early because this one is going to be popular.


Key points for level 3 (rooftop): This is where you will find the Mastercard Main Stage, Small Business Marketplace, and a priceless Instagrammable moment by Mastercard. 

We’ve partnered with mastercard to select some incredible local small businesses in the San Francisco area. Come support these amazing ventures that will be showcased in the Mastercard Small Business Marketplace on the Level 3 Rooftop. These businesses include Taylor Jay Collection fashion label, Oso and Me children’s apparel and accessories, Kim + Ono kimonos,  Mel Rice Ceramica ceramics (don’t miss out on seeing their live throwing demonstration), East Olivia Creative floral designs, Esselle SF  gifts, goods, and wares,  Michele Holmes Brow Studio (with brow appointments on-site!), and TinyB Chocolate (with samples for everyone!). 


We know you want ‘em! Get your shoulder ready for gift bags filled with goodies from some of your favorite brands like OLLY and Chandon. Please note, gift bags are only available at the end of the night. Pick them up at registration on the first floor (where you checked in at the beginning of the day) in exchange for your badge. So, please keep in mind, if you have to jet off early and want to collect your bag on the way out, you’ll also be forfeiting your right to come back in. 

Can’t make it to our SF conference but still want in on all the gift bag fun? No problem—enter here for a chance to win our gift bag giveaway!

Get prepped ahead of next weekend’s conference and stay tuned for updates by following along on our social at @createcultivate and use the hashtag #createcultivatesf to keep in touch!


WE ARE SO EXCITED TO SEE YOU IN SF! Who are you most excited to see? Share in the comments below!

Everyone's Got Rhythm: How Music Promotes Happiness and Well-Being

Have you ever taken a moment to consider the power of music? According to research by the National Alliance of Mental Illness music therapy can benefit several mental health conditions including depression, trauma, and schizophrenia (just to name a few). Apparently, music acts as a medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief but it can also be a calming agent for anxiety. That’s some powerful stuff, right?

Beyond music’s therapeutic abilities, just listening to music and playing instruments raises our overall happiness meter. We’ve all experienced those warm and fuzzy emotions when a nostalgic throwback song comes on the radio and we are instantly transported to another space in time. Music affects our sensory system more than we realize.

What if we told you that you could improve your mental health just by learning how to play a new instrument? You don’t even have to master it. Just learning how to read sheet music or attempting to play the chords can have the same positive impact. Oh, and from the comfort of your own home, or car, or desk—we aren’t joking!

Our friends at Fender have created an app known in the marketplace as Fender Play and we are in awe of its capabilities. This groundbreaking app teaches you how to play guitar, ukulele and bass, anywhere. Attendees at our Self Care Summit this year were some of the first to experience the app during the Fender Play ukulele class. But if you couldn't be there, we interviewed Fender Digital’s Director of Product, Mary Keenan to take a deep-dive on music therapy, how to play an instrument at the tap of an app, and so much more.

Follow along for some hard-hitting facts and deep insight on why music is something we all should embrace—for the betterness of our minds and bodies. 

Create & Cultivate: What does your role entail at Fender? In what ways does your role touch Fender’s app, Fender Play? How long did it take to develop? Tell us everything!

Mary Keenan: “I oversee the curriculum and learning for Fender Play. I work closely with the other members of the product team to define the learning experience in the app. My team designs and writes each of the lessons used on Play and interacts with the production team to get it shot. We publish all of our content and, most importantly, provide support to users who are actively using the program. That helps us to shift our curriculum roadmap as we grow.

“We just celebrated our two-year anniversary. From initial germ of an idea to launch, it didn’t take us long to write and shoot the few hundred lessons we started with. However, we are expanding our content every day and have gone from hundreds to thousands today.”

C&C: Can you provide us with a rundown on the app? Why should people download it?

MK: “Fender Play is an online learning platform specifically for beginners. It’s designed to get you playing in minutes using a guided learning experience showing, step-by-step, how to get there. We bring players from the first step, how to hold the instrument, all the way through playing songs at an intermediate beginning level. 

“Why download it? Because it works. We have over 17 thousand five-star reviews from users telling us this is the first time since trying to learn that they’ve really been able to play. That’s exciting to hear, but not really surprising. It’s because we approach learning a little differently than other programs. 

“Our goal is to cater to busy lifestyles. Not only can you practice anywhere, anytime but Fender Play also helps you learn hundreds of skills with lessons averaging two to six minutes in length. Our videos are shot in very high-quality 4K, with clean and simple concepts presented one at a time. We break down what is a very overwhelming process into bite-sized, achievable steps. Anyone who has a goal of learning to play and gets motivated by quick results is going to love the approach.”

C&C: In your own words, how does music cultivate happiness? 

MK: “When we think and talk about music, we often think about it as a hobby. But music is actually an essential part of our physical, mental and emotional health. There is ample research surfacing about how the brain and body reacts to music, thus uncovering more about the benefits of music than ever before. From my perspective, music cultivates happiness by bridging gaps—creatively, socially, academically and even deep in the recesses of our own brain.”

C&C: How is learning to play an instrument and read music crucial to brain health? 

MK: “The list of physical and emotional advantages of playing an instrument is about a mile long. It helps with speech, literacy, math, dexterity, emotional intelligence, improved memory and overall IQ. It turns out that we use many parts of our brain when we listen to and play music. 

“If we play enough to develop muscle memory, it gets stored for the long term in the cerebellum. Reading music taps into the center of the brain where language is processed. Playing an instrument is a complex psychomotor task, which means that it requires a combination of motor control, auditory and cognitive work to even happen. 

“More recent research shows that everyone benefits from musical instruction, from very young children to seniors. Our brains have neuroplasticity which allows us to actually cause measurable changes by playing music. So cognitive and neural function is improved across the board, regardless of age. Fender Play takes advantage of this finding by applying some key learnings from neuroscience and biomechanics to the instructional approach.”

C&C: Music has the power to impact us on a deep, emotional level. How can music be therapeutic? How can music learning enhance our well-being and mental health?

MK: “Music is very connected to the emotional centers of our brain. When we listen to a song that we like we get a rush of dopamine, which is the hormone that puts us in a good mood, motivates us, and helps us to focus and complete tasks.

“Our approach leans into popular, familiar songs as a way to motivate our users to play. Each time a skill is learned, it’s presented again in the context of learning a new song, to promote learning transfer. Players feel excited about their progress and even more so about their playing when it’s applied to something familiar and fun.

“Research shows that learning music isn’t as effective at making changes to your brain when it’s music that we don’t like. But when we do like a song, that’s when you really start to see the impact on mental and emotional health.” 

C&C: Are you aware of any scientific leads or proven facts surrounding music’s connection to well-being? If so, what might they be? 

MK: “As for recent research, a couple of studies caught my eye this summer, two in particular that came out of the University of British Columbia. Both have different but important implications for learning and what we are trying to accomplish with Play.

“*University of British Columbia published a study in the Journal of Educational Psychology that demonstrated how students who learned to play a musical instrument in elementary school and then continued playing that instrument in high school were approximately one full year ahead of their fellow students in English, math and science. And the academic gains were even more pronounced for the students who played an instrument rather than taking vocal music. 

“**Another really interesting bit of research was also released by the same university’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. We have a natural tendency to adapt our own biological rhythm to match musical rhythm. Apparently upbeat music can make a hard workout seem less difficult—and not just emotionally. It’s so effective that it actually elevates our heart rate and peak power during exercise. Ultimately it can make challenging things literally feel less difficult to do.

“Taking it further, I recently came across an author and podcaster named Indre Viskontas who is a professor at the University of San Francisco. Her book How Music Can Make You Better is a wonderful read on just this topic. In the book, she talks about Melodic Intonation Therapy which is used in music therapy to help patients recover from traumatic brain injuries and strokes. It’s a fascinating picture of how music not only improves well-being, but is also used to treat conditions like anxiety, depression, autism and dementia. If we can increase academic achievement, make difficult things feel easy, and overcome debilitating mental and physical conditions by simply learning to play an instrument, it may just be worth giving it a try.”


*Martin Guhn, Scott D. Emerson, Peter Gouzouasis. A population-level analysis of associations between school music participation and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/edu0000376

**Matthew J. Stork, Costas I. Karageorghis, Kathleen A. Martin Ginis. Let’s Go: Psychological, psychophysical, and physiological effects of music during sprint interval exercise. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 2019; 45: 101547 DOI: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2019.101547

This post is in partnership with Fender.

Download Alert: This Design App Will Up Your IG Game (and Save You Serious Time and Money)

This post is in partnership with PLANOLY.

Tap, tap, tap. Skipping mindlessly through your Instagram Stories again but nothing catches your eye or grabs your attention long enough to digest what you’re viewing? We’ve all been there. In this over-saturated, digital world we live in, it requires unique and cutting-edge content in order to be seen and resonate with your audience—and we know the algorithm isn’t on our side, either.

Trying to scale your business or personal brand is tricky. But the best way to kick-start you or your brand’s Instagram presence is with quality, interactive, beautiful, and engaging content. With over 500 million active users, Instagram Stories is one of the best ways for businesses to connect with new audiences, boost engagement and drive sales. We know that taking a new strategic approach on Instagram Stories can be time-consuming (and costly), but we’re thrilled to let you know that you don’t have to spend your entire budget on graphic designers to create impactful Instagram Story designs that captivate—you can do it yourself for that matter.

Introducing StoriesEdit by PLANOLY who has done all the legwork for you. The C&C team loves (and trusts) the original PLANOLY app to map out the @createcultivate Instagram grid ahead of time. Being the first visual planner on the market for Instagram, it was a no brainer for PLANOLY to drive into the world of beautifying and strategizing Instagram stories. Their beautiful templates turn your lackluster Instagram Stories into a stylish and chic design at the tap, tap, tap of the app. In fact, the C&C team loves the StoriesEdit so much, we partnered with them to create an exclusive, limited-edition template collection for our San Francisco Conference attendees on September 21. (You’ll find them under the “collections” tab in the app or on desktop, but more on that later.) The fun and artistic designs will be available to everyone before, during, and after our event so you can share your experience in style. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #CreateCultivateSF so everyone can see!

If you are one of our lucky San Francisco conference attendees (or need a little nudge to purchase your ticket), we are excited to share that PLANOLY’s Founder, CMO + CCO, Brandy Pham, and Director of Marketing, Priscilla Castro, will be leading a Digital Storytelling on Social workshop for VIPS and C&C Insiders at the event. Be sure to stop by for some social wisdom!

The designer templates are completely customizable and can be edited to your liking, making them your own to fit your own brand guidelines. Simply drop in your image or video clip to the template and play around to see what direction you’ll be taking with your next post. Follow our simple step-by-step guide below and see how easy it is—your friends and followers will definitely be DM’ing you to find out your secret, and not only that, you’ll definitely start seeing your engagement go up with your Stories

We’ll be using these templates at #CreateCultivateSF and we can’t wait to see your customized stories!

Planoly - Blog Post -  StoriesEdit x Create & Cultivate Collection  - Image 1-v2.png

Step 1:

Open the app and navigate to the “Create & Cultivate” collection on the featured page or under the “collections” tab.


Step 2:

You’ll be able to preview the 12 available branded templates. Select your favorite and begin your creation by tapping the plus sign in the gray box to add your image.



Anything that has a white background is customizable to your liking. Choose the icon with the three overlapping circles to update the color.

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Step 3:

Add any shapes to your template by tapping the Shape tool (the circle and triangle icon) in the center of the navigation bar.

Copy of Step 1_ Open the app and navigate to the “Create & Cultivate” collection on the featured page or under the “collections” tab. (7).png

Step 4:

Add text overlay by selecting the letter “T” in the bottom left-hand corner of the navigation bar and shapes by selecting the triangle in the center.

Copy of Step 1_ Open the app and navigate to the “Create & Cultivate” collection on the featured page or under the “collections” tab.-3.jpg

Step 5:

When you are happy with your creation, tap the down arrow in the top right-hand corner to save directly to your phone or upload directly to your socials!

Want the app? Download for web, IOS, or Android.

Giveaway: Enter to Win One of Our SF Conference Gift Bags!

Photo Courtesy of: Create & Cultivate

Photo Courtesy of: Create & Cultivate

If our San Fran conference isn’t in the cards for you this year, here’s your chance for our event to come to you! Enter here for a chance to win one of the jam-packed gift bags from our SF event. They’ve got it all — beauty and wellness products, killer snacks, stationary, and everything in-between!

Enter your information below and all of our incredible SF merch could be yours!

Name *

Crystal Me This: How This Self-Care Tool Will Clear Your Mind (and Your Inbox)

This is in partnership with our friends at Goodful. Get social with Goodful on Instagram and surf their Youtube channel for some amazing content!

Busy? Let’s pause for a second. Take a deep breath. Think about where you are at this exact moment. Have you taken a chance to set your intentions for today? How about tomorrow? What about for the month or even the year? Have you had a second to yourself at all today? Maybe not. We know those emails are stacking up in your inbox, your phone hasn’t stopped ringing since 9 a.m., and you are teetering between the idea of going straight home after work to binge-watch your favorite Netflix show or finally attend that pilates class you’ve been missing since the second week of the new year (resolutions are hard, we get it!). Consider this: maybe now is the time for you to evaluate what self-care means to you and how you can incorporate it into your life as seamlessly as possible. 

What comes to mind when you think of self-care? Supplements? Meditation? A 10-step skincare routine? How about crystals? Yup. We really just said crystals. Crystals are great in many ways—specifically to aid the alignment of one’s inner self and inner peace. They can also be used just about anywhere and everywhere. When you’re stressed at work, we suggest placing a few key crystals on your desk for some assistance. Amongst all the hustle and stress of our professional lives, who wouldn’t want a tangible piece of, well, peace

We had the pleasure of meeting crystal guru, author of Crystal RX, and founder of Style Rituals, Colleen McCann, at our Self Care Summit on behalf of our friends at Goodful. You can tap into their wealth of wellness content from videos to guides on their social handles. You can also shop their wellness focused products and gifts at Macy’s!

After the event, we picked Colleen’s brain about how to use crystals for work, how to transcend their positive attributes while at work, and so much more. Follow along for some hardcore crystal knowledge (that you probably had no clue existed). You’re welcome.  

Create & Cultivate: What power do crystals hold in regards to attracting good vibes and positive energy at work? How can we use crystals for protection at work?

Colleen McCann: Every crystal carries its own meaning, message, medicine, and vibration—or as I like to say, an “FYI from the universe”. Depending on which crystal we gravitate towards, it will inform us on what’s happening in our lives and how we can achieve different goals. Below, you will find a list I have made of the top-tier crystals based on my consulting sessions with boss-babe clients.

What it does: Known as the ‘Merchants Stone’ since ye’ olden days. It’s the crystal of business abundance, personal power, and positivity. 

What it does: Stone of communication, wisdom, and truth. Fashion icon and ancient girl-boss, Queen Cleopatra, used crushed Lapis Lazuli in her cosmetics to create her signature eye makeup. 

Woo-woo tip: If you are giving a presentation in front of a client or asking your boss for a raise, then wear a lapis lazuli necklace that way it will be close to your 5th/throat chakra.


What it does: Like #badgirlriri said, “shine bright like a diamond”. As a stone radiance, Herkimer Diamond assists us in being seen and growing our inner-light.


What it does: The stone of patience.


What it does: A stone that wards off energy vampires. If you work in a stereotypical toxic industry, in close proximity to toxic coworkers, or circulate in large groups in your profession, then this is the stone for you.

Woo-woo tip: When going to the boardroom for a meeting or after-work drinks with colleagues, wear it in your bra.


What it does: This crystal absorbs man-made EMF’s (electromagnetic frequencies) that radiate off of items like smartphones, computers, microwaves, and all other electronics found in the workplace.


What it does: This is the get-your-shit-together stone. Amazonite is a stone of the astrological sign Virgo. We know Virgo’s are neat, grounded, detail-oriented, practical, list-making machines. Embody your inner-Virgo and get organized—whether it’s sorting the files on your desktop or polishing up your signature work-style attire.


What it does: This gem helps us with clarity and mental focus.


What it does: The stone for grounding. If you also travel for business regularly, this is a great crystal to pack in your carry-on.


What it does: Working overtime? Garnet gives us the life force and vitality to get through a long day at the office.


What it does: Carnelian works with our sense of community, emotions, willpower, and confidence.


What it does: The crystal for manifestation.

Woo-woo tip: The new moon is the best day of the month to call new energy into our lives. On this day, write a list of all the action items you’d like to see realized for yourself in your career and place an Iron Pyrite on top of the list. Make a practice of looking at what’s on the list every day. Simply said: energy goes where we put it.


What it does: Stay in the flow with the energetic air purifier. Selenite absorbs dense energy that hides in places like storage units, supply closets, under desks, and corners of a conference room.

C&C: When are crystals most powerful? 

CM: Energy goes where we direct it. Crystals are most powerful when you interact with them on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It’s just like any other relationship—when you put attention towards something, the outcome flourishes in that arena.

C&C: How many crystals should one person have? 

CM: A person can work with one or many crystals. The amount determined is situational. I decide what crystals my clients should be working on based on their individual needs.

Does the location of the crystals affect their potency? Where are they the strongest in an office or desk space? 

CM: Location, location, location—am I right? If you are interacting with a crystal daily at work, it's best to keep it in close proximity to your personal workspace.

  • Place Iron Pyrite (manifestation) on top of your business card, pitch deck, script, brief, trend board, etc.

  • Shungite, Black Tourmaline or Smokey Quartz near the computer, smartphone, etc. as all three absorb manmade EMF’s (ElectroMagnetic Frequency).

  • Lapis Lazuli (communication) and Carnelian (sense of community) in the conference room.

  • Citrine (business abundance) belongs in your purse, on your desk, or near a cash register at a brick and mortar or pop-up shop.

  • Bloodstone (physical health, blood flow, energy, good chi) in your pre/post office workout bag.

  • Amethyst (protection from energy vampires) on the outer perimeter of your desk or entrance to your building or personal office. 

We talked about crystals for in the office but what about when we need to practice self-care and take an OOO! 

What it does: Crystal ‘xanax’. I like to hold this crystal in my palm.


What it does: When you need to take a spa day, it’s the stone for self-love. I like to wear this around my neck or keep it in my bra so it is close to my heart chakra—the chakra that Rose Quartz resonates with.


What it does: This crystal helps to calm the running thoughts and silence the monkey mind.


What it does: The stone for protection in travel. Keep it in your carry-on.