"Your Message Is Yours, and That Is Your Power” & Other Mic-Drop Moments From Our NYC Conference

OMG. NEW. YORK. CITY. You came, you saw, you networked the hell out of our conference this weekend, and we were so grateful to share the day with you! From panels on raising funds and building brands to mentor power hours and making new friends at happy hour, you made our NYC conference an incredible experience. If you weren’t able to make it this year, we’re so excited to share some of the best takeaways from each of our panels below—be sure to check back later this week for recaps of our keynotes, too!

RAISE UP:
Venture capital, negotiation and bootstrapping your business

Panelists:

Yasmin Moaven, Senior Director of Investor Relations at Fair

Angela Du, Investor at SoftBank Vision Fund

Ginger Siegel, North America Small Business Lead at Mastercard International

Jordana Kier, Co-founder of LOLA

Marah Lidey, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Shine

Moderator:

Sherry Jhawar, Co-Founder, Blended Strategy

Yasmin: The moment I had a seat at the table, I began to think bigger and ask for more. This is the time for us to rewrite the narrative. Take the opportunity to be at the table as a way to stand up and find your route. Men are not afraid to ask, so why should we be?

Ginger: Investors aren’t investing so much in your business as they are investing in you.

Marah: All risk is relative.

Ginger: People get paralyzed because they think an idea has to be perfect. Your first step is not going to be perfect, but you ideate from there.

Angela: You do not have to sell your business to make money. There is capital everywhere. There are investors all over who are looking for your dynamic.

Marah: Find the people who believe in you from the start. They don't necessarily have to be the same race, gender, etc. You want people who are in it to win it with you. Ask yourself: Do they align with my values?

Jordana: Don't be afraid to share your plan with mentors and informal investors even if it's not 100% final—their feedback and tough questions only makes your case stronger.

Sherry: It is just as important for the founder interview investors. You can call other portfolio companies to ask, “What was it like during hard times? How did they react?

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MODERN ACTIVISM:
Exploring the role of diversity, inclusion and politics in the workplace  

Panelists:

Nabela Noor, Content Creator, Activist and Public Speaker

Hunter McGrady, Model & Activist

Denise Bidot, Model & Activist

Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Editor-In-Chief, Teen Vogue

Nikki Ogunnaike, Style Director, ELLE

Moderator:

Heather Records, VP of Marketing, Create & Cultivate

Lindsay: We have to talk about culture and what women really need. If we’re not doing that, we’re not doing our jobs.

Nikki: The onus to effect change often falls on women of color, but women who’ve helped me most are the whole women in the room who’ve said, ‘No, this is not OK.’ It’s not just on the people of color to bang down that door, it’s really on the people who don’t look like us to bring us along with them.

Lindsay: Pretty much every meeting I go into, most people know I’m the only black editor-in-chief in the US. That’s really hard because there really isn’t leadership above me that has done what I’m trying to do. There isn’t a blueprint. You just gotta push.

Denise: Before, models were just models, and now we’re activists. We should be held accountable for our actions.

Hunter: It takes a monumental shift in how we think about things to make change. We have to say, I’m not changing for you. I don’t care if you call me a whale 500 times on Instagram—I’m the proudest whale out there, then.

Nabela: There’s this saying, “Ignore the bullies.” I don’t believe in that or think it’s helpful for the world to change. I’m going to face them head on and tell them I love myself.

Lindsay: When I grew up reading Teen Vogue, I didn’t see myself in its pages. My mom always says, Be what you needed when you were younger. If I do it, other companies and brands will be encouraged to follow as well.

Lindsay: Everything you do is with intention, whether you think so or not.  

Nabela: There’s no way you can be happy and mean. Happy people don’t say hurtful things.

Lindsay: There were a lot of people that told me, 'You talk about diversity too much, you complain too much, you make things a big deal and should just be grateful.' But if I don’t say something or speak up, no one else will.

Nabela: Who you choose to align yourself with is a really big indication of what you believe.

Nikki: People need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. and I think corporate America isn’t there yet. There aren’t a lot of people at the top who aren’t white males. My biggest marching order for myself is to help diversify that space.

IN GOOD COMPANY:
The women creating, collaborating and cultivating community

Panelists:

Katie Sturino, Founder, 12ish Style & Megababe

Marie Forleo, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Host of MarieTV

Gabby Bernstein, International speaker & #1 NYT bestselling author

Suzy Batiz, Founder, Poo-Pourri

Pauline Lhote, Director of Winemaking, Chandon

Betsy Patel, Chemist at Living Proof

Moderator:

LaTonya Yvette, Author, Stylist, & Writer

Suzy: You don’t have to know shit, you just have to be passionate. You can Google anything.

Marie: The world needs that special gift that only you have. You have every right to put out the product or service with so much pride, and to make that money.

Gabby: Our rock bottom is the catalyst for our greatest purpose and change. If you’re in a moment in your life where you feel like this is the bottom—congratulations, because it’s only up from there.

Pauline: Always champion your ideas. Having that confidence is really important to succeed.

Suzy: People are here to support you and help you. This whole belief about competition is not true. People want you to make it.

Marie: You can’t say yes to everything, but you can say no with compassion and kindness.

Gabby: If you feel a calling to write, start and the pressure will be off. Just write. Get it onto the page.

Suzy: Energy is your greatest currency.

Gabby: Don’t be afraid of the tough stuff, because it will reveal the great stuff.

Marie: Don’t let people put you into a f*cking box. Don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do. Do let anyone define you. You define yourself.

Gabby: If you say you don’t have time to meditate, you have time to feel like shit. If you’re not taking the time to align, even for five minutes, then you set yourself up to fail.

Pauline: Stay true to what you believe in—for me, that’s quality. Make sure what you’re putting in the market is what you envisioned it would be.

Gabby: Small miracles, added up, form the way you see your life.  

Suzy: My goal never changes: It’s to reach my highest evolution in this lifetime.

Marie: Simplify to amplify. Growth for growth’s sake is a sickness. Learn to say no the the pressure to keep climbing if it’s not your direction.

POD SQUAD:
Meet the ladies killing the podcast game

Panelists:

Noor Tagouri

Becca Tobin

Julie Kramer and Emma Diamond

Mamrie Hart and Grace Helbig

Ahyiana Angel

Moderator:

Tyeal Howell, Marketing Manager, Create & Cultivate

Ahyiana: Start somewhere! Don’t feel like you have to have it all together. I didn't start with switch pivot and quit, so I made a switch with a name. Do what you gotta do. Just make sure you’re being consistent. Don’t get caught up thinking you have to be perfect.

Noor: The foundation of our podcast was rooted in vulnerability. That is the only way that our community will be served justice.

Becca: When you’re partnering up with friends for your podcast, it’s important to figure out the dynamic and learn how to separate personal stuff from busy.

Ahyiana: You need to be real to break through to people.

Noor: I recognize the power of going into spaces and asking, “How will someone be impacted by this experience?”

Mamrie: Don’t be intimidated by starting a podcast because it’s something new, because you don’t have the numbers, or because you don’t have a production company.

Ahyiana: Do something that you can manage consistently to connect with your audience. For me, it’s Instagram Live.

Becca: Don’t please everyone! You have to have a strong point of view. That’s how you attract your tribe. By trying to please everyone, you alienate yourself from everyone.

Ahyiana: People come to your podcast to get something so make sure you give them what they want.

Noor: Go into an interview with a mutual exchange. Before a camera goes on, I spend time getting to know the person. Remember the story is bigger than you.

Emma: Being able to divulge something very personal goes a long way! People appreciate that.

Noor: Stay true to your voice and don’t be afraid.

LAUNCHPAD:
How to build your brand and bring it to market

Panelists:

Robert Schaeffler, CEO Devacurl

Carmen Tal, Co-Founder, Moroccanoil

Fiona Parkin, Advertising Creative Director, GoDaddy

Sharifa Murdock, Co-Owner of Liberty Fairs and Founder of Envision Festival

Asa Siegel, CEO and Founder, STAMBA Superfoods

Babba Rivera, Founder & CEO of next-gen brand marketing agency bybabba

Moderator:

Maxie McCoy, Author & Speaker

Sharifa: It’s important to bring those that follow behind you, up with you.

Babba: Things are better done than perfect. Be comfortable with the good enough!

Robert: If you’re in a space where there’s a lot of competition, that means you’re doing something right.

Sharifa: Never let someone else dictate who you are supposed to be.

Babba: Nothing is static! You can alway ideate—I launched my brand without a logo.

Sharifa: We live in the best time of our lives to do whatever the hell we want.

Robert: Let’s grow the pie together—it’s about partnering.

Sharifa: Nothing is ever easy. At the end of every process is gratitude.

Robert: Think about what your bring to the table that’s unique. Ask yourself, what do you stand for?

Carmen: If you know who you are as a brand at your core, no one can come for you, and competition will affect you less.

Carmen: We focused on the fact that we thought our idea was amazing, and we stuck to that—we were stubborn and did not listen to other people.

Maxie: It can be done, you just have to stick with it.

THE PERSONAL IS PROFESSIONAL:
How to build a personal brand you love that brands want to work with

Panelists:

Justine Marjan, Celebrity Hair Stylist and Brand Ambassador, GHD

Mari Mazzucco, PR and Influencer Marketing Manager, Olly

Laura Minch, Digital Brand Manager, Biossance

Wendy Nguyen, Founder & Blogger at Wendy’s Lookbook

Dr. Dendy Engelman, Dermatologist

Moderator:

Tiffany Reid

Wendy: Think of three rules that ground your brand. Our rules allowed us to build out the brand voice we really wanted.

Laura: What is your superpower? Why should people listen to what you have to say? The beauty of building a really powerful brand is that you can switch careers and industries while still building a really successful brand.

Dendy: The easiest way to start is to decide who you are not, or who you don’t want to be. Who you want to be will come out of that.

Justine: On social media, consistency is key. Come up with a color scheme and stick to that palette.

On building an authentic social media presence:

Wendy: What is your added value? Why would people want to follow you?

Laura: What’s the element of difference you can bring so people have a reason to come back to you?

On making a difference…

Laura: Having a personal brand is necessary, whether you believe it or not. Even if you don’t want to be in the spotlight, you still need to think about the image you’re projecting into the world, and think about what you’re passionate about that’s making the world a better place.

On what she looks for in influencer partnerships:

Mari: Is engagement there? Are people commenting and asking good questions? That’s one of the most important brands look for. It’s not all about followers.

Dendy: When you get brand partnerships, know that that’s a relationship that can easily be broken. It’s a small industry. When you’re great to work with, brands will come back.

Amber Heard
in conversation with Mandana Dayani

Only the people who benefit from the status quo don’t want to change it.

We’re a generation of daughter of equality. We’ve inherited too much to accept anything less than that—it’s our burden to push it forward.

We’re saying we’re loud, we’re here, and we want to change the world to respect and believe survivors and push the conversations even further.

We are a part of a vast army of voices that are not accepting silence.

When someone puts you in a box, change what the walls of the box are made out of.

I refuse to accept the status quo. I refuse to stand in line.

I know that it can sometimes be overwhelming with the increased connection we have and the awareness of injustices, but we are an army of voices that have been silenced for so long. You just have to choose: Which side of history do you want to be on?

BRAND LOVE:
How to build companies with kindness at their core

Panelists:

Camilla Ruth Marcus, Founder of Westbourne

Teressa Foglia, Hat Designer and CEO at Teressa Foglia

Kristy Lewis, National Marketing Director at Hallmark

Katie D’Amato, Director, Brand & Social Activation at Alaska Airlines

Moderator:

Amina Smith, Reporter & Host

Kristy: You have to make consistency a habit.

Camilla: How you say no is more important than how you say yes. Yes is easy, no is hard.

Katie: The amount of touch points a brand has to control that delivers the right results for customers is endless.

Teressa: Starting with a brand strategy is the most important thing when starting a business.

Camilla: You can’t learn unless you take one step. Take a step every day both personally and professionally and you will feel better about where you’re headed.

Teressa: Don’t make compromises for things that aren’t worth it.

Kristy: Live the same culture that you expect.

Camilla: Don’t be afraid to grow while saying no. As a leader in business, your no is more important than your yes.

Katie: Be okay in the middle space—the discomfort that comes dealing with tough stuff will take you far.

Camilla: Just do something—take that one set, do that one thing that you’re afraid of. You have to take a risk in small and big ways every single day.

MARKETING MASTERCLASS:
Showing up in the social, offline and online world

Panelists:

Tezza Barton, Creative Director & Influencer

Cynthia Andrew, Attorney & Content Creator at Simply Cyn

Hilary Sloan, Director of Business Development at ShopStyle

Rachel Curry, Director of Marketing Owned Channels at Volvo

Jacey Duprie, Content Creator at Damsel in Dior

Naomi Jacobs, Director of Social Strategy at QVC

Moderator:

Reesa Lake, EVP of Brand Partnerships at Digital Brand Architects

On staying on the forefront of social:

Hilary: We’re the only influencer platform where you can see the revenue share that your earning. We believe that information empowers influencers to make decisions about their businesses and tell their brand story in a different way.

Cynthia: The platform may change and the media may change, but what I create, I own. Content is king. I do try to be aware of the different ways I can get what I’m creating out there, but I have stories I want to tell and there are people who want to hear them, and that’s what I care about most.

Tezza: Your message is yours, and that’s your power.

Rachel: Think outside the box in who you follow every day.

On getting a partnership:

Jacey: Start in your closet and vanity with what you already use and own. You have to stay true to your voice. If it’s fake, it’s fake, and people are going to sniff you out on it.

Tezza: It’s such a saturated market now and can be daunting to ask how you’ll be different. The best way to do that is to ask the people around you what they think you’re good or come to you for advice on. If you can speak to something, it’ll carry your brand as you go.

Cynthia: I really try to make sure that as I go through my feed, I feel good about the decisions I’ve made.

What they look for in influencers:

Rachel: The power for our partnerships comes from the partnership itself. We met Jacey at a C&C event and found out she was looking for a new car. There’s so much power in the relationship and makes it more authentic.

Reesa: Be a good nice person. It take no money, no effort, no investment. Just be a good person.


PRICELESS CONVERSATIONS PRESENTED BY MASTERCARD:
Meet the women making an impact

Panelists:

Kelsea Gaynor, Founder, East Olivia

Bliss Lau, Founder, Bliss Lau

Brianna "Breezy" Dotson, Co-Founder, Coco and Breezy

Piera Gelardi, Co-Founder, Refinery 29

Jaclyn Johnson, Founder & CEO, Create & Cultivate

Moderator:

Cheryl Guerin, Mastercard

Jaclyn: You have to start saying, “This is a business, and I’m going to take it seriously.” It completely changed the trajectory of all things Create & Cultivate for me.

Piera: You do need a strategy, but it doesn’t always need to be a five-year plan. Agility and following our intuition has allowed us to deliver what our audience is looking for, going on new platforms that didn’t previously exist, and working with brands as well.

Breezy: Coco and I had anxiety about raising capital. As black women, we were afraid to ask for money. When we started this company we didn’t know sh*t, and we made it work.

Breezy: Our goal is to take away the anxiety from asking from funding and share our knowledge with everybody else. Know that you are worth it, and it’s OK to ask for money.

Bliss: If there’s one thing I’ve always done, I always knew exactly down to the penny how much money I wanted to make.

Kelsea: I funded my business off relationships and intuition. It was really about staying true to what the brand meant to me. My PTO days were my funding.

Piera: It’s critical to maintain majority control of your business. When you give away 80% of your business, you lose the ability to move your business in the direction you know it should go.

Jaclyn: You have to know exactly how you’re going to spend that money. What are you doing with that $2M? If you’re going to go the self-funded route, there’s a big level of sacrifice. I didn’t pay myself for a very long time. You are the driving force, you are the one keeping an eye on cash flow, but you’re also the one who takes all the flack when things go wrong.

Breezy: If you don’t know something, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor.

Kelsea: We’re pretty expensive, but when you hire us, you know you’re supporting a company who does things like offer their employees health insurance.

Breezy: Don’t be afraid to fail. Have that self-awareness so that when you do fail, you know how to do better next time.

Kelsea: Confidence comes from knowing your worth. When you get turned down, you know it’s not because of you, but because it’s a good fit.

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MEET THE MOGULS:
The people dominating the fashion and beauty game


Panelists:

Lilit Caradanian, Content Creator and CEO at Elcie Cosmetics

Lisa Price, Founder of Carol’s Daughter

Kate Walsh, Actor & Founder of Boyfriend Perfume

Holly Thaggard, Founder & CEO of Supergoop!

Anastasia Soare, Founder & CEO of Anastasia Beverly Hills

Moderator:

Cyndi Ramirez, Founder & CEO of Chillhouse

Lisa: Dream bigger and let go of the little stuff. After meeting Oprah, I no longer had the luxury of worrying about the label being straight on bottles. I had to think big picture.

Holly: It’s the storytelling and the passion that sell when you’re a leader. People buy authenticity.

Kate: When in doubt, go slow.

Lisa: You have to believe in what your product. That’s how you get through the tough times. If you’re doing it for money don’t do it— you just won’t make it.

CHANGEMAKERS:
The women breaking boundaries and building businesses

Panelists:

Tamara Mellon, Co-Founder of Jimmy Choo and Tamara Mellon

Rebecca Minkoff, Founder of Rebecca Minkoff

Jaime Schmidt, Founder of Schmidt's Deodorant

Deepica Mutyala, Founder & CEO at Live Tinted

Gwen Whiting, Co-Founder, Laundress

Moderator:

Anne Fulenwider, Editor in Chief, Marie Claire

Deepica: I want our vegan, cruelty-free standards become the industry standard. Brands shouldn’t be standing for these things—it should just be the norm.

Rebecca: There are challenges every single day—I can’t think of a single person who is able to coast.

On staying authentic on social media:

Deepica: We always show the successes, but what about the hardships?

On selling to Unilever...

Gwen: Our goal was always to sell the company. We had a reality check of what we could manage, but we believed in our brand and knew we were making product that people needed. We expected to sell to a giant company from the beginning. Unilever saw our purpose and our vision and it was a great match for us.

Jaime: When I started the business, I had zero intentions of selling. I was just the girl at the farmer’s market. But when I was getting a really strong response, it became clear we were a real player in not only the natural industry but we were really taking on bigger brands, too. When we were at the point we were getting POs from Costco for 300k units of deodorant, we decided it might be time to chat with investors. Unilever was the perfect match. We had very similar visions for the company, so it made sense.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
in conversation with Michelle Lee

I think anyone that’s in startup life would agree that you’re wearing many hats, rolling your sleeves up and getting down and dirty. You can see where the needle moves, and celebrate success together as a small team.

Rose Inc. is so much of a passion project for me; I wake up and I’m excited to get into the office and work with these women. If it turns out to be bigger than a passion project, that’s great.

I very much have always managed to differentiate between my life as a career woman and my personal life—when I come home from work, I just want to be the partner, mom, friend, and at the office I’m in my blazer ready to go.

I don’t have any advice for new moms! I need to be asking for advice from you all. What is the balance? How are you doing it? It’s such an individual and personal thing, but what I’m trying to really focus on is that when I’m with my family, I give them 100 percent, and when I’m at work, I give it 100 percent.

I’m not sure there’s such thing as perfect balance, but I’m certainly keen to strive for it.

What’s in store for Rose Inc:

We’ll be doing our second masterclass here in NYC. We’re continuing to partner with great brands and product beautiful content. Our YouTube channel was something I was hesitant about doing—it’s taken me some time to warm up and feel comfortable doing it—it’s very intimate. But now I shoot videos in my own bathroom. It’s a great way to connect with our community.

Building Rose Inc has been the most fulfilling job. I’ve been lucky to work for so many years, with so many highs and lows — I think a lot of times people look at a career and see just all success but there were times when the phone wasn’t really ringing, and in those times I would find myself inspired to think about what I really wanted to do. I’ve never been really comfortable waiting for the phone to ring. I’ve always had a feeling I wanted to build something with my own two hands and my own brain.

3 beauty products every working woman should own:

A great concealer or foundation - I love Bare Minerals loose foundation powder

A red lipstick - so multipurpose and makes you feel powerful

A great mascara - I love the new Marc Jacobs one!

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

It’s OK to say no. Since turning 30 and becoming a mom, I’ve found my voice and know what I’m not willing to compromise on.”

Martha Stewart
in conversation with Jaclyn Johnson

On the longevity on her product line:

We’ve been making beautiful useful well made products for a long time, and I want to continue to do that in a big way. We want to be where the customer wants and needs us.

On imposter syndrome:

Take the reins. Be a strong, willful, self-possessed person. You have to be if you’re going to be in business for yourself. You have to be able to let stuff run off you—you can’t dwell on the problem.

When you’re through changing, you’re through. You have to be able to change and swerve to adapt.

I want to be remembered as good woman who is a good teacher who is fun and has accomplished a lot.

Ashley Graham
in conversation with Jaclyn Johnson

On body positivity & representation:

Here I am, a white woman who has been given a platform for a body that’s now quote trendy. But here are so many women of color who have always had this body type and have been celebrating their own bodies for so long—it’s wild that we haven’t given women of color the same platform that I as a white woman have, and i really want to see more representation for women of color in this space.

On equal pay:

Talk to your colleagues about how much you’re making. You need to know your worth in the workplace—there’s nothing wrong with building each other up, having these conversations, and taking it on together.

On brand partnerships:

For me, everything I do is authentic—I know, I know, you keep hearing it everywhere—but this is really what authenticity is. If I’m posting what sports bra I love on Instagram, it’s because I really love it.

On building confidence:

I’ll have moments when I leave the bathroom and look in the mirror and say to myself, “You are fine, you are beautiful, you are brilliant, and you are bold.

Missed out on this conference? Stay tuned…we’re sharing some super exciting news about our next conference this week!

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