Today’s guest blogger is Victoria Shoots, founder of LimitlessVic.com and Olivia Pope in the making. Currently residing in Houston, Texas, Victoria flew to New York this past weekend to attend Blavity’s inaugural #EmpowerHer16 Conference. Peep her re-cap below, and follow her on Twitter + Instagram at @LimitlessVic.
Imagine this: getting off the train on a dreary Saturday morning in NYC, but shortly after walking into a venue and it is glowing with 300+ black women. Beauty, grace, and creativity filled the room at 404 Event Space for Blavity’s Inagural EmpowerHer Conference, and I was apart of that number. There were women from near and far, not to mention from a variety of industries. However, there was a common thread that connected everyone in that room: Investing in becoming the greatest version of ourselves.
I sat in the right corner next to the stairs struggling to see and hear, but I was attentive and ready to take this moment in. I had packed my bag and flown from Houston to NYC, determined to get every bang for my buck, and that is exactly what happened. In short, I learned a lot and I wrote most of it down in my handy dandy notebook. But in case you weren’t there, here are four major keys I took away from this very exciting experience
- Brand yourself like a BAWSE.
To kick things off, blogger boss and social media expert Luuvie Ajayi of AwesomelyLuuvie.com opened up with her session entitled “Branding Like a Boss”. As expected, she came out the gate dropping gems of the importance having a brand that “identifies with you when you’re not in the room”. She emphasized, “When building a brand, how others see you is just as important as how you see yourself.”
Some of my favorite lines from her spill on building a successful brand included:
- Whatever you do, do it regularly.
- Start and stay authentic to who you are!
- Be a walking build board— it’s best opportunity for free advertising
- Create some core values for the brand and stand by them—they create a sense of truth, and criticism stands no chance
- Work on transitioning your fans and followers, into evangelists
- Honor ALL sides of yourself!
Let’s just say, she was the same live and in the flesh as she is on the internet.
2. Self Care is the Best Care
As black women, we have been conditioned think that we always have to be on top in order to be noticed. You know, the “twice as good to get half as much” mentality. So we work our butts to be the best in every area of our lives EXCEPT when it comes to taking care of us.
Following Luuvie, were a set of panelists that were on point with their expertise on the vitality of Self-Care. These ladies are some of social media’s favorites and included:
Lauren Ash of BlackGirl In Om; Ofunne Amaka of Cocoa Swatches; Francheska Medina of HeyFranHey; Gabi of GabiFresh.com; and was moderated by Elaine Welteroth herself. (Yes, Teen Vogue’s youngest and FIRST African- American Editor- in Chief.)
Each panelist openly admitted to their prior struggles with finding a window to prioritize their well being. To bring it full circle they revealed that by deciding to take their mental and physical health space more seriously, their personal and business life have seen a positive shift.
- “There is no way to do anything for anyone else, if you have done nothing for yourself.”- Lauren Ash
- “Never apologize for putting yourself first.”- Ofonne Amaka
- “Embrace the ambiguities of life: there is a bigger picture; we are in the right place at the right time.”- Francheska Medina
- “Learn to say NO, and use it as a complete sentence.”- GabiFresh
- “Know your process and how to find your clam when the world is spinning.”- Self Love Panelist
If you are anything like me and have followed these women on the Internet since their beginning, a crash course in “Black Girl Self Care” was refreshing and right on time. This creative space can become a draining experience, and these ladies have mastered how the how to’s on loving themselves in order to share their gifts with the world.
3. Travel is Priceless.
After lunch, I chose to listen in on a discussion for women, who like myself, have been bitten by the travel bug. Hearing about the international adventures of Lauren of ‘Can’t Stay Put” in Cuba, the Indian light show from Nomadness Tribe founder, Evita Robinson, and Black Travel Addict, encouraged me to not eat anything else in New York. Instead I decided to put that money into my invisible travel fund (just kidding.) Of all of the gems that they shared, I summed it up into three steps for those travel beginners ready to explore:
- Step 1: Plan and Save
- Step 2: Learn about where you are traveling for safety purposes
- Step 3: Go as far as you can for as long as you can
Those ladies’ movements prove there is no price that can be put on travel. Traveling is a time where you can learn a different side of yourself, one that can only be found outside of the comforts of everyday life.
As one of the panelists stated: “The black travel phenomena is nothing new. The more we do it, the less of a ‘thing’ it becomes.”
4. Be A Game-changer.
Powerhouse women of the Internet including: #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign and Feminista Jones closed us out with a BANG. The moral of their story was: hold those in power accountable, create your community, know your worth, and don’t be afraid to rise up and LEAD because our time is NOW!
All in all, this trip was worth every penny I spent. By the time 5P.M. hit, my hand had cramped up, my wallet was overflowing with business cards, and I was ready to take on a nap because a full day of empowerment wore me OUT! However, I must say through Blavity, founder Morgan DeBaun has created this amazing platform that can now add the experience of EmpowerHer to its resume. If not already, it is my recommendation that every millennial woman sit in a room as powerful and inspiring as the one I sat in on Saturday at least once. That room was covered in magic. Black Girl Magic to be specific.
Peace & Love,