Recap! Girlboss Rally
Last weekend, I attended the Girlboss Rally as a volunteer. Several friends and girlbosses in the FitNic World reached out after seeing my IG stories throughout the weekend, and I’d love to share my experience with you! Keep in mind, this isn’t going to be all fluff like many reviews. I see events from an operational perspective and am very interested in every detail that makes the event enjoyable for attendees. This is why I volunteered instead of buying a ticket — to see behind the scenes. I also love taking a leadership role among volunteers. Helping people navigate situations is fun and makes you feel like a part of something bigger. Plus you couldn’t miss the bright yellow “Ask Me For Help” button on my giant, fuzzy white coat.
First thing’s first - location, location, location. The Knockdown Center in Queens (yup, not Brooklyn) is a spacious venue with an open concept in an entirely industrial area. Only woe is that it’s not accessible by less than 2 modes of public transportation from Manhattan. And of course, the L train was down. But you already knew that. Good thing Uber was a sponsor — attendees got a code for a discount on their ride. Note: that did not include me LOL but I thought that was a cool and practical partnership.
Let’s talk aesthetics. I’d seen pictures from past rallies and the Girlboss team really went all out. From table spreads to well-curated stages, I was excited to see Team GB literally set the stage. Although seemingly not as extensive as past rallies, I was very impressed with the furniture sourcing and set design. Everything was quintessentially on-brand and thoughtfully placed. Everything looked like it was from Adaptations (gorg furniture store in Greenpoint where all of my future furniture will be from - once I move out of my 250 sq ft apt, that is). There were photo ops galore, including a cream colored couch placed in front of a bright blue curtain that I made my home base for a good part of the weekend. There was also a lettered backdrop adorning the phrase PAY ME. The team did a great job of creating an engaging atmosphere.
The layout: The main ballroom was called the Ballerroom, where the main speaking panels were held. Hustle Hall had primarily marketing and PR panels, Wealth and Wellness was just that, and Startup Studio had panels about receiving VC (venture capitalist) funding and building a business from the ground up. There was a female-centric bookstore and shopping center called The Collective. Outside in a tent, Boss Shots aka cute headshots were being taken. Although there was a coat check, I wore my coat all weekend. #AlwaysCold #PartOfMyOutfit T-Mobile sponsored a mobile charging station as well, but of course, I’m on team I-Can-Find-An-Outlet-Anywhere.
Now let’s talk logistics. Although volunteers were given a tour, there was no volunteer coordinator. Paid, placed talent known as brand ambassadors were oversaw by their casting assistant, but the rest of us folk were on our own. I thought this was pretty bizarre, especially for an event of this scale (two 12-hour days with over 1000 people from 30+ countries). The first day’s call time was 6:45am which was...er, early...because attendees didn’t start arriving until 8:00am and the event didn’t start until 10:00am. Team GB seemed siloed in their roles and hyper focused - although I’m not sure on what. When I smiled at anyone from the GB team — before, during, or after the event— not one person smiled back (with the exception of the Editor in Chief/COO whom I’d met a few days prior at another Girlboss event and the Director of Growth who I approached after a panel). I know most people don’t notice those little things, but #NonVerbalCommmunicationIsReal. It’s actually really important — especially during potentially stressful times like planning a large-scale event — to just be present and nice :)
Anyway! Now for the schedule. I was originally assigned to work in The Collective but was last min placed in the Ballerroom. This ended up being amazing because I could see the programming! I downloaded the Sched app so I could not only see which panel was in which room, but also could see more information about the lineup of speakers. It eliminated those awkward “wait, who is that again?” moments that attendees may have had. There were a few main panels in the morning, breakout sessions in the afternoon, and more Ballerroom panels in the evening. The roundup of speakers was impressive, diverse, educated, funny, and insightful.
Sophia Amoruso (Author of the seminal bestseller #Girlboss and founder of Girlboss Media) kicked off the weekend by presenting a humorous and down-to-earth depiction of her nonlinear career path. I loved Sophia’s opening remarks, and I love listening to entrepreneurs’ stories that I’ve heard before and still learning something new. She’d mentioned MySpace, Model Mayhem, and eBay — the 00s early internet phenomenons that infiltrated our burgeoning millennial culture. I’d met Sophia on her book tour for Nasty Galaxy a few years back, and literally weeks later, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy. She talks on the GB podcast about “failing forward”, and I respect her ability to remain innovative and resilient despite all career challenges she has faced. She also introduced GB’s new membership platform that, once launched, will be like a LinkedIn for female, millennial, creative entrepreneurs.
Sally Krawcheck from Ellevest presented “Some Very Real Talk About Your Finances”. I love what Ellevest is doing to advance women’s careers and financial literacy. Sally says that you should be an add to your company culture, not just a culture fit. Plus Sally is hilarious, incredibly smart, and a total powerhouse who inspires you to step into your power just by listening to her. If you haven’t set up a profile on Ellevest to help define your future financial goals, I highly suggest it!
The “How to Get the PR You Really Want” featured Arian Simone of Fearless, Leland Drummond or Azione PR, and Mallory Blair of Small Girls PR. Mallory coined a term that I found intriguing and actually very relatable: “offluencer”. In contrast to a macro or microinfluencer — terms that we are all too familiar with, yet don’t necessarily like to identify ourselves as — refers to someone who has a strong IRL network. Being an offluencer is something that we can all be proud of!
One of my favorite panels featured some of my favorite girlbosses: Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle of Sakara and Michelle Cordeiro Grant of LIVELY. As you may know, I work closely with both of these brands. (Shameless plug: click on partners page on my site for discount codes!) These ladies all have stories that speak to me, and that is why I choose to share their brand’s message. But this panel was different — they were talking about raising capital from VCs. A startling statistic is that only 2% of VC funding (you read that right, 2%) is granted to women. That is insane. The room was filled with female founders, all of whom looked inspired to take that next step forward in their business.
The last panel of the day was called “The Hustle is Real”, described as “knowing how to innovate strategically and fearlessly while also being scrappy and creative; laser focused on the most important goals, while prioritizing great customer service and strong leadership above all else.” Panelists included Shan-Lyn Ma of Zola (game changing!), Norma Kamali (enough said), and Lavinia Errico (the founder of EQUINOX who was actually sitting next to me for the better part of the afternoon!) Seeing these powerhouses on stage speaking about building and growing these insanely successful businesses was awesome. And that was only Day 1.
“Building a Brand They Can’t Stop Talking About” included Alex Williamson of Bumble, Hannah Bronfman, and Rea Ann Silva (she INVENTED beauty blender!) moderated by Meghan of GB. I loved hearing their insight about how they disrupted their industries and made their brands truly unforgettable. Plus Meghan mentioned VLOOKUPs and I died!! YAS data analysis getting the respect it deserves!! (Side bar: VLOOKUP is a function in Microsoft Excel LOL. Should I create an Excel course for girlboss entrepreneurs? #2019)
“Who The Hell Are You?” featured Chiller-in-Chief of Chillhouse, Cyndi Ramirez, and Jaspre Guest of Noise 784. If you have ever watched my Instagram story on a Saturday morning, you probably already know my affinity for Chillhouse *nails emoji* Getting the word about about FitNic beyond my current network is something that I continue working on, so hearing from the girls who do it best was great.
“Hiring Fast, Hiring Rockstars” featured Maggie Winter of AYR and Sarah Levey of Y7 Studio. I’d seen AYR’s store in my neighborhood (gorgeous!!) and I’d been an OG supporter of Y7 ever since I moved to NYC. Hiring was a topic that, like money, isn’t discussed often but should be. Their general advice? Check references, because everyone’s on their best behavior during the interview.
Day 2’s movement break was brought to us by Girlboss Grant winners Queen Moves. I was LIVING for these girls. They are the ultimate queens. Their energy is so electric, their performance was dynamic, and I love people who also believe in the power of DANCE!!!
I loved Piera Gelardi from Refinery 29’s presentation, “Courageous Creativity”. Not only was her presentation visually appealing (because…Refinery…) but I really related to what she had to say more than anyone. “Bring your value into the work you do. I was waiting for someone to hand me a road map to my career but a road map didn’t exist. I needed to future out how to get through this challenge and I realized I could bring my strengths into these areas that are uncomfortable…if you don’t see it, create it.” I think about the proverbial road map constantly, and hearing her speak made me feel less alone.
Overall, I had a really fun weekend. Being around people who believe in what you believe in, and who believe in themselves, their businesses, and their communities is so incredibly important. I’m inspired — not in a woo woo way, but in a get-shit-done kinda way — to channel energy into what makes me a #Girlboss.