My Highlights from C&C (and an Answer from Gloria Steinem!)

This weekend, in an effort to continue to exercise my professed desire to create (my word for 2017) a space, no matter how small, for creativity, stories, insights and collaboration; connect with what inspires and challenges me; and cultivate my passions, I attended my first Create & Cultivate conference (the name is fitting, right?). C&C is a movement for women, led by the fabulous Jaclyn Johnson, that gathers creatives, entrepreneurs and all-around boss babes around meaningful, relevant conversations and a whole lot of colorfully shared inspiration and collaboration. This year’s C&C was in NYC, and while, yes, it was my first, I can assure you it was also the best!

It has been a wonderful discovery – particularly over the past year – to have been able to find such spaces among women, thanks to what seems to be a fittingly timely movement that supports and encourages our desire to grow, learn, connect and collaborate – alongside one another. After all, there is a place for all of us, and the only way to get there is with each other. It’s thanks to platforms like C&C, Darling Media, Yellow Co., Girlboss and others like them that foster this movement, which encourages and celebrates sharing, mentoring and motivating among women, that we can continue to be, in the words of Gloria Steinem “entrepreneurs of change.” In fact, it was the legendary Gloria Steinem herself (at 83, she is as sharp, and sharply dressed, as ever) who closed out C&C, leaving more than 600 of us attendees in awe of her presence. The self-proclaimed “hopeaholic” – by far, one of the most iconic American feminists, writers and political activists – encouraged a focus on linking rather than ranking one another, stressing our inherent need for community; after all, “even birds need their nest to fly, and we need people, the nest of humankind.”

As Gloria’s Q&A with Amy Richards, a fellow powerhouse of the women’s movement, came to an end, I knew I wanted to ask her something. When the floor was handed over to the audience, I somehow worked up the courage to ask for a mic, jetted up from my seat and waited my turn. Admittedly shaky and with a lump in my throat, I asked the second question:

“As young girls, we often let fear place so many limits on ourselves and on the things we want to do. We create boundaries for ourselves. As a fearless leader, now at 83, what would you go back and say to your 16-year-old self?”

No doubt I expected – and was granted – a beautifully thoughtful response:

“Everything’s going to be alright,” she chuckled. “But really, I would listen to her. Just listen. I would ask: ‘how are you?’ ‘what do you love?’ ‘what should you do?’ ‘You know what to do.’ ‘What do you love doing so much that you lose track of time doing that? Do that!’

Her words spoke loudly and directly. I wish my 16-year-old-self had been around to listen. My 32-year-old-self most definitely took note.

A huge thank-you to Gloria, of course, for indulging my curiosity and leaving me with such a nurturing closing thought. And to all of the women who played a role in putting together C&C NYC; to all of the amazing speakers, brands (I see you, Laura Mercier, La Croix, Richer Poorer…) and mentors who shared their knowledge, insights and products; and to the warm and genuine group of ladies (once all strangers) who became my C&C tribe and shared this experience with me: THANK YOU – you’re a testament to the magic that happens when we all get together. Collaboration over competition. Always.

*Photos featured are my own. Gloria Steinem photo c/o @becki__smithhousephoto via C&C