Months ago, I RSVP’d to an event hosted by Create & Cultivate. I haven’t been following them long, but they encourage women entrepreneurs with online content and offline events focused on inspiring and educating them by sharing the advice of well-known women entrepreneurs.
They are also the creators of Work Party — a podcast and now a book — all focused on their mission.
So this event, I was so excited when I saw it because stuff like this is one of the reasons I wanted to go out on my own. I want to give myself more time to go to events that will help me become a better solopreneur and connect with others in a fun environment.
I worked all day on Saturday so that I could have my Sunday clear, as the event was from 10:30-7. However, I noticed on Instagram that Create & Cultivate said it was a first-come, first-served event.
So, I decided to arrive at 9:45 to get to registration by 10:30. Buuuut I am clearly a SXSW amateur and also underestimated the power of Create & Cultivate, because the line was more than four blocks long. I should have shown up by 8am.
I got in line and although it was slow-moving, I passed the time by meeting the people around me. I met a local who helps high school students prepare for college life and she also hosts a podcast about it.
There were two other ladies near me from Portland, both involved in large-event planning.
But as the line slugged on, and as the event started with lots of us still waiting in line, we all started to come to the realization that we might not get inside.
I definitely didn’t prepare for THAT – I did pack a giant bottle of water and a snack, for which I am very thankful. But as the line stopped moving, people started to make the decision: do they stay or go?
Around 11:30, they told us the venue was at-capacity and it was now one-in-one-out. Now the decision was real. I definitely did NOT feel like standing there for hours, but I had also blocked off the entire day, and I really, really wanted to see these speakers.
All of the ladies I’d met left.
So, then I was standing next to someone new. She was volunteering full-time for a new non-profit that helps those who’ve taken a DNA test and found out a parent is not biologically their parent.
We talked a lot about non-profit structure and the demand of digital.
I silently told myself that I was going to stay in line until the speakers I wanted to see were done. The first panel started at 1:30.
Around 12:30, things started to look promising. Instead of 70 people in front of me, there were about 20, and the event staff gave us snacks and water.
At 1:28, I got in.
I bee-lined it to the panel, “Real Time, Real Talk: How Brands and Bloggers are Keeping up with Digital Day to Day”, which featured:
Jessie Ashfin: She’s the founder of The Darling Detail, which is a very successful blog based here in Austin. She’s also launched a blog focused on her faith, and recently launched a clothing line that supports women who have been trafficked. She’s one of the first influencers I followed on Instagram.
Agatha Ashiofu: A successful style blogger, but has also started her own fashion line.
Bruna Schmitz: Bruna is a professional surfer and is a Roxy athlete.
Courtney Shields: Courtney is a beauty and lifestyle blogger, here in Austin. I watch her stories everyday, so it was cool to see her in person!
Jillian Halouska: Jillian is a hairstylist and groomer to the stars.
On this panel, they talked a lot about being transparent, and trying your best not to get distracted by all of the noise on social media. I think it was Courtney who said something to the likes of, if you are confident in what you’re doing, you don’t need to look around at everyone else.
They also talked extensively about finding balance (but admitting how difficult it is) and talking time to rest, even when the digital space is always telling us to go, go, go.
After this panel, there was a break for lunch, and although there was a long line for food, they had pop-up shops along the way, where I picked up lots of free dry-shampoo, La Croix, spiked lemonade, and rosé cotton candy. Don’t mind me, just living my best life!
The lunch was all vegan – I got a Beyond Meat burger and it came on a pretzel-like bun, and it was so delicious – but I was also very hungry.
The panel after lunch was “Priceless Conversations: Meet the Women Making an Impact”, featuring Morgan Debaun (Cofounder and CEO of Blavity, a website for black millennials), Sonja Rasula (Founder of Unique Markets, a collaborate working space), and Jaclyn Johnson (Founder of Create & Cultivate).
This panel was partly to introduce Create & Cultivate’s partnership with Mastercard. They spoke a lot about how they started their businesses, particularly how they funded their companies and how, even though there are more women than men starting businesses, banks are less likely to fund women’s businesses, which is why the partnership with MasterCard is so important.
They also talked about fundraising for your company, and knowing when to scale your business to make more money.
The next panel was the keynote panel, “Create & Innovate: How to Build a One of a Kind Brand in a Crowded Marketplace”, featuring Paige-Adams Geller (Founder of Paige Premium Denim), Camila Alves (Actress, handbag designer), Julie Smolyanksi (CEO of Lifeway Foods), Samantha Fishbein (Cofounder and CEO of Betches), and Sophie Kelly (Senior VP, Whisk(e)y).
This was a real powerhouse panel, and they all spoke about how their businesses were unique. They also talked about how they knew when to pivot their businesses to meet the needs to their market. For example, Lifeway Foods recently launched a plant-based version of their milk smoothie after discovery how many people were dairy free.
There were still two other speakers, but honestly, I saw what I wanted to see, and I was physically and mentally (in a good way) exhausted. My long wait in line was well-worth it, and I left feeling like I got some really great tips, but also inspired, which is exactly what I needed.
Sometimes it’s not even what you hear, but to hear someone successful solidify a fear or a thought, it can really help. I read something a few weeks ago about how people are often scared to set themselves up for success, because it might actually work, and success can be a really scary, and isolating experience.
Many of the women on the panels spoke about that isolation. It’s not only just physically working by yourself for some of us, but it also means staying in to work when others are out, or vis versa. It also means many people may not understand what you’re doing or why, and that’s okay.
Events like these help me realize I’m not alone, I’m just on the cusp of the future!
I’m really looking forward to diving more into the content these ladies are putting out there, and keeping up with more Create & Cultivate stuff. There’s your Monday motivation, y’all!