This past weekend, Create & Cultivate hosted their largest conference to date on the Microsoft Campus in Seattle with keynote speakers including Mandy Moore (Yes, Mandy is the sweetheart you imagine her to be) and Issa Rae (Yes, Issa is just as dope and hilarious as you imagine her to be). Fortunately enough, I was one of the 700 attendees (and one of the thousand women) there!
I first heard about C&C in the midst of their New York conference announcement earlier this year and was extremely bummed that I wasn't able to snag a ticket on time! Promising myself I'd make it happen for me the next conference, I'm so happy I am now able to share my experience and takeaways with you - someone who is potentially eager to attend a C&C event (or any woman's conference).
The Microsoft Campus is a ways away from downtown Seattle and I'm so happy that the C&C team provided us attendees the option of taking a free shuttle to and from The Riveter (where the Happy Hour was held the night before). Not only did that save me from an expensive Uber ride but it also gave me the opportunity to mingle with the other women on the bus and make connections before arriving to the big event. Throughout the day, all us bus gals would bump into each other, say hello, and touch base on how the conference was going for each of us. Real cute.
I, also, met my conference buddy (the one girl you meet at the beginning of the day, click with and stick with) on the bus, which I'm so thankful for because she was the sweetest and we really enjoyed experiencing the day together. And given that we both were on the same track, we were able to reflect on each panel right after they ended as we made our way to the next one!
If you didn't guess already from what I've said, I did go to this conference alone and to my surprise, so did many other women! Though this ended up not being the case, I wasn't really worried about experiencing the conference all by myself. I knew I'd have the courage to introduce myself to new circles and spark up some conversation.
I have this new thing to where I'm really making it a conscious effort to break the stigma of women being competitive towards other women and, instead, support and are kind to one another but I do understand that going to a woman's conference alone and being surrounded by tons of other women can be intimidating. Soon I'll be publishing a blog post with tips and advice in relation to this!
The vibe that I got from C&C conferences before I attended this one was that they are heavy on making the content full of women empowerment and heavy on making the decor/environment full of Instagrammable moments. This vibe holds true.
Each track had five unique panels, one mentor power hour, and at the end of the day, both tracks came together for the last three keynote conversations. (Eight panels total.)
I loved all the panels in my track. Some I resonated with more than others, got inspiration from more than others, but overall there were quotables and key takeaways in each and every one of them. My only (constructive) criticism for the panels would be to either make each of them longer or to have less panelists in each discussion. This is simply because I felt the conversations could have delved deeper from the surface of their respective topic/theme.
As an event planner myself, though, I do understand that you want to limit the conversations to keep the audience engaged throughout the whole event and you want to provide as many different perspectives and insights as possible. However, I just felt like some panels could've been more intimate and more impactful if there were maybe only three to four panelists for each forty-five minute conversation/panel.
The mentor power hour was awesome! All attendees got two mentors (thirty minutes with each) that we shared with a group of women and had the opportunity to ask questions. Again, like the panels, I resonated with and got inspiration from one more than the other but both were valuable.
Given the time constraint, not everybody was able to get a turn asking a question. In fact, only about three to four did out of about fifteen women but I made sure to get my question(s) in, adamant about quickly raising my hand.
A talking point that was brought up multiple times in the conversations held throughout the conference was the importance of women helping/supporting other women. I absolutely loved how much this was stressed! I felt/feel even more motivated and excited to one day have my own team full of amazing women running a business.
It was emphasized how important it is to give other women opportunities to succeed when you're in the position to do so, how important it is to pay other women for their work/what they're worth, how important it is to give a voice to women who are underrepresented, how important it is to help fund other women, etc.
This being stressed so much made me feel just so proud and powerful to be a woman and to be a woman in business. It was so awesome.
Obviously, all the images you'll see from any C&C event speaks for itself. The setup is just as magical as it seems. All the sponsors booths in the beauty and VIP lounges were beautifully decorated and fully blooming with floral work. Literally, photo opps everythere.
C&C doesn't fail to make their events look gorgeous. Simply said.
Personal takeaways that I brought home with me and am holding dear to my heart from this experience include: having a clearer vision of my dream career path, a clearer vision of my current next steps, realizing how ahead of the game I am for someone my age (thus realizing how proud of myself I should be), and feeling overall more confident.
I had high expectations for this weekend and for this C&C conference. An experience like this is literally something I've looked forward to for many years. To spend a whole day surrounded by likeminded, empowering women is nothing short from extraordinary and extremely inspiring. I hadn't felt so... "in the right place" in such a long time. Being around all these women business owners and creatives made me feel like my dreams are a little less crazy and lot more possible to achieve.
Regardless of wishing that the panels were longer and more in-depth, and wishing we were fed a little bit more (snacks were provided all day), this C&C conference (and I'm sure this holds true for all their events) was an experience of a lifetime.
No doubt will I continue to support the brand and be eager to attend another C&C conference. I highly, highly recommend any woman out there - even if you're not looking to own your own business or even if you don't consider yourself to be a creative of any sort - attend a C&C event. If a full day of getting inspired by other women sounds intriguing to you, attend a C&C conference.