Today kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month — a 30 day period full of anecdotes in celebration of the contributions for and by Hispanics, or Latinos, is this country. I’ve never really been into exclusive holidays that single a minority group — as I feel it can further perpetuate the sense of exclusionary living and thinking — but the more my race and ethnicity are embraced in the general market, the more I enjoy the praises for our hard-earned place in society. By default, we – black, Latino, Asian, etc… – are still playing catch up in so many areas. We’ve put the same amount of work and talent into the same paths as our counterparts, and still, for reasons analysis has yet to fully uncover, we’re the political minority. And so there remains to be a good reason with plenty of necessity to highlight our contributions in art, culture, politics, religion, humanity, literacy, advocacy and the list goes on.
I’m touching on a larger topic here, I know but the disparity in opportunities and leveled pay obliges us as a group to come together in formal solidarity. Over the course of a decade working for myself, fews times I’ve seen real opportunity to congregate with like-minded, similarly-goaled, uniformly tied peers with the purpose of sharing our individual journey in a way that would help each of us grow. Fewer times have I connected with women whom are interested in taking time to share our knowledge. In a generally toxic “Me” society and more specifically a very “catty” cultural one (perhaps a subconscious way of survival?), the idea of lending valuable information to the collective is almost unheard of. It takes a solid, well-poised person or group to really get the bigger picture and willfully hand out paint brushes to color out its potential vibrancy.
With the advent of social media and its position to dictate the way we do business, social conferences have surged. And I’ve benefitted. I’ve spoken and presented several times at a variety of them, mostly catered to the brown diaspora; mostly women. And they are great. I’ve made some incredible connections, learned a great amount of useful information and even garnered business… yay for business.
And then this past Feb. my personal interest in social media conferences was solidified at the newest conference. We All Grow, a summit by Latinas, for Latinas and women with big voices was born out of hard and passionate work by my sweet friend and colleague, Ana Flores and her network Latina Bloggers Connect. While attending and supporting other conferences is legit and equally special, seeing her baby come to life was just magical. From a intimate group of bloggers with the sole objective of being resources for each other, grew an idea that would help the entire collective grow into amazing influencers in the digital (and beyond). I was especially thrilled for Ana and LBC because I’ve enjoyed professional growth from her passion for supporting and helping create opportunities. Ana offered me one of my first digital campaigns. It’s a throwback to 2010. And surely I’ve grown since. Lots. So, yeah, I was excited. So very excited.
And so I set out from DC to the west to enjoy and celebrate a sharing sisterhood. And to root her on.
Set in sexy cuidad de los angeles at the industrial LINE hotel, Anita — as I call her — and her crew (Rachel and ‘dem — more lovely chicas I call mis amiguitas) hosted a lovely sized group of hungry and driven women. These women were hungry for knowledge, information, resources, leads, and opportunities. I was hungry, too, but my purpose this time was to dish out some of that coveted information. But first, an al fresco, rooftop fiesta to set the mood. An ambient pool surrounded by flimsy trees and passed canapés was a chic “welcome” to three days in LA. Seeing old friends was warm. You know how we hug, right?! Big, tight, “hola mi amiga!” enviable hugs.
My über talented friends Mercedes and Jeannette and I sat together on a lovely Friday morning and shared our behind-the-scenes knowledge and experience on TV and print. We each shared tips on how to leverage our personal brand on-air and mainstream published works. We answered questions and laughed at some of the things we’ve done to hustle forward. Answering questions and making suggestions that would help these ladies’ visibility was meaningful and helpful. I’m sure of it. I personally learned some new bits of cool pieces from those two chicas.
We laughed some more.
But our panel was just one of about 20, lead by amazing women and innovators in a thriving playing field. It was like the grown up and sassy version of the most popular high school: you attend class, take notes, bells ring, you move on the to the next class but always see that awesome friend you have to hug and quickly share a moment of happiness. That’s what it was. Examplary women energized and fueled by the anticipation of learning more. I had espresso in hand from the lobby café, naturally.
The conference was so much more than just panels and smiling faces and decked out outfits. WAGS was a clean slate to highlight these beautiful women and our voices to a growing base of content creators. Powerful moments like Storytellers where a few select group of kick a$$ women shared very personal stories brought the room to meandering rivers kind of tears. Simpler moments accompanied by tea and biscuits on decadently artistic China had us laughing and oohing.
Have you ever been around 300 fierce women? Yeah, that was the place.
Youtube HQ visits were exclusive and inspiring. Hair and makeup by Neutregena through out was special and dainty with a crazy treelined view of the Hollywood sign from the glam suite. Yoga in the morning was preparatory for a great day; midday in the park was refreshing. Meet and greet lunch with the super shakers and makers was exciting. Oh, and breakfast in bed… yes, that too.
It was a time and place created for a pool of talented and courageous women having and needing that extra possé of cheerleaders. Inhibitions and insecurities were absent. We were all on a mission together. The understanding was clear — to be wowed and supported and inspired and connected. I could go on, really, but you need to see for yourself. You need to experience it for yourself.
The content sharing over three energetic days was a perfect shot for hours and hours of developing inspired work. But more importantly, a sisterhood was established. There were tears and hearty laughs; there were sad stories; there were wow stories. Vulnerable and authentic moments invited valuable takeaways. Fearless spirits surfaced. Bold confidence was encouraged. Long-time digital colleagues turned into real life friends. I made new friends and great connections. I hope to have offered just one woman some inspiration to go big.
I grew a little again. We all grew.
That was We All Grow.
*All images courtesy of We All Grow. I was not paid for this post or to speak at the conference. I was provided air and accommodations. Opinions and thoughts expressed here are authentic and honest. Always.