As a female inventor and entrepreneur I was surprised, terribly humbled and honored to be chosen as one of most influential women for this years Marie Claire POWERTRIP 2022.
When you're invited they tell you it's going to be a whirlwind 36 hours of engaging 100 Female CEOs, C-Suite executives, designed tfor some of the country’s most influential businesswomen to connect, inspire, and collaborate. Just show up at the airport and you will be flown to an undisclosed location- YIKES! No itinerary is shared and you have to trust Marie Claire and their team for a highly curated exclusive event! -Wow, don't they know most of us are OCD-Overt Control Dames- and need to know everything??
On November 14th at 6.30AM, at the airport you meet the other honorees, the Marie Claire team, and the United Airlines team including the first female Pilots for United Airlines. Yes both our pilots were women! Amazing that for the 40+ years of traveling the globe, I never once had a female pilot on any of my flights. Astounding to realize as I met all the women, decked out in their glossy uniforms with grace, kindness, and bada$$ vibe which was infectious throughout the next 36 hours.
Because this was an all female flight, United had stickered false eyelashes and lipstick on our plane's face. Well, turns out, it's a safety hazard and for the next two hours, two men with blow torches were tasked with the removal of the falsies, before the plane could lift off. For the first time in history a plane was delayed due to false eyelashes.
In the air there were stations in first class where an astrologer would give you a reading; a station for manicures; and a facial station with a team of highly toned and trance inducing beauty experts to pamper you with lotions and potions.
Arriving over two hours late to our destination LAX, we were whisked off to the stadium. Where we corralled on the battlefield, oops, I mean playing field arena, a mint green soccer field flooded with over 100 women all taking videos on their phones. The green natural turf of 0.2" height was manicured to perfection- I doubt this is what Teddy Roosevelt meant in his speech "Man in the Arena"?. All the women gathered into smaller groups of 20 and bonded by sharing our motivations for waking up in the morning. Mine being the the joy and sparkle of light that happens in one's eyes when they see our Solarpuff light for the first time. Lately I've been waking up excited to help the children in Ukraine. I will be visiting them to personally deliver our colored lights for PTSD therapy for the children refugees in Lviv Regional Children's Clinical Hospital "Okhmatdyt" For children the SolarPuff is like magic. When they see our SolarPuff lights for the first time, their eyes light up with awe and wonder, as a flat thing pops open into a perfect cube of brilliant light.
Keynote speaker #1. Jessica Alba the actress, mother and CEO of the Honest Company which just went IPO a few months prior. A remarkable Oscar worthy accomplishment as only 20 female led companies have gone public out of 4266 companies in the history of IPOs a mere 0.5%. Sally Holmes the Executive Editor-in Chief of Marie Claire, moderated the interview delving into to her IPO journey. read more about her interview here.
Jessica came across sincere, articulate, authentic and slightly traumatised by her IPO experience. She garnered much admiration and awe by the audience of all female founders. I can't help but wonder how she did it, thinking again about the "Man in the Arena" why not "Woman"? What would it take to soften the blows that came our way in the battlefield of business, navigating our way against all odds.
The next panel discussion included Mutale Nkonde, CEO and founder of AI for the People, I sat next to her on the van from dinner to our hotel -she had an impressive demeanor and I would not be surprised if she became secretary of state or Vice President one day. Laura Modi, CEO and cofounder of baby formula company Bobbie, innovating the way we feed our children. I sat next to her after breakfast on the van ride to our yoga retreat. - an irish descendant she had amazing skin and infectious sense of humor. We bantered about my mother and our families and our hope for the future through our love and light for our children to the challenge of maintaining balance between business and motherhood. -Amira Fouad, Director of Society Communications at Google, and Sali Christeson, CEO and founder of women’s workwear line Argent, dressing our future IPO females for success. Sali was so personable and had amazing endurance. On the Flight from LAX to NYC she made her way speaking to every woman on the plane, after chatting and finding out about our Apple TV docu-series with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton she said" I can't believe I met a GUTSY WOMAN!" She was also incredibly kind, generous and I loved her Blue Pant Suit!!
I was in awe of all the panelist with their immense courage starting an enterprise started with a call to the soul- 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. A call to action for women and girls world wide seeking to make a difference and tilting the scale of discrimination though innovation.
Later that evening, a soire and dinner at Sony Studios, where keynote speaker #2 Jessica Chastain. delightfully engaged us in a fireside chat, sharing details for her new production company, Freckle Films. Freckle Films being a new venture to cultivate opportunities that tackle the issue of disparity in female gender pay scale and race in hollywood. But all 200 eyes were drinking in her purple pant suit which was almost effervescent. Chastain was stunning in the savory purple attire with her red flowing hair and porcelain glass skin. My friend Laura chased her down after they walked off stage and asked her who the designer of her pantsuit was. It was Sergio Hudson. We were all guessing it was YSL.
When we finally made it back to our hotel, we were all exhausted from the whirlwind day and upon entering our rooms, I was surprised to discover a carefully planned array of instructions, new cloths for working out the next day, and in the bathroom another generous amount of new lotions and potions to try on our post flight skin.
On day two we went into an area of LA that looked like Tuscany-- we rode our big massive vans wobbling up a winding hilly road to a house that looked like a Medici villa in the outskirts of Florence, Italy. Did we leave LA? What happened to the wifi and bars on my phone? I had an interview with NBC News radio that morning! Being a New Yorker I sensed an odd aroma? OMG that's fresh air!
Keynote speaker #3 Carey Mulligan sat down for a gripping conversation with journalist Lisa Ling. The two chatted about Mulligan’s latest film, She Said, which dives into the story behind The New York Times investigative journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s 2017 exposé on Harvey Weinstein. At the end of the interview Carey spoke about the the children in Ukraine and her nonprofit called Children of Conflict. My heart jumped as I heard this and I made way up front to tackle Carey as she got off the stage. I approached her and shared my next mission for visiting the children in Lviv, Ukraine. That there is a huge need all over Ukraine, the blackouts from bomb raids leave children with traumatic outbursts, taking hours before they calm down. Our products were used for PTSD in children after Hurricane Maria in Vieques. When I heard about the children in Lviv, I decided I have to go there personally and deliver them. We've raised about 1000 lights so far. If you would like to help click here.
Carey was so attentive and kind, as I explained what is recently happening in Lviv since the hospital was bombed again a couple days before. My hope was to get her partnership in working together to help the children in Ukraine. She had a teenage glow about her and dewy skin from the heat of the morning. She asked her assistant to take my number so they would be in touch. I have not heard from them yet.
This being the last event on the schedule, we all searched frantically for our new found friends who were staying in LA to give hugs and goodbyes and headed for LAX. Next stop NYC... HOME.
We bypassed the airport all together and boarded the plane directly. The return flight was one of joy and mayhem. Although we were all exhausted from 36 hours of nonstop PowerTrip, there was dancing in the aisles and in the end, a testament to the hard work and commitment the team from Marie Claire had accomplished. The next 5 hours in flight, you could be beckoned into passionate conversations along each arm rest. I witnessed the banter of connections and the thrill of brainstorming a marketing strategy or new startup idea, to an appreciative nod for a new whiting solution for laundry. I heard stories of gut wrenching battles executing multi million dollar capital raises to strategies on hiring C-suite executives. Each woman was pioneering her way through the turmoils and tender moments as a leader and a learner.
As our jet landed at JFK, a tumultuous rain storm with sheets of rain greeted us on the tarmac. Then the most magically chivalrous thing occurred. While de-boarding the plane of 100 women executives, the crew of men on the runway geared in their neon yellow jumpsuits came to the rescue. A covered cozy tunnel was formed, shielding us from the wet night, as twelve men in a row held a United blue umbrella over our heads.
Sending big hugs and immense gratitude to all the Marie Claire team for their unstoppable endurance, olympian discipline, and most of all their kindness to Sally H., Erin, Courtney, Tanya, Megan and all the amazing women that graced the clouds this year #powertrip2022 with their courage, passion and never ending kindred spirit.