I cannot believe that prior to this last weekend I had never been to New York City. I grew up seeing the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and New York Fashion Week along with many of the other wonders of the Big Apple on the big screen but never had I made my way across the country. That didn't stop me from fantasizing about doing so however.
Throughout my entire young adulthood, probably starting around Senior year of high school, I imagined myself living a bicoastal life. I would have my penthouse suite in the heart of the city, jet-setting across the US in first class for meetings or book signings, interviews, what have you, and then head home to my place in sunny Southern California until the next big NYC moment. Let me remind you, before May 5, I had NEVER been to New York, yet the city had always been calling my name.
When I found out about Create and Cultivate happening in NYC I knew I had to be there. Lucky for me there were only VIP tickets left when I went to purchase mine which was about $200 more than the GA on top of hotel and flight costs but in the back of my head this voice resounded saying "Casey, it's going to be worth it."
And boy was it ever.
Despite delays due to the weather at JFK, I finally touched down in NY at 5pm EST. Quite the day of travel considering I was at LAX at 4:30am Friday morning. My eyes hurt just thinking about it.
Once my friend Laura and I settled in at The Redbury, we hoofed it out of our hotel in search of some food and STAT! We stumbled across a brewery pretty quickly which satisfied our growling stomachs as well as my picky palette.
From there we met up with one of Laura's friends who lives in the city and made our way to a popular hotspot, a rooftop bar. I felt like I wasn't far from home at all! Aside from the fog surrounding us as well as that giant pointy building shooting through the fog and clouds straight ahead of me, it was a rooftop bar in Los Angeles. That's right, I sipped my class of Cabernet Sauvignon and looked across the bar at The Empire State Building towering over the city in a shroud of mist.
It was truly magical.
Laura and I peeked at our clocks, knowing we had to be up early in the morning for our all day conference and feeling the effects of our day of travel. We bid our adieus and fought through the sprinkles falling from the sky as we walked back to The Redbury.
Five hours after our heads hit the pillows, we were up and ready (well, getting there) to conquer the day.
We ventured across the city to the Knockdown Center in Queens where we would be spending the day at Create and Cultivate NYC. I will say I had high expectations for this day-long event but everything greatly surpassed all those expectations.
I was so overwhelmed upon entering The Knockdown Center. There were booths filled with beautiful colors, fun Photo Booth backdrops, freebies, jewelry, clothes, accessories, household decor, everywhere I looked I wanted everything I saw!
Our grumbling stomachs and closing eyeballs led us to the breakfast and coffee bar upon entering. Once we were fed and caffeinated, we had a bit of time to wander around before the panels started. My adrenaline was pumping from the moment I got there and I don't think my heart ever stopped racing! I would be in one booth looking at something then immediately look to the right or left of me and want to see the stuff in the booth next door. There was just too much good stuff! And the day had only just begun.
Starting at 9:15am we were ushered through a series of panels featuring women entrepreneurs, female bloggers and influencers, businesswomen, business owners and all around badasses. Everyone had something unique to share and insight to offer on a variety of topics. I never put my pen down.
Before lunch we broke up into mentor groups where we had more intimate conversation with women hand selected by us. Again, my pen was flowing!
There were so many questions I wanted to ask, so many things I wanted to know and advice I wanted to hear but we were relegated to thirty minutes per session before moving on.
In the afternoon I heard my favorite panel of the day. Kendra Scott and Rebecca Minkoff sat on the keynote panel and I was in awe from the moment they sat down. Kendra Scott's effervescent personality fills the room from the moment she enters it and immediately I wanted her to be my boss. She and Rebecca Minkoff shared their stories and the journey that both their companies took on the road to success. Their insight kept me on the edge of my seat craving more advice and more stories from both of them.
As I sat in the audience looking up at both of these amazing businesswomen, I saw myself. As Rebecca Minkoff talked about her 24 year old self living off ramen and her last few dollars in her savings account, I thought of my current stage in life (not eating ramen just yet) as a young professional woman trying to pave her way.
I walked away from this panel beaming from ear to ear and feeling inspired to go out and start forging my own path. Mind you there might not be a wildly successful handbag or jewelry line at the end of this road of mine but you get the idea.
Our afternoon was spent in and out of panels and running around to booths, taking all the photos we could, grabbing all the fun sample-sized freebies, standing in line to have our auras read (so worth it) and adorning ourselves with Laura Mercier makeup and henna tattoos.
At the end of the day I was absolutely exhausted (the adrenaline had finally started to wear off) but feeling more inspired than I had in a while. Spending an entire day surrounded by women who fought their way to the top or were currently in the process of doing so motivated me to continue to be one of those women.
Thank you to Create and Cultivate for hosting an incredible event. While I may have spent more hours on an airplane this weekend than sleeping in my bed, I wouldn't change it for the world.
To learn more about Create and Cultivate and find out about their next event, take a look at their website here: http://www.createcultivate.com
(Originally Published May 9, 2017)