Last week, I did something a little crazy. On Wednesday, I made the decision to buy a ticket to HerConference after one of my blogger besties asked if I would be going. I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet up with her and y'all, my cup is so full. There is something so rewarding and empowering about being surrounded by a group of like minded women. Not all of them are bloggers but we all have the same goals in mind: to write and to help people.
Some of you may not know this, but I wanted to be a journalist pretty much my entire life until I got to college. I had an unfortunate incident with a journalism professor that pretty much soured my taste for it. Had HerCampus been what it is now back then, I can see how my path would have been so much different.
So what is HerCampus? Check this snippet out from their website:
If you're in high school or college, I highly recommend getting involved in a local chapter of HerCampus. You will make lifelong friends, hone your writing and journalism skills, and have amazing opportunities to attend events like HerCampus. I love this idea of taking media, which so often bashes and criticizes young women, and turning it into something empowering and uplifting, which is how I feel every time I get to attend HerConference.
Last year was actually my first time attending the conference and I honestly had no idea what to expect. Though I typically only tend to go for one day, I still experience so much in that one day that it is truly worth the ticket for the conference and the 90 minute train ride into New York City. Though this will probably be my last year attending because of that #ArmyWifeLife I am so glad I made the split second determination to attend.
Silly me didn't take my actual camera so the only photos I have are the amazing gifts we were given courtesy of the sponsors and the HerCampus merch I treated myself to (can we talk about how cute that hat is though?). But I don't want to spend a lot of time focusing on that sort of thing because that's not what HerConference is about. HerConference is all about empowering the next generation of female leaders and I definitely got the message.
The opening keynote speakers were Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, National Co-Chairs of the Women's March. Yes, that very same women's march that took on Washington in January and was the single largest day of organized protest in this countries history. The two women walked into the auditorium packed with 700 young women (standing room only) to the song Rise Up with (what I assume were armed) security guards and when Linda raised her hand in the air during their entrance I damn near lost my shit. I actually cried, y'all. I was so overcome with emotion for what these women have fought for, what they continue to fight for, and what they sacrificed to be there. Hearing them talk about organizing the Women's March was an eye opener for me about finding your squad and building a strong group of women (and all genders) to reach common goals. One of the things that really stuck out to me most when Linda and Carmen were talking was "People thought we were crazy then." There is always going to be someone who thinks you're doing the wrong thing, or thinks you're insane for the dreams and goals you set for yourself. What I learned from these two incredible women was this: Let them think that. If you let people think that, not only is it motivation to prove them wrong, but it's fun to look back on once you've succeeded and see what you're really capable of doing. It was such an amazing honor to witness these two women speak, I'm truly blessed that they took the time to attend the conference and speak.
After the opening keynote, my new friend (who also teared up during their entrance) decided to attend a panel of young entrepreneurs. I honestly chose the panel on a whim and learned some useful information even though it really didn't apply to me at the time. It's amazing what being surrounded by a group of female entrepreneurs will do to a person. It got my gears turning, that's for sure. It also made me realize that that #ArmyWifeLife is full of female entrepreneurs and that I'm in good hands (and even greater company) if I decide to break off into the Be My Own Boss world.
The second panel I attended was all about succeeding at sponsored campaigns and this is where I met up with Rachel and Erica (two of the most amazing bloggers EVER and you should be following them right now if you aren't already). These women have inspired me so much over the last year that it's insane and meeting them IRL had me in total fangirl mode (not evenkidding). What I loved about this panel is that everything was from the perspective of the brands and the people who work in between the influencers and the brands. It was so enlightening learning about what the people who actually reach out to bloggers and social media influencers look for. You know your girl was changing her Instagram live during the panel.
The second keynote of the day was... wait for it... Lisa Sugar. Yes, THE Lisa Sugar (I literally flipped out about when I saw that her memoir was included in our swag bags). If any of you are still like, "WHO?" then I'll tell you. Lisa Sugar is the creator of PopSugar. Yes, the media company that you constantly share articles from on Facebook or take quizzes from through Pinterest. Listening to her talk about how she got to where she is (admittedly sort of by accident) was incredible and, let's be honest #GOALS. While she got lucky with the timing, Lisa worked hard to get where she is today and really values the time people put into working on projects (you can see this by the way PopSugar invests in their employees). My key takeaway from Lisa's address was this: Don't sellout for the first person that comes along. She didn't say that, exactly, but what she did say was that the present time could look a lot differently for PopSugar had they taken just any old offer that came their way. Protect your projects and know you're worth.
At this point, I was exhausted (literally, I went home and took a 4 hour nap before bed) so I called it a day but really wish I had grabbed another Red Bull (um, can we talk about the Sugar Free Lime flavor?) and stuck it out. All in all, HerConference was amazing (as usual) and I'm so glad I managed to drag my butt there again. If you ever have the opportunity to get involved in HerCampus, The InfluenceHer Collective, or just attend HerConference in general, please do it. I'm still buzzing from it and ready to tackle my next project (whatever that may be). I'm also ready to foster young women so that they may feel empowered to do whatever dreams they have their heart set on. If you need or want a mentor, I hope you'll holla at you're girl (seriously, slide into my DMs, check out that Contact Me Page, etc.).