The Biggest Takeaways From xoNecole's First-Ever ElevateHER Crawl
A mirage of pink and purple balloons come into focus as I step into the building. I can faintly make out the beats of "Before I Let Go" and muffled laughter as I walk up to the counter. Suddenly I hear an empowering, Kiki-filled "Courtney!" behind me. An overwhelming sense of comfort comes over me and, at this point, I have to check myself. I'm in Atlanta at a business networking conference with my cards in hand and my elevator pitch memorized. So, why does it feel like I just walked into my favorite hair salon on an early Saturday morning?
It's Saturday morning but I'm not at the salon, I'm at xoNecole's first annual ElevateHER presented by Toyota Corolla and I'm already in love.
Artist Melissa Mitchell giving us life.Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
The first 300 attendees received custom tote bags
Black women are the fastest growing economic force in the United States and that's a fact Necole Kane understands like the back of her hand. It could be argued that Necole is one of the biggest pioneers of that entrepreneurial spirit in the digital space, both personally and through xoNecole.
xoNecole's SHEeo vibing out at the ElevateHER entrance.Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
Boss Babes Link Up was a perfect networking wall where attendees wrote out what they needed and what they offered.
This one-of-a-kind marketplace was a community of digital and traditional business women who are, above all else, enthusiastic to see other women win. An expertly curated space with Instagram-worthy backdrops and an extraordinary DJ who understands how to get a party started were merely exciting add-ons to the empowering experience of ElevateHER. Over 700 women filled Mason Fine Art Gallery to shop a varied array of 25+ black women-owned vendors like Melissa Butler's The Lip Bar, LaKeasha Brown's 1987 Juices, Candice Cox's CanDid Art, Charline Shelby's Fabulina Designs, and Tay Watts' Posh Candle Co. to name a few.
Bask & Bloom
The Lip Bar
As attendees we got even more bang for our buck as we were able to listen to panelists give testimonies and real-life advice for propelling women forward. The speakers included host Dana Blair, Ezinne Kwubiri (the Head of Inclusion and Diversity for H&M), Pauleanna Reid (a Forbes.com Senior Contributor), Tamisha Harris (a CNN/HLN producer), Janell Stephens (the founder of Camille Rose Naturals), Alicia Scott (the founder of RANGE Beauty), Christina Rice (the founder of OMNoire), and Shavonne Riggins (the founder of Curlkalon) as well as a surprise appearance by Hollywood producer Will Packer.
Dana Blair moderating the Elevator Pitch panel featuring Christina Rice, Tamisha Harris, Pauleanna Reid, and Ezinne Kwubiri.Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
To top all of that off, we were even treated to free palm and tarot readings, henna, drinks with the "you can sip with us" slogan served by Crown Royal and Baileys, and musical stylings by the ever-talented lady spinners DJ OHSO and DJ Traci Steele.
DJ Traci Steele had the crowd bumpin' on the 1s and 2s. Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
VIP attendees enjoying complimentary drinks from the Crown Royal bar.Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
Attendees were able to kickback in the Crown Royal lounge complete with cocktails, Vegan bites, henna, palm readings and astrologists.
The Real Queens fix each other's crowns walls was an attendee favorite and reminded us of the Queens that we are.
An underlying theme throughout the event was the idea of timing.
It wasn't your usual "trust timing" mantra we see on Instagram but instead, a diligent lesson on how timing works with the power of intention to progress towards your goals. It takes more than perfect timing for an idea to come to fruition. Timing is nothing without intentional execution and dedicated hard work.
From Necole's keynote about her career pivot and being acquired by Will Packer Media to each panelist on the Elevator Pitch panel co-signing to this theme in one way or another, this message wasn't the only one received all day. In fact, below are a few more key takeaways.
1. Your trajectory is yours to own.
Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
Necole delivered a beautiful keynote on the power of understanding and leaning into your journey, especially when you're just starting out. One of the key points touched on was the pressures from the outside world on where you're supposed to be or who you're supposed to be. Oftentimes we internalize the pressures and opinions of others and allow it to direct the trajectory of our careers. A big moment in the room happened after Necole described the feeling of people telling her how moving to Phoenix wouldn't advance her career. Her response? "Will Packer found me in Phoenix." Sis, yes. Hello. The moment was received by so many in the room who feel limited by circumstances like location, and shed a light on the facts that location isn't what's important.
Throughout her chat, she stressed the importance of listening to your inner voice and moving towards your personal happiness; a sentiment that was echoed other times at the conference. The aha-moment was when Necole shared why she was so determined to execute this event perfectly. "This event is the epitome of my new direction," she says.
"Young girls are watching and this has to be a success. This is the only way I can push forward with this acquisition."
Support is excellent but without execution, it's just an idea.
2. Us supporting Us.
Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
By now, we've all seen the stats on how long the black dollar lives in the black community. It's more important than ever to cultivate real spaces for the black community to invest in one another. We aren't readily found in the aisles of Target, the racks at Saks 5th Avenue, or the counters of top retailers (yet). Awareness and information are needed to build this financial community and ElevateHER Crawl was a giant step in that direction.
When Will Packer took the pink stage, the energy was amplified by a thousand. Will understood the importance of investing in the community that helped me to his billion-dollar successes, and he made it clear at every turn.
"I have made over a billion dollars at the box office. You know who drove me to that billion-dollar success? Black women. You did that. So when the time came for me to put my money and my resources where my mouth was, guess who I wanted to invest in? A black girl, you damn right."
The message: We are enough. A message that wasn't only present in Will's speech, but seen in every aspect of the event. From the 25 shop owners on Vendor Row, to the team Necole invested in for the day, it was all manifestation of this sentiment. ElevateHER showed what can happen when passion, community, and resources come together. We are enough and we have enough to build this community.
3. Substance over Flash.
Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
The key to any great event is substance.
The pretty colors and photo-ready corners are nice, but the heart of any conference lies in the information. Each panel was expertly chosen and perfectly crafted to fulfill the needs of real, working women. Panelists focused on tangible and actionable pieces of advice needed to propel women forward in business. The industries were far-ranging and each speaker brought a unique perspective to the subject at hand.
For those hoping to produce an event similar to ElevateHER, I encourage you to take this advice to heart. A conference is more than a place for a cute photo. It's about crafting a unique and extraordinary experience for whatever community you support. This also applies to the work you're doing; it's more than the aesthetic of your Instagram. The real work happens in boardrooms, on conference calls, and in the hours of labor that aren't captured on video. It was a common trope from almost every panelist (including Necole herself) that your primary focus should be crafting and creating a quality product/service, not how many followers or likes you get.
I have never been in a space so uplifting, encouraging, and dynamic as ElevateHER Crawl. I've never left an event feeling so motivated and confident in my abilities as a woman. Above all else, the community presence was real. A slew of women loving other women is always my jam, and the foundation of ElevateHER. For those looking for a conference to call home, I also encourage you to attend ElevateHER next year.
We can only get bigger and better from here.
Photo by Carol Lee Rose for xoNecole
Want a peek at more of ElevateHER? Check out some of the event's highlights in the slideshow below:
Featured image by Carol Lee Rose
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Courtney Simpson is a dynamic writer with an affinity towards fashion and pop culture.
Keep up her daily looks on Instagram @hautecourtxo.
Three Influencers Show Off Their 2022 Holiday Hair Looks Using Their SheaMoisture Faves
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
For Black women, there’s one compliment that will boost our confidence like none other: “Come through hair!” You know the vibe! Walking into a room with folks acknowledging that your hair is laid for the gawds, and the effort that it took to get it there, is a top five feeling. And with the holiday season just weeks away, you’ll be hearing that quite often. Between Thanksgiving gatherings with the family, Friendsgiving, company parties, and Christmas get-togethers, the opportunities to let your hair show up and show out aren’t too far away.
Apart from the holiday stuntin’, the end-of-year slow down is also the perfect opportunity to reevaluate the year your hair has had. Whether you kept it cute with protective braids, went big with blowouts, or let loose with textured twist-outs, this is the perfect time to give your hair the gift of TLC - tender lovin’ curls. Like the weather, our hair goes through seasons and has different needs depending on what we’ve put it through. Perhaps the transition into fall/winter has left your curls a bit parched and in need of some serious hydration. Or maybe your strands could use some restorative conditioning after taking it down from a convenient protective style. No matter what category you fall into, SheaMoisture has hundreds of ways that you can clean, treat and refresh your hair for a healthy shine that will bring you into the new year right. Bring your curls back to life with the nourishing and fragrant Coconut & Hibiscus line. Boosted with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, neem oil, carrot oil, and shea butter, this line is the antidote to reviving thirsty, dehydrated hair. Even better - with SheaMoisture’s custom quiz, you can get a hair analysis that will lead you to the right products for your hair needs. Say hello to sleek edges, and moisturized, stronger strands.
In need of a little hair-spiration? We got you covered! xoNecole and SheaMoisture have teamed up with three natural hair influencers to debut their holiday hair looks. Meet Ambrosia Malbrough, Jasmin Moses, and Daye Covington - beauty bawses who’ve created some incredible holiday looks that are stylish and easy to achieve. They also gave us the scoop on the SheaMoisture products they’re loving right now, as well as their 2023 hair goals.
Read on for more:
Daye Covington Kicks Her Twist Out Up A Notch With A Voluminous Updo
“I wanted to create a style that was super cute but also easy to pull together, so I went with a puff and tendril combo! It's a style that can be done on freshly washed curls or one that can be done on old hair. [It’s perfect for] when we're short for time but want to add a little razzle-dazzle to our hair before a special occasion. It's very versatile!”
“My favorite Shea Moisture product hand's down is the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie! That is definitely a #TeamNaturalHair staple. Coconut is one of the ingredients that my hair favors. I also find that medium/light creams absorb best in my hair, so it's no surprise that I get amazing definition and moisture when I use the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I love it for twist-outs, braid-outs, and rod set styles. Any product that can give me versatility when it comes to styling plus added moisture, that's what a staple is for me!”
“I would love to dye my hair back to blue! It was my favorite hair color, but unfortunately, my 9-5 now prohibits unnatural hair colors. I'm pushing it with this dark plum color, but I look forward to the day where I can transition into a new stage of life and go back to blue. In the meantime, I'm focusing on length retention. I've been doing well for 2022 and have had no major cuts so I'm hoping to stay consistent with my routine in 2023.”
Follow Daye on Instagram @dayelasoul
Ambrosia Malbrough Made Magic With Poppin’ And Defined Finger Coils
“[Finger coils] is a style that I don’t do often, it takes much more time than my usual wash and go. But that extra time put in makes it extra special and so worth it. The results are beautiful. It’s a style that offers many days of wear, too!”
“[Earlier this year] I did my 4th big chop. This time around hit different as a mom of two. I don’t always have the extra time on my hands to put into my hair, so the short ‘do has been convenient. I’ve realized that not all wash days are created equal even if I use the same products. However, my 4c coils are loving the products I'm using now”
“Since I’ve been having my hair dyed, I’m looking forward to trying Shea Moisture’s new Mongongo and Jojoba Oils High Porosity Moisture Replenish Hair Masque. I am currently growing my hair out and plan on having fun with more highlights and a new shape - possibly a shag cut in 2023!”
Follow Ambrosia on Instagram at @brosiaaa
Jasmin Moses Shows The Secrets To Her Jaw-Dropping Curly Ponytail
“I love doing a sleek ponytail with my baby hairs laid to a T! It helps so my hair isn't in the way when I am cooking and running errands, but it's still snatched to provoke anyone in the room to stop me to say 'girllll your hair is laid!'. I like to add a little razzle dazzle by adding my cute, naturally curly ponytail extensions. It elevates the look perfectly for the holidays.”
“It took me from my freshman year of college to now, almost seven whole years, to know what works for my hair. I love protective styles like wigs and braids because my hair thrives when I don't mess with it. When I leave my hair alone, it grows the best, so I love taking off my wig when I get home, oiling my scalp and putting my bonnet on for bed! When I do wear my natural hair out, what helps me maintain the health of my hair is to get in a rhythm with my hair. [I do] my wash days on Sunday, wear it in a wash n’ go all week, and repeat the next Sunday.”
“My 2023 hair goal is to get back to my 2021 hair length! Recently, a hairstyle damaged my hair causing me to lose 4 inches in length, which was not fun. So I’m working on getting [my hair] back to its original health and keep growing from there! I am also looking forward to trying the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie as a one-product wash n’ go! I hear such great things about it and I think it will give me hold while also keeping my hair lightweight and voluminous. I’m also excited about the Coconut & Hibiscus Defining Styling Gel and Edge Gel.”
Follow Jasmin on Instagram @slimreshae
Exclusive: Teyana Taylor And Director A.V Rockwell Explore Black Motherhood In New Film, 'A Thousand And One'
“This was a match made in denim and door-knocker heaven!” Actress Teyana Taylor jokingly said after letting out a laugh. She was referring to her relationship with the main character Inez De La Paz, in the film A Thousand and One, approaching theaters nationwide this Friday.
Set against the backdrop of 90s - early 2000s Harlem at the inception of gentrification, A Thousand and One chronicles the life of a 20-something-year-old mother of color raising her son. The film captures the realness and relatability of motherhood, family, and marriage. The movie stars multi-talented actress/entertainer Teyana Taylor, William Cartlett, Aaron Kingsley, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, and Terri Abney. It was executive produced by Lena Waithe and was written and directed by A.V. Rockwell.
This film was written through the lens of the often complicated relationship between mothers and sons. However, it isn't your typical movie about urban Black motherhood. No one gets shot, has a drug addiction, and if you ask me, Inez De La Paz (Teyana Taylor’s character) is a ‘shero’; she saves the day, or at least Terry’s life (her son).
This multilayered film touches on the challenges faced while establishing a life following a prison sentence, the flawed NYC foster care system, motherhood, marriage, love, the relationship between a father and son, and Black NYC neighborhoods at the onset of gentrification.
"There's a lot of pain in it, and in order to express pain, there has to be a love that comes with it. So I felt like the movie was a love letter to Black women but a heartbreak letter to New York City…. We contributed so much to the city and made it the special place that it is," said Rockwell. I asked myself, 'How do I reconcile the fact that this place that I love and that is home to me never loved me?'
Teyana Taylor and Aaron Kingsley Adetola.
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
Both Rockwell and Taylor are New York natives, Rockwell is from Queens, and Taylor is from Harlem. The pair agreed they directly related to the lead character, Inez. During our conversation, Taylor explained how we could all connect with Inez. "Inez is within us from being judged or considered difficult for your strength, for your voice, for your tone, no matter how right you are, you're wrong because you're too loud… When you minimize yourself, it's an issue. You're not enough, and when you maximize yourself, it's too much," she said.
According to Rockwell, Taylor auditioned for the role and earned it fair and square, "Nobody can take away from the fact that she earned this role in all the right ways. I think it's great to have that cherry on top. The fact that she's a Harlem girl and that this is a movie about protecting her neighborhood not only what it means to us New Yorkers but what it means to black identity and history in general," she said. "Not only are we honoring Harlem, [but] she is [also] a part of that history that we are trying to protect. I'm really proud of that as well. This person who is a part of this historic neighborhood gets to be the one leading the torch of this role."
We all know Taylor as the uber-talented singer, dancer, actress, fashionista, entrepreneur, artist, wife, and mother. She seems to do it all so effortlessly, but Taylor described the role as therapeutic. It allowed her to put down that superwoman persona while filming on set. "The easy part about this role was that I'm already a mom, so I'm naturally nurturing… In some ways, Inez became very therapeutic for me because it was the only time that I could actually be weak and turn off my strength, and cry and let out all of the things I was battling," the "Rose in Harlem" singer revealed.
Director A.V. Rockwell
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
After watching Taylor master the leading role of this complicated story, it's not absurd to think she may be awarded extensively for her portrayal of Inez. Taylor told me she's ready for everything to come but isn't looking to get too comfortable while soaking up the likely inflow of accolades, "I'm ready. I think it's everything that I prayed for. I think this is God saying ok, here you go… I'm blessed, and I'm grateful, and I just want to continue to just keep working hard and not get too comfortable. Stay hungry, stay the hustler that I am…this is really only just the beginning."
It's not every day we get to see a film with a Black woman starring in a leading role. Furthermore, it's not common to see a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winning movie directed by a Black woman. It's no secret that diversity in Hollywood is uncommon, and the aforementioned are all the more reasons we should visit theaters this Friday to see A Thousand and One.
Not only is this film amazing storytelling, but the production of this film helps to move the needle of diversifying Hollywood and creating spaces for Black women in the film industry forward.
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Feature image by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Focus Features