I don’t know when I first discovered Create & Cultivate, but I’m sure it was on instagram. Their account is the perfect mix of female empowerment and millennial pink, stacked full of inspiring women, career advice, and all the best brand partnerships.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to attend one of their perfectly curated - and highly instagrammable - events. Last week, I finally got my chance. I packed up my favorite power suit and hopped on a flight to San Francisco to “create and cultivate the career of my dreams.”
THE HAPPY HOUR
Create & Cultivate kicks off with an attendee happy hour (read: free drinks) the night before the conference. This is probably your best chance for networking, as everyone is so busy learning and shopping on conference day that it can actually be a little harder to make connections. Bring tons of business cards, grab a cocktail, and get ready to network!
The San Francisco conference was hosted at SVN West and all I can say is wow. Honestly, this was probably the best event venue that I’ve ever seen! With three full floors and a rooftop of conference space, I never felt crowded or claustrophobic - even with 1,000+ women in attendance! The space was colorful, creative utopia filled with flowers, free coffee and badass women. If my Instagram feed was a real place, it would be a Create & Cultivate event.
As it goes with most events of this nature, most of the attendees were female-identifying, young professionals, and a large percentage of attendees seemed to work in creative or marketing-related fields.
I was impressed by the diversity in the panels, and I could tell that the C&C team had put a lot of thought and effort into choosing topics and speakers. My only qualm with the panels themselves was that the speakers spent a lot of time introducing themselves and telling their stories (and with six panelists and only 40 minutes, that can eat up a good chunk of time) and we didn’t always seem to get to the actual topic of the panel. In fairness, I’ve seen this at a lot of events and I think it’s a common problem. But C&C had such good topics that I wish we had been able to hear more about them!
Create & Cultivate offers two tracks: Entrepreneurship and Social Media. I was on track two, which focused on social media and content curation. While I thought my day was full of great speakers and interesting panels, I do think I would switch tracks if I could go back and choose again. I felt like most of the panelists for track two were bloggers and influencers, which makes sense for social media, but I was hoping to hear from more businesswomen and industry professionals. In fact, my favorite panel was entitled “Brand Equity: How to build a brand that lives beyond the social bubble” and was full of professional branding experts from companies such as Alaska Airlines and Volvo.
I’m not going to lie, I’m always skeptical of celebrity speakers at business conferences. It’s hard for me to imagine that they have a lot to tell normal people about succeeding in business beyond “have you trying being born rich?” But Create & Cultivate did a great job of getting celeb speakers with substance. I was impressed by Guiliana Rancic’s backstory and her long road to success, and I was even more pleasantly surprised to find out that Kourtney Kardashian is both the funniest Kardashian sister and a super savvy business woman.
If I could live in the Create & Cultivate Exhibitor’s hall, I would. From Supergoop to Bumble Bizz to La Croix, these activations were seriously incredible. There were no shortage of professional photo ops or free stuff, and they even had professional hair and makeup stations spread throughout the venue (and I was never in a line for anything for more than 10 minutes, even for dinner!).
THE VIP PERKS
With my company footing the bill, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the event as a VIP. And I have to say… it’s not worth the money. To be honest, I think the recent launch of the “C&C Insiders” program kind of stole the thunder from VIP, and they got all the good perks like front row seating and skipping the line. Of course, VIPs did get an open bar and a better gift bag, so make of that what you will, but if I were you, I’d just pay for a C&C Insiders membership instead (it’s even cheaper than a VIP upgrade).
THE FINAL WORD
It’s a long day. For almost 13 hours you’re on your feet, trying to network and make the most of your experience, and it gets exhausting. If there was one recommendation I’d make to C&C, it would be to split the event into two, shorter days. But overall, I loved every second of the event. From the people I met, to the food I ate (hello Beyond Meat, I love you), to the brands I interacted with and the panels I attended, it was 13 hours of inspiration and empowerment. And I can’t want to do it all again next year.