The Other Festival: A Day of Female Empowerment

The Other Festival: A Day of Female Empowerment

The Inaugural All-Female Festival Celebrated Women Who Work Hard and Play Hard

The Inaugural All-Female Festival Celebrated Women Who Work Hard and Play Hard

Text: Jillian Selzer

This weekend, V had the chance to attend The Other Festival, a concert-conference hybrid founded by entrepreneur Dee Poku-Spalding in celebration of female empowerment and women in business. Held at Spring Studios in TriBeCa, the inaugural event hosted a range of panelists and artists including supermodel Naomi Campbell, Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code, DJ Kitty Cash, and the founders of Studio One Eighty Nine, Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah.

As the first all-female festival of its kind, we weren't sure what to expect going in, but the event exceeded expectations in every way. While the venue and the lineup packed a punch in themselves, the sheer number of people in attendance proved that there's strength in numbers with a packed house taking over the ballroom. A marketplace of high-end brands like Voz, Wonder Lee 123 and Malene B. allowed festival-goers to shop in luxury, a perk open for business before and during the festival.

Not only did each panel throughout the day feature powerhouse icons in creative and corporate fields, but the audience utilized the opportunity to network with an incredible array of women, from designers and journalists to students, business owners, and fashionistas. The house was packed and the style was on point. The energy was high and the atmosphere was open. Everyone in attendance had one goal: to celebrate each other's success.

In preparation for the long but productive day ahead, the festival opened with a group meditation session led by New York-based yogi Elena Brower. The entire audience joined together in silence as Brower walked everyone through aura-cleansing mantras and a sitting yoga routine in an effort to revitalize our energy and ensure a positive energy flow throughout the day.

Yogi Elena Brower

After the session, the festival was in full swing as the panels began on the main stage. Topics of discussion ranged from finding your dream investor in business to using your creative voice to going from foodie to food entrepreneur, leaving no stone unturned or any industry left behind. Supermodel Naomi Campbell was a key speaker in The Icon Interview, moderated by Marie Claire Editor in Chief Anne Fulenwider, covering her legacy, what it takes to make it in the industry and her advice for any aspiring businesswoman. Our favorite quote? "If you're coming to New York, do it in style."

In between panels, V sat down with the festival's creator, Women Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) founder Dee Poku-Spalding to learn a little bit more about the concept of the "Other" and why celebrating female empowerment is important.

"It was really about supporting what I was seeing, this maker generation, this self-starter group of young women who I wanted to support and nurture," Poku-Spalding said. "They were all coming to my WIE events, which are more about corporate culture. What I was seeing with this group, female creators, designers, bloggers...I wanted to create an event that really spoke to them and bring their ideas to life.

"[The Other] came from this generation of young women and really just my own experiences when I was in my 20s.. you try so hard to be something you're not and conform and be like everybody else and what I was trying to tap into was owning what's different about you and owning what's 'other' about you. Those things are what make you strong, different and successful. Anyone on that stage is a little bit different; they do things a little differently; they wanted to disrupt, and what we're saying to young women is that you don't have to be like everybody else. You can go out and smash barriers and think differently and find the white space and embrace 'other.'"

In a space filled with creators and influencers, we asked the question, "What does the "Other" mean to you?":

"The idea of The Other Festival is about women connecting with each other and finding a common ground and celebrating our womanhood to find a way to connect with each other." —Aurora James (Founder, Brother Vellies)

"There is no 'other,' that's really what I want to believe and how I want to live my life. We all need to shed this idea that there is an 'other' but that we're all one in the same." —Pamela Love (Jewelry Designer)

"It's celebrating people who think differently, do things differently, and encouraging them to talk together and build the next generation of people that are going to be change-makers. It's changing the dialogue and it's changing the way people do things and instead of focusing on everyone trying to be the same, it's focusing on things that make us different and also that make us similar." —Abrima Erwiah (Co-Founder of Studio One Eighty Nine)

"It's beautiful to show up and say, 'This is other. This is another way of doing things.' This is that other thing that we talk about and [talk about] what it would look like and how different it would be and how we can experience it...and celebrate it and walk away thinking, 'That was different. That had significance. That was necessary. That was different.'" —Rosario Dawson (Actress, Activist, Co-founder of Studio One Eighty Nine)

Check out more photos from the festival below.

Credits: Photos Courtesy of Phocus for The Other Festival

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