I had planned this trip with my friend Jasmine a while ago. We knew by the end of the summer that we would go to New York and meet incredible and inspiring women. However, it only hit us probably a week before our departure date from Montreal. We were freaking out and asking each other what are the things we wanted to do, to see, to eat, to try, to whatever New Yorkers do. Was this trip worth it in coldish November. YES. Was the Girlboss Rally worth it? YES. I therefore decided to write a blog post that would give an idea of what I did, who I met and share my opinions on this one-of-a-kind event.
*Note that there will be more pictures on Instagram and my photography portfolio soon.*
Our flight was delayed, so we only got to spend some time during night as soon as we landed. It was cold, or mostly windy, when we were walking from our hotel, The Evelyn, to the East Village. It was the first time for both Jasmine and I to got to the East Village in Manhattan. It felt like we belonged there somehow. It reminded me of the Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal or Cairo: the cute apartments, the stores, food stands, the smell, the cars honking and driving fast… It’s not like we didn’t know this about New York. It just felt like chez-soi for some reason. Maybe it’s because it’s not really a touristic area and so, it didn’t hit us for a couple of minutes that we were in New York. But we felt good, young adults trying to live the life with a wide-eyed gaze.
We walked hours (it felt like it anyway) to find the least packed restaurant. We walked in the Eataly (Italian) Market and it was full of people, we couldn’t find the exit door. We then found Madame Vo, recommended by our hotel staff, but we had to wait one hour to get a table. We were so hungry and decided to leave because our stomachs couldn’t wait any longer. We went to Momofuku, a restaurant Jasmine found online, but it was as full as Madame Vo, so we left again. Alas, the restaurant right next to it, Tatsu Ramen With a Soul, welcomed our hunger in a quite fast manner.
The most interesting thing about Tatsu is that the moment you get in you, technology takes place. You first see iPads on a wall. You wait in line until an iPad is available for you to pick your meal, drink, etc. You pay right away, tapping your card on the device. Then you wait a couple of minutes until you’re assigned to a table. Without you noticing it, your ramen arrives and I can’t describe how delicious that ramen was. To be honest, what was better than the food was the experience itself: using technology and discovering a new environment, a cozy minimalist place with friendly people.
For dessert, we grabbed some cookies at Insomnia Cookies. At first, the place looked sketchy and very small, but after buying and tasting our desserts, our mouths were probably drooling. This place was recommended by the waiters at Tatsu and we don’t regret it a bit. I chose a cookiewich (sooo goood).
That was the Girlboss Rally day! Jasmine and I were trying not to be too excited or not to have our hopes up too much. We had mixed feelings for a second: do girls genuinely support each other? Will we find a community or meet friends? Will we get to meet our inspirations? These questions ran through our minds as we were getting ready for the rally, which was in Brooklyn, a part of New York we never visited before. Before getting into an Uber to go to our destination, we stopped at the Flatiron building (crossed it off of my bucket list!) to take some cool pictures. Enjoy them here:
The rally was at the Knockdown Centre, another weird-looking place. Once arrived, we waited in line to present our tickets and receive our smarter kit and badge. Once inside, I was mesmerized by the colours and the look of the centre: the building looked like a good-looking factory, it for sure had an old-New-Yorker’s-apartment feel to it. The Girlboss team nonetheless decorated it with mostly pink walls and curtains that matched with the dark brown bricks. We sat on comfortable white chairs, had access to a special “store” called The Collective where we could buy some Girlboss merch, books, or other female entrepreneurs’ products (clothes, candles, jewelry, bags, etc.), were provided with coffee, tea, snacks all day à volonté and there was a place for anyone to charge their phones if needed.
We were supposed to start at 10, but we probably started 30 minutes later and this is when we saw coming on stage the one and only Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO of Girlboss, as well as founder and former CEO of Nasty Gal.
She was dressed elegantly, in a long beautiful black dress, and seemed a little nervous at first. She started her speech by telling her story, the one most of us know: she explained how the whole #Girlboss phenomenon started, how Nasty Gal came true, but she didn’t only focus on the good parts of her journey. She admitted the failures and how she’s still healing from Nasty Gal’s bankruptcy. That was emotional, but her strength and confidence was unbelievable to me when she said, “I did my best, I did everything I could.” She continued by explaining how the Girlboss rally started, then announced the launch of the Girlboss community.
After her speech, Sophia left the stage to give place to Kirsty Godso, a fitness trainer and entrepreneur. She was the sweetest thing ever. She made us move and dance to Drake, which woke everyone up and made us repeat after a self-love speech and made us feel beautiful.
Then, we moved on to the real business talks. Next was Sallie Krawcheck, co-founder and CEO of Ellevest. She talked about how important it is to keep track of our finances and to invest, not only in our businesses and ourselves because our future, older self will thank us for it. Another piece of advice from her: “Don’t marry a d**k!”
I got to meet other creative, inspiring, original female entrepreneurs and artists. Some were fashion designers, others were painters, graphic designers, or even lifestyle and fitness trainers. There was such a great diversity, I was so stoked! We all exchanged our instragram handles and our business cards and encouraged each other.
The highlight of my day was when I got to give my book to the inspiring Maryellis Bunn, founder and CEO of the Museum of Ice Cream. She is so kind and relatable. I loved how she spoke about loneliness and storytelling. Success for her is making people less lonely and that made me love her even more. I also got to meet one of Girlboss’ writers, Theresa Avila, who generously gave me tips on how to write great articles.
Furthermore, I learned a lot about raising capital, self-investment, etc., all this money talk I was scared to face because I felt weak or stupid, as if this was a man’s thing. But I learned it could be a woman’s thing too, and it should because, supposedly, women take wise decisions when it comes to business. I also learned from Ita Ekpoudom, partner at GingerBread Capital, that your idea doesn’t need to be original and your shouldn’t be afraid of sharing even if people steal it. You should think of equity and just execute it.
Lastly, I loved Arianna Huffington’s sassiness, Amani Al-Khatathbeh’s clear and elaborate answers on representation in the media and everyone’s kindness. And don’t get me started on the delicious lunch we had and the cool gift bag we received in the end. Plus, the boss shots as seen here.
We ended Saturday with a dinner at Shake Shack because it was probably the one restaurant opened for us very late at night. Then we walked to Times Square and enjoyed the bright lights that makes you feel like the night is young and never ever ending.
Although, we slept at 2-3am, we were determined to wake up early to complete our bucket list. First stop was the Brooklyn Bridge. Just check out the pictures and you’ll understand why we were in awe.
Then we walked from the bridge to Chinatown and Little Italy, but right before that we stopped at Glossier, bought some nice products, appreciated the architecture of the store and were impressed by the packaging of our purchases, then had a little photoshoot at the NOMO Hotel in SoHo.
We were also randomly invited by a guy in the streets to participate in the Daily Harvest festival. They had free samples of food, smoothies etc. They were promoting their healthy products in a very modern, cool and technological way, just like at Glossier. Montreal, please take some notes.
In Little Italy, we ate some good bagels, including the rainbow bagel, then we drank a pretty artistic matcha at Cha Cha Matcha, took a picture with Audrey Hepburn and at last, shopped at Soho. We bought some very nice clothes, clothes we rarely find in Montreal.
Towards 5pm, it was time to leave, go back to our hotel, take our bags and head to the airport to catch our flight. Everything about New York is magical, even the JFK airport. Everything from buying something, to tasting something, to seeing it, to walking the streets is an unforgettable experience on its own. That’s why, since the first time I ever been to New York, the latter has always been a favourite of mine. It makes you feel like anything is possible, that any of your dreams will come true and that you can shine brighter than Times Square will ever do.