Last night’s 10th Annual Women on the Move “HerStory” event and panel discussion provided audience members with goosebump-raising realness and Twitter-worthy quotes for daaays.
The event was co-curated by New York University’s Organization of Black Women, together with Women On The Move (lead by entrepreneur Amber Ravenel). This year’s focus landed on an ever-inspiring theme of “Defying the Box: Female Entrepreneurs Breaking Stereotypes,” calling on some of the baddest in the business to talk shop and lend words of wisdom.
As a bustling audience of students, entrepreneurs and curious minds alike made their way into NYU’s Kimmel’s Center, the infamous, trailblazing DJ Jazzy Joyce was casually spinning welcome music and getting the crowd hyped up with her signature ear-to-ear grin and song selection. Gold crowns resting on every seat in the auditorium greeted each guest, who happily and proudly wore them throughout the duration of the panel, adding extra magic to the evening.
Beginning the discussion by setting the intention that moving forward one will go through each day with inspiration, former Hot 97/SiriusXM host (and now school teacher) Dee Vazquez spoke on how women are multi-dimensional by nature, and noted how the Women on the Move organization has been celebrating that fact over the past decade.
“Why deny one dimension to allow the other to shine?” she asked while going on to discuss themes of sexuality in regards to professionalism and other stereotypes associated with female-identifying people in our society.
As Vazquez went on to introduce each panelist, the applause grew louder each time. This year’s event highlighted the diverse careers and advice of marketing/PR visionary Shante Bacon (CEO of 135th Street Agency), Tracy G, music writer, motivational speaker and “Sway in the Morning” co-host, marketing/media maven Karen Civil, actress turned television and film producer Celines Toribio and Instagram personality and popular cast member of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York, Cardi B.
One of the best parts of the panel was the ways in which each speaker lifted each other throughout the evening, building a critical conversation off of a series of questions relative to the theme of making it in the business world as women of color. Each of the five women have overcome a variety of challenges while following the very path that led them to sitting on that stage, detailing further the trials and tribulations each has gone through in the past, and continues to go through daily.
“If I was dumb, I wouldn’t be here,” Cardi B said, addressing how she often is assumed to be unintelligent because of her thick accent and ‘improper’ vernacular, appearance and well-known background as a stripper. She went on to talk about how connotations of the “hustle” are different once gender comes into play, and how certain “hustles” often paint women in a negative light—but not men.
“People will be like, she’s just a stripper,” Cardi continued. “Even though I don’t dance anymore, I think it’s funny how you think that I’m dumb because I’m a stripper when guys are in the strip club like, look at this girl, she’s so dumb, shaking her a**, let me throw her some money. And it’s like, I’m looking at them, like you’re dumb. You’re throwing me money for no reason! I’m doing what I do at home! Looking at the mirror and putting make-up on. You’re throwing at me in one hour what you worked the whole day for!”
Cardi then changed her tone to address the seriousness behind her past and the ways her hustle hasn’t changed, despite switching gears profession-wise. The principles remain the same: be smart about your decisions, save your money in the process and do what you have to do to eat. Cardi also went on to talk about just because one thing didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean another won’t—a sentiment that each echoed.
As the other panelists had her time on the mic, themes appeared consistently throughout that had audience members taking frantic notes and occasionally erupting into applause or yelling out affirmations. Despite different career focuses, several things remain universal with each panelist highlighting different pieces of advice that can be adapted for any individual focus and mantra.
Throughout the hour-long panel, each panelist dropped gems, with practically each word coming from a place of both experience and passion, therefore holding some serious weight. From Shante Bacon saying, “If something was to happen overnight, everyone would do it. If you’re dreaming big, you have to dedicate big,” to Tracy G’s metaphor of receiving a bouquet of roses versus a potted plant (the one with roots lasts longer), inspiration was abundant.
While the gems dropped by each lady boss could spark enough content for a book (which some of them have actually already written), here’s some take-home quotes from the evening to write down and keep handy for future inspiration:
“Someone else’s successes do not equal your failure.” – Karen Civil
“I can do the same thing with 100 Facebook followers that Angelina Jolie can do with 10 million.” – Celines Toribio
“Even if you’re not pretty, act like you are. Just wait until they find out you’re smart, too.” – Cardi B
“The concept of luck is actually when preparation meets opportunity.” – Tracy G
“Don’t be aware of the fact that you’re the only woman in a room full of men. Just know your s**t and be prepared. The most important thing, is no matter what happens, come to work the next day with a fresh perspective and be ready to work hard.” – Shante Bacon