In what is sure to become a NYC tradition, last weekend powerhouse women’s lifestyle brand POPSUGAR hosted two days completely dedicated to wellness, empowerment and self-care for women. Starting with the Women’s March, the largest protest in the history of the United States, to the maturing and mainstreaming of the #MeToo movement, begun so long ago by activist Tarana Burke, it has been a historic past two years for women. Last weekend’s POPSUGAR Play/Ground was all about a female-centered, guilt-free focus on fun!
In between sliding down the adult slide and playing in the ball pit at Manhattan’s Pier 94, POPSUGAR Play/Ground attendees listened to a host of inspirational talks on everything from starting your own business, becoming a social media influencer, shopping on a budget, the latest fashion and makeup trends to personal finance advice and much more. Owner of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington gave a talk on disengaging from social media to protect your mental health. A class in mindful meditation also went a long way in teaching attendees how to work toward peace and contentment in their lives. CoverGirl Senior Vice President Ukonwa Ojo gave advice on landing your dream job. Tomi Adeyemi, 24-year-old author of the breakout blockbuster “Children of Blood and Bone,” who has a seven figure book deal and a movie deal, offered advice to writers who want to get their books adapted to film. Former editor at Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth, chatted with actress, producer and writer Mindy Kaling (“Wrinkle in Time,” “The Mindy Project”) about not being afraid to indulge your ambitions.
Both days began with heart-pumping workouts by celebrity fitness instructor Kayla Itsines. Sunday, Simone De La Rue of Body by Simone added her own workout class. The founder of barre3, Sadie Lincoln, led a custom barre class. For the more namaste-minded, Wanderlust Studios gave a yoga class.
Of course, some of the biggest attractions were top talent from television and media. Tiffany Haddish and Amanda Seales turned the myth of the overnight success on its head as they revealed their long, hard road to “instant fame.” Actresses from a number of the CW shows, Ashleigh Murray (“Riverdale”), Vanessa Morgan (“Riverdale”), Candice Patton (“The Flash”) and Caity Lotz (“Legends of Tomorrow”) talked about the pros and cons of their profession.
Events were split into two loosely themed “stages.” The Play Stage featured all the live musical performances from AlunaGeorge and Tinashe, inspiring talks from celebrity guests and the various workout classes. The Ground Stage featured more intimate workshops and talks with celebrities, influencers and guest speakers for attendees with VIP passes.
A slew of vendors provided ample opportunities to get in lots of retail therapy. Handbags, yoga gear, nail polish, makeup, jewelry, facials, manicures, shoes and more were all on offer. Online hair color conditioning company Overtone generously supplied comfy couches, super-friendly representatives and a handy dandy charging station for those attending who needed to charge their phones while they planned their next stops—a small touch that made the experience that much better.
One of the many interesting stories was that of UR Bath and Body, a line of scrumptious bath and body products. After losing her job, company founder Tracy Gunn began making products at home and giving them to friends. They urged her to start selling them. She not only created a business but also found a way to help others. UR Bath and Body employs formerly homeless women to make and help sell the products. “I was so close to homelessness at one point,” Gunn said. “I went to a shelter in the Bronx and when I saw the ladies who live there, I said, ‘This is going to be my mission.’”
There were a number of handbag designers at the event but Goldno.8 was unique. Former Isaac Mizrahi and Ralph Lauren exec Ariane Gold recently launched her own line of edgy, yet stylish and multifunctional, bags. She made time to personally demonstrate how they work. She explained that her goal was to “allow our customers to build their own bag.”
She added, “They can be part of the creation process. When you got the website, you can pick the components and build your own bag.”
Indeed, the bags are reversible and can sport regular, wristlet or cross body straps. The inner linings are removable and the outside features detachable decorative clips and snaps that you purchase separately.
POPSUGAR Play/Ground also gave up loads of free swag! Victoria’s Secret, with a staff of professional helpers who performed with military precision, took bust measurements, doled out coupons for future purchases and free workout clothes: leggings, bras, tops! Nordstrom offered a wall full of free samples of perfume, facial serums, sunscreen, moisturizers, etc. Otterbox had a free giveaway of phone cases. Kohls held a “Wheel of Fortune,” where participants won Kohl Cash for varying amounts. Even fast food chain Wendy’s was in on the fun, serving up free full-sized salads and drinks!
POPSUGAR Play/Ground really demonstrates the high value of having women-centered spaces dedicated to joy and pleasure. The experience is truly reinvigorating. The only criticism I have is that I would have liked to see more vendors who were women of color. Judging from the company’s seeming commitment to provide a safe space and good time for all of the attendees, I would guess that will change as the event grows. My advice is grab your girls and run, don’t walk, to next year’s POPSUGAR Play/Ground!