The Other Festival launched its first ever all female music, arts, and culture festival on June 11th at Spring Studios in NYC. The event was created by Dee Poku-Spalding, founder of WIE (Women Inspiration and Enterprise), after her experience with other male driven festivals. The festival aimed to showcase women who were redefining their roles in their industries by telling their own stories. The bill was full of entrepreneurs, fashion editors, musicians, artists, film makers, actresses, and icons.
The day started off at 11 am with a calming and thoughtful yoga session Yogi Elena Brower and followed by business discussion with Fran Hauser, Lauren Maillian, and Jody Levy moderated by Heather Hartnett focusing on finding your dream investor. At noon, Naomi Campbell spoke with Anne Fulenwider, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, who spoke about her time in the fashion industry and shared anecdotes of her career as a model. Other topics during the morning session included “Breaking The Mold: Disrupters Who Found A New Way” a talk on how Yasmin Green, Rebecca Odes, and Karen Robinowitz all found ways to go out of their comfort zones and create innovative ways to set their companies apart. These talks with Eileen Kelly, Olivia Perez, Amber Asaly, Dounia Tazi, and Barbie Ferreira inspired attendees to take advantage of their social media to further build their brand. Talks with Reshma Saujani, Beverly Bond, and Marissa Shrum, focused on the importance of creating a memorable hashtags and creative ways to make a statement. The first set of speakers ended with an inspiring speech by educator Nadia Lopez titled, “Using Your Creative Voice,” before a brief intermission performance by Falu, who mixes modern and traditional Indian vocal talent.
In between speakers, attendees were encouraged to walk around the space and shop with different vendors and interact with art pieces. Vendors ranged from clothing, to jewelry, to home goods, and even gourmet chocolate, everything being designed and made by women. Loop of the Loom included a loom for a demonstration and for attendees to help create a tapestry.
We spoke with Daniella Kallmeyer, who was also a speaker at the festival, about her brand Kallmeyer. After working for well known fashion designers Proenza Schouler and Alexander McQueen, Kallmeyer wanted to create her own line with designs that were made to last and affordable to the female customer. 100% of her products are made in America and range from clothes, handbags, shoes, and jewelry. Other vendors included Malene B, Haute Chocolate, Rachel Sousa, and interactive art pieces by J. Elster.
During the afternoon, food entrepreneurs Jeni Britton Bauer, founder, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Melissa Ben-Ishay, founder of Baked By Melissa, and Sarah Simmons, CEO and founder of CITY GRIT took to stage to speak about their presence in the food industry and how to stand out when men are commonly more respected than women.
Following the interview, activist and filmmaker Gelila Bekele spoke with Karen Wong about her working with Charity:Water to provide clean water and education for girls in Ethiopia and her commitment to her passion are a documentary filmmaker.
Personal branding was discussed by Melissa Battifarano, design director of Rihanna’s Fenty Corp, Stephanie Mark, co-founder of The Coveteur, and Daniella Kallmeyer, designer of Kallmeyer NY. Everyone showed their own personal style and brand while advising attendees to be unapologetic, to not feel afraid to be bossy and know what you are talking about. Following was a discussion between Cynthia Rowley and her daughter, Kit Keenan. The two discuss the differences between how much the art and fashion industry has changed and how it has affected their approach to working, what they respect about each other, and the entrepreneurial spirit they both share.
Jasmine Solano, Chelsea Leyland, and DJ Kitty Cash took the time to comment on their work as DJ’s and how they have impacted the music industry. Later in the evening attendees had the chance to experience Leyland’s and DJ Kitty Cash’s sets during the music portion of the festival.
Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah finished off the evening’s lectures with a powerful discussion regarding standing up for your right as a woman, the future of sustainability in fashion, and their brand Studio One Eighty Nine. The two shared their passion for the future of empowering and educating women in Ghana and to support the rise of goods coming from Africa. Their project uses fashion to help drive social change and boost the status of handmade artisan goods.
After some final words with Dee, the festival moved to HAUS where female musicians such as Grace Weber, Brooke Candy, and Justine Skye performed incredible sets.