How Austin-Based Luxury Womenswear Designer Nina Means Empowered Me To Give My Keynote Talk At SXSW
I now understand why thousands of people across the country flock to SXSW in Austin every year. Last week was the first time that I attended interactive; I was there to give the keynote talk at the second annual Women in Digital Festival (learn more about that HERE). Our #OhEleanora team arrived with one full day to spend downtown prior to the event, and we experienced just enough magic in those 24-hours to last us for the next year.
The topic of my talk was The Great Sisterhood Awakening. I was there to empower hundreds of women who work in the digital space to support each other rather than compete. It was a huge honor to be there, as I consider myself still somewhat new to this field of work, in the midst of a career transition from traditional office jobs into the mysterious and uncharted landscape of content creation and digital platform management.
In preparing for this event, it was a goal of mine to partner with a brand that really meant something to me. I wanted to stand on stage in an elegant suit that made me feel comfortable and strong, so I could focus on delivering an important message with 100% confidence that my clothing would be the melodic underscore to my words and not be a distraction. I reached out to my friend Nina Means in Austin and asked if she would fit me in a look she felt would be most appropriate for the occasion.
If you don’t know of Nina and The Nina Means Collection, you absolutely need to add her to your list of local / regional designers to follow and to invest in. She has created elevated daywear for the sophisticated woman, and the mission of her brand is Women Empowering Women. I recently wrote an article about her (read it HERE), and our professional relationship has quickly turned into not only a friendship, but a true sisterhood.
After an inspiring Sunday spent at SXSW interactive (during which the theme of women’s empowerment was loud, proud and hyper-prevalent), we met Nina for my fitting on the rooftop of the Archer Hotel in the Domain. We ooo-ed and aaaah-ed over the rolling rack of her superior fitting, sustainably produced, feel-good power clothes, and then I began to ask questions that led into an open conversation with Nina about her experience in the workplace.
After a candid discussion about challenges she faced in New York City as she was cutting her teeth for big fashion houses before launching her own brand, we both realized that we had extremely similar stories about women in more senior positions in our work places holding us down and treating us poorly, rather than supporting our growth. Nina’s response, much like mine when I launched Oh, Eleanora, was to break that cycle and launch a clothing brand that would be part of the solution for that competitive and bullying behavior, rather than contributing to the problematic cycle that (let’s be honest) is often what’s really keeping us from the C-suite.
If Nina Means is about Women Empowering Women, then I was not only identifying with her mission, but I was about to wear her story in order to share mine. As women, we create a domino effect of how we either support one another or hold each other back. Nina pursuing her dreams and following her heart allowed me to feel comforted and empowered to share words of encouragement about living my truth as a storyteller and creative editorialist.
It is my hope that, out of the hundreds of women I shared a moment with last week, a few were inspired to carry the positivity forward and build bridges in their workplaces (and in their digital spaces) for other women, instead of build walls. We have a responsibility to be kind to one another, so that our footprints in both the real world and in the digital world pave the way for others to rise alongside us. When we lift each other up to realize our greatest potential as women, we all win.
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