Behold.Her Turned One!

Leah here! I can't say enough how delighted I was to see everyone who was able to make it and hearing from those who couldn't. I was overwhelmed by the florals, the treats, and the willingness to help set up everything. I get super cheese-bally when people say nice things, so my awkward faces was a reflection of gratitude. Your willingness to be present and cheer Behold on is...gah, it's just so fucking amazing and I will never have the words to truly explain how grateful I am to have met and keep meeting beautiful humans. I can't get enough of the mix of faces in the crowd. HUGE thanks to our Behold.Her Fellow, Vanessa, for taking photos and interviews during the event and writing her recap of the event. Cheers to more years!

bday 1.jpg

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BIRTHDAY BASH BY VANESSA BAIONI!

Last night was a blast! A huge thank you to all you lovely ladies who came out to party with us and to celebrate Behold.Her's first trip around the sun - and of course, to Aphra for letting us use Sally's Middle Name as our amazing space for the night! The set-up was spectacular: while LeahHaleluya, and I were perhaps breaking a law or two driving over with those big ass confetti balloons packed in our cars, so many people were already there getting shit together and prepping the space for the decorations and amazing treats that were soon to fill the space. Arrin sent Claire from Wollam Gardens literally spruced up the place, with some evergreen boughs along the walls and adding some texture to the gorgeous seasonal bouquets. The little potted plants on almost every surface were so popular, many ladies (and I'm not naming any names) may or may not have swiped some to take home. Everything went so smoothly thanks to all the help we had - it felt like everything developed organically from frenzied set-up to a bumpin' party at exactly the stroke of 6pm.

bday 2.jpg
bday 3.jpg
bday 4.jpg
bday 5.jpg

As people started filtering in, they drifted towards the delectable DIY s'mores table we had set up at the front. Those sugary-sweet marshmallows and melted chocolate bars from RareSweets stained more than a few fingers throughout the night, and I know for a fact I am not the only one who was guilty of smearing marshmallow bits on my phone screen (I'm looking at you, Hal). The delicious mulled wine provided by Elisa was another huge hit at the start of the party - people naturally moved towards the yummy apple warmth she was dishing out.

bday 6.jpg
bday 7.jpg

I, for one, was eyeing that blueberry-filled vanilla cake baked for us by the talented Lauren Petri of Sweetri Bakery the ENTIRE night. Leslie in particular was a fan. Her severe gluten allergy prevents her from enjoying stuff like that usually, so she was stoked about it, saying, "The cake was incredible and scary gluten free: he kind of gluten free that tastes so good that you think someone mixed up the order. I do not have many opportunities to enjoy the cake at a party, so this was such a treat. I legit had a photo shoot with my piece of cake. There are maybe 30+ pictures in my phone right now of the experience! I also woke up thinking about it and was sad I didn’t grab some for the road. Oh and big thanks to Leah and Theresa for taking the proper precautions to reduce cross contamination, because I wasn’t trying to go out like that. Nope!" Refraining from picking berries off the top of the Sweetri masterpiece, I grabbed a couple of those mini pumpkin curry pies beside it, and goddamn!!

bday 8.jpg
bday 9.jpg
bday 10.jpg

Talk about a bitchin' treat! Claire aka The Pie Bitch brought in some bite-sized tastes of heaven, and I don't know if you tried the apple cheddar pie, or the pear gorgonzola one??? But, like, shit. I could have eaten solely that all night long.

After the initial mingling and stuffing our faces with all the yummy food and drinks, everyone settled in and grabbed a seat on the floor to participate in a short panel discussion on holiday anxiety and struggles to overcome in the next year. CierraTheresa, and Sarah took the lead and spoke about their own struggles : Cierra is facing a time of unemployment, Theresa is continuing to learn to live with anxiety and depression, and Sarah is working on separating her identity from her brand for the sake of her mental health. These women got really real with us, and while there were laughs all around at certain points, I saw so many women nodding in recognition of the problems these women were coping with. Krista in particular spoke up and shared her story - something that most of us find difficult and uncomfortable to do, especially on our first time at a Behold event.

  Maya repping them Lil Miss Whoopie Pies. Birthday Cake and Chocolate Mint! 

Maya repping them Lil Miss Whoopie Pies. Birthday Cake and Chocolate Mint! 

bday 12.jpeg

"When everyone turned their heads to listen as I spoke, nod along as I exposed a bit of myself, and snap for me in agreement and understanding - it was a comforting shower of 'I hear you; I respect you; I get you.' That's powerful, particularly in a place like DC, where - I think - women may wear a thicker layer of competitiveness and perfection than some other places in our country. I love seeing this love for one another."

Towards the end of the night, I realized that while I'd gotten to know some dope women, I hadn't talked to them that much about Behold.Her - aka the entire reason we were there??? So I chased down a couple of awesome ladies who shared their thoughts on what they love about the series. Laura was super chill even when I popped out of a corner to introduce myself. She shared what keeps her coming back to Behold.Her: “It’s totally about community. I’ve followed along with the development over the past year and few months and there’s just so many different kind of people, so many different interests, so many different subjects being talked about. Being brought together into one place, being able to have real conversations, is something really unique in DC.”

bday 13.jpg

Phoebe was so friendly and willing to chat with me about her experience with Behold.Her. She was even down to record in the bathroom since the room was so loud. She leveled with me about her previous experiences with our events, saying how she's wanted to go to so many but felt overwhelmed and anxious with the idea of being the only one in the room who didn't know anyone, and potentially not fitting in. That night, though, she said she was so happy that she built up the courage to come through and join us. "Just being able to be around other women who are there for genuine connections and just share and cry and be anxious and have these real emotions and not be a Type-A Washingtonian all the time is really great."

The night finally came to an end and as people started to filter out, some grabbed those tasty mini birthday and mint chocolate Lil' Miss Whoopie pies provided on the way out. Others were busting out some sick dance moves in front of the balloons and having a full-on photo shoot, lingering for a bit to make sure they got that shot for the 'Gram. It was an amazing night of warmth, sharing, and building each other up in every interaction - and of course, celebrating Behold and Leah, the woman behind it who made all of this possible! So thank you all for joining us, partying with us, maybe shedding a tear or two with us, and we can't wait to see you again and share all the new things we're bringing to Behold in its second year!

HUGE THANKS TO ALL THE WOMEN WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE

We had several people who made contributions to this evening outside from our guests, including a special donation by Alisha from Girls Night In Club. Aphra Adkins provided her second home, Sally's Middle Name, as a venue to gather in; Meredith from RareSweets created a DIY S'mores table; Elisa made a batch of mulled wine; Claire owner of The Pie Bitch made large and bite sized pies; Arrin and Claire donated greens and florals from Wollam Gardens; Take Home Pies by Lil' Miss WhoopiesDJ Ayes Cold mixed a Spotify playlist for the evening; and Lauren Petri of Sweetri Bakery made a beautiful birthday cake. Our raffle items included: a flower arrangement by Joanna Ball of Flourish Studios, a complimentary manicure by Varnish Lane, five free class from Soul Cycle, a unique necklace from Hati of Definition Studio, a handcrafted leather backpack by ENAT, a tea sampler from Shafa Blends, and an amazingly engineered hair towel rap by La Aronet. Cheers to our volunteers Raisa, Maurielle, and Maya! Big hugs to our Panel Speakers Sarah, Cierra, and Theresa! 


Originally published for Behold.Her on November 14, 2017 at beholdher.co. Does not include audio interviews contained in the original post. 

Happy Hour Number Dos!

THE SECOND HAPPY HOUR FROM OUR FELLOW, VANESSA!

But first, words from our founder: THANK YOU to all the women who showed up last week at our second happy hour! It's amazing to see who shows up and how, even outside of a long work day, you're there for one another. Glide through photos from the event and dive into Vanessa's perspective, our new fellow, who will be taking an active roll writing to you and covering future events! Cheers ya'll! 

happy hour 1.png

As someone who is barely the drinking age, I was a little nervous to attend my first happy hour and Behold.Her event. It can be nerve-wracking to feel like the youngest in the room, but once all the smiling faces started filtering in, I realized just how accepting and welcoming this group really is!

 This is Vanessa, our new Behold.Her fellow! She's cheesin' during our light test.

This is Vanessa, our new Behold.Her fellow! She's cheesin' during our light test.

happy hour 3.jpg
happy hour 4.jpg
happy hour 5.jpg
happy hour 6.jpg

The vendors were incredible! Fluffness showed up with all the flavors! Tatiana’s amazing choice of honey and rose cotton candy blew my mind away. The second choice with caramel tasted like a hint of autumn I’d been craving in these 80+ degree days.

happy hour 7.jpg
happy hour 8.jpg
 Aphra piling up blocks with her son during the happy hour event.

Aphra piling up blocks with her son during the happy hour event.

happy hour 10.jpg
 Look at this ham repping his Behold.Her sticker! 

Look at this ham repping his Behold.Her sticker! 

Casey and April from Lil’ Miss Whoopie came through with delicious bite-sized pumpkin and chocolate whoopie pies. Many of us were guilty of sneaking back for our third, fourth, and maybe eighth. Whatever, who’s counting, right? They were addicting.

happy hour 12.jpg
happy hour 13.jpg
happy hour 14.jpg

Who can forget Alice from Cheese Monster who was busting her ass in the back piling little mounds of heaven onto juicy cubes of watermelon topped with mint?  If you were wondering why the feta was particularly creamy and amazing, it’s because it was made from sheep’s milk! I’m guilty of being the unaccepting lactose intolerant consumer, but it was easy to ignore.

happy hour 15.jpg
 Thanks to our bartenders for the evening and crafting cocktails for our thirsty attendees! 

Thanks to our bartenders for the evening and crafting cocktails for our thirsty attendees! 

happy hour 17.jpg
happy hour 18.jpg
happy hour 19.jpg
happy hour 20.jpg

A huge thanks goes out to Pia, Rachel, and Kate from Republic Restoratives for being such gracious hosts for us in their badass distillery. It’s so inspiring to partner with not only a strong female-owned business, but also the first female-owned distillery in DC! I was all about the dope warehouse vibes and their talented bartenders. It was great to see people who were so dedicated to their craft, and it was even greater to finally taste one of their cocktails at the end of the night.

Okay, now time to get real…

Having a camera around my neck created a convenient way for me to break into conversations and meet some of the ladies who showed up that night. The conversations I overheard as I walked around shooting were inspiring. Women were greeting each other like old friends, even if they’d only met once or for the first time that night!

happy hour 21.jpg

Gigi, a dedicated attendee of Behold events, mentioned  to me, “The women that are here, we all end up being family...We are learning to meet each other as women, and not as what we do.” Since it was my first time, I felt a little nervous approaching people and introducing myself. But this series is all about building real connections with other women and I was happy to understand that Gigi was right. Everybody was on the same page and those barriers I had perceived between me and someone I was trying to approach were just that - a perception. They didn’t exist, and the fact that so many people came up to me to introduce themselves and welcome me to Behold proved that.

happy hour 22.jpeg

I later spoke to Susan, who was coming in from Baltimore. She was telling me about all the positive take-aways she had from this series.She said, “Everybody has a positive attitude and it is totally multicultural. That itself is a very positive thing for me because we can learn a lot from different cultures all the time because each culture has its own contribution to enrich our lives. So long as we respect each other and be non-judgmental, that’s the key. Then we help each other to grow and support.”

The vibes were all positive and synced, unified in understanding that this space was intended to create a supportive environment. I have heard that other events can get pretty heavy, so it was fun watching women losing their shit while playing beer pong or laughing about some hilarious shared experience over drinks. Knowing that  vulnerability is such an important part of Behold events, I was stoked to see how it was incorporated into this casual happy hour in a big way. Women were  telling stories about themselves that they would never share in a workplace happy hour. It takes a lot of trust to open up like that at such a casual event and it was so refreshing to really see first hand what Behold is all about.

happy hour 36.jpg
happy hour 37.jpg
happy hour 38.jpg
happy hour 39.jpg

HEAR FROM OUR SPONSORS!

Words from Alice of CheeseMonster: 

"I think that there are a few important ways to show support for other women. The first thing that springs to mind is recognizing the importance of taking time to connect with other women and really listen to what they have to say. When you have your own business, it's way too easy to become totally focused on yourself and your end goals. It's important to put those aside every now and then and connect with other women and their journeys. Whether it's reaching out to someone you admire to say how awesome you think they are, taking the time to grab coffee with a lady who is looking for advice, or sitting down with other women entrepreneurs and hearing their stories, it's important to put yourself in the passenger seat sometimes and just listen.

I would also love to see women celebrate other women's successes more often and more genuinely. I think that unfortunately women have been somewhat conditioned to feel jealousy towards, instead of pride in, other women's accomplishments. This is something that I have definitely struggled with, as have a lot of my women friends - entrepreneurs or not.  Maybe it's because we've been told that there aren't many women at the top, so we feel that another lady's success mean's our imminent failure; maybe it's because instead of seeing the hard work and missteps in someone else's journey, most of what we see are the pretty pretty pictures and celebration of accomplishments as they are splashed across social media, and it makes us feel less-than. Whatever the cause of these envious feelings, I think that it is important to 1) acknowledge them and realize that they are normal, and then 2) throw them out the damn window. Celebrating someone else doesn't make you any less accomplished, important, or successful. Use the awe that you feel to get inspired, not be deterred."


Originally published for Behold.Her on September 26, 2017 at beholdher.co. Does not include audio interviews contained in the original post.