Inside the 2020 Embrace Ambition Summit

The Tory Burch Foundation hosted their second Embrace Ambition Summit on March 5 in New York City and I am so grateful to been selected to attend. It was one of the most inspiring groups of people (both in terms of speakers and attendees) that I’ve had the chance to be with and hear from. If interested, you can watch the entire summit here or check out some highlights here.

The #EmbraceAmbition campaign is an initiative that works to empower women by overcoming stereotypes and the biases that we subconsciously encounter on a daily basis. What is such a hugely complex topic to address, The Tory Burch Foundation did so emphatically through the Embrace Ambition Summit by bringing together an inspiring group of women and men.

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What keeps replaying in my head is Wade Davis’ remark that “Feminism is a man’s game too” - that we’re all in this together – because let’s face it, we’re better together - and it’s the responsibility of both men and women to have open, meaningful conversations about equality and the issues surrounding gender expectations in society. The only way forward is to bring it to light and talk about it. Supporting women doing something they feel passionate about in no way diminishes our own accomplishments and abilities.

I can say with certainty that I’ll look back on this day as a pivotal moment in the course of my career – one that pushed me to confront the boundaries I’d set for myself. It opened my eyes even further to some of today’s most pertinent issues, challenged my thinking, and shifted my perspective. It helped me see more clearly the positive impact of being open-minded, using our voices to stand up for what we believe in - even if some people might not like it - and that “it’s okay to say no, to walk away, and to do things differently” (Halima Aden) because our power starts from within.

What’s been most motivating to me in my own journey are the amazing stories of other women lifting each other higher in pursuit of their dreams, to be emboldened by their tenacity and the space they’re taking up.

In starting this business, one that I hope can be more than just leather goods but a platform to serve others as it evolves, I’ve learned the power in community. I hope for Maragold to have a social impact that empowers others to follow their own dreams, fight for what they believe in, and challenge the status quo even when it’s the harder route. In the words of Kirsten Green, we shouldn’t “get stuck in fear and worry because there’s always a new day on the other side of it.”

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The day was packed to the brim with inspirational people that are paving the way for others; those that push boundaries and spark challenging conversations to create a more equal-opportunity world and open our eyes to the ways we can question biases and fight injustices just by being our own ambitious selves.

Speakers included feminist activist Gloria Steinem, the first major hijab-wearing model and UNICEF ambassador Halima Aden, National Geographic Marine Biologist Sylvia Earle, youth activists Deja Foxx and Jordan Reeves, Fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg with Jason Bolden, A.J. Andrews & Bianca Valenti with Cathy Englebert to discuss equal pay in women’s sports, GRAMMY nominated singer and songwriter Yola… just to name a few. You can see the whole speaker lineup as well as some highlights from each of their discussions here!

Notably, when Claudette Colvin took the stage, the energy in the room was palpable and brought people out of their seats for a standing ovation. At the age of 15, Colvin impulsively refused to give up her seat to a white woman, ambitiously standing her ground. When asked why she didn’t get up to give her seat to a white woman, she replied “You know what? History had me glued to the seat… It felt as though I had Harriet Tubman’s hand pushing me down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth’s hand was pushing me down on the other shoulder.”

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Empowered women empower others. Let’s keep the conversation going.