Last weekend, I was thrilled to be invited to the launch of the Nike Air Max Society, which was “created to celebrate Chicago’s fierce, style-forward, creative, entrepreneurial, badass women, who inspire others with their passion, purpose, and creativity.” Clear my calendar and count me in.
The Bangtel location in residential West Town was not released until the night before, giving it an *exclusive* vibe. I arrived Saturday morning to see a typical Nike check-in, complete with a hair tie bracelet for entry. We took an elevator up that was decorated in a strong Nike quote, meeting up with several aSweatLife friends along the way. Because everything is better with friends. As the doors open, we’re greeted in a posh living room with floor-to-ceiling windows that display the marvelous skyline. To the left, there is a private shopping experience, complete with a custom bra boutique and a style closet featuring Chicago’s fierce fashion brands mixed with Nike. BTW, this is all to celebrate the new Vapor AirMax.
To the right, there is a stunning rooftop. A DJ plays chill house music, a local trainer paints a canvas, women drink smoothies around a lavish firepit, and others prepare for yoga outside. Our jaws are already dropped, but we are encouraged to go downstairs to check everything out before yoga. We got on the waitlist for manis and henna, and we also saw there was a braid bar, a photo booth, a tote bag station, and a serious kitchen situation. Like, full buffet with make your own avocado toast and juice from Real Good Juice Co. Unreal.
There were panels planned throughout the day, both upstairs and downstairs, with successful Chicago women discussing topics like Resilience and Sorry not Sorry. The fab Jeana Anderson Cohen, trainer and founder of aSweatLife, spoke on the Sorry not Sorry panel about being unapologetic for your success. I especially loved her advice to say “thank you” instead of “sorry.” Instead of saying “sorry I’m late,” you’ll instead say “thank you for your patience.” This takes the attention off you (ugh we get it you’re always late) and appreciates them (yeah you are an awesome person for dealing with my late ass!). Duly noted, Jeana.
Of course, they talked a lot about being selfish and unapologetic to be successful with your competing priorities. While this sounds like typical first world problems where you can be narcissistic, these women were all thriving with balancing acts with families and other commitments. It’s not about being selfish always — it’s about being selfish to get your own shit done to help others. You can’t pour from an empty cup, but please don’t forget to pour to those who need it.
The panel ended with a question: Are you solving the problems you want to solve? Whatever problems you want to solve in life, like ending world hunger or learning how to do crow’s pose, you have to constantly ask yourself if you’re working towards those goals everyday. If you’re not, shift your perspective, adjust accordingly, and get ta werk.
I went outside for the rooftop yoga which was taught by the lovely Lauren Ash. No, I had never met this Nike yoga trainer before, but I instantly fell in love with her charismatic yoga instruction. It wasn’t all fluff like a lot of yoga instructors. Also, she is the founder of several orgs like Black Girl in Om. Did I mention her playlist was entirely black women artists of Chicago? She was cool af.
Feeling refreshed from yoga, I finally got my nails done. I befriended Starlotta Milan who did a fab job with my chrome blush polish (aka the new light pink color you’re going to see EVERYWHERE, especially with Nike). She’s a dancer, actress, artist, and overall charming woman. Check her out.
Then, Kendra Williams did my henna. I’ve had some friends do my henna in ResLife at Loyola, but this one was so cool. Of course, I was impatient and messed it up. Ugh.
I grabbed a chocolate-y juice from the fridge (trust) and headed upstairs for the Resilience panel. I had never heard of any of these influential bloggers, but I sure as hell followed them all immediately. Anna Russett, Hayet Rida, and Lindzi Shanks talked about what it’s like being a #girlboss in this crazy world of social media. They talked about how it was weird for them to be truly wanted for their opinion. They weren’t used to walking in a room and being asked for their opinion, but they want to help others realize that their opinions deserve to be heard. You have to retrain yourself to believe you do belong in the room, but it’s so worth it.
I loved when Lindzi said that her favorite quote was from Blair Waldorf, who said that “Destiny is for losers.” You can’t wait for life to happen to you, because you’ll spend your whole life waiting. If you want something, you have to make it happen. It’s your life!
Oh, and work so hard that you don’t have to introduce yourself. Because goals.
We finished up the morning session, but of course I came back for the house party at night. I brought my friend, Suzie, and we got dressed up for the event. Of course, I rocked my Air Maxes. There was a fashion show with some of Chicago’s best trainers like Kate Lemere to show how to style the Air Maxes and still look chic. We drank Babe Rose, enjoying the gorgeous skyline. I got my hair braided, felt like a superstar, and then we headed home, feeling inspired to take on the world and bring the rest of the female population with us.
Creative, inspiring, motivational are understatements for this awesome event. We made new friends (aka role models) and I can’t wait for more.
Nike does have specific social media influencers, but their experiential marketing program is fabulous. While always experimental, especially as Nike’s performance might not be at an all-time high, most cities frequently have events that bring together the #fitfam to do two things — sweat and look damn good while just doin’ it. Professional photographers are one of the perks, so there are always good posts for Insta. Experiential marketing suddenly becomes low-level influencer marketing, simply with some good pics and some free swag and food, and a killer sweat. You can learn more at nike.com/chicago!
Were you able to make it? Are there other #fempire events in Chicago I should know about? Let’s chat and get inspired together!
++ Mary K