1Girl Gala: Fashion, The Event, Networking, and More!

https://soundcloud.com/kelseagunner/1girl-gala-fashion-the-event

Hey friends. Long time no blog. That’s because I’ve been a busy little mofo. But I’ve got some time to blog a bit so here we go!!

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On Wednesday of last week, I attended the Second Annual 1Girl Gala in downtown Columbus. It was a pretty perfect evening for a couple of reasons. The first being that I was with the two loves of my life, my dapper Wesley, and my counterpart in all things Nonprofit/Columbus/Networking, Tonnisha. I’m noticing how important these two are to my confidence and my success. I don’t think I’ve ever actively shared those things I consider to be my “passions” with someone I’m romantically involved with. It felt amazing to share that part of my world with Wes. Having him by my side, learning and understanding about this amazing organization felt like I was letting walls down and really letting him into my world. That was a big deal to me.

Secondly—Nish and I have kind of developed a one-two punch at events like these. Even if we didn’t work together, I would’ve been certain that I would’ve run into her at this event. She’s been amazing about introducing me to her contacts and it seems like most of them expect to see us together. This is good/important for a couple of reasons. When people see me, they usually ask me about Tonnisha, (and hopefully vice versa) which means we’re doubling our exposure in the community. Also, who doesn’t love to see two black, young professional women united in the front of networking and charity?

Back to the deets.

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FASHION: I wore my new classic LBD. It’s a black, fitted maxi dress from Express with a high slit in the leg. The neckline is cut in a particularly interesting fashion that I think compliments my short hair and collar-bone well. It’s reminiscent of the 90’s (in my mind) and reminds me of something Rachel Green would wear on a date—which is probably why I bought it, as I’m almost all the way through FRIENDS On Netflix. (Baby Emma is soooo presh!) I paired it with simple black Bebe close-toed pumps, as it’s starting to transition into fall and my toes weren’t done. I’d typically do a strappy heel with this, especially considering the slit—but I didn’t think it would be weather appropriate on this particular evening. And, luckily, because I’m so short, my shoes/feet are rarely visible in this dress.  I went with a pair of gold leaf drop-earrings I recently purchased from Icing because I’m obsessed with the Black/Gold look. I threw some curls in my hair and straightened my side-swept bangs. I did pretty basic makeup with matte-cherish lipstick from MAC, topped with a rose-colored gloss from Express. It seemed to be a successful outfit.

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THE EVENT: So, I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned 1Girl in this dear little ol’ blog before. Here’s what you need to know: 1Girl works on the back of pre-existing after school programs in Central Ohio (Toledo and Michigan, too, I believe) for middle school girls (5th-8th grade). Basically, the mission of 1Girl is to teach/impart concepts and ideas like conflict resolution, problem solving, time management, public speaking, confidence, etc. All of the important life lessons that you don’t always learn at school and may or may not be learning at home. I learned, earlier this year, after attending the Keyholder event held by The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, that an average girl’s confidence begins to decline at AGE 8!!! Can you believe that?! A typical girl will feel the best about herself, at the tender age of 8. 3rd grade. Crazy! Ever since I heard that statistic, a fire has been lit under my butt to do something to change it. Because it’s simply ridiculous. Nish introduced me to 1Girl and I reached out to the owner to find a way to get involved. I signed up to become a facilitator (which I will get into later) and also joined the Event Committee to help set up for this specific gala.

Wesley and I arrived a little after 6:10-ish. It was held at the Columbus Anthenum, which I had never been in before. It’s a pretty cool venue and Wesley even noted it would be a cool place to have a wedding. We immediately got name tags which stated our involvement in 1Girl and our “VIP” status. We decided to head to the bar—but noted the set-up of the gala on the way. There was a silent auction set up with some cool stuff up for sale, including some baskets full of different themed prizes and even some locally made décor pieces and business services. There were a few round tables with seats around them, that I later learned you were expected to pay for (which I was not made previously aware of) and then some smaller, round, standing tables. There was a small stage with a projector screen behind it. Wesley and I grabbed some Pinot from the bar and mingled until the event started.

A facilitator started the event by sharing her experience in 1Girl. This was followed by a short video that featured some interviews with some of the girls in the program as well as some of the facilitators. I was happy about this video because I’ve tried to explain 1Girl to a lot of people, (including Wes and his friends) and I feel like this video explained the program and its benefits and importance, to him, and all the other newcomers in the room better than I ever could. So I was super thankful for that!! After the video, the founder of 1Girl, Shelby, spoke for a little bit and sent out some thank you’s. Then we were dismissed for drinks and food and fellowship.

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NETWORKING: So I definitely purchased tickets and attended this event because I believe in the cause and am passionate about making young girls confident creatures instead of statistics. Don’t get it twisted. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also attend for the networking opportunities. Think about it from a completely heartless, business-minded perspective: You are dressed up, at a Charitable event, sponsored by local businesses, with a semi-open bar. This is a cesspool for networking. Lucky enough for me, my fellow Columbus Ambassador and Networking Counterpart, Tonnisha English, was in attendance as well. As mentioned, she and I have developed a one-two-punch at these events that have proven beneficial. Not to say that we have a scripted routine or anything—but both of our outgoing personalities and similar passions bode well for networking. We tend to talk each other up and draw conversations into a positive space. Por ejemplo, she and I attended a cocktail hour that she had stumbled upon simply because the name sounded cool. It turned out to be the very first Bad Bish Network event, and turned into us becoming a part of the website launch and memorable contacts with Columbus Socialite and Philanthropist, Erin Scott. My mom has told me since I was ten years old, “If you’re not networking, you’re not doing anything.” And this has proven itself true, time and time again.

So when a petite brunette with a super sharp pixie cut wandered our way, Nish and I extended a greeting and invited her to stand with us and our guests. She turned out to be the director of a non-profit I’m super interested in getting involved with: Girls on The Run. Before the night was over, I had her business card and she had connected with us on social media outlets. Bada bing, bada boom!

THE AFTER: Wes and I decided to duck out of the event after the last speaker had wrapped up, (partly because I had already reached my limit of two glasses of Pinot and was feeling mighty fine) and decided to head to the mall!! Ha! It turned into a pretty fun night, considering we were running around a practically empty mall in formal attire. Wesley had broken his Ray Bans and we were trying to find a Sunglass Hut to fix them. This led to us trying on Sunglasses, obviously, and just some pretty fun little moments. I was in a cloud of pure affection for this man. Partly from the Pinot, but mainly because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to find someone who supported me fully like he does. He continues to surprise me with different layers of his personality—but I have never known him to not truly make an attempt and an effort to make me happy. And, at the end of the day, what more can you really ask for?

All, in all, a pretty fun Wednesday. Check out the links within the post to get more information on 1Girl, Girls On The Run, Tonnisha, The Bad Bish Network, and more ways you can NETWORK!

Love and hugs.

-K

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