On October 14, I entered the luxurious West Hollywood EDITION Hotel on the corner of West Sunset Boulevard and North Doheny Drive, where West Hollywood meets Beverly Hills. It was my first time attending EveryStylishGirl’s Sip N’ Slay conference.
After passing the exquisitely designed foyer, I made my way up the wooden stairs in four-inch heels, greeted by smiling conference staff encouraging me to take a picture in front of the cream Sip N’ Slay step-and-repeat surrounded by roses. After snapping a photo, I was whisked into their exclusive VIP networking luncheon with industry leaders and creators. I enjoyed carefully crafted spirit cocktails sponsored by Ciroc during the cocktail hour, including the “Success Sip,” which included Ciroc, pomegranate vodka, grenadine, sparkling wine and lemon, and browsed the pop-up mini shops from brands like Skintellect, Amika and Shea Moisture.
I was prepared to witness accomplished Black millennial women shining in stylish garments and networking with ease throughout a space designed for us. But I didn’t anticipate just how inspired I would be by the panelists, tastemakers, influencers and business owners who filled the room of some 300 women. Throughout the day, spirited conversation, sisterhood, and the gift of vulnerable and relatable “real talk” provided budding and seasoned entrepreneurs with hope and momentum.
This year’s “Prioritizing Your Passions” event, led by founder Nana Agyemang, is the second Los Angeles-based conference the brand has held since its inception in 2017. The bi-annual Sip N’ Slay conference has become the company’s most anticipated tentpole event.
For this year’s conference, side hustlers, fearless founders, and accomplished 9-to-5ers soaked up valuable insights and candid advice from experts on the keys to success in your creative pursuits. Attendees learned how to set the stage for personal and professional growth in areas including social media, marketing, entertainment, branding, fashion, and beauty.
Agyemang and the EveryStylishGirl collective believe that your passion is your power and can drive your success, even when the road gets complicated. “The theme is prioritizing your passions,” Agyemang shared with me. “As I look at this event, I envision a quote that says, ‘Black Excellence runs in your veins.’ When I think of that, I think of these women in these spaces, breaking barriers, who often are limited by their resources and support. We’re here to deconstruct all that and be a voice for the voiceless.”
She added, “I love Sip N’ Slay because it’s a learning summit. Once you leave this event, you’ll be feeling so empowered and rebirthed. You can come to meet your future business partner—you just never know how this conference may elevate you. I’m so excited to be in this space and around these women.”
To embody the theme, Agyemang and her crew created a robust slate of programming, from singer and actress Ryan Destiny’s soul-stirring keynote to panel insights from leading industry professionals like multimedia reporter Darian Symoné Harvin, content creator, host and founder of Naked Beauty Podcast Brooke Devard, and TV host and producer Kamie Crawford, who all spoke about the perils of being the blueprint in the beauty industry. Another panel featuring Milan Crawford, Kayla Nicole, Tatiana Elizabeth, Nana Agyemang and Kandace Banks delved into how to approach companies about influencer partnerships and create a strong brand persona online.
Kamie Crawford, co-host of MTV’s Catfish and creator and host of the Relationsh*t podcast, believes that this conference is helping today’s new digital media leaders have confidence and unite. “Just hearing that you’re not alone is impactful,” says Crawford. Sip N’ Slay makes me think about how powerful our community is, something that we forget because I think, as Black and Brown women, we feel like many things that happen to us daily are happening in a vacuum. We’re not realizing that so many other people are dealing with the same thing.”
Here are several takeaways from the event:
The “Designing A Future in Luxury Fashion” panel featuring Brittany Hampton, Ivy Maurice, Samaria Leah and Jeniece Blanchet discussed the importance of carving out your own lane in the fashion industry. During the panel, Blanchet, a Los Angeles-based bespoke jewelry designer, said, “I never actively seek advice from people. I read many books, and one quote that really stuck out to me when I began my career was, ‘If nobody hates it, nobody loves it.’”
Maurice, daughter and fashion stylist of Sheryl Lee Ralph said, “You have it, or you don’t have it, but only you can determine if you do. So your opinion about yourself and your perspective truly matters.”
Leveraging Your Brand To Get Ahead:
During the “Art of Online Influence: Crafting Long-Lasting Digital Brands and Partnerships” panel, the ladies spoke about how influencer marketing is here to stay and how we can tap into it, no matter how large or small our social following is. When approaching brand relationships, how do you ensure their values align with yours? Tatiana Elizabeth, skinButtr founder and content creator, has a simple yet powerful response: “It’s about authenticity.”
Kayla Nicole, a versatile content creator, on-camera host and model, believes that advocating for herself is the first step toward respectful brand partnerships. “It’s easy to say brand alignment, but it is also important to advocate for yourself once you get these brand opportunities. I know what resonates with my followers.”
Owning Your Influence:
Black women are natural trailblazers and influencers across industries—beauty is no exception. During a conversation centered on Black women in the beauty industry, Brooke DeVard, Kamie Crawford and Darian Harvin dived right into how hard it can be to watch different cultures co-opt your ideas, style and perspectives. When reflecting on how it made her feel when others copied her approach to beauty journalism, Harvin took a moment to return to her purpose instead. “I’ve always wanted my work to be rooted in the integrity and the intention of what I do,” she said. “I just started to realize that it’s not about me just being a beauty reporter. I am creating the blueprint for myself. It’s about you expanding your skills instead of being a victim.”