If you’ve ever lived in or visited a resort town, then you’re probably familiar with the male-heavy gender ratio typical of the small mountain town. The local men of Vail, Colorado, however, received a divine blessing this spring as nearly fifty trend-setting women from the sports, music, and fashion industry converged on the town for the 2001 Gathering Of Goddesses, held March 31 through April 2.
Toasting The Entrepreneurial Spirit was the focus of this year’s premier women’s networking event, but The Gathering’s Founder Cristin Inglis and Partner Maia Anderson ensured all participants were relaxing and having fun by offering them discounts at the Vail Mountain Lodge And Spa and free snowboard lessons on the mountain.
The event kicked off with morning yoga and an extravagant breakfast buffet at the Manor Vail Resort, followed by a workshop entitled “The Growing Business.” Laurie Kirby, senior counsel resident in the Providence law office of Holland And Knight, opened the workshop by dispensing some pearls of legal wisdom on creating a new brand. “Build your house and protect it beforehand to avoid getting ripped off later,” says Kirby of the importance she sees in having an attorney and an accountant involved in all aspects of building a business.
Sherri Rifkin, director of consumer marketing online at Oxygen Media (a women’s entertainment network), also had some advice for ladies based on the television show Xena, Warrior Princess. Among her ten Warrior Princess Principles, Rifkin emphasized the importance of nailing down brand identity, choosing allies carefully, making a decision and sticking to it, and knowing how to recognize your enemies: “Most of the time your enemies can spot your weaknesses better than you can,” she says.
Blustery and slushy conditions typical of the Colorado spring met the ladies for their two days of snowboarding. Many of the women took advantage of the free snowboard lessons, some had fun in the freshly cut halfpipe, and a few, including Sessions’ Listle Stolkstad, slayed the rails in the park on Vail’s Gold Peak.
Larkspur Restaurant at the base of Gold Peak was the site of the 2001 Gala Dinner on Sunday night, where Author and Commentator Lynne Franks delivered an inspiring keynote address on women as leaders and entrepreneurs. Franks, who started her own PR business in London at the age of 21, and is now dubbed the PR Guru of the British Press, shared some amazing stories from nearly thirty years of experience as a truly successful female entrepreneur. “We’re in world that desperately needs women’s leadership,” she says. “We women don’t want to be part of the patriarchal society that we were forced into during the 70s and 80s.”
The Gala Dinner also included the presentation of the Athena Award recognizing the innovations and contributions of a groundbreaking female entrepreneur. Chosen by a special Gathering Of The Goddesses’ panel of judges, this year’s winner Karen Hunt was recognized for her non-profit organization that teaches creative writing to incarcerated girls in the Los Angeles area. “I’m a single mother with three children,” says Hunt. “And I can finally say at this point that I do have it all.”
Knowing that true brilliance comes in moments of total relaxation, Inglis and Anderson managed to once again push the envelope of ideal settings for networking at this year’s Gathering. Nowhere was this more apparent than at the “Girls Night In,” organized for the final night of the event. This final evening of pampering facilitated the forming of strategic alliances, as well as raised money for charity at a silent auction. Pizza, shopping, makeovers—just your average business trip, really.