Authentically AddWomxn: The Launch Party

Date: September 28, 2021

By: Jen Gilhoi

The mood was celebratory and filled with curiosity about AddWomxn at our launch party September 23 at ModernWell. And we were more than happy to welcome in the community of women that attended, several of whom we’d built relationships with only virtually until this event. Oversized joyous balloons, signage to share creative industry stats and pique curiosity, and clever individual charcuterie cups by Nosh & Gather set the stage for in-person conversation. It felt great to gather!

Connecting Through Affinity

Early in the evening company founder Renita shared all that is AddWomxn — from its decade-long incubation as a wild idea to its fruition as it is today in fall 2021. She touched on how women connect through affinity (a nod to her 18-year design firm, Affina). Affinity is rooted in relationships and when you hold space for women to have one-on-one conversations in an atmosphere of inclusion, just sit back and watch what develops. It’s really quite powerful… and we were grateful to see this in action as its the foundational core of our AddWomxn family.

Embracing Intersectionality

Renita also dove into her why to expand beyond the gender equity space she knows well into the necessary work around racism. She cited Robin DiAngelo (Nice Racism) “We must stop using sexism to protect our racism,” reminding us that we are at the intersectionality of sexism and racism (see also the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw and the Why X? AddWomxn blog post). AddWomxn, by the way, inserts itself right into that intersectionality in the creative space to advance creativity and diversity.

Authentically Sharing

Throughout the night, conversations bubbled up along with a deep intention for guests to understand and describe AddWomxn. What is it? Why does it exist? How can I be involved? How would I share this with others? Know that our board, founding team members, and allies connect with AddWomxn’s mission and have each spent time in our own ways finding meaning in the mission. Those connections go beyond business and career goals and resonate personally with AddWomxn supporters – the work requires it.

It’s important to note that we aim to disrupt in many ways – primarily we’re disrupting the ad agency model (read: Welcome to AddWomxn). Disruption and innovation go hand-in-hand. Through the process of vetting a concept (i.e. AddWomxn), we question the idea, seek to associate it with what we know, define how its different, and what it specifically solves for, then finally land on an authentic way to concisely share it. That’s why this evening of coming together was so critical. We voiced AddWomxn out loud, listened to clarifying questions and feedback, and further shaped its meaning and how everyone talks about it.

Deepening the Work

Attendees heard how AddWomxn advisory board members Janice Stanford (Flygirl Creative), Aaron King (Perceptiv), and Jen Gilhoi (Sparktrack), who will all continue to operate as their own business entities under the AddWomxn umbrella, talk about AddWomxn and their connection to the work.

“At Flygirl, we get your name known and your business or service sold through the power of strategy and design. Through AddWomxn, I aim to change that so we get BIPOC and women’s names known, and their creative talents and services brought to the forefront of this beautiful and thriving city – through the power of community, awareness, strategy and design.” — Janice Stanford

“As a black designer who’s known Renita since the onset of our design careers in Minneapolis over 25 years ago, I recall gaining consciousness of how race and gender seemed to determine our experiences. Having admired her energy and desire to create good work over the past two decades, I was honored when Renita asked me to be a part of AddWomxn as an ally in pursuit of racial and gender equality in the creative industry.” – Aaron King

“I’ve been sparking conversations and tracking results for nine years as a marketing communications consultant and storyteller. Through AddWomxn, I want to help and hold accountable companies’ well-intentioned DEI commitments; and provide valued and sustainable work for our BIPOC community in supportive, entrepreneurial spaces. It’s in our power to craft better stories.” – Jen Gilhoi

Gifting the Experiences

We wrapped the event with giveaways including two copies of DiAngelo’s Nice Racism (How progressive white people perpetuate racial harm), two 60-minute massages by Vanessia of Wellness With V, and three gift sets of Audra Robinson’s Rocky Robinson hair products for girls. We can’t wait to hear how the recipients enjoyed their gifts!

Thank you to everyone who attended and those of you whom we continue to connect with in this work. As the invite shared it was an evening to celebrate… now let’s get to work!