“We believe that if your well-being is intact, everything else will fall into place. Someone once told me this: ‘If you allow for your suitcase to always be full, then you can’t unpack to put new stuff in.’ So we wanted to allow our attendees to unpack their suitcases, their baggage so that they could be filled with new inspiration, new ideas and new opportunities over the weekend.”
–Marty McDonald, Founder and CEO, Boss Women Media
There’s a strong correlation between health and wealth, and Boss Women Media leaned into that notion for the triumphant in-person return of its Black Girl Magic Summit, hosted Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 in Dallas. With holistic wellness at the epicenter of the five-year-old forum, this year dubbed Black Magic Reimagined, thousands of Black female business professionals, entrepreneurs and students in attendance experienced two days packed with financial guidance and empowerment, wellness, connectivity and support for Black-owned businesses.
The summit’s keynote game was strong, with the likes of actor and media maven Keke Palmer and pro sports agent Nicole Lynn, among those taking the stage. But there were plenty of off-stage moments that were just as powerful as the event’s keynotes, panels and fireside chats. Think: A VIP breakfast with plant-based food expert Pinky Cole of Slutty Vegan, a morning health and wellness event, a Black-owned marketplace, and rooftop happy hours for networking with one another and with speaker talent. (Meanwhile, those who couldn’t be there in person could stream the event on Amazon the week following the summit.)
To boot, Capital One returned as a partner to sponsor its third annual Pitch Competition and provided $100,000 in grants, and Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator rolled in to spotlight five Black-owned businesses, which were incorporated into the event’s marketplace.
The Black Magic Reimagined community, and the world at large, have experienced remarkable change in the last five years, so we caught up with Marty McDonald, founder at Boss Women Media Group, which established and operates the summit, for insights on how the team evolved the experience to make this year’s event the biggest and best yet.
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When the summit first launched, programming was more abstract, with a central focus on inspiring attendees. But Black Magic Reimagined, while motivational, was specifically designed to arm the audience with actionable insights and practical tools that they could put to use immediately.
“People just don’t want to be empowered; they want to be equipped,” says McDonald. “So the ‘Girl Boss’ movement has faded from the perspective of, ‘Don’t just empower me.’ They want to be equipped with tools and resources. So we had to really put our heads together and think of crafty ways to equip them and not just leave them inspired, but on Monday morning, they were able to apply the tools that they took away from the summit itself.”
Adds McDonald: “We’re sharing the stories and the experiences of women… There’s something so relatable when you can hear the story of a woman who has faced what you are currently facing and how they’ve overcome it with X, Y and Z.”
WELLNESS AT THE CORE
The focus on wellness was instantly recognizable to attendees, who could participate in an outdoor morning yoga class to kick off the event, followed by a wellness conversation about how one’s well-being is a form of wealth. Together, the two experiences were built to set the tone for the summit. Looking ahead to the 2024 event, McDonald says wellness will continue to play a significant role in the experiential strategy.
“We believe that if your well-being is intact, everything else will fall into place,” McDonald says. “Someone once told me this: ‘If you allow for your suitcase to always be full, then you can’t unpack to put new stuff in.’ So we wanted to allow our attendees to unpack their suitcases, their baggage so that they could be filled with new inspiration, new ideas and new opportunities over the weekend.”
Capital One and Amazon didn’t just slap their logos on the summit to fulfill their sponsorships; they rolled up their sleeves and delivered purposeful experiences that directly benefitted Black women and Black-owned businesses.
Capital One Business sponsored the Black Magic Reimagined Pitch Competition, providing $100,000 in grants to three women-owned small businesses that needed funding to get to the next level. And Amazon supported five Black women-owned businesses by offering access to a host of resources built to help them succeed in Amazon’s store, including financial assistance, education and coaching, and marketing support.
“Capital One is committed to making sure that well-being is embedded from a financial wellness perspective in communities of color. So the event itself aligns so well with what their goals are, what their initiatives are and their commitments,” says McDonald. “And then Amazon is committed to this $150 million Black Business Accelerator fund that was granted by the employee internally because she saw the disparities of Black business owners who were sellers on Amazon… So both aligned very well with what we’re doing and the work that we are fearlessly trying to accomplish every day.”
A ‘COME AS YOU ARE’ APPROACH
Educational summits can be stodgy affairs, but Boss Women Media aimed to bypass the stereotypically stuffy atmosphere in favor of a laid back setting that invited women to show up as their authentic selves, which in turn, yielded more intimate conversations.
“I think that you feel safe among people who look like you, always. And by us just garnering that, it made it very relaxed,” McDonald says. “It wasn’t a stuffy environment. It was come dressed in your best, wear the outfit that makes you feel like the best badass boss that you are. Show up for who you are.”
With multiple networking experiences on tap, the spirit of sisterhood was seamlessly woven into Black Magic Reimagined. Organizers ensured the flow of the event naturally led to meaningful connections and conversations, like having a morning wellness session where attendees could unwind together, then catch one another at happy hour to continue their discussions. Also worth noting: Upscale venues that have not historically hosted many diverse events were leveraged for the summit’s networking experiences.
“[The wellness experience] really set the framework for the event. Then later on that evening, we had happy hour networking at the rooftop at The Joule Hotel in Dallas. So everyone had already met, seen each other in some capacity, and when they were able to do this networking, it seemed seamless. It seemed like a sisterhood. You were connecting with your sisters, your cousins, and you were coming together from the release that you had together,” explains McDonald.
With this year’s event in the rearview mirror, planning is already underway for Black Magic Reimagined 2024, which McDonald says “will be at different capacities, and will be more frequent than just one summit. Different ways to meet the entrepreneur in 2024 will be our focus.”
And that’s taking care of business.