PEARL XCHANGE CONFERENCE 2016
One of the people who really tried to produce a network talk show for me back in the day, (when I was doing my cable TV show, Karen’s Restaurant Revue,) is Ramey Warren. She was always there for me, and I’ve always remained grateful to her for her hard work.
So when I ran into her recently, (where she looked better than ever!,) and learned all about her newest endeavor, Pearl xChange, I knew that I wanted to be there for her this time. And I’m so glad I was! (My theory is always that when you do for others, it helps you at the same time, even if only a spiritual level.)
Pearl xChange, the brain-child of Ramey and Nicole Richie, is an all-day conference designed to empower women. I was impressed with what a fun, well-planned event it was, all the way around. It was all done with a surprising amount of humor and charm. And I was happy to discover how well Nicole speaks! I had never heard her talk before, so she exceeded my expectations. (And I loved her blouse!)
This was my second recent conference, so I must be growing-up! I’ve always been open to learning, but I’ve just never had the patience to listen to people talk all day. I’m so glad that I smartened-up in time for the jam-packed Pearl xChange.
I was so glad to see that many younger females be thirsty for knowledge. Quite often these days, millennials seem to think they know it all, so this turn-out was a pleasure to witness.
Also, in light of the recent election debacle, I feel that this event whose definition is “an empowering, transformative event for women who are finding that they want more…more knowledge, more support, more connections,” is a necessary one. One of the most sickening aspects of Hillary Clinton not being elected our next President is the number of females who didn’t vote for her. What is wrong with those women?! Let me tell you, those lunatics would have definitely benefited from some more knowledge!
You know that my linear mind has to go in order, so here are all the scoops, from the beginning. Pearl Exchange was held at the beautiful London Hotel in West Hollywood. I have never seen women wear jeans to a conference before, but I think the ones who did that here had advance information that we were all getting Levi’s jackets as gifts! You read that right—as we checked-in, we each got to choose our size, including going the looser-fitting “boyfriend” route. More to come about them later.
Since I had that info, too, I had planned to wear jeggings, but when I looked at the pictures of last year’s Pearl xChange conference, I decided to dress a bit classier, including rocking tons of pearls, of course! (get it? To honor the title of the conference, of course!) I even polished my nails in Russian Navy to match the Levi’s jackets! If there been an award for the “biggest effort put into wardrobe,” I think I would have won it.
Since Pearl xChange began in the wee hours, (that’s what 9AM is to a late night-er like moi,) there was a duo of coffee and tea stations set-up in the big hallway outside the conference room. There was also a photo area, with a remote clicker, so that we would not be caught off-guard by the camera going off randomly, as usually happens with party photo booths. Great idea!
On each chair in the conference room was a big, thick, beautiful notebook, which was perfect for the copious notes most of us took. And another marvelous idea was the charging stations at the back of the room. That really came in really handy for my phone that’s been dying ever-so-quickly since my recent New York trip.
Alice and I chose to sit in the very back of the room, which was great because we got to check-out absolutely every guest who traversed that area for one reason or another. We loved seeing so many different types of fashion on all the females in attendance. They were dressed in a hundred different ways! The crowd was really one of the most attractive I’ve been in in quite a while. It was like my club days, only way classier, of course.
My attention often tends to wander a bit, especially that day because I was still exhausted and jet-lagged from my recent amazing trip to New York that I had just flown back from, (and also due to all the reviews of it that I’m still writing!,) so I was glad that I brought Alice along, as she took notes for both of us. She paid beyond-rapt attention, and loved every second of it, as it appeared to me that everybody did. I really don’t think that even one guest checked-out early.
In addition to Nicole and Ramey, (who greeted us, and then ran various Q-and-As as the conference progressed,) there were a dozen other speakers throughout the day. My favorite one, by far, was Amy Ziering, producer of The Hunting Ground, the highly-thought-of documentary about campus rape that was nominated for an Oscar this year. I loved everything Amy had to say, especially her extensive vocabulary!!! It was music to my often intelligence-deprived ears to hear somebody so bright and well-spoken. She’s also unbelievably likable, and so not into herself. She’s exactly the type of person I can be friends with.
Amy told us of her production and distribution journey for this film, (and earlier ones, as well,) and analogized getting it all done to a string of pearls, which was the theme of this conference. (Duh.)
Amy’s actually the opposite of me—she said she never speaks extemporaneously, and therefore uses notes. On my aforementioned show, I just talked off the top of my head for a half hour at a time. (Actually, it would have been much longer than thirty minutes if it had been left up to me; when each half hour was up, they had to practically pull me off the set with a cane!) My favorite line of Amy’s was when she likened postcards to Twitter. She explained to the younger guests that “postcards were our twitter—they were a very small space to not say very much.” Brilliant line!
Amy was really a superior speaker, and judging by the standing ovations she received, I was not the only one who felt that way. We all begged her to go well over her allotted time, even though it cut into our lunch, and I think I speak for the entire assemblage when I declare that we could have listened to her for even much longer than that. And what she had to say was so important, especially for young women. She was a fabulous, appreciated booking.
Of the rest of the speakers, Alice told me that the “encouraging pearls of wisdom” that “resonated the most” with her came from aeronautical engineer Aisha Bowe, (who encouraged everyone to “express your true self,”) Sheryl Connelly, (who told us we are each our “own pearl,”) and osteopath Vicky Vlachonis, (who gave us the wise advice to “turn pain into potential.”) Vicky told us to look at ourselves in the mirror every morning, and not doubt ourselves. (Then I guess that I shouldn’t look in the mirror to begin with!) She ended by telling us to give-out a message of kindness—to God, ourselves, and others. I just hope that everyone got that one! (Obviously the Trump voters did not.)
After half the speakers had enlightened us, we broke for a delicious simple buffet lunch on the third floor patio. As Alice noted, “The setting was beautiful. We were surrounded by white roses.” There were delicious little chicken sandwiches on mini-rolls, a really nice garden salad, and a much-appreciated-by-me fresh fruit platter. As soon as I noticed the sandwiches were all for carnivores, I asked the servers what the vegetarians amongst us were to do. (I’m not a veg myself, but you know that I always worry about everyone’s comfort.) They showed me a falafel wrap, and that got the ball rolling, so all the guests were happy. (Especially Alice and me—more chicken for us!!!)
And Alice and I were over the moon with the dessert–the “most scrumptious” chocolate chip and dark chocolate cookies we’ve ever had! We could have eaten just a bunch of those as our lunch! I’m still dreaming of them!
When we were finished lunching, we went back downstairs to where we checked-in, to get our Levi’s jackets customized. (The organizers did this portion of the day brilliantly—we were split into two groups, so half ate while the other customized, and then we switched. That way, there was no bottleneck of a few hundred people at both places at once. We would still be at the London now if they hadn’t halved us!)
Levi’s provided colorful patches, rhinestones, studs, charms, and rivets with which to individualize our new jackets. They had technicians doing the studding, but they just started-off the sewing-on of the charms and ironing-on of the patches, to show us how it’s done. And we all glued our own rhinestones. I wanted those the most, but just did not have the patience to sit and do it myself. (They gave me some to take home and do at my leisure. So, in that case, maybe it will get done in twenty years!) They also had people who ripped the bottoms or sleeves of them for you, if you’re a fan of that raggedy look. In the second half of the day, I loved seeing how each woman chose to customize her jacket. Alice said, “What a fun experience!,” and I second that sentiment.
The last speaker of the day was Nicole’s sis-in-law, Cameron Diaz. Alice loved that she told us, “Know what success is to you.” I just had almost that same conversation with a pal in New York. She was saying that I’m the most successful person she knows. I asked how that could be, when my show biz career hasn’t yet worked-out the way it should have, (I’ve made so many mistakes along the way,) and I’m a bit of a financial failure. But she pointed-out that I have more happiness than most everyone she knows—I have a super-successful long term relationship with the guy I
stalked chose, and tons of friends, I have the most glamorous life, I’m invited to multiple fun events every day and night, and I run my own popular e-zine! She made me feel great with that analysis, and Cameron Diaz cemented that assessment for me, with her one sentence. What a fabulous way to end the conference for me!
But the xChange festivities were not over, even though the speakers had wrapped. As we exited the ballroom, there was a full-on cocktail party set-up for us, complete with hors d’oeuvres. The guests mingled for another hour! No one wanted the day to end!
And, there was one last surprise of the day—juicy goodie bags as we left. You know the day was a complete success when I forget to wonder if there would be goodie bags on the way out!
This was Pearl xChange’s sophomore year. Now I can’t wait for the junior one!
For more info, please go to www.pearlxchange.com.