Yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to speak on a panel sponsored by teen media site, Sweety High, titled “Gen Z: The New Power Brokers.” It was moderated by Sweety High co-founder, Veronica Zelle and was held at The Girls’ Lounge @ SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Created by Shelley Zalis, The Girls Lounge is a branch of her company, The Female Quotient, which focuses on empowering women all over the world. Sweety High’s mission perfectly aligns with that of The Girls’ Lounge, as it describes itself as a platform “where girls dream big.” I spoke alongside four incredibly inspiring young women: dancer and singer Mackenzie Ziegler, country singer Tegan Marie, actress Skai Jackson, and aspiring astronaut Abigail Harrison. They are all incredibly fun and easy to collaborate with, and I am thrilled to have shared this experience with them. They are all such talented, smart, driven and creative individuals, and I am so excited to see what they do next.
The panel was live streamed through the app, Live.ly, and it garnered over 80,000 viewers. My three younger sisters and dad were watching at home, and it felt like they were there with me, which I loved.
The group held a super fun prep session right before the event started, which included everything from posting videos with each other to hearing inspiring words from Shelley Zalis. After putting on nearly invisible wires with microphones attached to the front, all of us headed to the stage, which consisted of transparent chairs, sleek coffee tables, and a screen advertising The Girls’ Lounge.
The discussion began with a question about what success means to us. Personally, I feel successful when I feel that my work has been meaningful and that I’ve empowered others around me. After kicking off with this quick question, the panel topics ranged from advice for young entrepreneurs to how brands can advertise to Generation Z to who inspires us.
When asked about who inspires me, I of course said my dad. The news outlet Austin 360 caught my exact quote: “My dad is one of my biggest inspirations. He’s by far the biggest feminist I know. He’s always encouraged me to follow my dreams and my passion.” My dad is severely outnumbered in our household when it comes to the ratio of men to women, or in our case, women to men— especially including our dogs. Three out of four are girls! In combination with that, my mom, sisters, and I also add five more women into the mix.
Another interesting question that was posed was how many girls our age have close collaborations with their parents, and Veronica then asked us to describe our relationship with them.
I loved answering this particular question because my mom and I are like a pair of best friends who tell each other everything— and I mean everything. I grew up in a 3 generation household, and I was lucky enough to have my grandmother live with my family and me until I was 12. When I was little, I would always tell people that my best friend is 82, referring to my grandmother, who at 82 was more fun than anyone I knew.
Sadly, she passed away, but she and my mom had a wonderfully close relationship, and my mom and I are also best friends. My mom is a writer, and while she was in law school, she wrote “Legally Blonde.” At the time, people thought it was crazy to leave Stanford to move to La La Land to try and become a writer when there was an obvious steady path in front of her. But she did it anyway!
As an entrepreneur, I have to take risks, and a big part of what allows me to do so is the support of both of my parents. Both of them simply want me to follow my passion, whatever that may be, and I’m deeply grateful for that.
Overall, my day at The Girls’ Lounge was unforgettable, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. The panel even included a surprise performance from Tennille Amor, whose song “I am a Girl” took the United Nations by storm. The panel then closed with another live performance from Tegan, and we had the chance to receive a first-listen of her upcoming single, which was fantastic.
Again, I want to thank Sweety High for inviting me to be a part of such a special day. The website is a fantastic media platform for teen girls, and I couldn’t recommend it enough— check it out here if you want to learn more. Prior to this trip, I had never visited Austin before, and I had a great experience in the city. The madness of the festival was energizing and exciting. In fact, people were constantly celebrating that the city was almost like New York— no one ever sleeps during SXSW!
I’ll be posting a few YouTube vlogs about my trip to Austin, so be sure to stay tuned for more content! XO