Wellness professionals gather for inaugural Women in Wellness Leadership Conference
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Wellness professionals gather for inaugural Women in Wellness Leadership Conference

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On 6 March, two days before International Women’s Day, 230 wellness professionals from across the US and beyond convened in New York City for the first-ever Women in Wellness Leadership Conference presented by American Spa magazine.

Recharging and reinvention were the focus of three keynote sessions. “I saw a general theme that many people who get into the spa business are looking for healing themselves,” said Emme, a model, TV personality, designer and women’s advocate whose infectious zest and joie de vie inspired women to be more accepting of themselves and of others in relation to body image, self-esteem and overcoming negative thought.

Lesley Jane Seymour, former editor in chief of women’s lifestyle magazine More, spoke about the importance of reinvention and preparing for unexpected opportunities for change.

Since leaving More in 2016, she’s set up the Covey Club – an online and offline hub for the 40-plus set.

“Ageing is not a disease. It’s not something you can outrun or outsmart. It will happen to you,” she said. “After starting Covey Club, I’m learning that I don’t have to build consensus. And I’m still learning that I can try anything I want that’s new.”

Seymour plans to launch spa retreats for her subscribers – something they have been very vocal about needing to incorporate into their lives.

Sallie Krawcheck, the CEO and co-founder of women’s investment platform Ellevest addressed the need for women to create their own financial future through smart investing and planning. The room was filled with laughter thanks to her unique style of storytelling, along with not so funny and eye-opening anecdotes about losing her life’s savings along with her job, when the market crashed in 2008.

Between keynotes, breakout sessions ran with topics ranging from burnout to brand building, and financial wellness to embracing feminine traits. Discussions were also held throughout lunch with each table focusing on different subjects such as managing toxic working environments and cultural sustainability and self-care.

Commenting on the day, attendee Michelle Gamble, VP global business development for the Global Wellness Summit, said: “Today was an extraordinary event on so many levels – inspiration, information and connections with women that I admire and respect.”

Attendee Glenny Legendre, executive vice president of sales and marketing for LaFlore Probiotic Skincare, agreed. “I came to the conference to celebrate my years of friendships of women in the spa and wellness industry, get a little work in and make new friends,” she said. “My takeaways are threefold: to take control of my financial destiny; to commit to indie beauty as a vendor; and to create a partnership with a potential new spa partner for our brand that I met here at the conference.”

Julie Keller Callaghan, editor in chief and publisher of American Spa, who’s behind the event, said inspiration for the conference first came when she was inundated with more than 400 nominations for the magazine’s Women in Wellness Awards last year.

“I’ve been at American Spa for 14 years – what I love most about the industry are the women in it,” said Keller Callaghan. “I’ve always been empowered and inspired by you. I wanted to put something positive in the universe.”

In her closing remarks she added, “I hope that everyone left today with powerful tools to help them grow and evolve, and be better leaders and better people – and to spread the word of women's empowerment and wellness.”

Join American Spa's Women in Wellness Leadership Group on Facebook for ongoing updates and news about future conferences and events.

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