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For the week of April 18 through April 24, 2001

‘Goddesses’ network at Vail meeting

Express Staff Writer

"Say it forward." It’s a slight twist on the idea created last year by the good-deed-encouraging movie Pay It Forward.

"Say it forward" involves passing on passions, dreams and the means to realize them. It is the concept behind a little known gathering in Vail and drew several female entrepreneurs from our area.

It was the fifth annual The Gathering of the Goddesses (TGOTG), and this new-age sounding event has quite suddenly become the premiere women's networking event for hip, savvy women in sports, fashion and the media.

Each year, the conference takes place at a different ski resort in the spirit of the active, sports-minded women who inaugurated the event. Kirkwood, Calif., Big Sky, Mont., and Snowbird, Utah, have all played host to TGOTG.

While the event may still be obscure, it isn’t likely to continue that way. With cutting-edge corporate sponsors, TGOTG is gaining a reputation as a must-attend weekend for forward-looking women in business.

"The women who attend our events are pioneers in their industry," said event founder Cristin Inglis, a resident of Costa Mesa, Calif. "They’re creating the trends. They’re risk takers."

The 2001 event was attended by nearly 100 entrepreneurs and leading professional decision makers such as Sherri Rifkin, director of marketing online for Oxygen Media Inc.; Wendy Zomnir, designer and founder of Urban Decay; Marilyn Edwards, publisher of Wahine magazine; Michelle Ponce, trend forecaster and liaison for the Warp Tour; Danielle Beck of Roxy/Quicksilver, locals Brenda Janot of Janot Skin Institute, Casey Wood of The Oak Tree and Alyson Wilson of Elevation Magazine.

Since 1994, when Inglis and her friend Maia Huckeba organized a snowboarding weekend, the event has grown. It now incorporates different industries and nationally known speakers. They also hold morning yoga sessions, spa treatments, the glorified slumber party that was "Girls’ Night In," and a holistic "Zen Den," where one can purchase T-shirts and candles, as well as have an astrology reading by Casey Wood.

"This is the first year that projects were born and took off," Wood said. "It was great to be around such intelligent women who’re on the cutting edge of what’s happening."

Keynote speaker Lynne Franks, the acknowledged female guru of the public relations business, recently released her second book, The Seed Handbook.

SEED is an acronym for "sustainable enterprise and empowerment dynamics." Franks’ first book was the memoir Absolutely Now! A Futurist’s Journey to her Inner Truth.

Franks can be thanked for the Spice Girls, Swatch watches and Tommy Hilfiger to name just a few of her PR successes. She’s also the model for Edina, the loony PR gal from Absolutely Fabulous, the English sitcom---deemed too racy and over the top to appeal to American audiences. In other words, Lynne Franks is an icon to female entrepreneurs.

As a lecturer and writer she addresses the issues female entrepreneurs deal with by encouraging non-linear thinking---in her words a "feminine way to create business."

Thanks to their connection at TGOTG, Wood is traveling to London in May to work with Franks on a project called The Seed Expo.

"SEED and The Oak Tree have the same vision. We were so thrilled to meet each other," Wood said.

The Oak Tree acts as an umbrella for women who offer such disparate practices as palm reading and astrology, color therapy, dance and art classes, yoga, weaving, massage, herbal wraps, boot making and cooking, all synergized under one roof.

Janot came away from the weekend not only energized by the shared passions she found, but made a business contact with cosmetic maker Mary Beth York of Spa-di-da, who’ll carry Janot’s line of Aromatherapy oils in her shop in Arizona. Janot will in turn carry York’s fragrances in her store in Sun Valley.

Janot said the wealth of information she received from the conference made the trip worthwhile.

"I am starting a women’s empowerment group utilizing [Lynne Franks’] ideas."

Wood remarked that the strong foundations for quick business deals was apparent.

"I saw it happen over lunch. Friendships are really strong, they’re based on trust, image, and energy rather than money or prestige. I spent an hour and a half with Lynne. She knows I’ll be her biggest supporter and she’ll totally be there for me. Not exactly the kind of thing you get in a linear society."

Essentially, like an old-boy network without the competitive quest for power, TGOTG is "a clearing house for support," Wood said. "It’s such a relief to find other people who have the potential to link creatively. All the pieces are there."


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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.