Chicago Events Celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018

Ladies! This week is a good week to network and meet other amazing, entrepreneurial women in Chicago for International Women’s Day on Thursday, March 8, 2018. I went to a beauty event with the Tulle Project today and as we were introducing ourselves, one women shared the four, yes four jobs she has. Another woman, in awe, noted how ambitious Chicago women are. I wholeheartedly believe that. I encourage you to meet these Chicago girl bosses this week at one of the many Chicago events for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018. Look for events and opportunities to connect all month long for women’s history month.

Quick note: International Women’s Day theme is #PressForProgess.

Global Strategist Association Event:

The Global Strategists Association is hosting a luncheon in honor of International Women’s Day to discuss opportunities for women of color.


Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location: The DuSable Museum of African American History


1871 Event:

1871, a Chicago incubator for startups is hosting a day of workshops and speaking events for women. 1871 is such a great resource that female founded companies like this 3D printing jewelry company, this beauty services company that is now offering company perks to GrubHub, and this designer clothes and accessories startup all used to help grow their business.

This event series has several sessions that you can drop into throughout the day. I’m personally looking forward to the Building Your Company’s Brand Panel Discussion.


Time: 8 am – 9 pm

Location: 1871, Merchandise Mart


SheSays Chicago Event:

SheSays Chicago, a Chicago chapter of a national organization of women in creative fields, is putting together an event with Leo Burnett on Thursday, March 8, 2018 right after work.

I’ve been attending SheSays Chicago events for years and even spoke at one of the panels about networking. You can read about some of my past coverage of their events like Turning Passion into Profit and Networking Advice from Edelman, PR Agency.

There will be a panel discussion.


Jessica Papilla, Data Analyst at Leo Burnett


Monika Black, PhD, CPC | Chief Strategy Officer at DyMynd

Kayte Malik, CEO and Co-founder of Dresscode

Beth Sehgal, Global Director of Diversity & Inclusion for A.T. Kearney

Priya Shah, Founder and Executive Director of The Simple Good


Time: 5:30 – 8:00 pm

Location: Leo Burnett Office


Ladies Get Paid Event:

Ladies Get Paid, an organization that helps women achieve their professional goals and get equal pay, is hosting an International Women’s Day event at Ace Bounce. This looks like a causal event to get drinks and meet other professional women.


Time: 5:30-7:30 pm

Location: Ace Bounce


WeWork Kenzie Event:

WeWork Kinzie is hosting an International Women’s Day workshop for freelancers and female entrepreneurs. Over 150 people have signed up for this event. In this workshop, speakers will present four topics: (a) finding the courage to lead, (b) the foundations of entrepreneurship, (c) a woman’s story of finding her purpose, and (d) establishing a position of influence in a competitive industry.


Time: 6:00-9:00 pm

Location: WeWork Kinzie

RSVP ($20)

She Means Business Event:

She Means Business will be presenting a panel discussion and gender equality and female leadership in the workplace.

The Panelists:

• Naima Prince, Expert Budget and Financial Analyst at GSA

• Lindsey Branding, Controller at Hireology

• Colleen Wilson, Founder & CEO of Collaborate Chicago

• Holly Glowaty, Co-Founder at K+H Connection and Founding Co-Producer at Flourish

• Katharine Hebenstreit, President & COO at Link Capital


Time: 5:30-8:00 pm

Location: Topstep Trader


Edgewater Chamber of Commerce:

If drinks aren’t enough for you, the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce is hosting a dinner crawl. Get all the savory details below!

Time: 5 pm

Location: Edgewater, over 10 restaurants



I hope to see you at one of the Chicago events for International Women’s Day or you can join the conversation online using the hashtag: #PressForProgress.

How do you build a professional community in Chicago? Tag me on Twitter or Instagram @windycitycosmo.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Travelzoo Becomes the Only U.S. Listed Company with an 80% Female Board

Global travel deals publisher Travelzoo announced it’s the only U.S. listed company to have 80% of its board of director seats held by women—the highest female-to-male ratio of any NASDAQ or NYSE-listed company. The landmark event will be commemorated today with a Travelzoo sponsored discussion featuring an all-female panel moderated by Tina Brown, C.B.E, Founder and CEO of Women in the World Media and creator of the Women in the World Summit. Today’s event spotlights the ongoing issue of lack of gender diversity within listed companies.

Underscoring the cultural diversity of the company’s board, female Travelzoo board members hail from New York, San Francisco, London and Shanghai. The two new Travelzoo board members recently elected, which brought the ratio to 80%, include Rachel Barnett, based in New York, and Carrie Liu, based in Shanghai. Other existing female board members include Mary Reilly, based in London, who has been a member of Travelzoo’s board of directors since September 2013. Beatrice Tarka is based in San Francisco and has been a member of Travelzoo’s board of directors since August 2015.

The women will be featured panelists in a discussion about strategies for improving female-to-male ratios in executive leadership, and how to address the challenges that hinder progress. Panel moderator Tina Brown commented: “In order for women to take their rightful place in the C-suite, they need a seat at the table—the boardroom table to be exact. I salute Travelzoo for not only recognizing the invaluable contributions women can make by appointing them to its board, but doing so with such whole-hearted, ground-breaking enthusiasm.”

Lack of Board Gender Diversity Remains a Persistent and Global Problem

Today’s event serves as a reminder that despite advances, female representation on listed company boards remains low around the world. Consider that:

  • According to board intelligence experts Equilar, who publish the Gender Diversity Index, 23% of Russell 3000 companies, representing the 3,000 largest listed U.S. companies, have zero female representation on their boards.
  • Aside from Travelzoo, just four other NASDAQ or NYSE-listed companies have boards composed of over 60% women.
  • In the UK, only 27% of FTSE 100 directors are women.
  • Several European countries, including Belgium, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, are trying to drive change through mandatory female quotas for boards. For example, Norway instituted a 40% quota for female representation on boards for the largest publicly traded companies.
  • In Hong Kong, several recent reports state that 11% of Hang Seng-listed companies have women on their boards.

“A board of directors should consist of the most qualified individuals being elected. Furthermore, having different perspectives is very important,” said Ralph Bartel, founder and chairman of Travelzoo. “I find it disconcerting that only 5 of more than 4,000 U.S. listed companies have 60% or more female board members. I look forward to seeing many more listed companies around the world re-define their boards.”

Esteemed fashion designer and businesswoman Diane von Furstenberg commented: “Travelzoo is making a commitment to women and is leading the way with its 80% women on its board! And its landmark achievement is a starting point for many other businesses to follow.”


There’s a New Fashion Designer in Chicago P.S. It’s You

I swear I don’t intend to wear dresses that are short.

I have grouped them in my closet as NSFW.


In fact, my favorite dress is this blue Banana Republic dress. The Banana Republic tends to have more conservative dresses, but I still have the same problem. If my legs aren’t overexposed, I feel that my chest is.


It’s not that I want to cover every inch of my body – I would just like to not flash the world every time I sit down on the CTA.

Dresses tend to be too short to function in.

It’s a tall girl problem and it’s a short girl problem. It’s a curvy girl’s moment and a skinny girl’s issue as well.

Dresses aren’t made to fit you off the rack. They’re meant to fit you well enough.

Why Doesn’t My Dress Fit?

A woman shared with me her frustration of finding clothes that fit her. She recalled going to her formals with her sorority.

“I hot glued myself into my dress,” Krista Goral said about the dresses she created in college for special occasions.

Goral went through traditional places like J. Crew to get her clothes and she asked tailors to create a better fit, but there wasn’t a simple answer to find clothes that fit her body.


Krista Goral, founder of MeasureMake. Photo: Amanda Elliott


So, like most entrepreneurs, she created one.

Goral  took one idea, one problem, and decided to quit her job in November and pursue her mission—to make dress shopping not only an enjoyable experience but also to create the perfect fit dress for your body. Her company is MeasureMake and it’s exclusively in Chicago.

“A lot of women have one thing that they don’t like, and every woman thinks it’s just her,” said Goral.

In a blog post on MeasureMake, Goral explains that one size doesn’t fit all for the very reason that “there are no standard sizes of people.”

She started with making dresses for herself and then she reached out to what she called “real clients, like people I don’t know,” Goral described, from Reddit and internet searches, where she found Windy City Cosmo.

I was at Paris Fashion Week when I received my invitation to be one of MeasureMake’s real clients.

The dressmaking process began and ended with a personal touch. We had a phone conversation after my trip, and she set up an appointment.

Design Your Dress:

Like every first time, I was nervous. My first and only time being measured was having a bra fitting. And this was a whole dress fitting.

How naked did I have to get for this?

And where was this happening?

I originally was going to to go to Goral’s apartment, but then she came to my apartment because it was more convenient for my schedule.

I opened the door for my personal fitting and there she was—Krista Goral—in a tunic green top and jeans holding her motorcycle helmet.

I told her that she was like Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. 

After a brief introduction. We were ready to get down to the main event.

I wore yoga pants and a t-shirt.

Getting Measured For a Custom Dress:

“So how do we do this?” I asked.

She had a notepad and measuring tape. She said I just had to stand up, and she would take my measurements.

I put my arms out, and she draped the measuring tape around me. I resisted the urge to suck in.

It was so fast and harmless that a windy day in Chicago feels more intrusive than getting measured.

After being measured was the fun part. She let me choose between two black fabrics and showed me pictures of how others looked in the dress.

“Can we do a split on the sides?” I asked.

And we took it from there—designing my dress—adding sleeves and discussing the length.

The Fabric to Make a Dress:

Though she had a mission, Goral didn’t have a background in design or fashion. So, she started her business with learning as much as she could. She spent months reading and studying about sewing and fabrics and design.

“The toughest part of designing clothes is finding fabrics,” Goral admitted.

And then, after she purchased the fabric, it was a process of making mistakes.

“You can only fix each seam once—maybe twice or then it ruins the fabric,” Goral said.

She started practicing dress making by designing and sewing dresses for herself.

“I went to a thrift store and bought used silk bed sheets,” Goral said, “They were never to sell, just practice.”

All of her fabric now comes from a mill based in New York. She’s proud that her dresses are 100% made in USA from USA materials.

Since she is making individual dresses, she also didn’t need a lot of fabric, just about 10 yards, which was one of the setbacks in finding a mill.

Currently, she has two fabrics to choose from. They are both black and can be turned into little black dresses—with or without sleeves. One of the fabrics is a stricter material, which is more suitable for a date night little black dress of a suit dress for a business meeting. The other dress fabric is a flowy material and is better suited for a sun dress and as I call them, teacher dresses.

The Fitting:

The turnaround from booking an appointment to receiving the dress was quick. Goral said it takes about half a day to complete one dress.

Usually, her dresses require one alteration.

When Goral came to my apartment again to show me the dress, she sat in my living room as she finished watching an episode of Friends.

I closed my walk-in closet door and slipped into the dress.

I had never worn something so fitted. I was nervous looking at every curve on my body in the mirror. I peaked my head out of my closet and said, “Are you ready?”

It was so exciting to see her reaction as I showed her how the dress looked.

I was conscientious of my hips, and we decided to take in the fabric a bit on the bottom and at the waist for a better fit.

Like everything at MeasureMake, Goral adds a personal touch. She never mailed me my dress. She always delivered it in person, even though I live a good 30-45 minute drive away from her.

When I saw the final dress at dinner with her and a friend, I immediately changed into it. Afterward, we had an impromptu photo session in the restaurant. Goral, my dressmaker, actually took all the photos below.

I wore it again to an after-work cocktail party for Kettle One at C Chicago. I paired the little black dress with a suit jacket and it actually looked like a full suit.

Design Your Own Fitted Little Black Dress:

MeasureMake has completed about 15-20 dresses.  Now that Goral has styled her family, her real clients, and Windy City Cosmo she’s ready for you to design your own fitted little black dress.

In just 20 minutes, you can be the next Chicago designer and most importantly, wear your own designs.

Book your free appointment with MeasureMake here to design your very own fitted little black dress.

Update February 2017: Since this Chicago startup has launched, you can now make your own custom dress in a variety of colors. MeasureMake dresses have been featured on The Steve Harvey Show with Bela Gandhi, Founder of Smart Dating Academy, and on other Chicago blogs, like 



Featured Image Photo cCedit: Silvia Pellegrino via photopin (license)

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Chicago Women Help You Give a Homemade Holiday Gift

Put down that generic Christmas mug.

The movers and makers are here to create a beautiful and personal touch to your holiday hostess presents and gift exchanges.


Susie makes homemade soap. Photo: Amanda Elliott

For this holiday season, a local chapter of a creative group for women, SheSays Chicago, hosted an open marketplace at the Comedy Bar above Gino’s East River North (500 North LaSalle Street). Lead Organizer, Jen Lemerand, along with  Elisha-Rio Apilado, Suzanne Cohen, Erin Coleman, Julie Goldsberry and Beckie O’Connor, reached out to SheSays Chicago members and friends to round-up freelancers and women business owners for this open market.

It was an opportunity for women makers and creators in Chicago to show off their Pinterest-worthy homemade totes, soaps, jewelry and more.

I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite creators from the event, who can help you with your holiday shopping!

For your friends with kids (or your kids):

Are you traveling to Chicago with kids or are you looking for activities after the holiday feast this weekend?


Chicago Tiny Travels Tote Bags. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Creator, Brittany Campbellwas standing at The Louvre in Paris and noticed that kids weren’t enjoying their experience.

“It would be awesome to have something on their level that told them how awesome of a place that they are,” Campbell told me.

She decided to create something on a kid’s level for them to appreciate the tourist attractions beautiful places and iconic buildings in various cities including Paris, London, and Chicago.

Her Chicago Tiny Travel Guidebooks offer an interactive fun experience with passport stickers for kids traveling to museums, parks, and landmarks in Chicago. You can shop here for children guide books, pins, and a messenger bag.

Campbell is very creative and also has an Etsy shop, where she sells homemade pillows made from t-shirts sourced from thrift stores and her very closet.

The story starts with a problem, as all things do. Campbell wanted to make gifts for kids she babysat. She came up with the idea from Disney t-shirts in her closet, which she turned into homemade pillows for them.

They are soft—so soft. Who knew snuggling with your clothes could be a thing?

Shop at Free People without the Price Tag:

We all want a new look for a new year or for a holiday party.

Hope Nardini, Hazel Vintage Co. owner, found a way to give you that look for less.

Elbow patch cardigan


Elbow patch cardigan by hazel vintage co-featuring bronze makeup

“I usually charge about 50 percent of what they charge,” said Nardini, who shops from the same showroom in LA as popular women’s clothing stores, like Free People and Akira.

What’s even better is that her clothes are made of cotton or cotton blend so you can handwash or machine wash them. (See my pile of dry clean only items on that chair in the corner).

Honestly, I interviewed Hope and then talked to others at the event who were telling me about tartan scarves, which are multi-use blanket scarves, that they purchased. Every winter I say that I want a thousand blankets to be wrapped around me. So, I went back to the Hazel Vintage Co. and went shopping. And seriously, I’m just one of the many, like Chicago fashion blogger, Lauren Nelson, who can’t get enough of them.

Shop Hazel Vintage Co. looks on Polyvore and Pinterest, where she receives a lot of site traffic, or the Hazel Vintage Co. website.

As a bonus, four of her friends modeled the clothes for Hazel Vintage Co. in Lincoln Park and the Lincoln Park Conservatory for a true Chicago feel.

Give The Gift of Clean:

Susie Jendro loves soap. That’s how she introduced herself the first time I met her at a SheSays Chicago event this past spring.


Swoon Soap at SheSays Chicago event. Photo: Amanda Elliott

As an entrepreneur, I know you are supposed to be passionate about your product, but I haven’t met anyone as passionate about soap as Jendro, who started her research in the library.

Her brand is Swoon Soap. You can shop Bird & Baby, an unscented soap, which ironically smelled really good to me. This soap is made with goat meal, goat’s milk, honey, and yoghurt. I have yet to try it, but I did buy it at the event.
She has a few other varieties including 100 percent coconut oil soap and Lord of the Ring’s soap.

“I enthusiastically celebrate the entire works of Tolkien,” Jendor writes on her website,  “and have found much inspiration in the vivid descriptions of his various characters and landscapes.”

For the Cubs Fan:


Creative, Lacey Schmitt with a Cubs mural. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Lacey Schmitt has an Etsy shop for her artwork. She adds a Chicago-centric theme with murals made from Cubs paraphernalia including  these Cubs earrings made from Chicago Cubs baseball tickets.

Schmitt has various other jewelry made from recycled items for your eco-friendly friends.

Chicago Women Vendors:

Unfortunately, if you are like me, creating pretty things, is not as easy as it looks on Instagram and Pinterest.

I let the experts use their talents to give that added personal touch to hosts and friends this holiday season. And you can, too.

Here’s a list of Chicago vendors, who participated in the SheSays Chicago event.

Help the environment; help yourselves. And, best of all, help women entrepreneurs in your city, Chicago.

Happy holiday shopping!


BeBuddha Jewelry at SheSays Chicago event. Photo: Amanda Elliott

For more information about SheSays Chicago, please visit the SheSays website or read a past recap of SheSays Chicago events.


#WOWDAY is the New Black Friday

This holiday season, Chicago women-owned startup, liftUplift, is helping you put your money where your values are.

For the first time, first year tech startup, liftUplift, an e-commerce marketplace for women makers worldwide, is offering a special shopping day.

“There has never been more momentum around women supporting women, and they control over 60 percent of global spending,” said Corielle Heath, founder of liftUPlift. “The world needs women entrepreneurs, so let’s make it happen. Channel your purchasing power into women building businesses.”

Rather than another Black Friday event, Heath developed, #WOWDAY, which stands for “Women-Owned Wednesday,” on November 25, 2015.

WOMEN-OWNED WEDESDAY for liftUplift Photo: liftUpliftFor each day this November, liftUplift is featuring a different women-owned business to lead up to the shopping extravaganza.

#WOWDAY supporters include Thinx, a women-founded startup that developed super panties, a new solution for women on their periods. Another is Passion Planner, a hybrid journal and planner to help users target and reach their career and personal goals, which was an idea developed by Angelia Trinidad.

“We need the biggest day of consumer spending to make the greatest positive impact,” said Heath.

How to Celebrate #WOWDAY:

In November and on #WOWDAY, follow the hashtag, and share deals on social media, propelling liftUplift’s mission of women empowering fellow women. Browse liftUPlift’s Women-Owned Holiday Guide. New vendors will be added daily.

To participate as a women-owned businesses, use the hashtag, #WOWDAY on social media platforms on November 25 and include Women-Owned Wednesday deals.

Help empower women in a special way by sponsoring women-owned businesses and help increase liftUPlift’s promotional budget for #WOWDAY. Apply to be a #WOWDAY sponsor.

liftUplift: A Catalyst:

liftUpLift launched in September 2015, and everyday acts as a catalyst that empowers female makers and entrepreneurs.

In a separate interview, Heath talked about founding her e-commerce women-owned business marketplace, how she earned support, focused her talents, and is changing the way we can help female entrepreneurs.

The Passion Behind The Idea:

A smiling blonde, Heath, draws you in with her contagious charismatic personality, her spark for supporting women and her business acumen to turn her passion into a full-fledged tech startup.

“I was born to do this,” are the first words Heath tells me,

“I never really worry about failure. I do in the way that everyone does with day to day anxiety. But, so much of liftUplift comes out of myself. I don’t worry that that will be taken away from me.”

Last year, Heath was involved and is still an active member with the tech startup group for women, Ms. Tech. The organization regularly held lunches. Heath went every week, and one week, during introductions, she met Afreen, a computer programming student from India, who offered to share her story with anyone who wanted to learn more about life for women in her country. Heath arranged to interview her for the Ms. Tech blog.

During the interview, Heath found inspiration to start her own business.

At one point, Heath asked her: “What one piece of advice would you offer for other women in tech?”

Afreen replied, “You are not alone. You are merely the first.”

Bringing in a background in social sciences, Heath discovered that women were special and through this interview with Afreen, she wanted to amplify her mission of empowering women by connecting women globally.


Corielle Heath at AVP Jewelry and Beads with owner, Ana Pizzaro, accepting her invitation to join liftUplift Photo: liftUplift

Are Women Free?

“A big part of what liftUplift means to me is not about giving women anything other than their freedom and encouragement,” said Heath.

liftUplift is a global marketplace that affects and helps women worldwide. In conversation, we discussed how women were free in some senses, but also held prisoner to other areas like violence and male dependency.  Heath discussed the disconnect between women

“[Amercian] women are protected under the law. Here, women have much more power,” said Heath, “We can do whatever we want.”

However, she felt a global tug to help women who are not at the same level as American women.

“I had a Captain America moment,” said Heath, “There’s so much I can do.”

How Did You Start a Startup?

Before building her own company, Heath was working as the US Marketing Director of a tech company, GenXus, which was headquartered in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The day after Heath’s birthday last year, she quit her job, had a birthday party in Vegas, and then came back to Chicago to move forward with her idea to make a marketplace for women makers.

She hired part of the team in Uruguay, a country with vast technological talent.

“I knew from the very beginning that I could do this,” said Heath, “I was all in whether anyone was coming or not. But, I wanted them to come with because it was going to be a party.”

Heath and her team developed their own technology to build an e-commerce and non-profit component of liftUplift and ultimately built it through WordPress when the lead developer quit.

Heath learned how to code on the job sans a computer science background.


Corielle with the group of liftUPlift Makers at Blue Buddha Boutique in Chicago, on a monthly women-owned business tour in October. Photo: liftUplift

Heath shared that her secrets to success are, “Enthusiasm, extreme confidence,  boldness, and a very good idea.”

liftUplift officially launched on September 19, 2015, nearly a year after Heath started working on her project.

“My first job as the Founder of liftUplift is to build allies, and right away, I was way more successful than I expected,” sad Heath, “I was overwhelmed with support.”

Currently, Heath is working on her company from home and at the co-working space, The Shift. She quickly learned her strengths and weaknesses and has since made a plan to allocate relationship building and other assignments, as she works on being the visionary of liftUplift.

Visit liftUplift’s Indiegogo Campaign to learn more about the team of women supporting other women.