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.


Host a Better Conference with Dovetail Event App

The panelist didn’t show up. Nobody heard your question. And that party was a buzz kill.

Events are hard to plan and harder to execute.

We know people come to conferences to learn industry news, make business deals, and yes, have fun. But even if you have the party, bring the industry experts, and create conference rooms and conference party mixers, will the mantra, if you build it they will come, stand true?

Event Marketing Specialist, Gabriela Xavier:


Garbriela Xavier, Dovetail. Photo: Dovetail

I sat down with Gabriela Xavier, Product Marketing Manager of Chicago company, Dovetail, a product of CDM SoMo, a subsidiary of CDM Media Inc.

Xavier has been with CDM Media Inc., a leading B2B technology marketing and media firm, producing C-level executive events globally, since 2010, when she started as an event and online marketing specialist.

This past spring, Dovetail launched their own internal event app, which they built from scratch,  for the several events that they host through CDM Media Inc.

Xavier drew upon her event marketing knowledge and shared how her team built an iOS app to change the way Dovetail, and hopefully others will execute conferences.

Dovetail App

Dovetail, is an app built by and for CDM Media’s events, which are conferences with executive level IT managers locally in Chicago and also internationally. Prior to developing their own internal app, they relied on a third party, but felt they had limited functionality in terms of social media integration among other things.

There is nothing new about event apps. Companies have made the switch from paper to smartphone, including at events, but event apps are becoming more powerful tools.

The main benefit of having an event app is that it places the conference on a digital level. Attendees can access the entire agenda and be notified of events and room changes instantly. No more paper.

dove 2

An App That Facilitates Connections at Events:

For each event, attendees sign into the portal for their event-specific portion of the app. Their profile, which includes a photo, company description and logo, and personal bio, allows for attendees to get acquainted on a deeper level.

As attendees become acquainted with fellow attendees, they are able to reach out to the through the app. It’s like finding out whose in your class before your first day of school.

Attendees typically sign into the app about a week before the conference.

Talking Points and Q&A:

The app also helps event planners curate content specifically tailored to attendees through the use of white papers and case studies that attendees can access in the app. How users interact with these resources might effect presenter’s presentations or alter subject matter in the conference.

The app also helps to facilitate questions during a presentation. Attendees can submit their questions to the presenter throughout the session, and, even better, if you missed the session, you can view questions and answers from the session. No more fear of missing out.


Attendee Feedback:

Another key feature that Xavier was excited about it that, as an event organizer, she doesn’t have to wait until the end of the conference to receive user feedback.

Attendees can give feedback after sessions and throughout the conference. This makes a huge difference and will help event organizers address issues while they still can, rather than doing better next time.

Event App Features:

  • View the full event agenda and your personal itinerary
  •  Read attendee biographies and company information
  •  Access white papers, case studies, and presentations that correspond to agenda sessions
  • Receive event updates as they happen
  •  Send messages to other event attendees
  •  Read a scrolling Twitter feed with the latest event information
  •  Share event updates across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and  Instagram directly from the app.
  •  Access detailed venue maps.

Other Companies Can Use the Dovetail App:

The Dovetail app is currently in a transitional stage. It was built from the knowledge of event planners for CDM Media Inc. and from feedback from the previous app.

“The app can be customized to any events,” said Xavier, “It’s a blank canvas.”

The app is exclusively offered at the Apple Store. Dovetail found that their event attendees are primarily Apple product users. Though, Xavier noted that there are still some who have a Blackberry and a few who have Android phones. During conferences, these users are given an iPad to access the app for the duration of the conference.

Dovetail plans to offer the app for it’s clients’ companies to use and then market it to other companies to help event planners better manage their events and conference goers have a more personal and digital experience.

Learn From Industry Experts:

For more exclusive interviews from entrepreneurs and industry experts in Chicago, as well as events to meet them, subscribe to Windy City Cosmo and follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

If you are an entrepreneur or industry expert and would like to be featured on Windy City Cosmo, please contact me.




Chicago-based Bel Brands Celebrates 150 Years in Business

There was no cheese.

There was champagne—Pommery French champagne at The Virgin Hotel on Thursday, December 10, 2015, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Chicago headquartered, global gourmet cheese company, Bel Brands (30 S. Wacker Drive, Ste. 3000). Bel Brands makes portable cheese snacks including The Laughing Cow® and Mini BabyBel®.

Bel Brands Reinvents Snacking:

This has been quite the year for Bel Brands.

They launched a #ReinventSnacking Twitter and Instagram campaign for one of their brands, Laughing Cow Cheese, through event marketing. In Chicago, it was called, “The Laughing Cow’s Love Your Local.”

It was an opportunity for Laughing Cow Cheese to reintroduce itself through a line of new flavors, which it continues to do with Creamy Asiago cheese flavor coming in March 2016.

The events spanned three cities including Chicago, New York, and Seattle, and included guests like The Bachelorette season 9 star, Desiree Hartsock and various Chicago foodie bloggers like, Susie Lemmer (@The_Suzlyfe), Van Mac (@vansventura), and Lauren Lehocky (@ihadabiglunch).

The Laughing Cow brought in special guests for their event in Chicago including, Instagramer Samantha Roby of @ChicagoFoodAuthority and local Chicago Chef Tanya Baker of The Boarding House. They even let us play with our food in an interactive session creating stop-motion videos led by experts, Visual Country.

American Snacking:


Frederic Nalis, Bel Brands USA President and CEO. Photo: Amanda Elliott

“I am a cheese lover,” Frederic Nalis,  Bel Brands USA President and CEO, told me during cocktail chatter.

As a Frenchman, he offered up the contrast between French and American cheese tastes and snacking habits.

The French are more conservative in their cheese taste, preferring nostalgic old cheese, to new flavors, as Americans prefer.

“French want to  find the taste of childhood. They grew up with it.”

Frederic Nalis also noted that Americans are habitual snackers, a practice that has increased radically since the 1970s, when it was 10 percent of meals, compared to today in America, where 57 percent of meals are snacks.

His wife, Marie Nalis, was close by. She was a bit taller than him, and elegant in all-black and pearls. The two met at a university in France.

“From France, I have been following him for the past 25 years,” Marie Nalis said, pointing to her husband, Frederic Nalis, a man who started his career at Procter and Gamble for fourteen years in Germany.

He transitioned to Bel Brands, a company that he has supported globally for twelve years. In the past two years, he assumed the CEO position, using his marketing expertise and business acumen to grow a brand that quite literally, needed to be reinvented.

After the campaign, #ReinventSnacking, Frederic notes, “The brand is doing better. It’s more relevant.”

French Chic Style:

The 150th anniversary celebration was well-attended by French business partners, plant managers from neighboring states, and members of the French consulate.

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During the celebration, Marie Nalis, was delightful and French chic, much like the other women wearing coveted red bottom Louis Vuitton’s.


Marie Nalis, wife of Bel Brands President and CEO. Photo: Amanda Elliott

I asked her, since she is from France, if she shopped French brands of locally. She noted that she enjoys local Chicago shops.

“I love J. Crew. Otherwise, anything that is on sale.”

She has made a life for herself in Chicago, impressed with the beauty and culture of the city. Marie Nalis enjoys the Chicago museums and arts here as a member of The Chicago Architecture Foundation. She has three children, two girls in their twenties who reside in France and a son, who resides in Chicago.

French Entertainment at the Virgin Hotel:

The French themed anniversary party was held in the beautiful and quirky, Virgin Hotel. Entertainment included lounge beats from DJ Castro, a local DJ, who will be providing entertainment for Whiskey Business, the bar attachment to the second Cheesie’s Pub location in Chicago, in Wicker Park, when it opens in 2016.

Additionally, there were two French dressed dancers, who had a brief performance after the Bel Brands CEO’s well-wishes.

In a separate room, with chocolate cake and red balloons, was a special photo booth, The Travelling Photo Booth. An attendee, Colleen Rooney, and I recreated, “Let them eat cake,” using champagne and cake as props.

Say Cheese Bel Campaign:

To celebrate the 150th anniversary on a larger scale, Bel Brands is doing a special fundraiser for its foundation, BelFoundation, which helps children in France and globally .

Currently, Bel Brands is more than halfway to their goal of 150,000 euros.

To be part of the 150,000 smiles shared globally, for 150,000 euros raised, share a photo on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag, #SayCheeseBel.



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.


Social Media Week Meme Themed Daybreaker

There were drums at 7 this morning, Wednesday, November 18, 2015. And no, you couldn’t throw your clothes over them.  Legacy Drumline was beating on them loudly as he welcomed daybreakers to the second Daybreaker, dance party at Tunnel (151 W. Kinzie Ave.). 

Daybreaker is a global movement founded by Matthew Brimer and Radha Agrawal to change the way we think about having a good time.

Like a new boyfriend, you can’t compare your first Daybreaker with your next.

What Do You Meme?

Each Daybreaker is a unique party and has another event, social cue, or meaning inspired by it.

For the second Daybreaker in Chicago, the team paired up with Social Media Week (#SMWChicago), a week program (November 16-20, 2015) that is part of a global conference which combines social technology, creativity, and human interaction to discuss the latest trends and best practices for social media.

Much like a meme, which is an image or clip that goes viral, the conference  has been trending on Twitter since Monday afternoon.

“This week is Social Media Week in Chicago, and we loved the idea of how memes are viral and create communities around creativity…and mischief!” said a Daybreaker representative.

As a movement that hinges on community and creativity, Daybreaker added meme ideas to the invite like #DrakeAlwaysOnBeatGrumpy Cat, and Condescending Wonka, and encouraged further discussion on the Daybreaker Facebook page.

During the event, a few dressed up as memes, which included Beyonce and Batman.



Dress as a meme theme. Photo: Amanda Elliott

“I definitely think this is the highlight of the week,” said returning Social Media Week attendee, Vanessa Baker, owner of Flying V Marketing.

Yoga Six at Six:

The morning started with yoga instructor, Rachel Hessen of Yoga Six.


Yoga led by Rachel Hessen. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Hessen kept the practice centered more on yoga then prepping for a dance party.


Morning Vinyasa flow at Chicago Daybreaker. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Attendees enjoyed the yoga experience, and a few migrated in between 6:15 and 6:45 am to an overcrowded room.


As always, there was a lineup of entertainment.

Braden Coucher, the MC for the morning, started off the show in his black hat, with a moment of meaning, “If 50 or 100 people show up, it becomes a movement,” he said, ” No one did anything of significance alone.”

Daybreaker NYC’s resident DJ,  David Hohme, flew to Chicago for the party.


Dance Party at Tunnel. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Singer Mike Golden, was the headlining performer, who incorporated his soulful voice in between EDM beats. Golden is featured on Chance the Rapper and Donnie Trumpet’s “Surf” album.

Christine Harris incorporated her Afro Fusion dance fitness moves to the party, as well.


Mother and daughter at Daybreaker.  Photo: Amanda Elliott

But, it wouldn’t be a party without the people, and they came. They brought their mother or came alone. This time around, while attendees were predominately in their 20s and 30s, there were people in their 40s and 50s joining the party. One woman came up on stage and had the crowd in a frenzy over her hula hoop moves. Her daughter joined her for a double act.

While the beats were consistent, by 8 am, the DJ turned up the momentum with faster tracks and some hip hop.


Hula hoop dancer at Daybreaker. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Daybreaker Invite:

Daybreaker is a new movement gaining acceptance throughout America and other countries. Chicago’s first Daybreaker was in October, and the new team hopes to keep the momentum going with a new event every month.

The next Daybreaker is anticipated to be December 2, 2015. Stay connected with the Daybreaker newsletter.



Neon lights at Daybreaker. Photo: Amanda Elliott