Fun Times, Cool Products and Sad Facts at Blogher18
I was invited to attend the Blogher18 Creator’s conference held on August 8-9th at the South Street Seaport in New York City. Due to work load, I was only able to squeeze in a visit for the last afternoon, but I learned a ton! Here are some of the fun times, cool products and sad facts I picked up at the conference.
Although I try to take the Marie Kondo approach to clothing, who doesn’t like to try on clothes? Worth New York was on hand with some great new looks to try. Here is the Modern-Day Church Lady in a camel coat (which incidentally comes in a fabulous red color).
There were some interesting products, both from a personal and professional perspective.
Getting acquainted with Barbie all over again
As a kid, I loved Barbie dolls. So it was great to see how the line has evolved with the times with Barbie dolls dressed for careers in medicine, science, aerospace. These career Barbies were handed out freely at the conference. I took the scientist doll and had a little fun later at home, posing her with a beaker I had on hand. I will be giving my Scientist Barbie to a little girl after some fun with my new photography habit.
Here’s a cool Unboxing video about the barbie scientist doll.
Eco-friendly makes its way into gift bags
I love my new metal straw with cleaning brush and bag! Now the straws won’t get all crusty from the detritus that seems to grow at the bottom of my purse. Great to see ecological awareness permeating all aspects of our lives. Thanks #Humanscale for providing such a thoughtful gift.
Women’s Health Products
In my health care communication career, I’ve done a lot of marketing of women’s reproductive health products, including Today Sponge. If fact, so much so that I often refer to myself as a “Below the Belt Marketer.” I was more than intrigued by two products on display at the conference:
Vagisil Emergency Contraception
The Vagisil brand has launched an emergency contraceptive, PreventezaTM, which has a higher dose of levonorgestrel, a common hormone used in birth control pills. I admire any company that launches a new product in a politically fraught category like women’s reproductive health. The CEO, Keech Combe Shetty, the granddaughter of the founders of Vagisil, says that the launch of Preventeza is carrying on the family tradition of pushing the boundaries of women’s health. As the Vagisil website details, the launch of the original Vagisil product was not greeted with open arms.
“Despite the facts, the government tried to silence us. Television networks tried to censor us. They hated our name. Even with the Sexual Revolution going on at the time, no one said the word vagina in public. Still, the name Vagisil® was here to stay. We were intentional about being a beacon for every woman seeking relief and better vaginal health.”
Evofem’s Dr. Lady Doctor
At this point, Dr. Lady Doctor, is more of a service than a product. The company, Evofem Biosciences, is a company devoted to women’s health. They have a product in development, Amphora, which is a hormone-free, on demand, woman-controlled vaginal gel currently in a Phase 3 clinical trial as a contraceptive and in a Phase 2b trial for the prevention of certain STIs(Sexually Transmitted Infections).
Hopefully we will see Amphora launched in 2020, but until then, we have Dr. Lady Doctor, who is the face behind Evofem’s efforts to educate women about their sexual health. She is also known as Dr. Kelly Culwell and is the Chief Medical Officer of Evofem Biosciences. I can’t wait to see what this innovative company does for women’s health.
More than anything, I liked how open the speakers were with traditionally taboo subjects, like race and sexuality. I picked up some helpful openers for having the taboo conversations myself in an on-stage discussion between the actress Uzo Aduba and Time’s Up Now CMO Rachel Terrace. You can read Aduba’s wise counsel in my recent blog post “Great Advice from Uzo Aduba How to Talk About Race.”
It was also exciting to hear from Angie Thomas, the 30 year-old author of The Hate U Give, a New York Times Best-Seller. Thomas got her start by participating in a Q&A session on Twitter with a literary agent who subsequently signed her. Within several months, the agent got her offers from 13 different publishers.
A movie based on the book is coming out on October 19th. Thomas had a lot of eye-opening thoughts about growing up black in the US, so many I will save that for another blog post. In the meantime, watch the trailer.
NOW FOR THE SAD PART
The state of maternity mortality in the US
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stopped by the conference and chatted on stage with Christy Turlington Burns, supermodel, CEO and Founder of Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing maternal deaths in the US and around the world. One of the most disturbing factoids that Gillibrand shared was that in New York City, a woman of color is 12 times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than a white woman. New York ranks 30 out of 50 states in terms of deaths per 100,000 births (e.g. 29 states have lower maternal mortality). New Jersey, where the Modern-Day Church Lady resides ranks even worse, at 45!
Shelly McNamara was on hand to talk about being openly gay in corporate America. McNamara is currently a Vice President of Human Resources at Procter and Gamble. I am friends with several successful asylum seekers who fled their country because being gay put their lives in danger. I always tell them they don’t have to worry so much in the US. And while that is certainly true that the it is better to be gay in the US than Nigeria, I was shocked to hear Shelly say that “being gay gets you fired in 28 states.”
I can’t wait for #Blogher19!