by Ashley Streff
If you don’t know about @girltalknetwork yet, here’s a quick download: My amazing friend @sarahpendrick founded the organization with the goal of empowering women to build each other up, not tear each other down (I mean we’re not in high school anymore guys…there’s no excuse for this). Their mission is to encourage connection over competition, and basically build a tribe of badass, successful female entrepreneurs who all inspire and support one another. Talk about a #dreamteam, right?! I’ve been working super closely with Sarah and GirlTalk Network for a long time because they’re a nonprofit I’m suuuper passionate about. Seriously, women supporting women is my jam.
GirlTalk has hosted a bunch of events in the LA area to encourage self love and help women connect, inspire one another, and succeed, but Sarah and I knew we wanted to make this bigger, badder, and better. But the question was…how? How could we share GirlTalk’s mission with an even bigger audience? With the help of the beautiful @elizabethkeene, we found the answer: Connect with our amazing network of high-profile blogger and influencer friends to spread the sisterhood love and get GirlTalk’s message of empowerment out there to all their followers! With our shared vision in mind, the three of us curated our FIRST EVER GirlTalk blogger weekend getaway and it was a huge success!!!
Here’s the deal on our first ever weekend retreat.
In partnership with @justfabonline and @modcloth, we put together this incredible weekend retreat (filled with gorgeous clothing & shoes, of course—thank you JustFab and ModCloth for making everyone look so photogenic!) that I can’t wait to give you guys a peek into. Seriously having major withdrawals going through these photos right now…!
Also sending some MAJOR love to @southwestair, who supported this GirlTalk event by taking care of our flights and sending us to our first stop of the weekend: Napa Valley! After a vineyard filled-day, day two was spent in lovely SF. There were seven of us total in the group (including Sarah and I) and I loved how intimate the weekend felt. With such a small group, we all got major quality time together and really, truly connected. Here are the gorgeous babes that joined us that weekend: @elizabethkeene, @carriebradshawlied, @huntforstyles, @arianalauren, and @melanee.
What comes to mind when you think of Napa? WINE.
While we’re all about connection, collaboration, and kindness at GirlTalk, no blogger retreat is complete without making sure every little detail as photogenic as possible, right? Our first stop on the trip, the Napa Valley @winetrain, did NOT disappoint. Picture this: an old-school 1920’s train car rocking major vintage vibes from the intricate upholstered seats, to the velvet arm chairs, to the mahogany paneling….I die. I felt like I was in an old movie! And the interior wasn’t the only photogenic part: the train basically goes allllll throughout Napa Valley (think stunning vineyard views), which you can see from the big, bright windows. We had an epic three course lunch onboard paired with so many great wines, and then we hopped off the train to do some winery tours. The coolest thing about the Wine Train is that the cars were actually built in 1915 and then refurbished to use for the wine tour, so they are 100% authentic and historic! I loooove old school charm, so this was such a fun environment to shoot in. And let’s be real…who doesn’t love a day filled with wine? Shoutout to Napa Valley @winetrain for hooking us up with the best day imaginable!
Why hospitality is key.
After a full day of boozing (jk…….kind of) we checked into our hotel for the night in Napa: @senzahotelnapa. You guys—have you ever woken up and opened your patio doors straight onto to a gorgeous vineyard right outside your room?! Let me tell you, you’re really missing out. Being in Napa was SUCH a delight; it was a nice escape for all of us from the hustle and bustle of the cities we normally live in, and it was great to be surrounded by fresh air, tons of greenery, and grapes growing on vines literally right outside our door. While we loved all the wine (can you tell??) I’d have to say one of the biggest takeaways from the weekend was how amazing the hospitality was at this hotel. The staff at Senza went sooo above & beyond to make us feel welcome and cared for. Traveling can be tough—on the mind, on the body—especially when in my case, you’re traveling to work. But having people be kind to you and take care of you makes such a difference, and we felt so loved from the amazing staff at the hotel—thank you Senza!!
Vineyard picnics > anything else.
As I mentioned before, the amazing @elizabethkeene helped us put together this incredible trip. And let me tell you, this girl is a true artist (you’ll know what I mean after you check out her Instagram). She has such an artistic eye and I love how even in her Instagram photos she creates scenes and puts real creative effort into her shots. (The photographer in me obviously recognizes/loves this). Like the total art director that she is, Elizabeth arranged the most magical picnic dinner you could possibly imagine, nestled in the vineyard on this perfect checkered blanket that was literally screaming for us to picnic on. So cute. We had pizza (obviously, because what girl’s night get together is complete without pizza…?) and lots of bubbly courtesy of @chandonusa. We got comfy on the blanket and enjoyed a night of great conversation all about how we can be more powerful as a sisterhood. It was so nice to be in nature away from the intensity of everyday life, because it allowed us to really take a step back, relax, and actually connect.
Next stop: San Francisco.
It was hard to say goodbye to beautiful Napa, but we were so excited hit up our next destination: San Fran!! Lucky us, we got to stay the @fssanfrancisco thanks to my girl @melanee, the social media manager for the @fslosangeles. I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that our stay at this hotel was beyond. We got two beautiful rooms to share between the group, and the entire Four Seasons SF staff immediately made us feel like we were home and looked out for every single one of our needs. I felt so pampered! In fact….I actually happened to be deathly ill that weekend (I never get sick, so this was BAD), and when you’re sick and traveling, there’s a lot of stress on your body so it’s really nice when people go the extra mile to make you feel comfortable like the Four Seasons staff did. I’m all about customer service, and they were so good to us. And of course, the only way I travel these days is with my @away suitcase. As you can see in the photos, Melanee stole my dusty rose Away suitcase to pose with. I literally can’t live without this suitcase—shoutout to Away (they’re the greatest!!!). Get your hands on one here if you don’t have one already. You’ll thank me later.
Next, it was time for the most divine dinner.
We had such a wonderful evening at the Four Seasons SF over a really beautiful meal (that may or may not have included a massive punch bowl of sangria for the table….#win). The chef even came out after to welcome us to the hotel. Seriously, their hospitality was so. on. point. At dinner, we had another great conversation about how to support and empower each other in this world of blogging and social media. We talked about how together we can collectively transform the space to be kind and encouraging, and we can stop the trolling, bullying, insecurity, and competition that is all too common on social media. It was so incredible to bring all of us businesswomen together in a support group setting, so we could freely trade tips and tricks on how to navigate this world without feeling like someone would steal our ideas or bring us down. I left dinner feeling so #blessed for this amazing girl gang that GirlTalk brought together!
Speaking of food..
The next morning we ordered an unreal breakfast spread from room service that…naturally, we ate in bed. I literally ordered a plate of bacon for breakfast because #treatyoself, right? I took a few fun photos of our breakfast in bed, and then I grabbed some gorgeous pictures of Elizabeth and Melanee rocking their @nakedprincess lingerie. I loveeee Melanee’s robe and could totally see myself rocking it kimono-style with jeans and a white tank during the day.
After the amazing weekend that we had, I just felt so grateful. I left with new friends (I even saw a few of them at the @rewardstylehq NYFW party the following week!) and new knowledge, confidence, and inspiration. GirlTalk’s mission is super important to me, and I’m just so excited to see it grow and reach even more women. So remember: Be kind to each other. Support each other. And communicate openly. Now, go spread the sisterhood love, babes 🙂
Thanks to the amazing sponsors who helped make this weekend happen and & much love to all my new friends from this trip! You can learn more about GirlTalk Network here, and please join us at one of our upcoming events (or obviously message me for info!!!) to join the #girltalkgang!