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Walking up to ROW DTLA for The Heart Series conference, I could already tell it was going to be different from most of the social impact conferences I attend. The venue, a hip loft-like space in a gentrified area of downtown Los Angeles set the tone for a two-day gathering that felt more like an extended retreat with very inspiring, socially conscious do-gooders who became fast friends by virtue of attending.
Five years ago, Meg Sette and Gail Cayetano came up with the idea for The Heart Series when they couldn’t think of a purpose-driven conference that combined all of the elements they were looking for. They wanted to create a relaxed event that brought together a diverse range of people working towards social impact, whether they were working in the public, private or nonprofit sectors. The event cofounders wanted to provide a creative space where attendees could learn, network and collaborate, while having a lot of fun in between.
In 2015, they had their inaugural event and it proved so successful that they have grown steadily each year since. First-time attendees at The Heart Series instantly become part of a warm and welcoming community of mission-driven peers. “Sette and Cayetano have created such an intimate and ‘retreat-like’ event that encourages innovation and collaboration among socially good entrepreneurs and conscious consumers alike,” said AmyAnn Cadwell, Founder of The Good Trade, a sustainable lifestyle platform. “It’s the perfect gathering place if you want to have your finger on the pulse of social impact driven business.”
Every detail is thoughtfully curated, from partners to catering, all aligning with an ethical, fair trade ethos appreciated by all in attendance. Partners like My Intent, who made a bespoke intention bracelet for each guest, and Open Heart Warrior, who guided attendees through early morning meditation activities, all set the tone for a comfortable environment where collective positivity filled the space.
Kicking off each day with a little music and a little dance, attendees enjoyed a killer lineup of speakers from leading social impact brands like TOMS, Participant Media and FEED, as well as founders of social enterprises like Causebox, Known Supply and Generous Coffee. “Too often, we expect social and environmental justice to come from the nonprofit sector,” said Leila Janah, founder of Samasource and LXMI. “Businesses have the biggest budgets and opportunity to take dramatic action to make the world better — and conferences like The Heart Series are vital to inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs.”
As a social entrepreneur leveraging his reality TV platform for social good, Ben Higgins, Cofounder of Generous Coffee, welcomed the opportunity to share advice with attendees looking to gain awareness for their causes, without sacrificing authenticity. “For-purpose organizations exist to eliminate injustice within this world,” said Higgins. “In an industry focused around socially responsible initiatives The Heart Series conference allows the unique opportunity for competing organizations to sit side by side for the sole purpose of gaining knowledge, expertise and connection.”
Throughout the room, various stations offer additional opportunities for collaboration (a give and get wall, where everyone is free to offer and request everything from high fives to strategic guidance); networking (communal tables where strangers become friends over plant-based organic meals); and inspiration (an instagrammable wall of images and quotes that anchor the underlying passion of the event). “Gail and Meg have truly crafted a series that builds community, something unique to other conferences in the same vein,” said Sarah Naseer, President of FEED. “Because the conference is built around not only talks, but workshops and activations as well (fun ones!), it fosters real connections. Those connections then enable the socially conscious community to engage and collaborate with each other, growing our collective impact overall.”
Additional touches like the opportunity to ‘build your own gift bag’ (a creative way to incorporate purpose-driven sponsors), and Glamsquad services combined with Bumble Bizz headshot sessions took it to the next level, solidifying why attendees come back year after year. The Heart Series is the epitome of an experiential conference that anyone who cares about social impact should attend.
Sette and Cayetano truly have created their dream event and by the looks of their rapid growth, they are certainly filling a void for others. “As leaders in the social impact sector, everyday you’re out there convincing people that giving is good for business and that conscious consumerism can make the world a better place,” said Caroline Pinal, Cofounder of Giveback Homes. ”At The Heart Series, you’re in a room full of people who already get that, so you feel a bit of relief when you walk through the doors. Everyone is on the same page and we can move onto inspiring each other and elevating the industry.”
The Heart Series takes place annually between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, the perfect intersection of love and leadership.
March 8, 2019 at 03:09AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs