“This festival started as a dream in 1991,” proclaimed Queen of Hip Hop Mary J. Blige early the morning of Saturday May 7th while at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta, Georgia. It was there, 31 years later, that her dream became a reality as the inaugural Strength of a Woman Summit opened its doors to Black women for a day of education, elevation, and empowerment.

“The Strength of A Woman Festival is about sharing information. Getting different perspectives on different things and learning different things from different people,” she stated in front of the crowd. “That’s the most powerful thing. All of these women being here. That’s the strength of a woman. Seeing other women being empowered. [My hope is that] women from all walks of life look at this program and say I wish I was there.”

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MAY 07: Mary J. Blige speaks at the Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit on May 07, 2022 at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for for Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit)

The summit was hosted virtually by actress Taraji P. Henson and in person by actress Shamea Morton and ione Digital Senior Content Director, Pop Culture Janee Bolden. Through a series of workshops and panels, women deep-dived into topics such as entrepreneurship, wellness, monetizing your personal brand, NFTs, cryptocurrency, the business side of cuisine, and more. Beyond information, the best part was taking part in conversations spearheaded by Black women leaders in their respective fields.

Highlights of the day included the panel ‘Defining The Strength of A Woman’ led by Tamron Hall featuring the guest of honor herself, MJB, and also joined by radio personality Angie Martinez, actress Tasha Smith, and entrepreneur Supacent. ‘Booked n Busy’, a discussion about juggling it all featured, Atlanta’s very booked and busy Kandi Burruss and was moderated by Essence’s Style & Beauty Director Blake Newby.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MAY 07: Kandi Burruss and Blake Newby speak at the Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit on May 07, 2022 at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for for Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit)

If you were looking for how to stay consistent through multiple businesses, ‘Serial Entrepreneurs’ radio personality Angela Yee, public figure Toya Johnson, and brand builder Tish Taylor saved a spot for you in an open and honest discussion while the panel, ‘Building A Personal Brand’ went in depth about custom strategies and banking on your passions.The lineup exceeded expectations as it featured comedian Pretty Vee, actress CoCo Jones, CEO Monique Rodriguez, and celebrity hair stylist Kim Kimble; moderated by Essence’s Entertainment Director Brande Victorian.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MAY 07: (L-R) Brande Victorian, Tish Taylor, Angela Yee, and Toya Johnson speak at the Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit on May 07, 2022 at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for for Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit)

When attendees weren’t sitting in on panels, they were treated to activations including an early morning mind reset led by Tai Beauchamp and an NFT gallery featuring solely Black women artists. Content creators could create mini video reels in a video booth or snap a few memories in the photo booth with printed holographic photos. Custom designs were available at the merch table as well as a bar offering Sun Goddess Wine, a Mary J Blige collection available for purchase.

Before the event ended, the day’s presenting sponsor Pepsi, highlighted a conversation with Black Women Managers Claudine Joseph (LL Cool J), Nicole Jackson (MJB), and Eboni Ward (Future, Gunna) about the highlights of their career journeys behind the world’s most popular artists. This panel presented by their new program Pepsi Music Labs was also streamed to Youtube.  BET Studios, another proud sponsor, announced new activations and plans they plan to bring to the channel including this year’s BET Awards and a brand new talk show with actress Yara Shahidi in the works.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MAY 07: Tai Beauchamp speaks at the Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit on May 07, 2022 at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for for Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit)

The summit without a doubt was a success and every woman there showed what strength meant and looked like to them. This is only the beginning for ‘Strength of a Woman’ and I cannot wait to see how this grows and inspires in years to come.

The Strength of A Woman Festival is presented by Pepsi in partnership with BET, Live Nation Urban, Mielle Organics, and Sun Goddess.

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