My First Create and Cultivate

create and cultivate with jcpenney

Over the weekend I attended my first Create & Cultivate conference right here in Chicago! For those of you who aren’t familiar… Create & Cultivate is a nationwide conference for women looking to create & cultivate the career of their dreams. They pull together creatives, entrepreneurs and girl bosses and get real about careers, goals and any topic the modern working woman may be interested in. JCPenney was one of the main sponsors of this conference & I was beyond thrilled when they invited me to join them!! JCPenney is one of the only retailers where you can find head-to-toe beauty and fashion plus unique professional services! Did you know that they have the Salon by InStyle AND beauty through Sephora both right inside JCPenney!? Anyways… as you may have guessed, I jumped right on the opportunity to attend this significant conference with such an amazing brand! I wanted to share with you guys a little bit about what the conference was like, the space, the speakers and my favorite points I took away from a day of listening to amazing speakers!


The conference took place at the House Of Vans in the West Loop. It’s actually a skate park but they transformed this space (indoor & outdoor) into the most inspiring, well done, fun, upbeat and creative space. Exactly what you’d hope for when looking for inspiration. There were two main speaking areas. The JCPenney stage was under a large tent, with high top tables (high gloss white) & acrylic stools, of course. So chic! This stage hosted half of the days panels where people such as Chriselle Lim, Ashley Tisdale & Whitney Port spoke. The backdrop was full of colorful streamers and the panelists sat in pink velvet chairs… duh. The second stage was inside and they built out another gorgeous stage with a colorful, patterned backdrop and lots of greenery! Very different but still so stylish and fun! 


Between these two stages and beside them you found brand activations, photo backdrops, a pop up market and more! I spent a lot of time at the JCPenney pop-up activation which was SO cool. They created an amazing office space for the perfect photo background. They even had a space to get your custom nameplate engraved. I had mine engraved with “Those White Walls” and it’s the perfect addition to my desk at home! They also had a cute clothing rack in the office (what girls dream office doesn’t also have space for clothing and accessories, am I right!?) showcasing some Fall trends. A few notable ones are fall florals and a feminine take on menswear with plaid patterns and stretch suiting… polished yet comfortable! (You can shop trends like this HERE). I kept on coming back between panels for time in this fab space.


I intently listened to CEOs, boss babes, bloggers and amazing entrepreneurs throughout the day on various panels. It’s incredible to hear people’s stories and see everything they’ve accomplished in their careers even at such young ages. I felt inspired and excited to continue in my career and continue to move up & forward after hearing some great advice, inspiring quotes & stories. I took notes all day because I really wanted to share with you guys my favorite takeaways from the day. So without further ado:

If you’re not slightly uncomfortable with what you’re asking for... you’re not asking for enough. You know what you’re worth.

If you’ve found something that you can’t google how to do... you’re onto something! Keep going! 

Be clear on what your brand purpose is. What do you stand for?

Have a very clear visual identity that is distinctive for your specific brand (this is one I really want to work on). 

Who are you? Find your personal truth and stay true to who you are.

Being an entrepreneur, a work/life balance does not exist. Instead, you must learn to find work/life integration. 

Know your value and ask for it.… Ask yourself first, what story do you want to tell… Then, tell your client, I can help you tell this story… Spell EVERYTHING out. ex: Here’s what I can give to you, here’s how I can benefit you and that is why I am worth your money. If they say you’re too expensive, remember, you’re not too expensive… they just can’t afford you yet. 

“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for”. -Oprah

SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF! Ask for what you think you deserve. Things aren’t just going to be handed to you. ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Talking about money is awkward.. but ask for what you deserve. Two CEOs at the conference talked about how every promotion they received they asked for because they thought they deserved it. They clearly did. Know your value and ASK for what you deserve. 

Outsource the things that do not bring you joy. You have to spend money to make money. 

Follow the opportunity and the money will follow. Don’t chase the money. Chase the opportunity because that’s what is going to make you truly happy.

There’s a reason horses race with blinders. Eye on the prize. Don’t let copy cats or negativity make you steer away from the prize.

If it’s not worth working hard for. It’s not worth it at all. So follow your passion, do what you love.

You should feel proud of the work you do. If you're not, why are you wasting your time?


These were my very favorite takeaways from the day! I could have written down SO much more though! All of the speakers were fabulous, and I left feeling excited, inspired and motivated to CRUSH IT! A huge thank you to JCPenney for having me for this amazing conference & sponsoring this blog post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

xx Ali