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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Wond’ry hosts second annual Renaissance Women’s Summit

The event featured panelists from female-led businesses, a student pitch competition, fashion pop-ups and a vendor fair.
Julia Tilton
The second annual Renaissance Women’s Summit hosted at the Wond’ry on Feb. 25, 2023. (Julia Tilton/Hustler Staff)

More than 120 ticket holders gathered at the Wond’ry on Feb. 25 for the second annual Renaissance Women’s Summit — a day-long event that featured panels, workshops and networking. The event was run by the Renaissance Marketing Group and Boss Talks Network in partnership with the Wond’ry.

Ticket holders attended panel sessions and workshops, which covered topics ranging from wellness to personal branding to Latina empowerment. A marketplace was also open to the public on the main floor of the Wond’ry, which featured products from 21 female-led and female-founded businesses.  

The Summit’s Event Coordinator and Renaissance Marketing Group representative Leah Streeval said the Renaissance Marketing Group and Boss Talks Network chose to host the event at the Wond’ry for the second year in a row to give new career professionals and students the opportunity to network on campus. 

“We chose the Wond’ry because it is an incubator for new business, and so what a better place to show students women who have made it in their careers,” Streeval said.

One key component of this year’s Summit was the Student Pitch Competition, which took place partway through the day. The competition was sponsored by Goop, the wellness brand founded by Gwenyth Paltrow. Three student-led ventures were pre-selected for the competition after undergoing an application process. These students were then given the opportunity to pitch their business ideas for a prize package totaling more than $20,000. The three finalists were first-year Lauren Chung and MBA students Julia Schuller and Mary Cayten Brakefield.

Brakefield’s brand, Brakefields, is a clothing label that combines style with function, focusing on clothing for individuals with disabilities and making fashion more accessible.  

“I’m so excited to be here at this event that’s very female-focused and so supportive of each other,” Brakefield said. “Talking with other vendors and other women in the pitch competition, it has been awesome hearing about their work.”

Schuller won the competition for her venture, the Birth Control App, a digital women’s healthcare company that aims to improve healthcare accessibility standards. 

The Summit also featured a pop-up booth from designer label Diane von Furstenberg (DVF). Several Vanderbilt students were selected to volunteer at the pop-up, which was held in collaboration with Vanderbilt Fashion Week. Student volunteer and Vanderbilt Fashion Week member Salma Abuhambda, a senior, said the event was a way for her and her peers to network with professionals in the fashion industry, including DVF’s CEO, who was present at the Summit.

“The DVF pop-up is our way of being a part of this Summit and providing it with fashion,” Abuhamda said. 

According to Yesenia Sevilla, director of strategic engagement and ecosystem development at the Wond’ry, the Renaissance Women’s Summit doubled in size from last year. In 2022, the event sold out, so organizers added more tickets this year.  

“For me, the Wond’ry represents a place where everyone is welcome, from wherever they come from, whatever they bring, to make an idea a reality. This is where the Summit should be,” Sevilla said. 

Senior June Kolentus, Sevilla’s assistant at the Wond’ry, said the Summit fostered interaction between the Wond’ry and attendees seeking resources for female entrepreneurship.

“We have all of these different entrepreneurs and innovators gathered here today, which puts our name in the hands of all of these people so they can recognize the Wond’ry as a space of innovation,” Kolentus said. 

Looking ahead to next year’s Summit, Sevilla said she wants to expand the speaker selection from U.S.-based entrepreneurs to female leaders in the international space. 

“One of the slogans is ‘girls compete, but women empower’: That’s what we’re about,” Sevilla said.

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About the Contributor
Julia Tilton
Julia Tilton, Former Staff Writer
Julia Tilton ('24) majored in earth & environmental science and Spanish and minored in communication of science and technology in the College of Arts and Science. When she's not trying new Ben & Jerry's flavors or going on her morning run, you can probably find Julia planning her next backpacking trip. She can be reached at [email protected].
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