by Jessie Ammons
photographs by Catherine Nguyen
An engaged group of 230 Triangleites – leaders, creators, thinkers, and most of them women – gathered at the Umstead Hotel & Spa Sept. 8 for Walter’s third-annual WINnovation event celebrating women and entrepreneurship.
Presented by Bank of America, the Umstead Hotel and Spa, and Walter, the sold-out evening featured TED-style “WIN” (women in innovation) talks by five standout local women: Mati Energy drink founder Tatiana Birgisson, Grammy-award-winning jazz singer and nonprofit founder Nnenna Freelon, nonprofit Apiopolis founder Alice Hinman, The Preiss Company founder and CEO Donna Preiss, and Raleigh Denim co-founder and CEO Sarah Yarborough.
The speakers shared insight, wisdom, and inspiration about their career journeys; and they also shared candid personal stories with humor, honesty, and sincerity. From their diverse realms of jazz, fashion, real estate, the environment, and consumer products emerged common themes: the importance of intentionality, gratitude, pluck, and self-care. “You have to take risks; you have to have courage; and you have to be who you are,” said Michelle Moore, head of digital banking at Bank of America, who kicked off the speakers.
The message resonated with the audience, who say they felt empowered, connected, and energized. Prior to the dinner and WIN talks, many attendees participated in a start-up workshop sponsored by Diamonds Direct and hosted by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development CEO Ravila Gupta. It sparked conversations that carried over to cocktails on the patio and throughout the night, a memorable one of community and inspiration.