On Saturday, Gwyneth Paltrow hosted a wellness summit in Culver City, California. Appropriately titled “In Goop Health,” it was Goop’s first-ever IRL conference experience, and about 600 people paid $500, $1000 or $1,500 (each level denoted with a crystal) to attend. Highlights included probiotic smoothies served between each activity; a “dome” for aura photos; an IV drip bar; a by CHLOE ice cream cart; an oxygen bar featuring a mix of lavender, lemon, grapefruit and eucalyptus oxygen flavors; a Moon Juice bar; a “Zen zone,” where guests could listen to a pre-recorded guided meditation on an iPad; and a dream-analysis station.
Scads of popular media properties sent representatives to cover the one-day event: Elle, People, AdAge, Fast Company, Quartz… you name it. The buzz wasn’t just likely — it was inevitable. And sure, part of that has to do with Paltrow’s enormous celebrity cache (the Vilshenko dress she wore on stage is already sold out at Net-a-Porter), but there’s more to it than that. We’ve reached an interesting point in the context of our shared cultural perspective wherein creating real-life connections and experiences beyond the digital sphere has started to feel more and more important. Enterprises that were previously online-only are increasingly providing these kinds of opportunities. For example, Social Media Week, which is taking place in L.A. right now, draws over 1,500 attendees and major players like Facebook, Instagram, BuzzFeed and Pinterest for four days of workshops, speakers and demonstrations.
At Man Repeller, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to take our community offline (i.e. Camp Man Repeller, our biggest community activation to-date that took place the first weekend of June). After Camp, we received feedback from both attendees and other community members who followed the weekend on Instagram about how meaningful it was to see space and time being set aside for women to hang out and make friends and be themselves. This isn’t meant to be self-congratulatory, but rather a point of reflection about how Man Repeller can best serve its audience — because there is clearly a growing hunger for these kinds of real-life, tangible spaces and experiences, and following Gwyneth’s Gooptacular conference, we’re mulling over what makes this particular kind of event format appealing.
In other words, what would make you want to go to a conference? What would you hope to get out of the experience? Speaking for myself, I’d definitely want to get something I can’t get online. It’s easy to sit in my bed, dressed in nothing but a training bra and sweatpants, and watch a TED Talk on YouTube, so in order for a conference to outdo that and actually be worth my time and money and sweatpants-changing energy, it would have to offer something more.
I also wouldn’t want it to be too…conference-y. You know? Nothing too prescriptive or formulaic. I’m just brainstorming, but I think my ideal “conference” (still thinking of a better name because “conference” makes me think of gray business suits and boring speeches) would fill my mind with a unique platter of nutrients, such as cool scheduled activities and learning opportunities that are 100% optional if you’d rather just chill, obviously accompanied by a platter of dessert featuring delicacies like pure silliness, a miniature sleeping bag for my phone if I feel like giving it a rest for a spell, making friends I wouldn’t make elsewhere and maybe a literal ice cream sundae or two.
In sum, the total experience would effectively stick a pin in the balloon of my brain and let out all the air with a giant whoooooosh so I could just BE. But again, I’m just spitballing here. I need your assistance. What would you make you want to attend a conference? Would it look like In Goop Health, or would it look like something totally different? What would make you want to take off your sweatpants and come hang out? Tell me in the comments! I’ll be waiting with a probiotic smoothie.