Four years ago at this time, I had a bladder infection. But I have to say, it was a good bladder infection. By that I mean, it was the symbol of something honorable. I had been working non-stop for weeks getting NextTribe ready to launch. I was so consumed with getting the stories right, learning how to manage the administration end of a website, finding photos, and setting up our social media that I would forget to go to the bathroom. Hence the bladder infection.
We’re celebrating our 4th Birthday at a virtual Out Loud event called Invincible Not Invisible on Tues. Feb. 23rd. Speakers include Fran Drescher, Norma Kamali, and Maya Wiley. Hope you’ll join us. Details and tickets here. Use the code FRIEND15 to get tickets for $15 each.
When I think back on the time when NextTribe was just getting started, I feel exhaustion and a bit of pity for that self. I really thought I knew what I was doing, having worked in the magazine industry for decades. Of course I knew next to nothing, and I can’t count the number of days since that I’ve cried and cringed and dreamed of slumping on a sofa to binge-watch till my pupils turned inside out.
But I also feel exhilaration, remembering that sensation of being completely and totally absorbed in achieving a goal, that pride in learning new skills and concepts every single day, that special type of satisfaction when you get into bed knowing you made the best use of every minute you had.
Working on NextTribe has helped me grow in so many ways, but that’s not why I started it with my friend Lori Seekatz. The point has always been to help women our age feel heard, understood, and relevant and realize that there is still so much we can achieve and contribute and laugh about.
Laughing is a big deal for me. Even when I started–and it may still be in our story of NextTribe–I told of my mother’s belief that if you grow old without a sense of humor, there’s no hope for you. That’s why I picked the photo above for this story. That’s me in one of my screeching laughs with my NextTribe partner and dear friend, Lori Seekatz, at our launch party in 2017, each of us wearing our newly minted NextTribe T-shirts.
I plan on doing a lot of laughing at our upcoming virtual Out Loud event on Tuesday, Feb. 23rd, which in my mind doubles as our birthday celebration. I hope you’ll come to laugh and be inspired as well.
When I was considering how to mark this birthday, I started thinking of all the great moments we’ve had (and a few of the stinky ones came to mind too–the time we almost ran out of money, the embarrassing typos, the pox a writer said she was putting on me because she didn’t like the headline on her piece). I could never do justice to this journey, with its constant pivoting and adapting and re-shuffling, in this limited amount of space, so I thought I would pick my favorite images from the past four years and share them with you.
Thanks to all of you who have supported NextTribe. I hope as we continue to grow, with your assistance, we can change how our culture views this time in a woman’s life. So, don’t hold back on your dreams, smarts, and irreverence, and definitely don’t hold your pee. Just sayin’.
As one of our first attempts to promote NextTribe, I attended a women’s conference in Houston with business partner, Lori Seekatz, and marketing director, Ellesor Holder. The sign on the bottom of the frame says, “This is What Aging Boldly Looks Like.” Yeah, baby.
One of the fun things we did at the conference booth is let attendees throw darts for prizes. We called the game, “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even.” They got to pick which dart board they wanted to throw at. The wording printed on the 3 dart boards: “Anyone who ends a sentence with, `…For Your Age.'” “Photoshopped pictures of actresses our age.” “The person who invented hot flashes.” It was a great way to vent.
We held a “Hooray for Gray Giveaway” event, encouraging women to post photos of their gray hair. We chose five runners up and one winner, Hillary Barnett Bitar from Miami. One of the prizes was getting her own photo shoot. This is one of the photos we ran in the fall fashion spread later that year.
Because we realized that women this age don’t want their social lives limited to their screens, we started hosting events in the Austin area, where NextTribe is based. This photo was from our first Happy Hour, where more than 100 women–many more than expected–gathered at a bar in East Austin and stayed for a raucous party even though the AC couldn’t keep up with all the bodies inside. We decided that women really did need in-person connection.
We know NextTribers love to read, so we brought Cathi Hanauer, one of our writers and the author of The Bitch Is Back: Older, Wiser, and (Getting) Happier, to Austin for an appearance and party. This was the first of many book events.
From the beginning, we’ve built our reputation on good writing, and I knew we wouldn’t be anywhere without are terrific writers. I went to New York to host a lunch for 18 of them. It was a time to meet some face-to-face for the first time, and to reconnect with old friends from my years in the magazine business.
Among the guests at the lunch were my college friend Kim Cihlar, who serves as NextTribe’s fashion editor, and Janet Siroto, who I worked with at McCall’s magazine at the beginning of both our careers. I’ve always said that one of the advantages of being in business at this age is that as long as you weren’t an asshole, you have scores of talented people to call on to help you. These two here are good examples of that (which I guess means I haven’t been an asshole to them).
Prior to starting NextTribe, I was a travel writer and also arranged multi-country travel for my husband’s National Geographic photo shoots. I believe nothing you do in life is wasted, and I decided to put my travel know-how to use offering trips for women in this age group. Our first excursion was to the celebrated city San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I lived for four years. We went during the Day of the Dead Festival, and I used my contacts in the city to give the women a real insider’s look at the city. For info on the 2021 San Miguel trip, click here.
The travel bug had bitten, so I got busy planning a trip to my favorite beach in the world: Troncones, Mexico. We took over a high-end boutique hotel, geared for yoga, holistic health, body treatments, and pure joy. As I’ve come to see over and over, women on these trips bond almost immediately. Probably because we all identify as explorers, game for most anything. These two women here had never before met and couldn’t be more different (Olga on the left is from Russian, Jean was born and raised in the Deep South), but they were roommates on this trip and are now soul sisters. More info on our 2022 return to Troncones here.
One of the most glorious things to do on our week-long stay in Troncones is to ride horses on the beach at sunset. Simply glorious, especially when we’re galloping through sand and surf. More info on our 2022 return to Troncones here.
Again compelled to bring like-minded women together, we launched a series of events called Out Loud, in which the ethos of the magazine is spoken and demonstrated on stage. The first one took place in Austin, at my house. Fortunately, I have a space large enough to hold the 150 women, who came for brunch and mimosas and to hear accomplished women talk about what’s possible at this stage in life. This is Lori and me taking a big sigh of relief after the event.
Our first Out Loud event was coordinated by Marcellina Kampa, right, who has become integral to NextTribe, managing our Austin group and being an all-around key supporter.
I was honored to be named Austin Woman Magazine’s Digital Influencer of the Year. Never thought I’d be an influencer but I guess someone saw fit to give me that title. Here’s on official photo from the event, with my business partner Lori Seekatz, and two women who have helped NextTribe along the way, Michelle Martell, left, and Shelly Lang.
We hosted another social media giveaway, this one encouraging women to post photos of themselves on social media with their arms exposed. We called it “The Right to Bare Arms.” This is Annie Gottlieb of New York showing us her guns.
For the warm weather months, we came up with a tank top that allows the wearer to tell the world what they are. It was a big hit.
We ran a swim suit story this summer, and readers gave us a lot of flak because the women in the photos were so young and thin. We certainly didn’t have the budget to do a whole fashion shoot with appropriately aged models, but we did put out a call to readers to send in photos of themselves in bathing suits. We published their photos, and it was a hugely popular feature.
Our Out Loud event in Austin had been so successful that we decided to take the concept to New York City. It was pretty scary. There’s a huge difference between putting on a show in your own backyard (literally) and trying your act in the Big Apple. But I was absolutely thrilled with how the event, which we called “Screw Invisibility” turned out. It was literally standing room only at the loft space we rented, probably because we had such great speakers, including Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, pictured here with me and Sheila Weller, the wonderful writer and NextTribe contributor. Other speakers included Judy Collins, Linda Rodin, Ashton Applewhite, and Veronica Chambers.
Lori Seekatz and I celebrate 100,000 likes on Facebook, quite a milestone!
By this time, our Austin community was going strong, and we decided to try to bring women together on a regular basis in other cities. The first logical city to move to next was San Antonio. Here I am with Yolanda Santoyo, the leader of the San Antonio group, at one of our first events there, a night out dancing to a Beatles cover band. They played “Just 17” for us. Smart asses.
Our own Kim Cihlar (who doubles as our fashion editor) teaches daily yoga classes at the Troncones retreat. Doing yoga with the sounds of the surf to relax you and the salty breeze in your face is the definition of joy.
For the 2019 SXSW Festival, I organized a panel called, “How Midlife Women Work Their Entrepreneurial Mojo.” Also, on the panel were Ricki Fairley, Lindy Benson, and Tammy Shaklee (not pictured here). I wore a dress by feminist artist Tina Duryea that features portraits of all sorts of bad-ass women.
Because I went to college in South Carolina, I have spent a lot of time in the gorgeous city of Charleston. We decided to offer a trip to this always highly rated destination that included special insider peeks behind the “tourist” facade. One of the highlights of the trip was a traditional Low Country seafood boil on the beach of a deserted barrier island at sunset. Pure heaven.
Our second Out Loud event in Austin featured a couple of singers, an artist, a TV journalist, and writer. We held it in a beautiful old venue, and here I am with the speakers after the event taking the all-important selfie.
Because I believed the song that says if you make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, I decided to host an Out Loud event in LA, which I consider the “belly of the beast” that tells us youth and beauty are of utmost importance to women. We had lots of fun with another sold-out crowd who came to hear our speakers–many of them in the entertainment business. Here I am with Sandra Dewey, president of productions and business operations for WarnerMedia Entertainment. Other speakers were Pamela Redmond, Michele Hurd, Annabelle Gurwitch, Cindy Chupack, Debbie Liebling, Lillah McCarthy, and Denise Kaufman.
I was so psyched to be named a Folio: Top Women in Media honoree. Here I am at the lunch event with Kim Cihlar, writer Lorraine Glennon, executive editor Janet Siroto, and brand partnership manager Ann Marie MacDougall.
We decided to go with a new look for our logo, and we asked readers to vote. Here I unveil the winning logo, and the looong process of switching everything out began.
Our second Out Loud event in New York, with another all-star line up of speakers including Linda Wells, Carey Lowell, E. Jean Carroll, Lisa Birnbach, and Fern Mallis.
Another book party, this one for our very special contributor Sheila Weller, center, on the launch of her book, Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge. One of the guests of honor was NextTribe Advisory Board member Judy Collins.
We started offering a monthly salon for our NextTribe members living in Austin. Our theme for the first one was creativity; here a group of 15 work on an exercise to help fuel their imagination.
Who knew that this idyllic trip would be the last bit of normal for many, many months. It was our third trip to Troncones, and the night before we left, I snapped a photo of Vanessa Harker and Amy Kawadler, who has been to all three of our retreats, playing on the beach. For more info on our 2022 return to Troncones, click here.
A bit of fun on the beach, spelling out the word we would all need to be for the upcoming year (though little did we know that then).
After the pandemic hit, we quickly pivoted to virtual events, and offered yoga classes, personal development sessions, writing classes, cooking events, and author interviews. Here Ricki Fairley talked to a group about developing resilience.
Trying to make the best of our pandemic emergency, we launched a “Show Us Your Mask” contest. Here are the four winners.
Much of my year was spent on Zoom sessions. Luckily I could do them anywhere. Here I am at my friend’s house in South Carolina, where I drove to celebrate her 60th birthday.
One of the highlights of our year spent on Zoom was offering women a chance to pitch their ideas for television shows directly to Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of Friends and Grace and Frankie. Later we hosted a workshop where NextTribers could pitch their book ideas directly to Sara Nelson, vice president and executive editor of HarperCollins publisher.
On Feb. 23rd, we’re hosting our biggest event in 18 months, a virtual version of our Out Loud event, with some of our biggest speakers ever: Fran Drescher, Norma Kamali, Maya Wiley, Marta Kauffman, and Jill Angelo. There will also be music, vendors, and dancing. For more info and tickets, click here. Use the code FRIEND15 to get tickets for $15 each.