If being whisked away to an exotic location with an inspiring group of female business luminaries and pampered at the same time sounds like the perfect getaway, welcome to the inaugural "She Takes Flight" Leadership & Empowerment Retreat.
She Takes Flight provides a safe environment (the five-star all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico) for women to relax, regroup and refocus their lives, and to build connections with other women who are committed to helping each other succeed. Taking place September 23-27, light activities such as group painting, cocktail hours, beach yoga and guided meditation are juxtaposed with panel sessions and workshops hosted by notables like Star Jones (President, National Association of Professional Women), Leslie Blodgett (Creator, Bare Minerals) and Elianne Ramos (Principal & CEO, Speak Hispanic).
Rayna Wallen is the Kentucky-based founder of She Takes Flight who also runs her own successful events company, Always Planned. We caught up with Rayna to get the scoop on this groundbreaking event series.
Was there a pivotal "A Ha" moment for you that inspired the She Takes Flight concept?
“Yes and no. Hosting and planning a women’s retreat has been something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now. However, I kept moving it to the bottom of my to-do list and something always seemed to overshadow it. I found myself, more and more, needing the same qualities that She Takes Flight is built upon.
"For months, my business partner Monika Witkowski and I had been discussing our plans to market Always Planned’s Corporate Events Division. I, yet again, added ‘women’s retreat’ to our master to-do list. The next time I saw Monika, she had ‘date of women’s retreat’ on her agenda. I realized it was time to stop putting it on the backburner and make it happen!”
You have a powerful line-up of distinct speakers. How were they selected?
"We looked for women that inspired us, who were from diverse backgrounds, with varied passions, and in different stages of their career. We asked ourselves, ‘What could we learn from each of these women?’ I love all things business and feel most empowered by women who are strong leaders in their field. We have put together a well-balanced panel that is unique to She Takes Flight.”
The schedule for the event is unique in that it combines elements of a conference AND a retreat. Do you find women have a hard time balancing work and play?
“Most definitely! Women today are being pulled in so many directions, yet the expectations to raise the children and tend to the home are still very prevalent. We feel that it is as equally important to take time for yourself, as it is to manage your business and your personal life.”
How was the venue decided?
“We knew we wanted a luxury all-inclusive resort in a tropical destination. There was a wish list of amenities: a fantastic spa, along with intimate meeting spaces and great food. We also wanted to make sure it was easy to travel to and offered a wide variety of activities nearby for those who wanted to extend their experience.
"The Hard Rock resort brand conveys a luxurious, yet fun and exciting atmosphere. The Hard Rock Riviera Maya has the largest spa in the area. Once we checked it out in person, we realized there were no other contenders.”
Are you expecting a diverse mix of women?
“Yes we are! No two women are alike and we love that! We are expecting attendees from all over the United States, with a wide variety of backgrounds.”
What do you hope attendees will take away from the event?
“Our main goal is to inspire women to create a healthy work-life balance. Finding balance sounds like such an easy task, but we have found that a great number of women feel guilty when they create time for themselves. We want to inspire women to not only create that time, but also to make it a mandatory part of their lifestyle. We believe, and research shows, this relieves stress and actually increases productivity. My goal: for every woman to take back her life and to appreciate the power in doing so.”
What would you personally like to get from the event?
“I have already taken away so much and we haven’t even had the retreat! That being said, I hope to build lasting relationships with each speaker and attendee. To be inspired by, and feel the empowerment and motivation these women will generate while at She Takes Flight.”
Visit She Takes Flight now to view conference schedule, speaker information, package deals and more.