Ellevest is an investing and wealth management platform designed uniquely for women. We worked with Ellevest to design an exclusive event to launch a new impact investing portfolio aimed at supporting female-founded businesses. Our truth-telling concept spoke to the realities of financial gender disparity, while dispelling gender myths and misconceptions.
- event design
With truth as the theme, we designed an ambitious event with the goal of uniting changemakers who shared a passion for ending gender disparity. The exclusive guest list was small but mighty—it included extremely successful women, athletes, and celebrities. Their own wealth was hard-earned, despite inequalities. What they all shared was a vision for a more equitable world.
The brief was the best part of the project. Ellevest didn’t want a “nice” event. They wanted to confront stark realities and tough topics. They wanted attendees to feel fired-up and compelled to take action. So, Design Minded was tasked with creating an event—an experience—that would feel both lux and badass. We would be the bearer of hard truths. Our concept had to be raw and real.
Every detail was thoughtfully designed and curated to emphasize the undeniable disparity women face daily. We set the tone from the beginning. Guests were asked to wear a nametag that required they symbolically cross-off the name “James” and replace it with their own. This was an in-your-face reminder that more Fortune 500 companies are run by men named James than by women.
The setting was a dreamy Upper West Side apartment overlooking Central Park, which was initially too “nice” for our concept. We stripped the space of its previous decor and furniture, leaving a stark setup with room for mingling. Then, we re-staged it in a completely black-and-white aesthetic. Even the bookshelves were reinvented, with every book written by a female author on topics related to gender.
Hors d’oeuvres were labeled in the most truthful, raw way. Squid that’s fried. Raw tuna. Beef on a stick. The signature cocktail—truth serum—was, in fact, any cocktail she chose, because all drinks bring out honesty. To complement the decor we designed a custom-made card game inspired by Cards Against Humanity, reimagined as Cards Against Patriarchy.
The theme of truth-telling was inspired by the evening’s main event: an intimate, one-on-one discussion between Ellevest founder Sallie Krawcheck and her good friend, who happened to be a well-known celebrity. We scripted cue cards and made it more interesting by getting guests involved. Attendees received a black-and-white paddle with “lie” on one side and “truth” on the other. The paddles were used for an interactive Q&A where they had to guess whether statements were true or false.
As the evening concluded, guests departed with a very special gift bag with reminders of the event. Among other things, it included their truth/lie paddle and a jar of hand-harvested Amagansett sea salt. We gave her salt to take home so the sting of truth would linger. Each vessel was accompanied by a poetic message as a reminder of difficult-to-hear truths that must be acknowledged—and of her own potential as a catalyst for change.
Salt is a catalyst.
It makes things happen.
Brings out flavor.
And, it can sting.
But there’s value in salt.
Even rubbed In the wound.
It can motivate.
You, salt of the earth.
You are worth your salt.
Photo credit: Ellevest