POPSUGAR Playground: A Practically Perfect Day!

Don’t get me wrong, Beautycon is incredible, but I have been searching for a festival that covers all parts of the spectrum: fashion, beauty, health, and wellness. POPSUGAR Playground has made my wish come true.

POPSUGAR is an online media company that delivers the hottest trends, entertainment news, recipes, workouts, and more. They also are known for their quarterly subscription boxes that deliver products that are hand-picked by POPSUGAR’s Founder and President Lisa Sugar. This year, the company decided to formulate a two-day event that brought together 15,000 fashion, beauty, fitness, and health gurus alike. The dream was to unite girl bosses from all around the world, where they could listen to provocative panel conversations from celebs like Tiffany Haddish, cast members of RiverdaleKate HudsonMindy Kaling, and Yara Shahidi. Complete with energetic workout classes, brand activations, a large shopping bazaar, and eight rainbow-colored slides leading into a ball pit filled with 208,000 balls, it’s safe to say that POPSUGAR’s mission was accomplished.

Upon arriving at the venue--Pier 94 in Midtown Manhattan--I first checked out the VIP lounge. GLAMSQUAD treated attendees in this exclusive area to complimentary hairstyling, and we were also gifted a “swag bag” filled with over $200 worth of POPSUGAR’s fave products. What a way to kick off the day!

Even though it was bright and early, it was a packed house as fitness mogul Kayla Itsines lead guests through an intense workout. The creator of the renowned ebooks “Bikini Body Guides” stood on the stage as she expertly demonstrated the moves. No sweat for her!

Kayla Itsines

Throughout the day, I circulated the large event space in search of brands that peaked my interest. Although I was already familiar with Victoria’s Secret, I had a blast doing their interactive experience. Attendees were told to pick a card with a number on it, and then we had to open a pink locker with the corresponding number. Each locker housed Victoria’s Secret goodies including leggings, socks, shirts, and water bottles that guests got to take with them!

Kohl’s had a giant The Price is Right-style wheel where attendees spun to win money to use at their stores, while Pinky Swear had a live DJ and Foreo did DIY express facials. The activities got more and more exciting as I moved from one booth to the next.

I was also exposed to a bunch of new products that I had never anticipated trying that day. From drinking lavender collagen water to trying out fruit-scented mascara, it certainly was a day full of firsts!

The celebrity panels definitely lived up to the hype surrounding them prior to the event. On day one, Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project; A Wrinkle in Time) spoke with Elaine Welteroth on "Why Smart Girls Win." When asked about creating female characters, she responded how it’s important to her to “write roles for funny characters who aren’t necessarily a size zero, white woman. No woman wants to just be the arm candy for a guy who has a much funnier, better part...I love Yara [Shahidi] in Blackish because she is so beautiful and stylish yet also so authentic.” Me too, girl!

Shahidi actually joined Essence’s Cori Murray on a panel titled "Passion to Action" later in the day. She spoke intelligently on how important it is for young people to get involved in their communities, telling the audience that they should “wonder what you can learn from others who you admire. In the age of social media, you should be reaching out to people who you look up to but might not know.” She went on to say that people need to “make sure you take on larger issues with every person in mind. Don’t force people to split their identity in order to support something good.” Shahidi also proudly shared how she voted for the first time a week ago during the California midterms--#rockthatvote!

On day two, Tiffany Haddish stole the show in conversation with fellow comedian Amanda Seales about having the "Last Laugh." Haddish said, “I don’t care if people are laughing at me or with me because laughter is healing.” Holding nothing back throughout the panel, Haddish even got political saying “When people want to ask how Trump got to where he is… Trump believes in himself 110% and Trump surrounds himself with people who believe in him… he think he good. He thinks he doing wonderful things… The problem is when you do something, you have to think about what is good for everyone, not just for yourself. What is the best for everyone?” Preach it, sister.

Tiffany Haddish at Her Panel

My favorite panel, by far, was the "Scream Queens" panel with Ashleigh Murray (Riverdale), Vanessa Morgan (Riverdale), Candice Patton (The Flash), and Caity Lotz (Legends of Tomorrow). As they each spoke about what it was like to play a comic book character in real life, Murray was not afraid to get personal. She touched upon being a black woman playing a character who was white in the comic books, saying that there was “so much happiness and gratitude outside of the negativeness.” Her co-star Morgan spoke about playing Toni, a bi-sexual character, saying “bisexuality is not represented as much in the media as it should be. Love is love.” When asked about the next season of Riverdale, Murray spoke on the fate of the broken Pussycats: “I imagine they are going to come back.” Fans, rejoice!

After their panel, I rode in a golf cart with the girls of the "Scream Queens" panel to the talent lounge so they could answer some of my pressing questions. After indulging in delicious scones with jam that were displayed on a large table, I got the opportunity to chat with each of the girls individually.

Murray started off by telling me about how excited she was to be speaking on the panel, and what, specifically, she loves most about POPSUGAR: “I really love the diversity and the inclusivity of everything they talk about, whether it’s beauty, politics...whatever it is...they always keep me in the know.”

Ashleigh Murray and Me

Next, since these are boss ladies, after all, I queried them about why it’s so important to preach today’s feminist movement. Morgan did not hesitate before starting her response: “I mean, I think it’s so important. The whole ‘Time’s Up’ movement is so great because as women, we need to come together to put a stop to what has been happening to women in the workplace, especially in the industry that I’m in. I feel so safe now knowing that people are actually scared to treat women the way that they have been treated in the past. Now we can come together, be stronger, and say ‘enough is enough.’”

Vanessa Morgan and Me

Patton added to our conversation on the feminist movement: “Now, more than ever, marginalized women need to feel like their voices are being heard. Even though we’re in 2018, equal pay is still a huge concern. I think the more that women with a platform like us speak up and encourage younger women to take action, the faster we will see these issues remedied in the future.”

Lotz is actually the pioneer of the new female empowerment platform “Shethority” that is bringing some of your favorite actresses together to promote feminism. In her own words, Shethority “is all about growth” in giving females a voice in their lives. She also mentioned how they are accepting inspiring articles from people around the world to be featured alongside pieces of writing by stars of Riverdale and DC Superhero shows. Check out their Instagram @shethority to learn more about how you can participate.

As the busy day came to an end, I dragged five heavy bags filled with makeup and clothes out of the venue...score! I had an absolute blast at the first annual POPSUGAR Playground, and I encourage all of you game shakers out there to be a part of the action when it returns next year. Until next time, future leaders!

Me wearing an Alice and Olivia romper, Rebecca Minkoff bag, and Steve Madden heels