Step aside gentlemen, ladies do it best! Today marks the end of Women’s History Month, and as a nod to all my powerful RBATC female readers (sorry boys. this post is not for you) I want to introduce to you ladies an event that is sure to inspire – but first a little background. Ariel Ferreira and Michael Diaz are the event coordinators for “No Distractions,” a series of networking events for young and/or seasoned professionals. Ariel Ferreira is Founder and CEO of UpStep, Inc. a company that specializes in small business marketing, and Michael Diaz is a writer/producer and the creative force behind Diaz Entertainment. Both gentlemen are also community board members for Manhattan’s District 12. For the past two years, they’ve hosted a series of male oriented networking events called “No Distractions.” The ND events has had an overwhelmingly receptive attitude from attendees for its relaxed ambiance and gender specific exclusivity. However, along with it being receptive among men, it has also received some backlash from us ladies. Many ladies thought: ‘why weren’t we ladies being offered the same opportunities to network like our male counterparts?’ Ladies flooded Ferreira’s inbox with requests for a “Ladies Only” event – the fellas seized the moment for demand and on March 13, 2014 they hosted their first “Ladies Only – No Distractions” at Papa Juan’s Cigar Room – the exact place where the previous “Male Only” events had taken place.
Prior to the event, it had been reported in The Manhattan Times that well over 70+ women had RSVP’d for this “Ladies Only” event – twice the amount of men. I for one was super excited for this gathering because I loved the idea of it being just the ladies – plus, it was a chance for me to experience my first stogie! After years of seeing Hollywood glamorize cigar smoking on the silver screen, (i.e. Wall Street, The God Father, and basically any Al Pacino movie) I wanted to know what it would be like to hold one of these babies in my hand. Would I feel different after? Would I sound like a man after a few puffs? lulz. just teasing. Come the day of and I was super nervous because I didn’t want to seem like a novice in a room full of professionals – but what happened was quite the contrary. After a few minutes of settling in and getting used to the smoke, (thankfully the room was well ventilated) I wrapped my virgin fingers around this medium to full bodied smoke, and to be honest, it felt rather nice. It felt liberating and I couldn’t help but wonder, is this why men gravitate to these events? Have I now discovered some new social realm where there’s a sisteren based on how you hold your own? Well, at least that was the overall consensus on this particular night. Women from all walks of life were opening up to disclose their work experiences, their entrepreneurial aspirations, their financial woes and even their personal lives – I was beside myself. What had I stumbled onto? This was an opportune moment where no judgments were present – and what’s even better, if you didn’t know how to smoke, the establishment provided assistance – how awesome is that ladies?! I felt honored to be around so many likeminded pioneering women.
And speaking of pioneering women, towards the end of the night we were surprised with an impromptu speech by Assembly Member and female representative for the community of Washington Heights, Gabriela Rosa. She is the first woman of Dominican decent elected to the N.Y. State assembly and her speech was truly inspirational. She provided a small window into her life where she explained her struggles with adversity and her pioneering triumphs working in a male dominated field.
Pic above from left to right: Michael Diaz (Diaz Entertainment), Owner of Papa Juan Cigar Room, Gabriela Rosa (N.Y. State Assembly Council Member), Sasha Inoa, (Event Coordinator) and Ariel Ferriera (UpStep, Inc.)
Another special guest invite was Jonathan Adoniisz Mentor, CEO & Head Mixologist for The J.A.S.M. Company. His company is a luxury liquor brand that specializes in providing an upscale “cocktail culture” to the community of Washington Heights and beyond. He’s a young entrepreneur with an impressive clientele. His brand has been featured in a number of fashion, music and cultural events all over NYC. His attendance was to inform us of his upcoming event geared towards an incredible cause. Jonathan has been a longtime advocate for anti-bullying campaigns, and on April 3o to May 1, 2014 he will be hosting a two night charity mixer, where 100% of the proceeds will go to the Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. BTWF is an organization dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a kinder, braver world. For more inquiries, please click here.
The night was such a hit that the fellas have decided to organize another “Ladies Only” event in the following months – with a followup that will cater to both sexes. Will there be enough stogies to go around? I guess we’ll have to wait and see… till then, smoke em if you got em!
— Roz Baron