Kerry Washington on the November cover of Marie Claire.

It’s quality over quantity for Marie Claire and its exclusive Power Trip event.

What began as simply a realization by editor in chief Anne Fulenwider that she and publisher Nancy Berger “always came up with such amazing ideas on planes,” the now annual event crystalized after Fulenwider joked to a junior fashion editor, while flitting between fashion shows one season, about getting a plane for a meeting her friend who worked at an airline was trying to set up with the magazine leads.

“In the back of taxis and cars during fashion week, you have all sorts of conversations you never get to have in the office…and I was just kind of joking, one of those things you throw out there that you would not necessarily throw out in a formal meeting, and she was like, ‘I don’t know.’ Then our business team met with the airline team and Power Trip was born.”

Berger added that the trip started to form around a lot of “What if?” hypotheticals, because she and the business team at the magazine were well aware of how many conferences are out there. It took shape as more of a pop-up conference for successful women across industries that had typical event stressors like planning and networking and travel already taken care of.  

“We knew if we wanted to play in this space, we needed to do something completely different that’s never been done before,” Berger said. “As we started to think about what this could be, it became so clear what the opportunities were and what was white space.”

Since then, it’s turned into the magazine’s marquee event. As it was when it launched in 2016, this year’s Power Trip is an invite-only, two-day event that starts with a chartered flight on United Airlines of just 150 or so women — founders, executives and influential types from across industries, but still much smaller than a lot of magazine events and conferences out there — heading from New York to San Francisco for events and panels and some serious networking.

Some of this year’s speakers include actors Jennifer Garner and Ellen Pompeo, both of whom have also started their own businesses, along with Cindy Holland, vice president of original content at Netflix, and Angelica Nwandu, founder of The Shade Room. Meanwhile, some guests include Anjula Acharia, an early-stage tech investor and Priyanka Chopra’s manager; Julia Collins, cofounder and president of Zume, which is developing robotics for the food industry; Ruzwana Bashir, cofounder and chief executive officer of Peek, a booking platform for travel excursions; Karissa Bodnar, founder and ceo of Thrive Cosmetics; Aileen Lee, a venture capitalist, and Dee Poku Spalding, founder of events business WIE. All of these women just so happen to also be on Marie Claire’s sixth annual list of the “New Guard” for women in business and featured in its November “Power Issue.”

Despite the obviously synergistic nature of the trip, along with it being a revenue driver through advertising partnerships with brands like Dell, Gap’s Athleta, jeweler Tacori, outdoor footwear brand Sorel and luggage brand Away (all of which are giving substantial swag to each attendee), Fulenwider sees it having a genuine purpose for the women involved, as well as Marie Claire.

“We’ve heard of so many jobs exchanged, partnerships [formed], funding for companies — [the invited women are] keeping in touch all year long and looking forward to this,” Fulenwider said. “But I think the goal of this was to build Marie Claire live and see this community interact.”

As for why the relatively small event is apparently so appealing to brands, which drives all of the revenue since the event is not ticketed, Fullenwilder said the trip is composed of women that brands really want to reach.

“These are women brands are trying to dress, or trying to get computers into their hands, or trying to influence,” Fulenwider said, “and these are women who not only have a huge amount of spending power…but who are at the forefront of changing culture.”

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