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Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014

Woman Up!

Event celebrates enrichment and empowerment

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The Shepherd Express’ first annual celebration of women, Woman Up!, will be a day of enrichment and empowerment for women of all ages. Exhibitors and speakers will cover topics ranging from food and fitness to fashion and finance. Heather Pechacek, marketing coordinator for the Shepherd, explains, “The goal is for attendees to learn and take away something useful to their lives while spending time in a fun, relaxed environment.”

On Saturday, Feb. 8, some 200 woman-focused exhibitors and vendors will take over the Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center. Unlike traveling shows that make their way around the country, Shepherd Express Publisher Louis Fortis says, “This event is directly connected to the local market. Most of the exhibitors are from the Milwaukee area with a few from around the state.”

Local financial advisors, women’s business groups and representatives from medical clinics that specialize in women’s health will be on hand to answer questions. “It can be a lot less threatening to talk to doctors or ask for financial advice outside of a stuffy office environment,” Pechacek says. “We’re hoping an informal setting may help some women open up.”

Topping the day’s activities will be speakers, panel presentations, demonstrations and, of course, a fashion show and makeovers.

Keynote speaker Vicki Gunvalson, best known for her starring in the popular TV reality show “Real Housewives of Orange County,” is an inspiring speaker and businesswoman who built her own company from the ground up, raised a family and maintained an active social life. “She’s an excellent women’s empowerment speaker because she’s all about finding a balance between life and work,” Pechacek says.

Also speaking at Woman Up! is Wisconsin native Miranda Levy. Best known for competing on Season 12 of “Project Runway,” Levy will talk about her life as a fashion designer and her past accomplishments, including eight years as a U.S. Army equipment mechanic.

And there will be many other experts on hand at Woman Up!. Find out if you’re doing the right things to plan for your financial future by listening in at the financial fitness panel. Experts on women’s finances will discuss the best options for women and their money. A question-and-answer period at the end allows for audience participation. A health and wellness presentation featuring Dr. Arthur Rapkin, host of WISN radio’s “Vitality Health and Wellness” show, will offer women tips and strategies to improve health, lose weight and feel better. A self-defense demonstration by DEFENSEWORKS will teach women how to protect themselves from assaults. On the other end of the spectrum, there will be the fashion show and Merle Norman will do hair and makeup makeovers on stage.

Like “Sample Day” at Sam’s Club, it’ll be easy to eat your fill at Woman Up!. More than 20 food and drink vendors—many of them Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee winners—will offer free food samples. Many items, including the sushi offerings of Kiku, will be made fresh on site. Multiple Wisconsin wineries, Great Lakes Distillery and Fava Tea should keep attendees well hydrated with free sample beverages. The bottom line is there will be plenty of great food, wine and chocolate.

Several exhibitors will be stocked with products for sale. Everything from chocolates, pasta sauce and margarita mix to boutique clothing and handmade jewelry will be available.

A portion of the proceeds from Woman Up will go to Meta House, which for 50 years has guided women through substance abuse treatment programs. One of the first in the country to offer a recovery program geared specifically toward women, Meta House allows children to stay with mothers in treatment. “It is really an excellent program and it is consistent with the theme of this event since Meta House empowers women to reclaim their lives from addiction and to rebuild their families. I’m glad the Shepherd can help out a great organization like Meta House,” says Fortis.

General admission tickets for Woman Up! are available in advance at expressmilwaukee.com/womanup for $10, or at the door on the day of the event for $15. $50 VIP tickets allow access to a VIP lounge with food from The Melting Pot, plus opportunities to meet with Gunvalson and Levy. The first 3,000 attendees will receive reusable tote-style swag bags loaded with all sorts of goodies from local businesses. Doors open at 10 a.m., Feb. 8.

For more information about the Woman Up! festival, visit expressmilwaukee.com/womanup.

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