By Lauren Cook amNewYork, New York
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In honor of International Women's Day, Noelle Lauren Contey and several volunteers will be handing out flowers with special messages in Washington Square Park. Afterward, Contey will host a sold-out International Women's Day event at Energi, an event space near the park.
A flower, a quote and a simple question -- that's all it can take to make an impact.
Noelle Lauren Contey found this out firsthand last year on her commute home to Brooklyn after handing out over 100 flowers with inspiring quotes to women in Union Square Park.
"When I was traveling home on the train, some girl was crying and she had one of my flowers, and I didn't interview her so I thought she must have gotten it from someone else," she recalled. "She said, 'Oh my God, I really needed this today.' ... It gave me chills."
The date was March 8 -- International Women's Day -- and Contey said she had wanted to do something unique to mark the occasion. After struggling to find a public event to attend, she decided to create her own.
Contey teamed up with a woman-run florist, Belle De Fleur, which donated flowers. She printed over 100 quotes from historical women and attached one each to an individual flower. With the help of a couple volunteers, she headed to Union Square to ask women a simple question: "Who inspires you?"
"I would say 75 percent of the women I spoke with didn't even know it was International Women's Day, which I thought was crazy because it's celebrated all around the world," said Contey, who founded the wellness company Healing in the City. "Because of the feedback from it, I said I definitely want to do this again next year."
Nearly a year later, Contey has organized a reprise of what she dubbed Flowers for Empowerment. On Friday, she and several volunteers will be handing out donated flowers from Belle De Fleur in Washington Square Park near the Giuseppe Garibaldi statue from about 5 p.m. until sunset. Afterward, Contey will host a sold-out International Women's Day event at Energi, an event space near the park.
"Everyone who is involved is a woman," she said.
The gathering will be a place for women-led businesses to connect and features a panel of inspiring speakers who will discuss topics ranging from activism and body positivity to sustainability and mental health.
Contey said she wanted to create an intimate space where women could come together and share what they're passionate about.
"I just want it to be a space where women from all over the city can come together," she added.
Looking to the future, Contey said she sees Flowers for Empowerment blossoming into a larger organization aimed providing year-round programming for women in the city.