By Jess Archer
Photograph by Minta Maria Smail
Co-founder, Mom 2.0
There’s a genuine, Texas-born, Austin-raised warmth about Laura Mayes. This welcoming energy also infuses her many online platforms. And it’s what she wants all women to feel when they walk through the doors of a Mom 2.0 Summit, which has revolutionized the way women converse about motherhood online.
In 2005, Mayes was working at MMI Agency in Houston as vice president of public relations. Then she went on maternity leave. During those long hours awake at night with her newborn baby, Mayes discovered a community of connection and honesty in mom blogs. She read one after another. It was women telling their stories of successes and struggles with motherhood. Mayes went back to work inspired.
Shortly thereafter, Mayes met Carrie Pacini at a work convention. They were the only two female attendees and gravitated toward each other. It was an instant bond that led to a mutual desire to spearhead a project centered around women in marketing and media. They developed the idea of what would become the Mom 2.0 Summit—an event to gather together female online influencers and content creators. The first summit was held in Houston in 2008, and though the attendee numbers were small that first year, the reception and online feedback were overwhelmingly positive.
Eleven years later, Mom 2.0 has evolved into a powerful, much-anticipated event attended by thousands of women—both in person and online. Though discussion topics vary from year to year as online trends emerge, Mom 2.0 has stayed true to Mayes and Pacini’s original vision “to facilitate smart, open conversation and foster the ongoing development of the influential online space.” For the three-day summit, bloggers, entrepreneurs, content creators and makers (who are also juggling parenthood) gather to hear panelists and speakers and network with one another. Says Mayes about the demand for the summit: “Mom 2.0 is meeting a need. There just aren’t that many events out there that can gather that many interesting, diverse and creative moms in the same room.”
Mayes and Pacini keep the summits fresh by changing up the location and curating the culture of the event to reflect the host city. The closing party for the 2012 summit in Miami was held at the Versace mansion; the dress code was all white. The 2016 affair near Los Angeles included a beach party. And this year, the summit was held right here in Austin, Mayes’ beloved hometown. There was live music and a special guest: Texas native and courage expert Brené Brown.
In every aspect of planning the Mom 2.0 summits, Mayes and Pacini are mindful to incorporate elements of “delight.” The word can be found in every feature of the event, from the speakers to each day’s schedule. Says Mayes, “Most of the women attending a summit are taking care of people all day long. We want the summits to care for the people who care for the people.” Mom 2.0 is built by women for women. It’s a party and a place to network and feel welcomed.
The next summit will be held in Los Angeles in May, with its aim of facilitating open conversation between moms, marketing and media. “We want all our Austin friends to attend. The more the merrier,” says Mayes, and that means in person or on the webcast. And what about that lone mom who buys a ticket to the Mom 2.0 Summit in hopes of boosting her online platforms and finding community with other moms? Mayes says, “The greatest compliment would be for that mom to say that at the summit she felt right at home.”