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Empowering female entrepreneurs
to grow their businesses and themselves


New Date Coming Soon

Growing your business is hard work. As women business owners, we don’t always feel like we have the best advice or advocates available to us. You don’t have to do this alone. Our curated group of women speakers and panelists all have led their own businesses, successfully; we’ve done this before. We are passionate about sharing this expertise with other women and that’s what HER STORY retreat is all about. We have created this retreat for you and want to be thought partners on your journey so that your business grows beyond your wildest dreams.


The HER STORY retreat has been created to build meaningful connections. We are honored that our guests will not just speak for an hour and head out. They’ve all committed to being here to meet and engage with you the entire retreat. We will have a mix of keynotes, panels, and activities all with the goal of connecting with other women leaders like you. Sharing experiences, developing skills, advancing together.

Stacy Flynn

CEO | Sustainable Systems Specialist | Materials Reuse Advocate | Social Entrepreneur


Stacy Flynn is CEO and a founding partner of Evrnu, a textile innovations company.

An accomplished sustainable systems expert, Stacy is committed to developing innovative fiber technologies that reduce textile waste and preserve natural resources. Under Stacy’s leadership, Evrnu is working to solve the most pressing challenges facing the global textile and apparel industry. In 2019 Evrnu debuted NuCycl, a technology that transforms garment waste into a resource by recovering the raw materials for reuse.

Evrnu has been recognized as an organization making notable contributions to the circular economy as well as being named in 2018 Fast Company World Changing Ideas.

Stacy is a TEDx and keynote speaker and a passionate voice of authority advocating for materials reuse for sustainability in textiles. She is an Unreasonable Impact Fellow, along with a cohort of CEOs that are advancing other world changing ideas.

Prior to founding the company in 2014 with her business partner Christo Stanev, Stacy worked as a global textile specialist for nearly two decades in roles at DuPont, Eddie Bauer and Target.

She holds an MBA in Sustainable Systems from Presidio Graduate Institute and a Bachelor of Science degree in Textile Development and Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Cynthia Houlton

Head of Revenue

Armoire Style

Cynthia Houlton is Head of Revenue at Armoire Style and is responsible for marketing, partnerships and retention.

She spent the first half of her career as a Wall Street analyst before she joined the The RealReal as VP of Business Development. After 3 years and 100M later, she joined Entrupy pre-revenue and helped launch an instant authentication solution for luxury handbags using AI and machine learning. Most recently she launched and ran the luxury leather goods vertical at StockX, a marketplace for consumer luxury products that grew to over one billion GMV in less than 3 years.

Kristin Knight

Founder | Advisor

Filter, a Merkle company

Kristin has spent her career as an entrepreneur in the creative and digital marketing industry, founding and evolving Filter, a leading brand in the digital marketing/talent space.

After 28 years, Filter was successfully acquired in 2019 by a global digital agency holding company where she is currently an advisor. Over the years, Filter has employed thousands of creative professionals and partnered with premier brands including Nike, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and REI.

Outside of Filter, Kristin in an investor in many private companies, with an emphasis in design-related industries and real estate. She’s passionate about emerging technology and the changing world of work and also enjoys advising business owners and working on multiple social causes and non-profit organizations, especially those empowering women.

She has 2 teenage boys, is a hot-yoga addict, likes to travel and constantly has a home in a state of remodel-construction.

Alissa Leinonen

Founder | CEO


Alissa Leinonen is the award winning Founder & CEO of Seattle’s largest and longest running women-owned catering and boxed-lunch company, Gourmondo Co.

What began as simple, four-table lunch spot in Pike Place Market over 20 years ago is now a leader in the PNW catering industry.

Since the inception, Leinonen has strategically and thoughtfully expanded her company to offer full-service social and event catering, a retail line of gourmet salad dressings, and a successful Corporate Café division, which develops and provides gourmet grab-and-go dining options to large and mid-sized companies and their employees.  She has successfully elevated the box lunch experience to a gourmet level and delivers over 4,000 carefully curated meals per day, and growing Gourmondo to an impressive $14 million+ food business that is on track to exceed the $18M mark at the end of 2019.

Leinonen launched Gourmondo with the vision of creating a business that offered high-quality, fresh, local ingredients from the best purveyors while infusing her deep personal and professional commitment to family and to the importance of giving back to her employees and to the community. This philosophy is at the core of Gourmondo’s business strategy and is incorporated into all aspects of the company through generous philanthropic donations and partnerships, family-friendly production schedules and daily family lunch, employment and promotion opportunities and mentoring youth who are at-risk to help them thrive. 

Leinonen was honored as a Puget Sound Business Journal “40 Under 40” in 2008 and was a proud WBO Nellie Cashman Award finalist in 2016. In June of 2019, Alissa received the PNW EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for the “Unstoppable” category. Gourmondo has been listed as one of the top women owned businesses and fastest growing companies in the PNW multiple years in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Dr. Kristine Sickels

Founder | Speaker | Branding Expert | Certified StoryBrand Guide

Her Story

Taking the time to clarify your branding message is hard and often times it's just not that easy to do it on your own.

Having a partner you can trust to be a sounding board and help you develop a clear message can be invaluable. That’s why Kristine created Her Story. She is passionate about empowering women to grow their businesses with great marketing. She focuses on organizational and personal branding along with coaching & mentorship to help women flourish as entrepreneurs and leaders.

Kristine has spent over 20 years in brand building & product development across the globe. She has led innovation, brand activation, advertising, digital and trade marketing teams in US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. With a successful track record in brand building, strategy development and turn around management, Kristine is a transformational business leader who is known for her strategic focus and getting results.

Kristine led the marketing vision and the innovation strategy for brands such as Rubbermaid, Oster, Calphalon, Levolor, Goody and more. She is an advocate for the voice of the customer and her approach to innovation and communication is grounded in consumer insights. Rather than assume what customers want, she strives to understand unmet needs and to create unique solutions that truly address consumer problems.

Most important, Kristine cares. She is passionate about helping you succeed with great marketing. You have something amazing to bring to the world, and she is passionate about helping you tell YOUR story!

Dj Shiflet 

Founder | Creative Director

Victoria Dailey

Co-Founder | Stylist

Oak & Melanin

Oak & Melanin is a multi-disciplinary studio that creates lifestyle elements that inspire the senses and encourage intentional living.

With an emphasis on natural design, simple geometries, and uncompromising quality, Oak & Melanin’s work connects the imaginative with the practical, resulting in a uniquely warm and honest aesthetic.

Since the launch of our studio in 2016, O&M has embraced an organic and collaborative approach to design; an approach that is equally inspired by the old and the new, by digital technologies and analogue traditions. O&M’s naturalistic, hands-on approach to design and production has allowed the brand to create a unified aesthetic across a growing range of companies, and partnerships. including: brand identity, strategy, photography, and marketing.

Melissa Wilhelm

Director of Talent Acquisition


Melissa Wilhelm joins us from Amazon where she currently is the Director of Talent Acquisition for Finance, Legal, HR, Public Relations and Public Policy.

Melissa has spent the last 20 years in talent acquisition all of it in the tech space.

She relocated to the Pacific Northwest 16 years ago when she joined Microsoft where she spent 10 years leading recruiting for the sales organization. Following Microsoft, she worked 6 years at Google in various staffing roles, ultimately leading sourcing for Google Cloud before heading to Amazon. Melissa is passionate about talent, hiring the right people to ensure strong business results while maintaining the company’s culture and tenants; candidate experience as regardless of the outcome we always hope our candidates will remain our customers; and Diversity and Inclusion as that is at the core infinitely important to all businesses.

When not working, you can find Melissa spending time with her husband in their home in Issaquah, cheering on her son on the soccer field, watching her daughter ride her horses or whipping up culinary creations in the kitchen with her oldest son. She loves a good glass of wine, a great book, cheering on Notre Dame Football and hanging out with her 2 golden retrievers.


Melanie Catanzaro

Founder | President

MDC Event Group

Melanie Catanzaro is the Founder and President of MDC Event Group, a corporate and special event planning firm located in Washington.

MDC Event Group specializes in designing and executing events with large international corporations and non-profits. Melanie brings extensive event planning experience and her biggest passions include creating unique settings that foster teambuilding, personal and professional development and bringing together communities of practice. Melanie is proud to act as Executive Producer of this retreat in partnership with Her Story.

Prior to founding MDC Event Group in 2012, Melanie worked in various project management, communications and leadership engagement roles at Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods companies. Melanie began her career at Sotheby’s and was responsible for Risk Management. Melanie holds an MBA in Operations Management & Strategy from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History & Finance from The Catholic University of America.

Melanie moved to Washington from the East Coast in 2015 and enjoys her time exploring the PNW with her husband, daughter and identical twin sons. When she’s not spending time with her horses and dogs on her small farm located in the Cascades, Melanie can be found at her Seabrook home with her family and friends.

Keep checking back as more speakers are announced.

Day 1

9:00 – 10:00
“Your Story Matters”

10:00 – 12:30
Poising your Business for Growth
A combination of panels, fireside chats & key note speakers share their insights and experiences.

12:30 – 1:30
Free time for lunch
Enjoy various food options in the town of Seabrook. Meet up with fellow attendees, guest speakers & panelists.

1:30 – 3:30
Interactive Panel Discussions and Q&A
Exploring key topics and challenges facing small business leaders/founders.

3:30 – 5:00
Enjoy Seabrook
Take time this afternoon to enjoy all that Seabrook has to offer. Select Seabrook Merchants will host various activities for conference attendees. Attendees will have the opportunity to register in advance for these activities or take the time for a personal hike or casual stroll on the beach to relax and reflect.

5:00 – 6:00
Importance of diversity in EVERY business, no matter the size.

Take the time to enjoy dinner and schedule meet ups with ladies you’ve met throughout the day! It’s a great time to collaborate and build connections.

Day 2

9:00 – 10:00
Reflection on Day 1 topics and introduce the Her Story collab; Writing your personal mission statement.

10:00 – 11:30
Fireside chat with featured guests
Discussion on finding the right partners for your business and what you should consider prior to selling your business.

11:30 – 2:30
Free time for lunch and interaction with attendees, guest speakers & panelists and to enjoy all that Seabrook has to offer
Once again select Seabrook Merchants will host various activities for conference attendees. Attendees will have the opportunity to register in advance for these activities or take the time for a personal hike or casual stroll on the beach to relax and reflect.

2:30 – 4:30
Leadership Reflection
A combination of panels, fireside chats & key note speakers share their insights and experiences.

3:30 – 5:00
Sharing & Taking it back
Together we will discuss how we will take back what we’ve learned AND how we can support each other to accomplish our goals.

5:00 – 6:30pm
Closing Cocktail Reception 

Day 3

Optional Workshop 

New Date Coming Soon

Stay an extra day after the retreat and join us for our optional special workshop! We know you have a great story that others need to hear. Learn how to tell YOUR story by attending a workshop created to help.

#micdrop Workshop

Kristine Sickels is the Founder of Her Story and a certified #micdrop coach, a mastery course created by national speaker and author Jess Ekstrom. During this session Kristine will lead an interactive workshop on how to create a compelling key note and develop your own profitable speaking business.


What time does the retreat start?

On-site registration and check in will begin at 8am on the new date of the event, with the Opening Keynote starting promptly at 9am.

What is the attire at the retreat?

Casual attire is welcome. Seabrook can be a bit wet or windy this time of year, so we suggest dressing in layers and have a rain jacket/parka and some great beach walking shoes packed just in case.

How do I book overnight accommodations?
To book accommodations, visit the Seabrook Cottage Rentals site by clicking here. Seabrook offers all types of rental homes, cottages and bungalows. Be sure to use our Booking Code, HSR2020 when making your reservation.
Does Seabrook have a hotel?
Seabrook does not currently have a hotel or inn. However, Seabrook offers all sizes of rental homes, cottages and bungalows with beautiful interiors and special views. Rental homes are appointed with all the comforts of home. Check out the inventory of rentals here. Be sure to use our Booking Code, HSR2020 when making your reservation.
Is there a way to share a rental house with another attendee?

Yes, you may certainly share a rental with another attendee. If you are interested in matching up on accommodations, we can help you find someone looking for a share. We will suggest homes that have private bedrooms with en suite bathrooms. Please email your share request to herstoryretreat@mdceventgroup.com Once you agree to share with another attendee, you can make the reservation with Seabrook Cottage Rentals directly.

What's included in my Retreat general admissions ticket?

The Her Story Retreat general admission ticket includes your participation in the 2-day retreat on the new dates coming soon with exciting keynote speakers, interactive panel discussions, a closing cocktail reception on Friday evening and daily activities with select Seabrook merchants and partners. Beverages and snacks will be provided in the Town Hall sessions. Meals are not included.

How do I register for the Writing & Speaking Workshop?

You may register and purchase your Her Story Workshop ticket (new date coming soon) via our Her Story Retreat ticket site. Click here for link.

How much free time will we have during our time at Seabrook?

An important component of our Retreat is to provide our attendees with time to make meaningful connections with fellow participants and keynote speakers as well as spend time exploring and relaxing in Seabrook. Attendees will have time for lunches and dinners and a 90 minutes daily break to enjoy activities with select Seabrook merchants, wander through town, walk the many trails or stroll along the beach.

Have other questions?

You can send your inquiries to HerStoryRetreat@mdceventgroup.com or call (425)-292-9083

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