Martha Michael | Keeping Yellow Company, for Good


If you’re a fan of Westerns, as I am, you’ve probably heard cowboys use the word “yellow” to toss an insult in the direction of a coward. But last week I found out how a term that’s been used for throwing shade has been reclaimed by a vibrant, progressive group of young women. 

For six years the Yellow Conference has offered women from in and outside Southern California the chance to gather for creative inspiration and self-reflection. Held in a downtown L.A. loft, the two-day event is contemporary, but low-key, without the sometimes abrasive tone of an edgier function. In fact, this group is defined by its mutual admiration and support. There’s a forward focus that includes a commitment to environmental friendliness, organic foods and natural fabrics – but mostly, cultivating good around the world. 

After attending the conference this year with a couple of Santa Clarita friends, I can tell you we’re leaving this planet in good hands. 

Back in the day, when the parents of these millennials fit their demographic – young adults in their 20s and 30s – it was the era of a yuppie culture that was largely about making as much money as possible. The beauty of this group of women, however, is that they have a head for business, but also a heart for healing the world. They want their moneymaking ventures to have meaning.

A gathering with this shared priority has possibly gained traction because no one’s in this lane right now. Forbes Magazine had an article last year calling the Yellow Conference one of “19 Conferences Every Creative Should Attend.” And two weeks ago, Forbes posted a piece about founder Joanna Waterfall’s “Community for Women Doing Good.”

What Waterfall did was create a community of entrepreneurial women who want their work to have purpose and their lifestyles to be healthier. The Yellow Co. mission is to empower creative, entrepreneurial women to become agents of good. 

Yellow Co. promotes companies that create products that are ethical and sustainable – a priority stemming from the importance of elevating the status of females and addressing climate change, which are issues that fewer baby boomers keep on the front burner. 

In terms of maintaining an ecological balance, Yellow is putting their money where their mouth is. Conference speakers are individuals with newsworthy pursuits who have a widespread impact. 

Liz Forkin Bohannon founded “Sseko Designs,” a clothing business that generates income for young women in Uganda so they can attend university. The company’s strappy sandals were featured on NBC’s “Shark Tank” and it became the largest footwear exporter in East Africa.

One speaker was the founder of Café Gratitude and Gracias Madre, and International Justice Mission, the largest anti-slavery organization in the world, was a centerpiece of the conference. 

Even the complimentary cotton bag they handed us at the door was designed in California and made in Ethiopia through Parker Clay, a company “transforming communities through trade to create social and economic empowerment.” And the swag included natural skin care, organic socks, healthy bars – even floral print-wrapped toilet paper rolls. 

Masters of branding, the walls and concrete floors were emblazoned with Yellow’s signature voluptuous floral bouquet, and bees are a recurring illustration of the type of pollination going on among this group of women. 

Rene Urbanovich, Santa Clarita voice and creativity teacher and author of “Creativity Connection/Conundrum,” attended the event for the second time. 

“The Yellow Conference inspired me – being surrounded by people who care about making a difference in this world is powerful,” she said. “These businesswomen are as concerned about compassion as commerce. I had a blast and felt relieved that so many young women work so hard to change the world.” 

There’s a membership opportunity in the Yellow Community, which gives women access to digital tools, courses, videos, etc. And most importantly, they have access to each other, which satisfies the need for mentorship and encouragement.

They are young, but they are powerhouses. And it’s hard for older generations to accept that the raw perspectives of youth bring attention to issues and causes that require new terms to explain. Many people over 50 don’t know words like “biohacking” or understand that being vegan isn’t just about saving animals, but also sparing resources from oil to food. 

I hope there are millions more like these women – they give me hope. While we’re trying to take one small step for man, they’re taking giant leaps for man/womankind. 

I’ll admit I’m partial to them. Not only are they inspirational, they can’t be all bad when they’re represented by my favorite color … bright yellow.

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Martha Michael is a contributing writer for The Signal.

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