Hallie Applebaum is a human connector whose impressive resume includes nearly a decade at the World Bank, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the New Museum, RE.WORK, IBM Smarter Cities, Samasource, and Wells Fargo Advisors. At the World Bank, she dedicated her time and energy toward accelerating creative communities in the US, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
Recently she launched her latest project, “Future of Women”, a platform that features and connects adventurous and accomplished women from around the world with the goal of creating a community of female talent to support and inspire each other. Recently we caught up with this globetrotter to learn more about FUTURE OF WOMEN and hear about her time in Barcelona (insider tips included).
3 Days*: Hallie, I think it’s safe to say you are a citizen of the world, having travelled and worked extensively all over the developing world. Your new endeavor Future of Women leverages your experience and contacts from around the globe in a quest to unite women and build a network to support them in their professional and creative goals. Tell us a little more about this new platform and how your international background inspired you to take on this next phase of your life.
HA: Women are blazing trails, shaping societies, and inspiring communities, but we often don’t hear enough about these women*. In January ‘17, I created Future of Women, a photo and film project to profile and celebrate inspiring and creative women around the world. I wanted to amplify women’s voices in the media. Future of Women tells the stories of incredible women from all corners of the world — women exploring new frontiers in food, tech, sports, music, theater, art, sex, media, and science — in hopes of inspiring women (especially young women) to dream big!
We believe that women dream bigger when they are surrounded by exceptionally adventurous and accomplished women. In the first three months, we’ve profiled 75 women from 31 countries, including World Cup Ski Cross Champions, Musical Comedians, Al Jazeera Filmmakers, and Environmentalists in the Arctic**. It’s been so much fun!
Future of Women is very close to my heart. It embodies all of the things I love - new creative ideas, global collaboration, and social impact. I’ve spent nearly a decade working at the intersection of entrepreneurship and social impact alongside designers, artists, engineers, and policymakers, traveling between the US, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East connecting the dots.
Last June I decided that I was ready for a change. I had been based in Washington, DC for the past few years working at the World Bank, supporting young entrepreneurs through startup competitions, coding bootcamps, design workshops and engaging government in the process.
I loved engaging with young creatives around the world, but over time I began to crave space and autonomy to build out my interest in connecting and empowering creative women globally.
I began hosting dinners with creative women. I invited my favorite girlfriends based around the world to co-host dinners with me and we hosted over 30 dinners in 5 months on Health and Wellness, Relationships, Rebellion, Travel, and Sexuality in 9 countries and 11 cities worldwide.
We had fun sharing photos, videos and notes after the events. Women loved the dinners and I realized this was fulfilling something that women were searching for: Community.
As I began to explore this idea, I realized that I needed headspace and a geographical change. My mind quickly went to Barcelona. I booked a one-way flight and an apartment for two days. Two days turned into a summer as I let myself get lost on the beaches and winding roads of Catalonia.
3 Days*: Big life transitions often call for drastic geographical changes. What made you decide on Barcelona as the city where you wanted to devise a plan for this new project? What inspires you most about it?
HA: I’ve been in love with Barcelona for years… There’s something special about it, especially during summer. People are windsurfing along the coast in Poblenou, hiking in the Pyrenees, enjoying outdoor film screenings at Montjuic next to the castle Montjuic, and lounging on rooftops for evenings of tapas and cava. I wanted to be in this glowing, and almost whimsical setting as I took time to think about the future.
I grew up near the ocean in a small town in Maine, the northernmost state in the New England region of the United States. We spent lots of time running on island trails and sitting by the sea. It was so beautiful, quiet, and peaceful.
Whenever life becomes complicated or starts moving too fast, I return to the water. It helps me center myself and gives me perspective - I remember how big and beautiful the world is and I think about the things that really matter to me at the end of the day.
The bright colors, playful street art, and pink and purple sunrises in Barcelona inspired me to take the leap and dive into my passion full time. I’m heading back to Barcelona this month and I can’t wait. This time I’ll be there to film the video series that I’m creating about creative women around the world! It seems fitting to return to Barcelona where the magic began.
3 Days*: Though Barcelona is a tourist haven, you’re in the enviable position of having spent time there as a local. What did you discover that you would have missed as a tourist?
HA: My favorite parts of cities are always the creative districts where the artists live. I lived in Poblenou - an area covered in murals, on the ocean, and with vegetarian-friendly restaurants. It’s an old industrial area where warehouses have been turned into artist studios, cafes, and recording spaces. I dream of buying a warehouse there one day!
The cafes are beautiful. My favorites are Espai Joliu and Espacio 88. Espai Joliu is covered in plants and has concrete walls so it stays cool in the summer. Espacio 88 is part artist studio, part cafe. Market Cuina is great for lunch - lots of fresh ingredients. Sunrises on the beach in Poblenou are colorful and intense (photo above).
If you love being near or in the water you can learn how to kite surf in Trabucador (Parc Natural del Delta de l’Ebre) about 160km south of Barcelona. The wetlands are one of Spain’s rice growing areas and home to a very diverse fauna (i.e. over 300 species of birds). The strong winds in the region make it an ideal area for wind - and the kite surfers that come with it.
And then there is Cala Sant Francesc, a pristine cove in Blanes region an hour north of the city by train. Absolute paradise! The small beach is surrounded by stunning villas dotting the hillside.
3 Days*: That sounds fantastic. Ana and I explored Barcelona 10 years ago and loved it, but you make us want to re-visit, ASAP. What’s next on your travel hit-list?
HA: Well, I’m currently on the road as we speak and traveling between Indonesia, Vietnam, Lebanon, Spain, and France to film my new video series about inspiring and creative women who are changing the world — exceptional female filmmakers, athletes, artists, chefs, tech entrepreneurs, and designers. The filming will end in July in Barcelona, where the magic first began!
3 Days*: What locations are on your ultimate travel Bucketlist and why?
HA: I dream about spending 6-months driving through Latin America.
I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Latin America over the years. I lived in the Andes of Ecuador after high school for a gap year with the American Field Service. And I returned to Ecuador during college to work at a startup incubator. I lived in Antigua, Guatemala for a summer doing public health research and worked on projects in Colombia when I was at the World Bank.
I’d love to take half a year and drive across the continent, ending at the southern tip in Patagonia and taking the ferry to Antarctica. South America is so vibrant and beautiful with its lush nature and warm Latin culture that I’d love to immerse myself in for a lengthier period of time. And I’d love to host women’s dinners as I go!
3 Days*: What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place to acclimate yourself?
HA: After a long day of travel, I love the feeling of dropping my bags and heading out to explore. I grab the bare minimum - my phone, headphones, an ID, and some cash - and head out for a sunset walk. If I'm near water, I walk along the coast. I go for a sunset stroll - familiarizing myself with the cafes and side streets in my new neighborhood. I love street art, so I'm always on the look out for interesting work. When I get home, I often spend time Googling the art, searching a mix of cross streets and descriptors to learn more about the piece and the artist. In Barcelona, I love BTOY's work!
Thanks for a glimpse into your inspiring world. We’ll happily promoting FUTURE OF WOMEN and look forward to seeing your new endeavor grow!
* While women represent half of the world’s population, women represent less than one third of all speaking characters in film. 95% of films are directed by men, 80–90% of leads are male, and 55% of the time the woman is naked or scantily clad. Yet, films that feature women make 23% more than films that don’t. Return on investment is higher when the Director, Producer, Screenwriter, and/or Lead Actor is a woman. Films by and about women make more money. Hollywood only targets 18% of their films as “women films” and this means that there is a giant underserved audience and untapped profit potential.
** Countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Syria, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States.