Almost two weeks ago, I flew out to Raleigh, North Carolina for a 2 day Style Collective conference with the hopes that I would make some new connections in the fashion blogging industry, and in particular gain a stronger knowledge base about what it takes to be successful for style bloggers/fashion bloggers.
I traveled with two other St. Louis Bloggers, and after we dropped off our bags at our hotel, we went to the 7th floor, which had buzzing energy, a bar, and many people eating, drinking, and enjoying the good weather. The weather was spectacular!! Anyhow, I met several of the bloggers that recently arrived, and everyone I met that night was very kind and sweet.
Our hotel, which was picked by Annie Spano, was situated in a centralized area with ample shopping, and restaurants that could be reached in walking distance. Also, our hotel offered us free breakfast on the top floor, in a luxe-chic layout with huge window panes beaming the beautiful sunny weather from that weekend. These were the first markers of evidence that Annie Spano and her team were making extremely thoughtful decisions, as it relates to the conference and the experience from top to bottom.
On Saturday morning, after breakfast, we took an uber to the Cannon Room, which is where the conference was held, situated approximately 7-8 minutes from the host hotel. When you got onto the elevator, there was a huge sticker on the elevator door that said, "SLAY," foreshadowing the immaculate attention to detail we were about to experience. When we arrived to the floor of our event, you entered into the world of, "If Barbie had to go to a conference, this is what it would look like." It was absolutely gorgeous, and it supported the vision and the intended experience for Style Collective members. There were gold chiavari chairs lined up in the center of the room, classroom-style, in front of a small stage, which is where presenters would sit and speak. On the left side of the room, there were several round tables, adorned and beautifully decorated, as if you were attending a wedding. Our chairs in front of the stage had "swag bags" filled with goodies from the brands that partnered with the event. I believe the contents were worth more than 350.00 dollars! It was as if I was walking into a dream! A DREAM! My mind couldn't comprehend what I was seeing. I have been in beautiful settings for weddings and other events, but this space really took my breath away.
Throughout the two days, we received several sessions that would improve our marketing strategies, collaborating with brands, helping us to clarify our own brand goals, and exposed us to other opportunities and platforms that could grow our businesses. The content was out of this world! And all of the free stuff just added this surreal touch to it all. But the heart and soul came from the connections, laughter, and shared moments with my style collective sisters. There were so many times that I felt like I was in a classroom with my peers being silly, sharing our own journey, and cheering each other on throughout the weekend. There was sooooo much that I learned, and still need time to process, but below I am going to list my biggest lessons.
My biggest take-aways were:
1) Who is your tribe?
Annie Spano shared that in business, it has been found that if you have 1,000 loyal fans/ true supporters who love you and what you have to offer, then you can consider yourself successful in business because those 1000 people are your tribe, and they will be your foundation. This was a deep concept because it really reminds me that my brand and business is made up of key people, mi familia, loyal and true supporters who really value what I do and offer. So, it eliminated the noise and the distraction that I need hundreds of thousands of people. In turn, it's more about quality followers, which reminds me about the importance of rich interactions and authentic experiences with my community and people around me.
2) You bring value and your work for Brands should be respected.
My second big take-away is that as a new blogger, one can become extremely excited to receive free items and to even be considered as someone that could represent a brand. But I was reminded that the work I do is valuable, and all of the work I do to promote a brand contributes to their brand awareness in the market, and potentially increases their sales. Furthermore, my work is important, and I should be compensated adequately. Furthermore, I need to establish in my terms what I deserve, and I should also provide proof of what I have already been able to accomplish.
3) Hustle, & Hustle Some More
My third big take-away is that, the blogging/ Influencer world is a space that is fairly new, and even though the market trends communicate continued growth, and I should be able to grow and thrive in this industry, it will only happen with an enormous amount of hustle. That hustle needs to consist of pitching brands consistently, working on better blog headlines to improve it's accessibility on the internet, and re-purposing my blog work on other channels :podcast, magazines, and other spaces that can span my reach. The hustle is real, but with determination, success is around the corner.
4) The power of Your Story
My fourth and last big take-away is that in this world, you have to find your way to be memorable, and the best way to do that is to be extremely clear about what you are trying to do with your blog, and making sure that your followers understand your mission, values, and core beliefs. You will have to share your story over and over again, which in reality is the snapshot of your ultimate message to the universe. What is your message? Is your message clear? And is your story being reflected in an authentic way, as you decide to collaborate with different brands?
Overall, the conference was soulful, the type of event that I needed, reminding me that I am not alone in this journey. Style Collective wrapped me up in a loving consciousness of empowerment, sisterhood, and the tools to thrive in a space that I can call my own. Thank you Annie Spano for giving birth to your Style Collective dream, and spreading your message of empowerment and love to women who love style!
Below, you will find the links to this outfit, and you can also access this look, and all of my other looks through the links at the footer of this website. Take Care!