I’ve been thinking of how to organize this post all week so hopefully it will come out as my brain envisions it. Last weekend, I attended the Create and Cultivate conference in Dallas, a one-day creative conference for female entrepreneurs in the digital space. It was filled with all different types of bloggers, business owners, or even girls just thinking of starting a business. It had panels with speakers I’ve been following for a long time (Happily Grey, Gal Meets Glam, The Skinny Confidential), workshops, keynote speaker Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere, and SO many more. I’ll give you a run down of how the day went and also 5 things I learned over the weekend so if you have any questions at all, leave me a comment! All photography is a combination of Jessica Bordner Photography, Melissa Enid Photography, Zelle, and my phone!
Luckily, I was able to travel to Dallas with two of my good friends, Zelle and Taylor Rae, and we stayed together at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown (highly recommend). Saturday started early at 8:00 for checking in! I’ve been to one other conference before for my blog (read about Southern Blog Society Conference) and I can say that the moments leading up to the conference after checking in are some of my absolute favorite. Gathering together with a bunch of creative women who share similar interests and goals as you and meeting each other right before the conference starts is just so memorable. The ladies I met were so genuine, down to earth, and not competitive at all. There is a feeling of satisfaction, excitement, and confirmation, that I get in these moments, a feeling of gratitude that my life led me to create this blog. I’ve never felt like I was in a more “right” place than when I’m at these conferences and it is hard to explain but I’ll save all my deep life thoughts for another day.
We had a big breakfast bar provided by Bebe and mixing and mingling with all of the attendees under a big clear beautiful tent. Create and Cultivate is one of the best decorated events I’ve ever seen. Just wait until you see the rest of the photos!
After we ate breakfast and walked around the venue some, we made our way to a front seat at the ShopStyle Stage for our first workshop about photography and branding through Instagram. I loved this workshop and panel because it has taken me a while to finally get my “theme” going on my instagram feed. I loved hearing Ashley Rose of Sugar and Cloth, Sophia Macks of Beyond the Mag, and Matt Crump speak about how they’ve turned their full time jobs into curating a beautiful Instagram feed on how they see life to inspire others. For instance, Matt Crump (@mattcrump) started the #candyminimal and the way life is seen through his eyes is so. freaking. cool. This was moderated by Maxie McCoy of Levo whose energy and enthusiasm perfected the conference!
The next panel was moved indoors to the main stage and the panel spoke about how to present, sell and negotiate your big idea. The panel included Tina Craig of Bag Snob, Lynsey Eaton of Tomboy KC, Caroline Harper Knapp of House of Harper, Genevieve Ascencio of Factory PR. This group of women were really helpful in giving tips and advice for contacting brands you want to work with and pitching your collaboration ideas to get a “yes”.
Zelle and I also sat right next to a little dog who we later found out to be an instafamous dog, @ellabeanthedog! She was the cutest and wore a little leather jacket and t-shirt to match her ShopStyle mommy!
The next panel was back at the ShopStyle stage and spoke about getting creative at your current job and using your creative ideas you use with your side business to be successful at your full time gig. The speakers for this were all working full time for brands including Lou & Grey, Bebe, Framebridge, Matrix, and Simon G. Each of them had really great advice to take away!
After that panel, we were free to roam for a quick break and we checked out all of the beautifully set-up pop-up shops and booths.
After our break, our lunch arrived and it was the perfect time to meet new friends! I met Mattie from Fit is Chic (does she not look like a supermodel!?!) and her, Zelle, and I talked about everything, especially how excited we were for the panel in the afternoon!
Zelle and I actually had the same mentor for after lunch so we walked over to our mentor group and listened to Devon Rachel tell us her story behind the success of her blog! I liked how this part of the day was more intimate and we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted in a smaller group setting.
After our mentor session, the panel I was MOST excited about started and my theme of front row seat did not end! We got to listen to Camille Styles, Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam, Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential, Mary Seng of Happily Grey (My fave!!!) and Sophia Rivka Rossi of Hello Giggles. These women are straight up girl bosses who have had so much success at what they do so it was by far the most inspiring part of the day for me. They spoke about how to create a brand that lives beyond of blog bubble and gave stories of how they got to where they are now.
After meeting my girl crushes and getting to know them a little more, we headed over to the SoulCycle Session to listen to the founders of SoulCycle, Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice. It was a good switch up from the fashion scene to hear from such successful women in the fitness industry.
Next up was Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere for a Keynote Conversation. I’ve been a long time fan of Emily so it was nice to hear stories and advice from such a successful woman!
The night ended with listening to Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power, founders of Who What Wear be interviewed by the founder of Create and Cultivate, Jaclyn Johnson. It was the night right before their line in Target was about to be launched so it was exciting to see them so thrilled about one of their biggest moments!
And now for 5 things I learned from Create and Cultivate…
1. Brands are starting to really notice the increasingly high results of bloggers vs. celebrities.
With the panel including representatives from large brands such as Bebe, Matrix, and more, it was nice to hear that these marketing and social media directors looked to bloggers as sometimes even more influential than celebrities because of the real factor. Bloggers might not have nearly as close of a following as celebrities but the way they are more relatable and realistic when it comes to purchasing products, makes them a very important part of brands’ marketing strategies. I don’t think blogging is going anywhere any time soon because of this.
2. Defining your own style and brand is one of the most important steps before becoming successful in this industry.
Each speaker at Create and Cultivate had a very distinctive brand and style of their own. It is what helped them become successful by standing out among everyone else and having a reason why readers go back. I’ve been trying to define my own style and brand and believe I’ve defined what Pretty in the Pines is. You can look back at my instagram (@prettyinthepines) and see that PITP includes mainly whites, blues, pinks, greens with a feminine, classic, and chic style. I love color and bright whites and greys and if I didn’t include all of that in my style, it wouldn’t be truthful to who I am and how I see things.
3. Everyone starts somewhere. It just takes time and hard work. There are no shortcuts to success.
I loved hearing the speakers talk about this because it has been on my mind for the past several months. With all sorts of apps to purchase followers and “grow” accounts quickly as well as countless loop giveaways, it can be discouraging when trying to grow your own blog organically. However, it always comes down to the content and engagement. It was refreshing to hear the stories behind some of the most successful people in this industry and where they were before they started (such as as waiting tables, dropping out of school, majoring in something completely different, corporate office settings where they lacked passion, etc). I could really relate to some of them which made it even more inspiring.
4. It’s all about the mission.
It’s important to always know your “why”. Why do you want to do what you’re doing and what makes you passionate about it? If you don’t know why you are doing it, you will never grow and people will start to see through it. Don’t start a blog just to start a blog. Know why you want to start one and what types of people you want your audience to be and what you want to do for them.
5. There are enough jobs for everyone so don’t get caught up in feeling like it is a competition.
It can get very competitive with blogging but I’ve learned that there are enough brands to work with and jobs for everyone to not have to constantly feel the pressure and competition between friends who also have similar blogs. Each brand looks for a different type of influencer that matches with their brand and can bring something specific to their readers. I might not be a perfect match for Lilly Pulitzer but my friend might be and vice versa! It’s best to cheer on your friends and delete the competitive vibes.
I would highly recommend this conference for anyone who is looking for inspiration and motivation in the digital industry, especially for business owners! If you have any questions at all, please leave them below in the comments and I would love to answer them!
I hope everyone has a nice weekend! My fiance and I are driving down to Charleston tomorrow to check out a potential wedding venue (yep… still have not found “the one”!) and it is looking very promising! Follow along on snapchat for some pics! (username: shelbsLV)