Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Create + Cultivate Dallas

What a weekend! As many of you know, I went to Dallas over the weekend for the Create + Cultivate conference, and if I could do it all over again, I definitely would! Create + Cultivate is a conference series for female entrepreneurs in the digital space, and I learned so much over the course of the weekend. This is a very content heavy post, but I am so excited to share my experience! I left Friday morning out of Wilmington, met Shelby in Atlanta, and then connected to Dallas where we met Taylor-Rae at our hotel. We kicked off the weekend with a happy hour at The Common Desk followed by delicious Mexican food at Mia’s.

We were up bright + early Saturday morning, as registration began at 8am. As this was my first conference, I was a little nervous, but as we checked in, received our tracks, and grabbed breakfast, I began to take it all in and get even more excited for the events that were ahead. P.S. C+C is so impeccably designed and decorated - I fell in love with the florals and chic design as soon as I walked in, and Lofty Spaces, the venue for the event, offered such a unique atmosphere that only enhanced the experience. 
Create + Cultivate Dallas offered two tracks, each of which featured different speakers. Shelby + I were both in Track 2, so our morning started off with a photo and composition panel at the ShopStyle stage. The speakers all had very innovative Instagram feeds, so it was so interesting to hear what helps them curate a photo and how they have branded themselves digitally. Speakers included Ashley from Sugar and Cloth, Sophia from Beyond the Mag, and Matt of Matt Crump (#candyminimal - go to his Instagram and you'll understand!). This panel, moderated by Maxie McCoy, was all about perfecting the perfect photo. Instagram has been hard for me because I love a coherent Instagram feed but love showing real snaps from my life too. So the battle is definitely still there!

We switched over to the main stage, where we heard from great panelists about the art of the pitch, and how to collaborate with brands. My favorites from that panel were Tomboy KC and Tina from Bag Snob. I also sat beside Ella Bean the Dog, an adorable puppy mill dog. Most of you know my obsession with dogs, so I was perfectly content staring at her {and she was wearing a leather jacket...} She is seriously the cutest pup, so if you love adorable dog pictures, follow @ellabeanthedog. She has the life!
Shelby and I migrated back over to the ShopStyle stage where we ???? For this panel, we had a great seat right in the front. We heard from corporate business speakers who are all involved in the creative/fashion/beauty industry, and it was so insightful to hear how you can apply your creative mindset to your day job, even if your blog or online venture is not your full-time gig. Though I do get to be creative at my job, I was inspired to take the energy I find in my blog and apply it to my work, even though the two are not related. 

"Having a creative mind in a business setting really differentiates you."
- Claudia Naim-Burt, Framebridge

Lunch was to follow, and I connected with Fit is Chic, who was also sitting at our table. I opened up Instagram to follow her and quickly realized I already was - I loved how this conference allowed you to network and meet new people, some of which you may have already connected with via social media. 

Our mentor sessions came next, which were break-out groups of 15-20 girls or so. My first mentor was Devon Rachel, and as I love her blog, it was exciting to hear about how she started in the blogging industry. It is interesting to hear that successful bloggers have experienced some of the same struggles or thoughts I have as I've gone through the blogging process. It was also interesting to hear some of the questions others had in regards to blogging, some of which were the same as mine. 
Next up was the panel I had been waiting for and the biggest reason I wanted to be in Track 2. Talking about the longevity of a blog and brand, we heard from Julia of Gal Meets Glam, Mary of Happily Grey, Camille of Camille Styles, Lauryn from The Skinny Confidential, and Sophia from Hello, Giggles. This session absolutely flew by, and I found myself wanting to know even more. They offered great insight on the importance of defining your brand, which is something I have been working on (and still have a long ways to go). When I started Southern Style, I had no idea what I was doing or where it would take me, and now I’ve realized how much I love being an online curator - whether it’s my mom viewing my blog or someone in another country who happens upon it. Brand longevity is something I am working on, and I hope to extend Southern Style outside of the “blogging bubble.”

"You should be the CEO of your career."
- Hillary Kerr, Co-Founder of Who What Wear

After a break filled with hair and makeup fresh-ups at the Beauty Bar, a little shopping at the pop-up shop {I bought this bag}, and networking, we headed back to the main stage for a full-conference session with the keynote speakers: Emily Schuman of Cupcakes + Cashmere & Hillary Kerr & Katherine Power of Who What Wear. I loved hearing from these speakers because they are all #girlbosses who had a vision and continued to grow it. Even though they are all very successful, they are constantly moving in an upward direction with new ideas and content. 
P.S. The weather in Dallas was incredible! I opted for a floral dress + chunky sandals, and I was a little worried when we first arrived because it was so chilly, but within an hour, the sun was shining through the clear tent over our heads at the ShopStyle stage and we ended up being hot! (And Shelby may have ended up just a little sunburned…)

Favorite moments of the day:

Check-In - I was in awe of everything, and it felt so surreal that I was attending an event that I hope will only better my brand.

Meeting Happily Grey - y’all - Mary is as incredible and authentic as it gets. I was already excited that she was a panelist, but after seeing how much passion she exuded each time she spoke, I was excited to have the chance to speak with her. Unfortunately, that photo turned out terrible, but I’m happy to have had a moment to speak with one of my favorite online curators.

Meeting Gal Meets Glam - I've always admired Julia from the time I first started blogging, so it was exciting to meet her in person. The photo we took again was not the best, but I shared it on Instagram anyway (because #fangirl).

Getting Inspired - this is a broad moment, but this conference solidified some thoughts I've had about my blog, and it also inspired me to put some of those thoughts into a plan. It's hard when to blog sometimes when you have a full-time job, because there are things I would love to do that I need to make time for. One of my goals is carving out more time to strategically plan, instead of only carving out for photos and posts. 

As Southern Style continues to evolve, here are some questions I have for you:
  1. What makes you come back to Southern Style each day?
  2. What do you want to see?
  3. What do you love about SS and what do you wish was different?
"There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs."
- Zig Siglar

And a few more photos thanks to Create + Cultivate // photos by Jessica Bordner and Melissa Enid
Waiting to check in - you can definitely tell I was nervous, but sharing this candid anyway!

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