This is me at Alt Summit.
Not the one in focus, but the one out of focus on the right. That's how I came to the conference, out of focus. I came not knowing exactly if I belonged there as a brand instead of a blogger, and didn't know what my path was "supposed" to be moving forward.
I've been reading other ALT recaps, and can only imagine the stress of attending this event as a natural introvert. I am 100% extrovert, but yet I couldn't help but feeling like I was back at the MSU Union freshman year at the beginning of sorority rush when I first entered the scene, especially since I came knowing no one.
Starting off at the early bird sessions was great knowledge and great swag. Loved hearing a pep talk from some seasoned Alt ladies. However, as a former art teacher, I really related to Keenan Cummings. His talk was about how successful people are not talented, but passionately curious. Encouraging people to "play to your curiosities instead of strengths". That success is "not about being best, but getting good". I loved this. It was my first affirmation of the week. I have this curiosity, am willing to be held accountable for it, responsible for it, no question willing to be awkward, and looking for mentors in the process. These were his ingredients for success, and I felt that I had the beginning of this foundation.
My sponsored dinner from Mail Chimp was just what the doctor ordered. Another great time to get to know new friends, and have time for real conversations. Two side cars, a great meal, and a serious rehash of Orange is the New Black, and I was ready for bed.
Tuesday morning was a life changer.
Listening to Joy Cho talk was wonderful. She was such a doll, and her stories of always having a business mind as a teenager were very similar to mine. Part of me has been wondering if someone will come across Leland gal and swoop me up and carry me to the line of success and growth. It was clear that did not happen to Joy, and whatever successes she had, she had to reach out to them first. It was motivating, and completely changed my perspective about how to use my blog as a marketing tool. She also started out as a non trained fabric designer. Now, she's crushing it all over because of her hard work and determination. I did finally get to meet her to thank her for her inspiring words.
One thing about ALT, little touches always making you feel pampered and special like this. A far cry from the days of teacher conferences.
Next up was a day filled with how to pitch to brands, remain authentic, always photograph beautifully, post well, and post often, Pin well, and pin often, build great content on your blog, growing your community, check your unique views versus monthly views, build trust, credibility, learn to price yourself and choosing brands that aligned with your lifestyle. Such wonderful information that I have every detail written down to reference when the time is right, but to say that I was overwhelmed was such an understatement.
That's when I landed here, by no accident. I perused my selection of classes for the afternoon, and knew this is where I belonged: "Blogging with a comedic voice" with Christy. To be perfectly honest, I really just came because I needed to step back and not take life so seriously. I want to be authentic, but sometimes raw and that's not always beautiful. Or beautiful in a self deprecating imperfect kind of way. I found my people, and it was nothing short of a delightful way to spend my time, and contemplate my voice.
By night fall on Tuesday, I was whooped. Enjoyed a sandwich on a waffle with these girls chatting in the park, and watched break dancing. I probably brought my B game as it was much colder than we thought, but we certainly made the best of it!
Wednesday morning, I felt refreshed, excited, had direction, got a great night sleep and even had time to blow dry my hair (a rarity). Started off with a video class, showing this example of how to style something clean and pretty. This cutie pie couple knows how to be patient and create beautiful work, and their advice has already improved my imagery.
I caught up with Taylor and Megan of The Fresh Exchange, as seen here with me talking with my hands. I absolutely adore what they are doing with their brand building and business and blending their business with lifestyle. It's genius, as well as beautiful. Also finding someone with friends in common from Northern Michigan was another surge of energy as we honed in on the last full day. Riding this wave of energy continues with a vibrant hysterical presentation from these two wildcats defining the wonders of collaboration in a warped yin and yang that creates a final product unlike any other.
Then... This happened.
Martha was great, matter of fact, and businesslike, even swore a couple of times which I found refreshing. My favorite thing she said was to let kids get inside drawers and get messy and acquainted in the kitchen. This utterly shocked me. Of course it's my philosophy as well, but this was Martha Stewart allowing a mess?
Here I am excitedly rounding out my last class at ALT with Emily McDowell and Garrett Gee. Two very different folks creating very different but equally amazing empires. To say that my mind was full of excitement by this time about what capabilities I had was an understatement.
Finishing my Alt experience off with a luscious breezy garden party was the icing on the cake. It was beautiful weather, and by this time I felt like I was heading to a party with old friends. The sorority rush feeling was long since washed away, and it was the perfect follow up to many conversations started.
Vibrant colors, balloons, and great company. To top it off, my hair was curling just right, and I was on cloud nine about possibilities and the future.
This was a moment I am so glad got captured, because I wanted to freeze time and the buzz within the entire group. What an experience and chance to meet friends that would have never otherwise crossed my path. I left with en entire new perspective that I know will spring me forward to the next step that I will be responsible for tackling, and most importantly brought me into focus of what I am doing, and why I am working so hard to get there. Thank you Sara Urquhart and Gabrielle Blair for starting this summit of creatives, and bringing it to life. I hope to make this event again in the future to meet new friends and reconnect with old pals.
While everyone who I met at ALT was great, these specific ladies went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome and for that, I am forever grateful!
Such great talent! (or passionate curiosity, you decide)
If you read this far down, you are in for a little treat. My atrocious trip home from ALT Summit.
A direct opposite to the joyful feeling I had at the close of this amazing event, and a good reality check.
-Flight from SLC: 10 Min Delay into O'hare. AA agent assures me they will hold plane because there are 8 of us on flight. (9:00 AM Michigan Time)
-In a hot sweat, make it to the gate before the plane leaves, only to be faced with a locked door and no way in. Agent comes out of gate and tells us we're not getting on plane.
- Tears. Big baby tears. I was ready to get home, and it was my 5th wedding anniversary, and there were no fights heading back to GR.
-Turned it around, found Amtrak to GR leaving in 90 minutes, headed for the EL!
- What the heck is the deal with the new Ventra Machines? 6 Machines, 20 people in line for each one, and none working.
-30 minutes later, make it to the EL, and as I'm travelling, slowly realizing, I'm never going to make it to Union Station. The departure time comes and goes, did I mention I purchased the ticket because it was the last one?
-Exit in Bucktown knowing I can take a cab to old pals house, but really just want to get home and not deal with airport issues again.
- Start to call rental car places, and at that late of a time, none will allow a 1 way rental.
-BTW it's 100 degrees and crazy humid. I had of course gotten so much swag that I had to bring another bag with me as a carry on, and why I brought my laptop, I'll never know. My flyaways are now a complete fro around my head and I'm feeling about 100% less glamorous than I did the night before. I saw my reflection in the Akira window and actually gasped.
- Breakdown occurs. I try to convince hubby to just pick me up, but didn't want to put my son through that either.
- Hubby calls back and says he'll pick me up in Michigan City and I can take the south shore line train! Genius and at least a light at the end of the tunnel! He tells me to head for Union Station afterall, and I can pick the train up there!
- All of these calls of course are on about 1 % juice left on cell phone, so no pressure.
-Back to the EL and these dag gone Ventra Machines! This one doesn't work at all. Luck really struck when I ask the agent to help me with the machine and he opens the door and just tells me to go. Score $2 saved!
-Pouring sweat, I get to union station and relax for a little while. Go to the counter to buy my ticket and the Metra guy tells me that the South Shore train doesn't leave from this location.
-Of course it doesn't. I laughed like a crazy person to this pour soul, but he had no sympathy.
-I treat myself to a cab to get to Michigan and VanBuren and get to the train!
-Most hilarious ride ever, drunk cubs fans, and people watching galore.
-9:45 PM At long last see my husband and son at Michigan City train station, the best sight I ever saw. Got McDonalds for our anniversary, ate in the car, and sat in the back seat and held Tommy's hand and had 2 hours in the car to rehash the week with my husband. After that long day of travel, the gift of 2 hours of uninterrupted time in the car was the best anniversary present I could have asked for. Now that it's done, I can look back and laugh, and appreciate the lengths we both went to to be together to celebrate 5 years.