I feel funny lots of times, telling people I'm a blogger. I get all shy and weird. They're like "Oh, what do you do?" Me, getting all hunchy and shifty... "Well, I stay at home with my boys. But I also have a blog and contribute to another blog and take photos of people sometimes." And get all NBD about it. I mean, I love this blog. And I'm proud of this blog. And I love Moms Without Answers, and being a photographer. But the introvert in me avoids all questions that could maybe possibly put me in the spotlight. So when Tomas suggested sending me to a conference as a birthday gift, I was excited, but also slightly (read: really) terrified because... "What if I'm not a real blogger like the other people? Is my blog too small? Will I even still be blogging then?" I mean, I mentioned wanting to go in passing, but it was kind of a fleeting thought.
Anyway - long story short, I pulled on my big girl panties (like mature girl, not big panties, or panties for big girls, like panties for mature girls.... you get the point), my hubs bought my ticket, and I ended up at BlogHer 16. It's a huge conference for bloggers and female entrepreneurs. I didn't know anyone going, I had never been to Los Angeles, I would have a hotel room all to myself. Plus... I was there to spend three whole days as Sara Dear. Not just Sara, not Mom, not wife, not the quirky girl with the blog. I was the literal walking, talking, photograph taking, bad joke making face of this blog - this "brand." And even though I was terrified, I'm so glad I went because I met some amazing people, learned lots of great things, and left with more confidence and motivation. Worth it? Yes, yes, and yes.
The conference was at the JW Marriot L.A. Live in Downtown LA. It was a beautiful hotel, with tons of stuff going on everywhere around it. It's also where I stayed, which made it so convenient to just hop into my room, hop back to the conference, grab a bite, take a nap (never actually happened), etc..
The hotel was perfect for the conference. Not only is it a beautiful space, but the BlogHer team did a wonderful job making the entire hotel feel cohesive. There were beautiful flowers galore, which we all know wins me over every single time, and so well-designed signage.
There was yummy food - the hotel catered Breakfast and Lunch and it was all surprisingly good, especially since they had so many mouths to feed. There was a never ending supply of coffee, water, and usually wine in the evenings.
I spent a lot of my time at break-out sessions. My favorites were the one about owning your expertise (a good reminder that I have to believe in myself to build my business) and one about Pitching the Media (something I'm horribly shy about and needed guidance on how to do it effectively).
We had the privilege of seeing so many influential people and hearing them speak. From MCs to Keynote speakers, I was in the presence of Media Royalty the entire time. Most notably (for me anyway): Kim Kardashian West (yes, really...), Sarah Michelle Geller, Aisha Tyler, and Mayim Bialik (my absolute favorite), among many others who I enjoyed as well.
Kim Kardashian shared a lot about how she approaches her multi-faceted business, how she owns her life and just does what she wants, and, if I'm being honest, I left with a whole different perspective on her. And even though they were filming KUWTK while we were there, she didn't come across as she does on the show (though I haven't seen much of it), and she seems to really own her role as entrepreneur and social influencer, and I can respect that.
Sarah Michelle Geller talked about Buffy, obviously. She also talked about her new business, Foodstirs, which are all-inclusive baking kits to help you make Pinterest perfect confections, without all the hard work. I love the idea, and I loved hearing her speak about her trials in being a woman in business, and her challenges in building a viable business.
And my favorite of the weekend - Mayim Bialik. Easily one of my favorite celebrities because of her realness, her humility, and her freaking amazing brain. She's a Mama, a Neuroscientist, and now she has this site called GroK Nation which is so amazing and posts about real issues and gah - love her and Grok Nation and all of it. She was so conversational in her interview and felt very down to earth and so relateable. She spoke about being on The Big Bang Theory, Grok Nation, being a mom (and a crunchy one at that), shared a #Momfail story that was hilarious and totally me. Basically I grew a big ol' girl crush on Mayim and want to be best friends. #Movingonsothisdoesntgetawkward #moreawkwardimean
The Expo is basically a great way to connect with sponsors of the conference, other bloggers, and collect goodies. There were tote bags waiting for us, then most booths were giving out fun goodies. I have lots of favorites that I'll be sharing soon, I'm sure.
But most notably - the Velcro Brand booth. Why, you ask? Well... they just came out with removable Hangables which I love (and got for free - yay Gallery walls!) and... this is the most important part. I got to hang out with Sabrina Soto. Yes - the real, actual, living, breathing, fun, amazing, just as nice in person Sabrina Soto. We even filmed a promo for Velcro Brand together (I KNOW!!!!!) which I will definitely share with you and show you once it's up on their channels. *all the heart smiley emojis* Also... I didn't get a photo with her because I'm a fool. So I'm not so patiently waiting for the video to come out so I have evidence of my new friend Sabrina Soto and I hanging out at BlogHer.
I was able to connect with so many brands that I can't wait to share here with you in the coming months. But for now, enjoy some of the photos from the Expo.
Seriously though... look at all that swag! And that's not even all of it! Whew.
And maybe my very favorite part - the people. I was lucky enough to not only connect with companies at this conference, but also other bloggers and female entrepreneurs all making their miracles happen, working hard, and supporting other women in the best way, I met everyone from travel bloggers, to beauty bloggers, other Mama bloggers. Smaller blogs to huge blogs, media mavens, people running big companies, small companies - all women just working really hard and being really good at what they do.
If you'd like to head to any of their blogs:
(And these certainly all of them, these are just the people I collected cards from, and thus remembered.)
- The Short Ones
- World on a Whim
- Travel with Bender - also please go follow them on Instagram. It's just such a beautiful feed I can't handle it.
- Denver Green Chili
- Humans on the Homefront + TT Robinson Writes (both by Tessa Robinson)
- Love, Tabitha
- A Whimsicle Life
- All the Things I Do
- Says Helen
- Super Duper Fantastic
And that's a wrap. I'm still tired, guys. I would just go to my room at night an crash. Though I woke up several times thinking I overslept and missed everything. That's what you get when you use your husband as an alarm clock. And I can't say I have much to say about Los Angeles, only because I literally didn't leave LA Live the whole time I was there. So, that'll be another trip for another post.
For now, though, I'm looking forward to more conferences in the future. I loved BlogHer and might be back, but I'm thinking about looking into a couple others that might fit Sara Dear a little better. :)
Happy Sunday, y'all. I know this is a weird timing for this post, but I'm playing catch-up (basically all the time) but especially from this week. And huge special thanks for all the sweet words, reactions, shares, likes, and texts about my last post. It was a rough one to write, but it seems it was worth the anxiety.
P.S. Any photos with the BlogHer16 watermark are courtesy of BlogHer. And thank goodness because no way did I have time to take all these photos myself. Any without the watermark are my own!