Monday, September 16

2013 Fashion Forward Conference Recap

One week back in NYC and I am already reminded about the fabulous perks of being a Manhattanite, by an exclusive invitation to the 2013 Fashion Forward Conference.  This annual fashion and lifestyle blogging conference is hosted by the fabulous ladies behind MomTrends (Nicole Feliciano), Mom Generations (Audrey McClelland), Lady and the Blog (Vera Sweeney) and Power Moms Media (Brooke Stewart).  This was my first year attending the event, and I enjoyed every minute!  This year the conference was hosted at 404, a beautiful bright event space in the Chelsea area.  From the moment I stepped in, I felt I had arrived at my kind of conference, with chic decor, and limited invites - the conference had a trendy and intimate vibe.

The day kicked off with brand interaction, which I missed out on (it was one of those mornings with my little lady) and I arrived shortly after the welcome, just in time to grab a cup of coffee and take my seat for the kids' fashion show and first panel on brand partnership.  The panel was made up of industry experts from GM, Calypso & Amex as well as the stunning Countess LuAnn de Lesseps (of Real Housewives NYC fame).  All of the panelists, led by host Brooke Stewart, had invaluable insight to offer on building brand relationships.
The biggest takeaway from their panel, which I've heard over and over - and know it to be true, is "Do not lose your authentic voice."  What brands want more than anything (as well as your readers) is YOU - they came because of your voice and they will stay because of it.  When you start to lose that, you lose everything.  They also want people who have a genuine appreciation and desire to work with the brand --- because they know that genuine enthusiasm and love for a brand is what needs to show through your work.  They also reminded that numbers and stats are not always the most important thing, engagement and authenticity always weigh more heavily when choosing to work with a blogger.
After the The keynote was presented by the lovely and gracious, Rosie Pope (Bravo/Pregnant in Heels and also Rosie Pope Maternity).  Rosie was so down-to-earth, charming and at times incredible funny, it honestly felt like I could have been sitting with her having a cup of coffee and asking her for insight.  She discussed the difference in asking "How Can I Have it All?" versus "How Can I Manage it All?"  In her experience she shared that it is not often possible to have it all, at least not at the same time, but with a little creativity and ingenuity you can possibly manage it all.  Essentially, we need to ask ourselves 'how can we be the best we can be and be okay with that?'

She went on to share some of her experiences, how she sets boundaries with her spouse, kids and professional life.  She also believes that being a workaholic is not a "dirty word."  I'm not sure I agree with that last point entirely - I do agree hard work is the only way you can achieve big dreams - that with a bit of sacrifice, however; working yourself compulsively and letting that be your all encompassing thing, not so sure about that one.  There has to be a balance.
After a delicious and healthy lunch, it was time for the 2nd panel, Trendsetters & Trendsetting.  This panel turned out to be my favorite and included Celebrity stylists Sarah Potempa and Phillip Bloch, as well as reps from Ladies Home Journal and NBC Universal.  Before I even rave on the fun that was had in this group as Audrey McClelland hosted, I have to just say that I love Phillip Bloch!  During Rosie Pope's keynote he got passionate about single working moms getting the short end of the stick and how bloggers need to use their influence to change minds on the system and how it is failing.  Anyone who is willing to get passionate for a worthy cause wins mad points in my book.

Anyway, back to the panel, Phillip continued to exhibit his charismatic personality as he essentially told us to forget about what we see on the runways and instead style what works for us - what we love and what looks good on us.  Other trends were brought up as big winners for this year including, short edgy hair styles, bb/cc creams and colored leather.  Sarah Potempa added to the list of hair trends including fishtails and braided updo's and adding sophisticated sparkle to hair with mini accessories and glitters.

NBC Universal's VP of Communications, Lenore Moritz, encouraged bloggers to find a way to optimize mobile - noting the continued trend where more and more people engage through mobile devices than any other platform.  She also shared a prediction that our usage of apps is going to increase exponentially and to figure out a way to get in on that now, whether it is partnering with people to create an app or figuring out how to optimize presence within established apps.
 After the women's fashion show (view my favorite looks from the show here), we settled in for our third and final panel, Powerhouse Players.  This panel was made up of the blogging elites, Danielle Smith (Extraordinary Mommy), Liz Gumbinner (Cool Mom Picks), Yuli Ziv (Style Coalition) and Melissa Fluhr (Project Nursery).  Vera Sweeney led the discussion which focused primarily on utilizing all aspects of social media to grow your audience, as well as being business savvy.

Tips ranged from making sure your tweets share your authentic voice, to optimizing Pinterest for driving traffic and even asking yourself whether your behaving as a fame seeker or passion inspirer.  Danielle talked about her tips for engaging with the YouTube community and how to get started doing video, specifically recommending spacing out engagement with others to reappear in feeds, and not being afraid to upload a raw video from your phone.
After the panel was over, we had a short amount of time to finish networking with brands and sponsors, while we sipped our delicious Altar cocktails and snacked on desserts.  The amount of brand representation was perfect for this conference, I had plenty of time to mix and mingle, exchange information and have genuine unrushed conversations.  
In case you're interested in some of the fun things I learned while connecting with brands - I've provided my brands in bullets segment here:
  • At the GMC SmileBooth I tried on the latest Fashion accessory, crystal studded shades (haha).  I also entered to win a 1 week car loan and cash prize, but unfortunately I didn't win.  I have to say that I am definitely interested in some of the new mind-blowing technology they are putting in these vehicles - especially the ones built for families.
  • I learned about NeriumAD, an age-defying night cream with some very astonishing before and after photos, almost looks like plastic surgery without the knife! I'll have to report back after trying a sample of this product to let you know how it works.  
  • I visited with Stokke - one of my favorite modern children's companies - they have some of the best innovation in strollers and accessories I have seen.  I desperately wanted a Stokke crib for Zion when I was pregnant, and designed an entire dream nursery with many of their furnishings.  They had their new baby carrier on display which looked like it might be able to outdo the beloved Ergo!  
  • The stylish ladies at Coldwater Creek's denim booth wowed me with their new styles for Fall.  They brought a trial launch item with them, a super soft and stretchy tuxedo stripe skinny jean (featured in my photo above) - that I didn't want to take off.  Lucky me, a pair is being sent my way!
  • My favorite girls' dress (first picture in this post, top right corner) from the kids' fashion show, was provided by GILT (Egg Baby Classic Knit Dress).  I wish oh I wish I could find this dress for Zion!!  
  • At Sarah Potempa's booth, I saw The Beachwaver in action, and my mind was blown.  Have you heard of this miracle hair device!?  Say good-bye to burning your fingers on curling wands!
  • Happy Family was there sharing their baby, toddler and kid snacks and I was surprised to see their new line of coconut milk products - finally a brand catering to those who are dairy, nut and grain free!
  • Kiwi Crate was also there sharing their different box options and samples - this looks like a great service for structured activity time with kids 3-7!
  • I met the Co-Founder of Keepy, honestly an amazing app that every parent needs to download immediately!  I have finally found a solution to all of the original art pieces Zion has created and have flooded our living spaces!  Saving them and sharing them with others in a secure social network created for parents and kids is a brilliant idea!  Whats even more fun is the way you, and your kids grandparents and extended family, family friends, etc. can leave video comments on their artwork!
We ended the day with some door prizes, and wouldn't you know, I won!  I walked away with a gorgeous getaway bag, jewelry bag, and patterned scarf by Stella & Dot!!  Fashion Forward was a great conference with just the right balance of brands, networking, style and sessions.  Can't wait for next year's conference!
      

5 comments:

  1. That looks like SOO much fun and it looks like something Alea would LOVE to do! What a cutie!

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  2. I'm SO jealous, I love me some Rosie Pope!!

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  3. It was a great conference! You would have LOVED it! <3

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  4. Darnit I wish I could've made it. Knew it was going to be awesome and would've been nice to connect with you again. Glad you had such a great time.

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  5. It would have been great to see you there!! Are you going to FABB in October?

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Thank you so much for your lovely comments! I don't always have time to respond to each one, but I do read them! XO