Alt Summit | Friday Sessions
Friday started with a series of roundtable discussions. There were so many to choose from and at least three that I would have been thrilled to take. I ended up selecting “Re-naming Your Brand, Re-inventing Yourself.” Led by Becca Gorski, of Cake, we had a lively discussion of how to rework websites and blogs to better suit our intended audience. I was truly grateful that she provided a handout that I could study later. If Alt is anything, it’s information overload of the best kind.
After the roundtable discussions, we had a 30 minute break to have a snack and network. I discovered that the lounge was transformed by Cottonelle.
The colors were bright and there were exclusive Jonathan Adler toilet tissue covers for us to take home. Too cool!
Maxwell from Apartment Therapy was conducting interviews for Cottonelle that were going to be uploaded to Facebook and voted on by readers. The subject of the winning video wins a chance to interview Jonathan Adler in NYC! Cool!
Up next was a panel on Growing a Readership. The main theme of Alt was reiterated in this session: 1. Original content; 2. Consistency of posts 3. Professional, clean & polished design. The panel was hugely engaging and I took tons of notes. I am hoping to employ some of the tips on my blog and am excited to get the ball rolling!
Lunch was up next. We were excited to hear the keynote speaker, Ben Silberman, the founder of Pinterest. But first, we were served an amazing smokey red pepper soup, chef’s salad, and strawberry shortcake.
Ben was an engaging speaker. He talked about how he quit his dream job to pursue the development of Pinterest. He was funny, self-deprecating, and completely engaging. He also had one of the best PowerPoint presentations I’ve ever seen.
After lunch, I popped by the HP Pavilion to say hello to Anya from Project Runway. They had computers set up where we could create a look for her next collection.
In the afternoon, I took one session called “Building a Personal Brand” where I was introduced to the photography powerhouse, Jasmine Star. Her portion of the presentation was so passionate everyone in the room left feeling like a superhero.
For an afternoon pick-me-up, the Cottonelle lounge had an amazing spread of lovely cupcakes. There were so many amazing flavors and colors to choose from.
After the final session of the day, there was a closing keynote by Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project. I was so exhausted (and knew we had a long evening of partying ahead!) that I only stayed for the first fifteen minutes. I headed back to the hotel for an hour of downtime before it was time to get sparkled up and make our way to the third floor for the “Suite Parties.” Holy moly. Each suite was decked out in a specific theme complete with inspired decor and food.
In true Stella fashion, I only have pictures of food and decor, none of people. I definitely need to get better at that.
This lovely table of desserts was courtesy of Wilson Art and HGTV’s Design on a Dime.
They had this amazing 50s vibe going on complete with a photobooth using one of their original ad campaigns. All the ladies hostessing the event had the cutest vintage aprons and throwback hairstyles. It was adorable.
Next up was Blurb and A Subtle Revelry’s suite party. They had a chocolate and wine tasting along with a wall that we could graffiti with whatever we wanted to write or draw.
The Rue La La party had sort of a futuristic theme with cool table centerpieces and amazing ceramic travel coffee cups.
Girls with Glasses and Pinhole Press planned a night in Paris complete with a mini Eiffel Tower, Macarons, and black & white umbrellas. It was tres chic.
The Handmade by You party had an ice cream sundae bar with vanilla and chocolate ice cream along with tons of toppings. They also had a cool “make your own beaded necklace” station.
Each of the parties had amazing food, personalizable photobooths and incredible giveaways. It was shocking that some of the parties were so hyped up that there was a line to get into the suites! Around every corner was a new surprise. There were plenty of adult beverages flowing and great opportunity for chatting up a new friend or blog collaborator. After we circulated, we decided to have a drink and do some people watching in the Grand America lounge. It was a great way to end the night.
Alt Summit | Thursday Sessions
We woke up bright and early on Thursday and headed over to the Alt HQ at the Grand America. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott just around the corner so it was an easy-peasy commute.
We arrived about 30 minutes before the first session so we could take a look around and check out where our sessions would be held. We also found the lounge sponsored by Epiphanie, Minted, and Daily Luxe. Epiphanie had a photobooth set up with an exclusive sneak peek of a collaborative art print created by Kal Barteski and Karen Walrond. I used it in my photobooth shot below and you can pre-order it here.
After a bit of meet and greet, it was time for my first session. Each timeslot had three sessions running consecutively. It was always impossible to choose which to go to, though I was really pumped up for the first session on collaborations. I am a true believer in shared work and working together to make something amazing. It’s no different with blogging.
I learned a lot from the four panelists on how to develop collaborative relationships and find others with a similar aesthetic. What we didn’t talk about was how I need to get over myself and just contact people to collaborate with. More on this later!
After the first session, it was time for a break. There were thirty minute breaks between each session to network and pick up a snack or two. This break found us nibbling on mini muffins and fruit smoothies.
Session two was all about managing your online life. Each of the panelists chose an online organizational tool and spent about 30 minutes showing the pros and cons. I already used three of the four methods but the one tool I learned most about was Evernote. Adelle Charles, from Tinder, sold me on the benefits of keeping an online notebook using Evernote. I can make multiple notebooks and fill it with links, photos, articles, maps, whatever. I no longer have to weed through a bunch of random bookmarks in my browser or email myself links to articles. Evernote keeps it all together. Hooray! (If you’re curious, the other three online organizational tools discussed were: Google Web Tools (docs, reader, calendar, etc.); Pinterest; and Flipboard.
After the second session, it was time for lunch. Walking into the Grand Ballroom at the Grand America Hotel was quite a site! Cargoh sponsored the keynote lunch and put a gift at each participant’s seat. The tables looked gorgeous! This is the gift I chose:
The amazing assortment of gifts was incredible. You would think that the same packaging would yield the same contents, but you would be wrong! I received a letterpressed datebook and others at my table received scarves, a watch, jewelry, USB plugs, and so much more. Everything was uniquely created by Cargoh clients! Amazing.
Once the gifts were opened and squeals of delight resounded around the room, it was time for lunch. We ate and chatted with our tablemates while the stage was being set for our keynote speakers.
Lunch included a salad, pot pie, and dessert. I’ll let my pictures tell the story:
After lunch, it was time to sit up straight and pay attention to the amazing keynote panel that was presenting.
Some of the takeway points from the keynote were to know your reader, master the art of storytelling, inspire your readers and to make sure everything you do fits your brand. Branding was a hot topic and I spent a lot of my sessions working on my personal brand. It’s all very exciting!
While the panelists spoke, there was a huge screen scrolling twitter feeds for #altsummit, and #cargoh and the nerd inside me was thrilled to get one of my tweets on the jumbotron:
After lunch it was back to the smaller sessions. Next up was “From Blog to Book” and I was like a kid on Christmas when I took a seat 50 yards from THE Amy Butler.
This was a very well attended session with people sitting on the floor scattered around the room because all the seats were taken! I learned so much about the process of getting a book deal from a blog. What I loved most was that the panelists shared the dirty details as well as the upside of publishing a book. I took tons and tons of notes.
Afternoon snack consisted of a Green Goddess dressing fountain and fresh veggies for dipping. I have to admit, seeing this green fountain was a bit startling, but quite delicious. It was not uncommon to see tables of people mingling during the breaks exchanging business cards and chatting about their businesses.
If the previous session wasn’t enough to get the creativity going, I was set to sit in on the “Kickstarting your Next Project” session.
Mistakenly, I thought the panel was going to speak about Kickstarter, but was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was geared more towards finding the next great idea to blog about. Way more my speed.
Done with sessions for the day, it was time to head back to the hotel room for a bit of sprucing up for the Winter White party. I had no idea what to expect and spent way too much time trying to find just the perfect outfit. I ended up wearing white jeans and a gauzy cream top. I decided to do my hair in a faux-hawk since there are not many opportunities for me to rock the hawk. (You can’t really see it in this picture by Justin Hackworth, but it’s the only one I have.)
So many amazing white ensembles. Amazing hair styles. Tons of food (hello, a mashed potato bar? That’s right.) There was also a shaved ice station, a photobooth complete with faux skis and winter gear props, and snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. In a word, it was fab.
After we had our fill of braised ribs, salmon, potatoes, and bread pudding, we tucked ourselves back into our rooms in preparation for another busy day ahead.
Tomorrow: Friday Sessions.
Also in this series: Alt Design Summit: Day 1- Wednesday
In Progress: Alt Design Summit
I’m currently hopping from panel to panel at the alt design summit. I’ll post my experience over the weekend. Stay tuned!
Alt Design Summit: Day 1- Wednesday
Today was a free day for the most part, and since it rained most of the day, it consisted of lounging around the hotel and checking in for the Alt Design Summit. Around 2pm, we headed over to the amazing Grand America Hotel and picked up our goodie bags and registration badges.
The goodie bags were actually giant black boxes tied with a satin yellow ribbon and packed with tons of samples from American Apparel, Blurb Books, Minted, Umba Box, Squarespace, Method, Pinhole Press, Sherwin Williams and tons of other Alt sponsors.
After we were checked in, we decided to have a coffee in the Grand America lounge and do a little people watching. It was fantastic to see all the different people coming into the hotel. There are three other events happening in Utah this week, Alt, Sundance, and the Outdoor Garden Show, therefore we spotted three very distinct personalities and “looks” walking through the hotel.
Next up was the kick-off event called “Dinner with…”. When we first registered for Alt, we selected a local restaurant to meet other attendees and have dinner with one of the Alt sponsors. Without knowing who the Alt sponsor was, we chose Tin Angel Cafe, who are all about sourcing local food and preparing a unique menu with fresh ingredients. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
To make dinner even sweeter, our host was the lovely Samantha from Blurb Books. She was an excellent hostess and chatted with us about Blurb, her family, and the great shopping and restaurants in San Francisco.
Since there were about 10 of us for dinner, we went around the table and introduced ourselves and shared a few facts about our blogs, jobs, and where we lived. Then we did a giant card exchange. My Moo cards were a hit.
For dinner I ordered a house salad with asparagus dressing, a plate of three tapas: an artichoke risotto cake, spinach fontina soup, and a sweet potato trimble with mushrooms. Everything was amazing, especially the soup.For dessert, I ordered a creme brulee pear tart. Amazing!
We laughed, we shared stories, we learned a bit about each other and we ate great food. All-in-all, it was a great way to kick-off the event. Instead of a huge dinner at the hotel with 500 people, this intimate dinner at a local restaurant was the perfect way to set the vibe. I’m really looking forward to seeing what tomorrow holds.