As you already know if you follow me on Instagram, over the weekend I was in Chicago for Create + Cultivate, which is a creative conference for female entrepreneurs in the digital space. I heard about it just a few weeks ago when some of my favorite bloggers mentioned that they were going to be speaking at the event. I immediately looked into it and decided I had to go!
The day started off with check-in, which just so happened to be in front of a doughnut wall. Yes, you read that right. I officially want one in my future home!
We all then gathered on the patio where they served breakfast, iced coffee, and green juice. This was a great chance to mingle and get to know some new people before the day got into full swing.
The conference brought in 500 attendees, and we were divided into two “tracks”. You could have paid more to be able to choose your track but I took my chances and got lucky and got the one I wanted. One was geared more towards fashion bloggers and boutique owners, while the other was more geared towards fitness and food bloggers.
The first panel of the day for Track 1 was “Launchpad: How to Launch a Business” where a handful of women told us about the unique businesses they started, how they got their ideas, and how they made them happen.
Favorite quote from this panel: “Build your business off things money can’t buy.” – Sonali Lamba of Brideside
The second panel was “Influencer 101: Negotiating Deals and Monetizing your Influence”, where a few fashion bloggers, a representative from an affiliate program and a representative from an agency all spoke to the topics of campaigns, pitches, unique ways to work with brands, rates and how they personally monetize.
Favorite quote from the panel: “There’s room at the top for everyone; it’s hard to get there by yourself.” – Emily Jackson of Ivory Lane
The third panel was “From Blog to Brand” where panelists shared the trajectory that led them from simply a blog to a full-on brand and their reasoning.
Favorite quote from this panel: “Longevity is key; you put all that work into each post so don’t let them go dead. Find ways to share old posts!” – Jenny Bernheim of Margo and Me
After that, we broke out into mentor sessions. Each of us had the chance before the conference to pick two individuals from the mentor group (not the same as the panelists) but unfortunately the girl I wanted filled up really quickly so I ended up with two others. My first session was with Kathleen Wright of Piece & Co. She was great and gave some personalized advice based on questions the group had, gave us her list of do’s and don’ts and told us about how she personally got financing for her idea and how she landed some major deals through insane persistence. Unfortunately the second girl was not good at all; she only talked about herself and seemed like she just wanted to get out of there so I won’t mention her name! I think these sessions had the potential to be really helpful because they were done in a small-group format but mine turned out to be half and half.
The last panel of the day was “Finding your Niche” where a group of ladies came to the stage to talk about their unique niches and how they discovered them. It was interesting to hear that some of them went into their blog or business with their niche in mind while others discovered them in the process.
Favorite quote of this panel: “Don’t look too much at what other people are doing, it can be distracting.” – Nadia Aboulhosn
Finally, we ended with the keynote speaker, Garance Dore. She shared her journey and experience as an illustrator and one of the original digital influencers and how she stayed true to herself even after becoming an international icon.
Favorite quote from this session: “Follow your own path, even if it means that other people get ahead of you.” – Garance Dore