create and cultivate, chicago

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!

I tried doing a little bit of research to know what to expect and if it was worth it before I finally bit the bullet but couldn’t find much online, so I wanted to do this recap to hopefully be of assistance to someone who is considering going in the future. 
C+C is based out of Los Angeles but does conferences all over the US.  The event drew attendees from the Chicago area of course, but also from all over; places like San Francisco, Boston, even Canada, and speakers including Amber Fillerup of Barefoot Blonde, Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies, Erica Domesek of PS I Made This, Jenny Bernheim of Margo and Me, keynote Garance Dore, and many more!  It was truly the most amazing line-up and the group of women it gathered was equally as inspiring. 
Read on if you wish to hear more about the event, pictures of the space and panels, and some of my fangirl photos 😉

Full outfit post with details HERE

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.

create and cultivate, chicago

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.

create and cultivate, chicago

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

create and cultivate, chicago

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

create and cultivate, chicago

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

create and cultivate, chicago

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.

create and cultivate, chicago

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

create and cultivate, chicago

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

create and cultivate, chicago, garance dore

The day came to a close with a cocktail party where we all congregated, soaking in the last of what the day had to offer.  The ambiance was magical and it was the perfect way to end the day, surrounded by so many inspiring women, those I had met before and those with which I had formed a quick bond, reminiscing on the lessons learned, the inspiration gained, and the fire lit within.

create and cultivate, chicago
Now for my fangirl moments because how could I not… These girls were all even sweeter than I had imagined, which just made me love them even more!
Amber of Barefoot Blonde
Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies, Emily Jackson of Ivory Lane, and their little sister Amy
Jenny Bernheim of Margo & Me
Other details of the conference that I didn’t get photographs of…
a beauty bar where you could get your makeup touched up, nails done, or a mini facial
pop-up shops from Whitney Eve, Topshop, Lulu & Georgia and more
a blogger bar where you could grab a cocktail or wine at any time
an extensive breakfast set-up and picnic lunch
a photo booth
and so many other amazing little details like the succulent wall below, I seriously wanted to copy everything in a future space!
create and cultivate, chicago, succulent wall
Hope you enjoyed the recap, albeit long 😉

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