It snowed in Atlanta! I was Sharpig'd! And Flashdance'd! I met and fell madly in love with Brian from Decor Demon AND Jenny from MFAMB! AND I had 17,000 free Diet Coke refills with my blogging bud Nicole from Sketch42 Blog (it's free refills EVERYWHERE in the South, btchz!). We were at the Lavish Conference!
Lavish is a brand new lifestyle "unconference" that was imagined and put together by the fabulous Shameeka Ayers from The Broke Socialite. I'm trying to envision the process that one goes through when deciding to create a conference out of the thin air: "ah well, why don't we try to put together one of those great conference thingamajiggys! Like other conferences, but way the hell better!" It makes me want to go do about 17 barf shooters, but somehow Shameeka pulled it off and she pulled it off big time.
Here's what went down:
And I don't just mean ours! Even though ours *was* SO GREAT (mostly b/c no one booed us!). Nicole and I sat down and mapped out our schedule the night before the first day. There was a ton of stuff we wanted to go to, but we really ended up at some great ones. Some standouts were:
- Turning Your Blog Into a Business with Cassandra LaValle of Coco + Kelley, Camille Styles of Style Notes and another fab chick who's name I'm forgetting cause I'm a moron.
- The Editorial Approach to Design Blogging, with Decor Demon's Brian Patrick Flynn aka my fake, gay, long distance husband.
- Getting the Word Out: The design*sponge panel with Grace Bonney and all her fab writers and contributors (sidenote: I missed Grace's solo panel on Sunday cause it was right before ours, but I heard it was EPIC. And she plans to post her presentation on her own site on Tues, so look out for that shiz!).
- Fostering Great Relationships with Design Bloggers and Traditional Media was also pretty kickass. Jillian St. Charles, the Site Director of HGTV.com and Oma Blaise Ford, the Senior Deputy Editor of Better Homes & Gardens led that panel along with Julie Holloway from Milk & Honey.
- The Day in Life of Rue Magazine panel was also lots of fun!
Here's why I loved most of the sessions so much. On the day of our panel, we were setting up our room with Shameeka. Nicole said "we're going to take a different approach in our panel...I hope that's ok?" and Shameeka said "I don't care!" And of course she didn't mean, I don't care wtf you do, she meant, "I trust you to do it in whatever way you think will rock the most." In booking this group of talented and engaging ladies and letting each of them take their OWN reigns (rather than saying you must do this or you must do that) she really let everyone shine in whatever way *they* thought they should. And, duh, it was incredibly refreshing, and because she had such a great group of speakers, worked really well.
I met about a million billion fab bloggers:
True confessions: lots of times when you go to first year conferences, you tend to meet a lot of chumps. I mean, of course, there are always interesting people everywhere, but let's get real: I didn't expect for everyone at Lavish to rock so hard. I honestly did not meet a single person at Lavish who wasn't completely, over the top fabulous. I loved everyone...and I mean LOVED LOVED (and yes, ppl...that *is* saying a lot for me).
The networking was great...and yeah, like it or not, that's a crucial part of making it as a blogger. So it was really fab to meet so many new peeps and put so many faces to twitter handles and blogs!
The Rue Magazine/HGTV Party Was E-P-I-C:
Sorry NYC, this time Atlanta beat your ass and they beat it hard. I attended Rue's party here in NYC for their launch, and I certainly had a lovely time. But DAYM...this party in Atlanta was way the hell more fun (also StudioM sponsored and they made sure there was CAKE ON A STICK THERE!). That Smile Booth totally makes me want to throw party right now so I can get it back, and HOLY SHITTTTTT! That DJ!? AYFKMWTS?? And Sharkpig!? That Sharkpig rap might have been the highlight of my trip. Oh wait, no...that would have to be dancing with Jenny from MFAMB and @MollyMarler. I double dawg dare you to go out with those girls and not have the time of your lives. I'm so serious. If you do it, you will have this soundtrack playing the ENTIRE NIGHT.
Here's me, Nicole from Sketch42, Jenny from MFAMB and @MollyMarler with our Emily Henderson face sticks.
And here's just a taste of what I'm talking about: Jenny dancing.
SO. MUCH. FUN.
Room for improvement?
Obvs I always have to throw in my two cents, so of course I have a couple of suggestions for next year. Though, honestly, they are mostly logistical:
- Scheduling was a bit of a challenge at times because there were a few sessions going on at once, and sometimes, there was an obvious standout slash rockstar sesh that everyone was clearly gonna be at (like the Design Sponge session or the Rue girls session). Perhaps next year those could be broken out a bit more? Or turned into keynotes? At a minimum they all needed the big room as a venue.
- It was slightly hard to plan our day based on the schedule alone as speakers' blogs (or Twitter handles) were not included with each session name in the printed schedule (though links were included in the online version). Also would even have loved a short one or two sentence description of each session.
- As Lavish grows, perhaps things can be added such as more advanced sessions (for bloggers who were a bit further along and past the intro sort of stuff), as well as more and more specialized sessions.
- Would love to see a "dudes in design" sesh next year! There aren't many of them, but I'm pretty positive that would be a standing room only event (clearly @decordemon, @Florida_Design @HGTVcreativEdge need to be there...and maybe @Will_UK would fly in!)
- Lunch was a little light on Saturday...would have loved something with a bit more oomph OR some more time to run out and do lunch on our own.
- Would have loved to see a bit more in the way of coordinating everyone's social media presence. i.e. a standard screen in everyone's room with all speakers blogs, urls and twitter handles. Or some Twitter lists with all attendees, blog links, twitter links, etc.
So, that's all she wrote folks! We laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats! I really had a great time...I swear.
You can read all about Nicole and my sesh here (and here on Sketch42). If we met at Lavish, pls stay in touch! As for all you other ppl's, see you at Lavish 2011...I swear I will TOTALLY be wearing my Alexis Carrington ball gown the next time around.