Five Takeaways from ALT

January 31st, 2013

Not all of you are bloggers so I try to keep the blogging related posts to a minimum, and I usually don’t write about conferences but I did want to share just a few takeaways from my recent trip to the Altitude Design Summit conference for those interested. I didn’t bring my fancy camera, I’ve learned I don’t like carrying it around at these types of events when a cell phone camera will do.

It was a three day event with many bloggers, designers, and big brands present, including the lovely BH&G team I work with. I had the opportunity to meet and interview one of my entrepreneur role models Annie Selke, and I enjoyed most of the sessions and speakers over the three very full days. Here is a condensed summary of what I found most relevant for those of you bloggers out there who are interested.

alt 2013

Brand.  There must have been a memo that went out that required the word “personal brand” in every session because I’m pretty sure I heard it in every one. With all the talk I think it mostly it boils down to this: as a blogger be true to your passions and in control of your content or product – make it your very best . The more you tailor your brand and your style, the more you’ll attract or potentially repel others – expect not everyone will like you or what you’re about. Also choose carefully who you partner with in blogging (and business and life) since your relationships are a reflection of you (and your personal brand, there I said it too.)  

Authenticity.   Be true to yourself and let your personality shine. Only you can be you, so be you.  Create original compelling content by writing about your passions, write like you think and speak. It’s stuff you’ve heard before, it’s cliché, but it’s truth. If you struggle to find your voice, Karen spoke on the subject and she summarized her tips in this article. 

Define Your Own Success.  One of my favorite messages was one by gregarious and passionate Jasmin Star who reminded us that we all need to clearly define our own success which is not anyone else’s definition. I completely agree with that. Everyone’s path in life, in blogging, and in business is different so carve your own path, define what “success” means to you and you alone, write it down, work hard to get there, and when you do, raise your glass.  

Risk.  The best speaker was the keynote on the second day, a brazen and creative graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister who said something so perfect in the middle of his talk I wrote it down and will someday make into a printable quote of some kind. “Life will be richer when you’re willing to risk more.” I feel that especially this year as I take on a new venture, I hope you all are taking more risks large and small too.

Style. At these events, where design bloggers congregate, there are a lot of cute outfits. Maybe they were brand names maybe they were from Target I really don’t know or care but everyone was pulled together and stylish but also casual and I liked that. I bought this striped blazer to wear to the event and I found it so comfortable I declare I shall wear it everyday that I go out in public and am not wearing yoga pants. Which isn’t often.

And a final tip, if you’re not staying at the hotel (I stayed at a nearby less expensive one), plan out your travel to and from the event since fancy shoes and icy sidewalks don’t mix.  Which I learned the hard way.

shoes and street

I’d like to personally thank both my sister and Mandi for giving me rides to and from. If you want a pictorial, Justin has a good post that captures the spirit of the event in pictures. And because I committed to sharing these I have to tell you briefly of these two very true embarrassing incidents I experienced.

#1:  Everyone was rockin the false eyelashes and since I have only twelve maybe thirteen eyelashes on each eyelid I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to embellish my own lids. Turns out I have no talent for applying false eyelashes at all and by session two I started feeling them popping off my lids and by lunch it was a disaster and I had to remove them privately and in shame in a bathroom stall.  #conferencefail#1

#2:  On the second day I had to use the facilities so I walked through the propped open door and immediately thought to myself “why is this women’s bathroom so close to the other women’s bathroom? That’s just bad floor planning.” It smelled funny, but I proceeded to do my business. And then I went to wash my hands and I heard a stall open up, and then next to the faucet came a man. And then I turned to see the urinals that I had failed to see when I entered and the reality of the fact that I was in the men’s room came crashing down around me. And as I exited no less than 6 ladies with noses crinkled in disbelief observed my #conferencefail#2.  

Other than that, the trip was a success, but only because I narrowly escaped washing my hair with this

 

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A Thrifting We Will Go

January 30th, 2013

Yesterday, I did something I love to do each month and that is to go thrifting.  I set out on my typical round visiting the four thrift stores I ordinarily visit when I’m in the mood since they’re all within 15 miles of my house.  I work fast and I can scour all four in less than two hours. 

I’ve been asked to feature a “what would you do?” tour of thrift stores by some readers, so I’ll take you on yesterday’s adventure and pretend you’re all with me to show you what I look for, what I reject, and the thought process along the way.  Here we go.

When I go thrifting for furniture, I’m looking for something with good quality construction and cool or classic lines.  Hidden adjacent to and among the yucky stuff are diamonds in the rough – I look for those pieces and in them I see potential. 

geometric hutch

 

With furniture, the first thing I do is give a cool piece like that hutch a good inspection.  Pull the drawers, test the hinges, and check for dovetail joints on the drawers since they are a sign of quality construction.

testing furniture

This one looked really good and was $75 so I considered it a good buy.   I think it would look great painted any classic color, black, white, cream, gray, blue, whatever.

Sometimes I spy pieces that should really be in antique stores but just need a little TLC.  Like this vintage dresser.  Remove the dated mirror, add new knobs and bam, a totally gorgeous addition to your home.

burled wood dresser

 

I spied a bowfront chest in the window of a favorite store, lovely right?  It looked a little beat up but some Restore-A-Finish may be all you need to bring it back to life

bowfront chest

 

I loved this cabinet with fretwork detail and I can see it painted a Chinese red with antique brass pulls and a Lucite tray on top with barware above and inside too.

red lacquer paint on cabinet

 

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