I’m 49 years young, as the saying goes, and I had the opportunity to attend my very first Blogger Conference in LA at the beginning of the month. I know what you’re thinking…I was probably the oldest fashionista in the room. What could I possibly take away from this experience? Well, surprisingly, age really didn’t matter. I felt perfectly comfortable and confident in the presence of the other fashion and lifestyle-minded women who attended.
Leaving corporate America after 23 years and opening my own boutique felt amazing. I still yearned for a creative outlet that would allow me to write about the things I love. Blogging seemed like the natural choice and I made the leap of faith and created Blonde Gone Vogue. There was a ton to learn creating my site and I began to consume as much knowledge as possible across all formats.
As I mentioned, I’m not twenty-something like most of the bloggers / influencers I follow on Insta. I do love fashion, beauty, home decor and traveling just the same. I know I have something to contribute to women in my age group and beyond. I’m obsessed with the beautiful images on Instagram and love the platform. It is genuinely inspiring. Blogging, however, lets me expand on the topics I love and want to share with like-minded women.
When I first heard about the Simply LA conference, I was definitely intrigued. Sarah Boyd founded the company in 2012 after a long career in the fashion PR business. It began as a “Do What You Love” fashion and beauty conference held annually in LA, New York, Chicago and Dubai. Sarah then created a Digital Network branch of her company, monetizing celebrity bloggers and clients. Influencers such as Lauren Bushnell, Olivia Culpo and Jamie Chung are some of their more well-known clients. I discovered Sarah and Simply Inc. on a podcast I began to listen to weekly, called The Influencer Podcast with Julie Solomon. Julie and her guests really dig into the world of influencer marketing and monetization, sharing countless tips and trends of successful influencing.
Fast forward to August 11th, and I persuaded my friend Sonda Jaffe , to join me on a trip to Cali to attend the conference together. I knew the event would be better with a fashionable partner in crime! We were both excited and nervous to learn from and network with some of the top women in the business.
After signing in, we were treated to breakfast bowls from Sambazan and coffee from Peets. The keynote speaker was the beautiful actress and Instagram darling, Emeraude Toubia. She eloquently spoke about her experience as a Latina actress and influencer and how she broke barriers in acting, fashion and beauty. It was inspiring to hear from an intelligent, driven woman navigating acting and her influence as a role model.
Between sessions, we ventured out to the main lawn to check out the brand partners in fashion, lifestyle, and beauty. There was Who What Wear Collection, Luna Bar, FHI Heat, Sugarfina, Grey Goose and Bless Box, to name a few. Each offered brand information or services, sample products, and opportunities to network with their spokespeople. The booths were colorful and teaming with instagramable backdrops to photograph and share on social media.
After the keynote speaker, we broke into either the influencer track, or the digital marketing track, depending on our area of specialization. One of my favorite panel breakouts combined Instagram heavy hitters Sazan Hendrix, Alisha Marie, and Ale La Chula. They shared their expertise on social media engagement during a question and answer session with a moderator.
On another panel, we heard from Kristine Thompson about landing brand deals as an influencer. A third panel consisting of Jeannie Mai, Stephanie Shepherd, Rachel Levin, Lauren Elizabeth, Lo Bosworth, and Sydne Summer spoke about “Create a Voice and Make an Impact.” They discussed finding your writing niche in order to stand out from crowd.
It was so incredible to see these accomplished women in person, to listen to their stories, and to interact with them on a personal level. My mind was blown when I met Sarah Boyd, the creator of Simply Inc. I also made a point of introducing myself to Sazan, an entrepreneur I have followed on Instagram for years.
Aside from the notes and resources I took away from this conference, I was beyond grateful to meet so many empowering, successful women. Some are from my age group, like Annette from @reinventing50s , who I now follow on Instagram. Another like Puno, is the creator of the website People Map. Julie Solomon had Puno on her podcast as well, and I listened intently as she described following her creative dream. She was a delight in person as she approached me to inquire about the brand of my skirt. I was beyond honored to tell her how she made such an impression when I heard her story on the podcast.
The overall verdict? I would highly recommend a conference of this magnitude for anyone in the fashion or social media realm. It will definitely not be my last. When strong, business-savvy women can come together to exchange ideas, and build each other up in the process, I consider it a win-win! XO