Create + Cultivate Los Angeles 2016 Conference Recap
As you might imagine, the blog nerd in me loves the idea of blogging conferences. It’s like being back at school except you actually want to do your homework, and you’re encouraged to use your phone during class. Two weeks ago, I attended my second blogging conference of the year, Create + Cultivate. After seeing the dreamy pics of their January event, I knew that I had to attend their next event. I scooped up a ticket to the Los Angeles event as soon as they went on sale, and I was thrilled to find out that my dear friends Mash Elle, Money Can Buy Lipstick, and Boho Nouveau would also be attending. Today I’m sharing a re-cap of the conference including everything I learned and the pros and cons of attending. Get ready for cuteness overload because the decor at Create + Cultivate was kind of mind-blowing.
So let’s start at the beginning. The night before the conference, Create + Cultivate hosted a networking mixer for the attendees. While Michelle, Teresa, and I managed to leave our hotel on time in our trusty car from Skurt, the LA traffic didn’t want to cooperate with us. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive at the event until it was almost over, but we still got to meet a few new friends and enjoy a gorgeous West Coast sunset through the tall glass windows of the event venue.
Boho Nouveau, Me, Money Can Buy Lipstick, and Mash Elle | My Outfit Details: See the full look styled here | Banana Republic Elbow-Sleeve Featherweight Merino Wool Crew (size down) | Banana Republic Flare Print Skirt (comes in petite, regular, and tall lengths – size down) | Banana Republic Eryn Heeled Sandal (true to size) | Tory Burch Perry Tote | Banana Republic Necklace, Baublebar Gilded Leo Cuff, and Taudrey Engraved Roman Numeral Bracelet c/o
Despite missing most of the mixer, I’m still glad that we attended. We had a great time chatting with Lindy, and it was so fun to bump into Audrey as well! As the event started to wind down, the girls and I only had one thing on our mind: tacos. We headed to Beverly Hills, ate the best carne asada tacos ever, drove The Silver Fox (our nickname for our foxy car from Skurt) back to the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, and quickly crashed into their ridiculously soft beds.
THE MAIN EVENTAnd now onto the main event. I headed to Create + Cultivate with the girls bright and early, and we were impressed by the attention to detail the second we stepped out of our car. The conference was stunning, and I had to make a conscious decision early on to keep my camera/phone in my purse and avoid spending the whole event snapping pictures instead of enjoying the experience. Thankfully, there were three amazing photographers at the event, so you’ll notice that most of the pictures used in this post are courtesy of Create + Cultivate. While I’d love to credit the exact photographer for each photo, they weren’t credited on the website. I’ve gone ahead and linked all three photographers under each photo for reference!
Within our first five minutes at the conference, we received a customized Erin Condren notebook and headed up an elevator filled with every type of snack you’ve ever wanted to purchase at Whole Foods AND a hunky attendant. When we stepped out the elevators, our jaws dropped. I am not exaggerating. Every single inch of the conference space was impeccably decorated.
Walking around Create + Cultivate was like stepping into a home decor magazine. This conference was designed to be Instagrammed. Every brand’s booth was styled to perfection, and I was pleased to meet some of my favorite brands in person!
Outfit Details: See the full look styled here | Woven Neon Embroidered Dress $19.99 (I’m 5’3 and a size 4, and I’m wearing a girls’ size XL) | Banana Republic Eryn Heeled Sandals (I also own these in blue snake print) | Tory Burch Perry Tote c/o | NECKLACE: Banana Republic (sold out, similar style here) | Baublebar Pineapple Bracelet | Taudrey Gold Roman Numeral Cuff | 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Pomegranate Oil Anti Aging Lipstick in Narcissus c/o
The outdoor space at Create + Cultivate was just as beautiful as the interior, and LA’s beautiful blue sky and dynamic city skyline created the perfect backdrop for the colorful decor. The creators of Create + Cultivate literally thought of everything. The conference went on for nearly 11 hours, but the space made us feel as comfortable as humanly possible. There was a comfortable place to sit in every room, and there was a delicious food display everywhere you turned. Sprinkles cupcakes, Sweetgreens salads, cold-pressed juices, Alfred iced coffee, and Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches were only a few of the awesome food items served throughout the day. I’ve never attended a more organized event in my life, and all of the event and catering staff members were extremely kind and friendly. Create + Cultivate gets an A+++ for decor, food, and customer service!
THE PANELSAfter soaking in the beautiful atmosphere and inhaling my breakfast, it was time to start the conference’s panels. My blog nerd was super excited for a day full of learning, and as I took my seat, I felt like I was walking into my first day at a new school.
The first panel of the day focused on the future of fashion and featured a question and answer session with representatives from Clare V., Marie Claire, Bobeau, Emu Australia, Simon G Jewelry, and Shopstyle Collective.
What I Learned:Think about the community you’re creating. While the brands were speaking about this concept in terms of selling their products (What community will I be a part of if I buy this product? What type of person wears this product?), this idea easily translates into the blogging world as well. While I still have trouble believe that anyone actually reads my posts, Google Analytics tells me otherwise. It’s important for me to continually create a positive community in my little space on the internet where we can hang out and discuss the things we’re interested in. I truly consider each and every one of my readers to be a friend. You’re my type of people – millenial women who are fun, kind, ambitious, brave, and ambitious! I’ve been lucky enough to develop friendships with some of you online, and I want to continue to foster our little online community! If there’s anything I can do to improve the community on my channels, please send me an email at email@example.com. I’m always happy to hear constructive feedback and suggestions!
Engagement always trumps numbers. While all of the brands acknowledged the power of numbers, they reinforced the point that they want to work with influencers that have highly-engaged communities.
Ask for a number that makes you blush. This message was very clear. If you’re not slightly embarrassed by your rate, then you’re not asking for enough. While I continually struggle with pricing, I’ve learned that asking for more pushes me to create even better ROI in my partnerships. While I’m still struggling with this issue, it was nice to hear from successful women in the industry that they still have trouble asking for what they’re worth even after years of experience.
Lead with your work. Focus on the quality and creativity of your work. A strong portfolio speaks for itself.
The second panel featured a mix of YouTubers, beauty PR representatives, and creative entrepreneurs including Simply Sona, Hello to Beauty, Evelina, Olive & June, Smashbox Cosmetics, and BeGlammed. The group discussed their experiences in the beauty industry.
What I Learned:
By the time your product is perfect, it’s too late. Julianne Chen described the “hacker culture” of Smashbox Cosmetics. They always want to be on the cutting edge of the industry, so they focus on releasing products as quickly as they can – even if they’re not perfect. If you spend too much time focusing on tiny flaws in your product/launch, your competitors will beat you every single time. Bottom line, release your product or launch your service as quickly as possible, and you can always go back and correct any mistakes.
Persistance wins in the long run. Whatever your career goals may be, there’s a good chance that thousands or tens of thousands or millions of people have similar dreams. The competition can seem intimidating at first, but if you keep working towards your goals and continually deliver good work, the others will eventually fall off. You have to believe in your goal more than anyone else.
Snapchat is the home of your hardcore fans. Every social network has it’s purpose, and Snapchat is perfect for delivering an unfiltered look into your daily life. Your Snapchat followers are your hardcore fans. In order to follow your story, they have to hunt down your Snapchat username online, manually find you in the app, follow you, and then check in every single day to manually select your story. The people who are going to put in that much effort are your hardcore fans, and Snapchat is the perfect way to foster your relationship with them.
After the first two panels, I attended a mentor session with Natalie Willis from Shopstyle Collective. While Natalie was extremely kind and knowledgeable, the room was far too noisy to hear anything she said. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear about 50% of her answers (totally not her fault, by the way!), but I will share the few tidbits of info that I did pick up. If you have questions about Shopstyle, I’d definitely recommend scheduling a phone call with them. They have incredible customer service, and they’re very helpful over the phone.
What I Learned:
Brands are still figuring things out too. There were a lot of brand representatives at this conference, and they are just as confused as we are about influencer relations. This industry is still a baby, and everyone is still trying to find a model that works. While I was pleased to hear that many brands achieved their best ROI with online influencers, many of the brands present at the conference were simply trying to get information to bring back to their company to convince them to try social media marketing. Many of the brands weren’t familiar with affiliate marketing, and I heard several questions asking about appropriate compensation for bloggers. In addition, several of the brands weren’t sure if they should move away from traditional marketing, or if they should try gifting or sponsored campaigns. The moral of the story is simple. We’re all figuring out this industry together, so be patient. No matter where you are in your career, remember that you were a beginner once too. Not all companies understand social media, so it’s our responsibility to demonstrate our professionalism and return on investment.
After meeting with Natalie from Shopstyle, I headed to a mentor session with Mara Ferreira from M Loves M. I have been a huge fan of Mara’s work for years, so I was absolutely thrilled to meet her in person! Before I get into what I learned, I want to say that Mara is incredibly kind and genuine in person. Even though I only got to interact with her for a short amount of time, I can tell that she’s a truly beautiful person on the inside and out. I’m an even bigger fan after meeting her!
What I Learned:
Look for creative ways to grow your following. When asked how she grew her following, Mara emphasized that she has utilized a variety of different methods as her blog and social media channels have grown. She encouraged us to collaborate with our fellow bloggers and said she grew her initial follower base by creating a link-up with several other fashion bloggers where they’d all share similar posts and link to each other. She also recommended commenting on other blogs, participating in Follow Friday, guest posting, attending conferences, and using hashtags on your social posts. Her #1 tip for growth? Networking and developing relationships with other bloggers and brands.
If you can’t afford a photographer, ask for recommendations. This tip is absolutely genius. If you’re in need of a professional blogger, but the photographers that you admire are too expensive, ask for recommendations. Most photographers have assistants that work for a lower rate to build their portfolio, but they’ll have a similar aesthetic. If you can find a photographer who’s just starting out, you can grow together!
What I Learned:
Focus on your strengths, outsource your weaknesses. Want to know how Chriselle Lim can run a million businesses at once and be a mom and maintain her sanity? She has a whole team of employees helping her to manage her business. While she’s the brains behind the operation, Chriselle has learned that she can’t be/do everything at once, so she can spend her time doing the things that only she can do. The other women agreed that they’ve waited too long to get assistants, and Teni admitted that she feels completely overwhelmed all of the time trying to get all of her business tasks finished. These are hard-working, intelligent, creative, and incredibly successful women, and they need help too. If you want to grow your business, outsource the things that you don’t enjoy that are sucking time and energy away from the aspects our your life and business that you truly love!
Lean into video. Facebook and Instagram are both prioritizing video right now, and Snapchat is the hottest social media channel. Share video content as often as possible while it’s still being prioritized in Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms.
The last panel of the day was a question and answer session with Sonya Esman from Class Is Internal, Andy Torres from Style Scrapbook, Taylor Sterling from The Glitter Guide, and Christine Andrew from Hello Fashion Blog .
What I Learned:
There are a million different ways to achieve success in the same industry. Each of the bloggers on this panel had completely different success stories and ideas about the industry; however, they all had a few of the same personal traits: a consistent voice and aesthetic, an unwavering commitment to provide high-quality content, and a huge amount of creativity. Each woman achieved their online success in a completely different fashion, so you just have to find the road that works for you.
THE KEYNOTE SPEAKERSThe first keynote speaker of the evening at Create + Cultivate was Jessica Alba, actress and owner of The Honest Company and Honest Beauty.
WHAT I LEARNED:If you have an idea that you truly believe in, don’t give up until you succeed. Jessica seems truly passionate about her companies. She pitched the idea for The Honest Company to investors for years, and she said she was laughed out of every room. Despite receiving so many rejections, Jessica kept working on the company because it was her true passion. Her main investor ended up being one of the people who had rejected her years before!
The second keynote speaker of the night was the one and only Rachel Zoe. Guys, she is MAJ. BANANAS. I DIE. She’s everything. I just loved her attitude and genuine personality. Ok, I’m done…but seriously, I love her. Oh, and her husband Roger was there too! SO MAJ.
What I Learned:
We rise by lifting others. While Rachel didn’t use those exact words, her message was clear: support your friends and your peers. Despite being incredibly successful, Rachel seemed genuinely humble and kind. I love that she makes it a priority to support her friends and family in life and in business. She doesn’t care if promoting her friend’s book ten times looks bad, she’s going to do it because she loves her friend and wants to see them succeed. If there’s something she can do to help a loved one, she will do it.
The final speaker of the night was Chelsea Handler. As always, Chelsea was absolutely hilarious and blunt.
What I Learned:
Find a working environment that suits your goals. I am completely aware that Chelsea is a in a privileged position. She’s a wealthy celebrity, and she can pick wherever she wants to work; however, I think there’s a lesson to be learned in her story. Chelsea didn’t seem like she enjoyed her time with major networks. She had ideas about her shows, and they didn’t want to run with them. So she left and headed to Netflix because they fund her dream projects. It’s easy to complain about our jobs, but we have to remember that we are choosing to work there. If you don’t like your job, find a new one or create a new one. The hours may be longer, the pay may be less, but you’ll be happier and more fulfilled. Bottom line, don’t stay at a place that makes you miserable.
Stop sugarcoating. As women, we have a tendency to sugarcoat the situations and conflicts in our lives to prevent tension or being perceived as a major b-word. While there’s no need to be rude, we need to be honest and address situations head-on. If your friend does something that disappoints you, tell them. If you want a raise, ask for a raise. If people are being disrespectful, stick up for yourself. While I’m a firm believer in the “if you don’t anything nice to say, don’t say anything” approach, I also believe in honest communication. Sugarcoating and talking around a situation instead of taking a direct route to the problem is simply a waste of time, and it causes more harm than good. We are strong women. We can handle honesty.As you might imagine, we were completely exhausted by the end of the day. Inspired, but mainly exhausted. While I already knew Michelle was on board, I was over-the-moon excited when Teresa was just as eager to race back to the hotel, change into our pajamas, order room service, and watch I Love You, Man. I already knew that I liked Teresa, but this factor totally confirmed that she’s one of my soulmates. By the way, you can read a re-cap of our experience at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills + our Skurt car here!
Create + Cultivate LA 2016 was a success. The event was executed with absolute precision, and every minute of the day was organized and perfectly planned. I’m happy that I attended, but I thought I’d mention a few pros/cons in case you’re considering attending the next C+C event.
OVERALL THOUGHTS ON CREATE + CULTIVATE
PROS:Spending time with friends. I had the best time staying with Michelle and Teresa, and I can’t wait to attend The Blog Societies conference with them AND my biffle Stephanie in August! As Rachel Zoe would say, it’s gonna be maj. If you’re contemplating Create + Cultivate, I highly recommend attending with your friends!
Inspiration galore. Create + Cultivate was inspiring on so many levels. The aesthetics of the event were like a dream, and the conference was filled with an unbelievable amount of positivity and girl power.
Incredible guest speakers. I was originally drawn to the conference by its visual beauty online, but I only decided to go after seeing the list of speakers. This conference was overwhelming with powerhouse females, and it was an incredible opportunity to meet or at least be in the same room as some of my business heroes.
Well-organized and comfortable event. After attending several conferences, I can safely say that C+C was extremely organized. The conference organizers also went out of their way to create an environment that was just as comfortable as it was beautiful. As I mentioned earlier, there was a place to sit and delicious food/drinks in every room.
CONS:It’s not a blogger conference. This con is solely for bloggers who are considering this conference who are looking for a business-oriented event. Create + Cultivate is an inspirational conference for women, and there were a variety of professions present including brand owners, PR executives, creative entrepreneurs, photographers, graphic designers, former Google execs, nurses, moms, you name it. I love that there was such a diverse group of women present who were all looking for creative direction; however, the conference isn’t a place to learn the technical ins-and-outs of the industry or to have advanced blogging conversations. If you’re looking for a hefty dose of creative inspiration and girl power, Create + Cultivate is for you. If you want to attend a business conference with serious technical discussions, C+C is not that type of event. I want to make a note that this factor won’t be a con for most people, and it’s probably a pro for most attendees!
Short time with each speaker. Create + Cultivate was jam-packed with awesome and inspiring speakers; however, we only got to hear from each person for a few minutes. A one hour panel might seem like a long time, but between introductions and normal delays, each speaker got to answer maybe two to three questions. I’d love to see lengthened group panels and mentor sessions, so that we could really learn from each person.
Overall, I’m pleased with my experience at Create + Cultivate. I came home inspired and ready to kick some butt. In a perfect world, it would be wonderful to have C+C become a longer and more focused event. The 12+ hour day was inspiring but very tiring, yet each group of speakers only had a short amount of time to speak. I’d love to see the event split off into separate events geared towards specific careers/interests (ex: bloggers/YouTubers, photographers/graphic designers, wedding/event planners, etc.), which would allow the conversations to be more focused and relevant to the guests. I’d also love to have the event spread out over multiple days, so that we could have more time with each speaker. I was so excited about my mentor sessions, but the large group and 30-minute time frame meant that most people didn’t even get to ask a single question.
In my perfect world, Create + Cultivate would be a weekend event with less speakers that had more time to speak. Again, these are solely my opinions, and I truly do think C + C is a fabulous event. It may not be a conference overflowing with actionable information, but it’s overflowing with heart and positivity. The event organizers completely out-did themselves, and I know that future events will continue to break the boundaries of conference awesome-ness.
If you want to read more re-caps of Create + Cultivate LA 2016, check out Michelle’s post here, Teresa’s post here, and Audrey’s post here! If you attended Create + Cultivate in the past, I’d love to know your thoughts! Is every city different? Did you have a good experience? Would you go again? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts!