I can’t believe that it has been two and a half weeks since the BHG StyleMaker event already. Time sure flies! I am excited to tell you all about it and share pictures. I also want to make sure and answer the questions that I had before I left. Hopefully, if you find your self attending one year, it will help!
Leaving for New York
I was totally nervous before I left for New York. I didn’t know what to pack, I didn’t know anyone that was attending, I didn’t know what to expect from the day, I knew I was going to be largely on my own the entire week…all kinds of nervous feelings! John was working like a dog (as is usually the case) but he was super sweet and supportive and made the effort to come with me, even though he knew he would just be holed up in an office in Times Square the whole time. That was a HUGE help for me. I DO NOT like to fly alone. We decided to leave on Tuesday so that we could have a day to adjust to the time difference before I had to be up at 7am EST. I needed to be dressed and have my networking game in full swing by 8am EST, which felt like 5am to me. UGH! It definitely helped to have that extra day to try and adjust, especially since by the time we flew all day, got our bags and drove to the hotel we didn’t get in until 11:30pm. Whew! I spent much of Wednesday wandering the city, I squeezed in a quick meeting with a friend, and then a few girls from the blogosphere were nice enough to invite me to dinner and let me squeeze into their original reservations for 4. It was SO nice of them to invite me and made all the difference in the world to get the chance to meet and have a fun night with Sarah, Jamie, Chelsea and Heather the night before the event. It totally took the edge off and made me feel WAY more comfortable heading into the next day. They are all such sweet girls and tons of fun. I was happy to come home with four new friends.
What a day! The morning of the event I headed downstairs to the lobby. We were escorted upstairs to the rooftop terrace of the Gramercy Park hotel and WOW!! Now that was swanky! It was a bit of a chilly and rainy day, so they had a glass roof covering the terrace, but I can imagine that on a warm day with the roof removed and endless views of the NYC skyline I would never want to leave.
Crate and Barrel had outfitted the amazing lobby area with beautiful blue furniture (how cool are those lightbulbs covering the ceiling?!) and the terrace bar area was decked out in true StyleMaker fashion. It was all just beautiful.
We spent the first hours networking and enjoying a light breakfast. It was so fun to meet so many of the talented women that I watch online, in person. Everyone seemed warm and friendly and eager to get to know everyone else. It made it much more comfortable for me to get out of my comfort zone a bit.
After breakfast we had an opening keynote/Q&A with Grace Bonney, the founder of Design Sponge. It was great to be in such a small space with such a small group because each session felt very intimate.
After the Q&A we broke off into classes. My first class was an hour long Beyond the Blog seminar. It was interesting and informative.
Lunch and more networking followed by another class, a panel with the CEO of Crate and Barrel, the Creative Director of Bill Blass, and Steven Orr, Executive Editor of BHG, and finally a Q&A with Padma Lakshmi, host of Top Chef, and Joe Yonan from the Washington Post rounded out the day. It was whirlwind, and by the time 5pm rolled around, I was excited to head back down to my room and lay down for a minute.
What is it about sitting in classes, smiling and talking to people for 8 hours that makes you so wiped out?! I was wiped! Fortunately Jamie and Chelsea joined me back in the room so we could hang out and relax for a few before heading back up to the terrace for the cocktail party. I was seriously so wiped by the time I got to the cocktail party that I found a sofa and sat there…like the entire time. 😉 It was really great though because I met a TON of people…others who were looking for a spot to sit for a minute and were excited to have a place to sit and chat for a minute. I enjoyed it so much that I stayed until they kicked us out. 😉
Jamie and Chelsea and I headed back down to the room after to unwind and check out our awesome swag bags. Those girls…seriously hilarious. Just when I thought my cheeks hurt so badly that I couldn’t possibly smile any more, I was rolling laughing at the two of them. You have to head to Chelsea’s blog and read about her hilarious experience. I was sitting directly behind her and let’s just say, thank heavens diet coke dries and isn’t sticky. 😉
Brunch at Crate and Barrel
SoHo is my FAVORITE part of NYC, so I was super excited to get the chance to have brunch at the HUGE Crate and Barrel location in SoHo. It felt pretty fancy to be invited to a special event with food and live music at the store before it even opened…not gonna lie! 😉
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
I’ve thought a lot about what I would want to know before I went to this event. Here is what I learned:
-Don’t feel like you have to stay at the event hotel. Yes, it’s convenient and yes I had a wonderful time…the Gramercy Park had always been on my list of places to stay, so it was great for us and I really appreciated being able to go down to the room when there were breaks in the action. I quickly learned however, that most of the attendees were not staying at the hotel…as a matter of fact the people from BHG weren’t even staying there, so don’t feel pressured to stay at the event hotel.
-Make dinner plans the night before so you can meet some people and feel more comfortable the day of the event. It may be out of your comfort zone but reach out. Other people are feeling the same way you are and your invitation will be a welcome ice breaker for most!
-Wear what you feel comfortable in! You are already going to be nervous and uncomfortable stretching yourself out of your comfort zone so BE COMFORTABLE in what you are wearing. This is what I always stress about most and every time I go to an event I realize I was silly to worry so much. There is such a mix of everything when it comes to what people are wearing you will fit in wearing whatever you want. Don’t let it stress you out!
-This kind of goes with the above, but don’t feel like you have to change for the cocktail party. I brought a dress and heels, and after I learned that most people weren’t staying at the hotel, they didn’t have time to go back and change so they were all staying in their same outfits…which meant I did too. It was so much easier and more comfortable!
-You don’t really need business cards. You might want to bring a few, but you probably won’t use them.
-Wear a smile, say hi and introduce yourself to people. Everyone there is nervous, so be the one to say hi first and you will instantly feel more comfortable!
-Bring a snack or two in your purse. And some gum. You will be hungry. Drinks are readily available, but sometimes you just need a quick energy bar or a quick pick me up, so do yourself a favor and have a few snacks on hand.
I hope these tips help answer your questions. If you ever have any others, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or send me an email. 😉
It was a wonderful event and I was so grateful to be invited. Every time I attend something like this I learn invaluable things that change the way I’m doing things and are really helpful. Special thanks to Better Homes and Gardens and Crate and Barrel for being such gracious hosts. Also, thanks to David Keith Photo for several of the above images.
Have a wonderful day!