HCG's first Lucky Fashion and Beauty Blog (FABB) conference was an incredible experience. There really is so much to tell, so I'm breaking the event down into several posts. Get ready. Your life is about to change. When I arrived at FABB, my initial impression was "whoa, there are so many trendy girls in this place." For someone who spends her days working in a conservative corporate aesthetic, it was mildly shocking (but exhilarating) to walk into FABB and see so many fun outfits. I actually had a blink a few times to take it all in. Everywhere I looked I saw cute shoes, bags, hair, makeup, manicures, belts, fancy cameras and blogger business cards (fortunately I had about 300 HCG cards with me). What was most refreshing: attending a professional event with 200+ similarly minded women where it's completely acceptable to talk openly and even loudly about girl stuff. From complimenting someone's outfit (which happened practically every minute - these chicks brought their A game) to inquiring about where someone got a necklace to sharing celebrity gossip, the chatter was never ending joy! Believe me, this sort of talk almost never happens at attorney continuing legal education seminars. The Kardashians have also never appeared at any CLE I've attended.
FABB was a big day of firsts for me: my first time meeting other fashion/beauty bloggers, my first time meeting the editor of a major women's magazine (Brandon Holley is seriously awesome), my first time receiving anything for free as a blogger (excluding that offer for a free DQ blizzard that I never redeemed), and my first time posing in front of a "step and repeat", a term I embarrassingly learned from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" when recording artist and cast member Melissa Gorga had one outside her house at her Christmas party: My posing could use some work, I know. I was un poco nervous.
As expected, the greatest highlight of the day was meeting and soaking up the endless wisdom of designer Diane Von Furstenberg. A longtime DVF fan, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to see her in person, and the experience did not disappoint. In the flesh, DVF was just as beautiful, elegant and inspiring as she appears online and in print. Once the discussion with Lucky EIC Brandon Holley got started, DVF launched into a short version of her life story. Growing up as a young girl in Belgium, DVF said she always knew the kind of woman she wanted to be - someone who was independent, could pay her own bills and even run a company. I wonder if her brother made fun of her for her ambitions just like my brother heckled me (and still does) for wanting to be president of the United States. DVF fell in love and became engaged to Prince Egon when she was only 21, and the two had no intention to marry quickly. That changed, though, when DVF learned she was pregnant (!). She quickly married and within two years, she moved to America, had two children and created her brand. The rest is a lesson in how to create a long lasting successful brand. Descriptive image below (clearly, DVF is uncomfortable in front of a cheering crowd):As you can tell, I scored a great seat in the third row, and I made sure I hung onto it all day.
I most loved DVF's aura. She had such poise, ease and comfort in her own skin - she spoke just like her Twitter feed. DVF loves Twitter; in her words, "I believe in the power of words, and it's so great to see how you can inspire people on Twitter. I do the Scrabble on my phone, go on Twitter. Do the solitary, go on Twitter." Replace "solitary" with "Facebook", and she's just like us!
DVF is known for her pearls of wisdom, and she stated "my mission in life is to empower women. Here is some the advice DVF offered to the FABB attendees. If you're a DVF devotee, you may already be familiar with some of these sound bites:
- The most important relationship a woman has in life is the relationship with herself.
- All women should have children, and all women should have an identity outside of their children.
- For everything in life, when it is BS, it is BS. When it is authentic, it is authentic. Authenticity is all that matters.
- Don't ever get discouraged about being yourself. Even if people don't like you, at least you're being authentic, and that is what is important.
- Don't doubt your voice. Write about what you believe in and what inspires you.
Don't you wish you could hang out with her all the time? DVF gave the FABB audience quite a treat by introducing her new DVF Harper Connect bag - a structured bag with a chain detail strap which at first glance looks like a normal bag. But then DVF shocked the packed room and revealed that the back of the bag has a flap opening to reveal an iPad. Whaaat? Check out DVF's expression - she knows this product is pure gold. As expected, the crowd gasped when DVF opened up that crazy bag. Her narration of the bag was salesmanship at its best. [In DVF's accent and with her breezy hand expressions]: "Say you're going to meet your friend at a restaurant, and you're waiting for her to arrive. You walk in, you sit down, turn over your bag and open it up to play on your iPad while you wait." GASP. Chicks who don't even own iPads wanted to buy one just for the bag. Maybe what's more genius is that another brand has created a device so culturally important that companies innovate new ways for their customers to enjoy it. Either way, we loved it.
Of course, DVF dished on her outfit (all DVF with mostly DVF for H. Stern jewelry) with Lucky EIC Brandon Holley in the background:HCG loves asking questions at any event (a lifelong reputation I'm proud of), and I jumped at the chance to ask a question to DVF. Brandon Holley must've sensed the eagerness in my wide eyes and raised eyebrows when she saw my hand thrust high in the air Tracy Flick style. I felt flutters in my stomach when BH pointed at me and said "the woman in the red dress" (!). For the record, my dress was orange or "poppy" in J. Crew speak; red is not HCG's color. She could've said "DVF stalker who looks like she is constipated and overly excited to be here" and I still would've shot to my feet, microphone in hand, beads of sweat forming along my brow.
I opened with something super lame like, "I'm a huge fan, I think you're so inspiring to women, I follow you on Twitter andyou are incredible" - pitiful, I know, but honest. Since Diane is so vocal about empowering and encouraging women, I asked what advice she could give female entrepreneurs to overcome certain challenges male entrepreneurs may not face. DVF responded that she thinks women are actually better entrepreneurs than men because they're such skilled multitaskers and are born with an innate entrepreneurial spirit. In her words, "Women don't like people telling them what to do. When you're an entrepreneur, you can run your own show and don't have to fight with people to get to the top of the corporate ladder. Could you imagine a man having to get a period every month? And walk around pretending like nothing is happening?" Girlspeak! From DVF to HCG! Then I blacked out.
It gets better. I was fortunate enough to get not one but two photos with one of the women I admire most in the world. VOMIT. Photo #1: Can you tell how happy I felt? At first glance, this one seemed kind of blurry, and I panicked. Shamelessly, I lunged back onto the platform, apologized to Lady DVF and requested a second photo. She graciously obliged: I felt a little ashamed for being so aggressive so my smile isn't as genuine here as it was in the first photo; I was trying to apologize to her with my body language. The bloggers swarmed around DVF once I stopped dominating her time. I couldn't believe I was able to (1) ask DVF a direct question and (2) take two photos with her.
And it was only 10:30 a.m.
Coming up: more advice from the FABB panelists, the Kardashians, some of the awesome bloggers I met, the brand suites with sick giveaways and a look inside the Lucky FABB swag bag (worth $1,200!).