HCG has finally recovered from the whole Missoni x Target debacle which played a bigger role in our life last week than we expected. We've inventoried and critiqued the $900+ in merchandise we purchased and have decided what is staying and what is going back (photos and details to come soon on HCG). But until then we've got a few FABB posts to share, so let's not waste anymore time. When I first reviewed the packed FABB agenda, I was floored by the lineup. I knew this conference was going to be the coolest professional event I'd ever attended, but I had no clue how much I would learn from all the panelists. I said it to many Lucky staffers (including EIC Brandon Holley) and it's worth repeating: Lucky knows how to do a blog conference. Moderated by Lucky editors, the panels were a huge joy for me. I've always been a school nerd, and FABB covered all my favorite subjects.
Panel 1: "Building your Brand in 2011" featured some serious star power. Below, from left: designer Rebecca Minkoff, designer Rachel Roy, model Coco Rocha, creator and founder of Essie nail polish Essie Weingarten, One Management President Scott Lipps and Lucky Fashion News & Features Director Jen Ford.The highlight of the first panel was the gentle skirmish between Rachel Roy and Essie. According to Essie, bloggers at a recent cosmetics trade show in Las Vegas broke beauty industry etiquette by posting about products they saw at the event to the frustration of retailers who can't get their hands on the not-yet-released polishes. In a tone that seemed to lecture the hundreds of blogger attendees, Essie said "Girls, you need to understand that you can't just go showing everyone products that aren't going to be available to the public for a while. That's not how our industry works. Now we have people calling us wanting a product that isn't even on the shelves yet." I looked around the room, and everyone was like "WTF is this lady talking about? What happened in Las Vegas?" Rachel, it seemed, sensed the confusion of the bloggers, and asked, "Well if you didn't want people to blog about the products, why were you showing them at all?" You read my mind, RR. Apparently the beauty industry differs from the fashion industry where bloggers building excitement over future products is generally encouraged, and Essie thought FABB was the perfect place to clarify that distinction. It definitely got the room buzzing.
RR was quite possibly one of the most gracious, genuine people I've ever met in such a brief encounter. During the panel, Rachel spoke highly of accessible fashion and dismissed the concern of stores like H&M and Zara copying designers. In her words, "Thank God for H&M, thank God for Zara - what are regular people who don't have access to high fashion supposed to do?" AMEN, Rachel, Amen! Let's get a photo together to celebrate:HCG is also a huge fan of model Coco Rocha. As a way to show people that models actually have opinions and causes about which they care, Coco was the first model to start her own blog Oh So Coco which has since blown up. After the panel I couldn't help but tell Coco (along with her adorable husband James Conran who was at her side at FABB) how much I loved her wedding video which is really like an Oscar-nominated film - both the short teaser and the full-length version. The videos, like Coco's Zac Posen wedding dress, are stunning. Notice how I intentionally tried to make myself look skinner in the photo below by pulling some hand on hip action which was a worthless endeavor. Coco needs no such smoke and mirrors in her studded Alice + Olivia jacket.Below, the awesome Meg Miller - one of my favorite people of the day - interviewing Coco for New York magazine.Panel 2: "Brands and Bloggers Working Together" From left: Lucky Executive Digital Director (and former Fashionista editor) Lauren Sherman, NYU professor and L2 founder Scott Galloway, White House Black Market President Donna Noce Colaco, Club Monaco VP of Marketing & Communications Ann Watson and The Glamourai founder Kelly Framel (who has impeccable style and a beautiful blog): So many bloggers wonder how to monetize their content (except HCG - we have more money than we can spend), and this panel offered solid pointers for working with brands: write about what you genuinely love and approach those brands, don't be afraid to be ridiculously aggressive, have great ideas for partnerships and convince a brand how you can add value. I've got the HCG business people working on these items now.
Panel 3: "Setting the Trends" From left below, Street Pepper founder Phil Oh, The Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine, Morpheus Media Chief Media Officer Shenan Reed, Bare Escentuals Executive Chairman Leslie Blodgett, High Line Venture Partners Managing Partner Shana Fisher and Lucky Beauty Director Jean Godfrey-June (who I have long adored through the pages of Lucky). My favorite tidbit from this panel: don't look to other fashion or beauty blogs to model yourself after; be original. Don't look sideways, look forward. Just as most women compare themselves to other women, I've compared HCG to other blogs and wondered if I should be doing things differently - perhaps write about Dairy Queen less? Calm down on the whole poodle obsession? Use more profanity? (A personal dilemma I constantly struggle with is my refusal to outright use the F word on HCG. I wish I did. It's just so satisfying). If I gained nothing else from FABB, I gained confidence in the HCG content and the fabulous readers who make hitting "publish" on each post a thrilling experience.
Panel 4: "Building a Business" featured RODGE! From left below: co-founder of Thrillist (if you don't know Thrillist, it's like a cooler Daily Candy for guys) Adam Rich, The Coveteur (oh how I love the design and concept of this site) co-founders Stephanie Mark and Erin Kleinberg, Express CEO Lisa Gavales and the ultimate man behind the woman, husband of Rachel Zoe and president of Rachel Zoe Inc. Rodger Berman. Unlike his bitchy antics on last night's episode of RZP (Vegas for the Super Bowl? Really, Rodge?), Rodge was very cool at FABB. When Express CEO Lisa Gavales mentioned her company used Thrillist to find a cool restaurant in Philly, Rodge snickered "Yeah, as if there are any cool restaurants in Philly." If you were watching the live feed like Joe, you heard "WHOA, RODGE!" from the brunette wearing the orange dress in the third row. We settled the matter after the panel, though, when Rodge explained that his business partner and friend are both from Philly and he knew the remark would get them fired up. Little did he expect it would get one Philly blogger attendee fired up, too.
Panel 4: "What Platforms are Right for You?" was all about Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and other online media platforms. From left below, Birchbox co-founder Katia Beauchamp, Klout Marketing Manager Megan Berry, Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann, Textbook founder and Lucky Style Collective Editor John Jannuzzi and Director of Digital Media at Starworks Group Jessica Coghan-Kia: I especially enjoyed this panel because of how much fun I've had with the HCG Facebook page and my personal Twitter account. Both are such great ways to connect with the HCG community and I couldn't be more obsessed with either one. Are they hard to keep up with sometimes? Probably, but that's only because I can't figure out how to get the HCG FB notifications on my Blackberry. I'll get the HCG tech department on that request now.
More FABB to come!