Before I even dive into the story of my first stop on the month-on-the-road, Alt Summit, let’s talk about this info graphic by Ben Silbermann, the founder of Pinterest. Because there could not be a more perfect visual representation of where I am right now. And while I can’t live in this place between terror and joy indefinitely (it’s exhausting, and I need some breaks for naps), it is the place I am happiest to be. It is so scary, but it is so rich with possibility, and so profoundly creative. And did I mention terrifying and full of awe?
But lets talk about Alt Summit, the design and lifestyle blogging conference in Salt Lake. Alt has quickly become my all-time favorite business and creative blogging conference. It’s so good (and so sparkly!). When I went last year, I was in my third week of working for myself, and it was my first time ever speaking at a conference. So this year became a real marker on the journey for me. It was a chance for me to evaluate where I was last year verses where I am now. And what a difference…
There is a George Clooney What I’ve Learned interview in Esquire this month (oh my God, Esquire, why are you consistently so good?) where he says, “You get better as an actor over time if you’re growing. Like singers. My aunt Rosemary, later in life, couldn’t hit a note and couldn’t hold a note. But she was a better singer –She said, ‘I don’t have to prove I can sing anymore.’ Just serving the music makes a huge difference.” And while I obviously (hopefully) have decades of creative work in front of me before I reach that level of ease, I felt touches of that at Alt Summit this week.
Let’s be frank. I worked my ass off at Alt this year, in a way I didn’t do last year. It didn’t feel at all like a vacation, and instead it felt like really hard work: speaking, networking, catching up with people, constantly moving. It was awesome work that I felt so blessed to be doing, but it was exhausting. But at the same time, there was a sense of ease that I didn’t have last year. I scribbled some notes down for my presentation, didn’t bother to get even vaguely nervous, and then spoke to a crowd of 200. Done. (I’m going to be really good at completely extemporaneous speaking by the time the month is out.)
But more than that, I got to spend time with deeply creative people and with people running their own businesses, and that is so necessary for me. I shared a room with Megan of Not Martha and Tabitha of Glitter & Ganache, who are both such good, creative, and flat-out interesting people (who inspire me to accessorize better). It reminded me of the importance of living in physical community, and how I really hope that the work we do here at APW, building virtual community, inspires all of us to get offline and build real-life communities. Communities that share joys and sorrows and births and deaths, that celebrate with us, and hold hand our hands through tough times. It reminds me that as I dive into building an honest-to-God business plan this year (yeah, I know, finally) that my real goal with APW is to help us all build better lives offline.
And then, there was the pure fun part. I’m working so hard this month, being on the road. And so much of the work is profoundly exciting, but it’s also a lot of (sometimes scary, often overwhelming) work. So it was pretty amazing to have something totally magical and fun play out at Alt… like a glittery thank you present floating down from the sky….
By which I mean to say, I got to meet, and sort of hang out with, Anya of Project Runway. The whole thing is a long story, but it starts with me being profoundly in love with Anya’s work on Project Runway this season. I mean, Project Runway is a big damn deal in our ex-theatre-professional household, but I can’t remember ever being quite this into a contestant. So, since HP brings the winner of the HP challenge to Alt every year, I literally kept yelling at the TV during the HP challenge this season and willing Anya to win. Which of course she did, and then went on to win the whole damn thing. So, I hadn’t been one of the bloggers invited to do an interview with Anya, but Kathleen let me crash her interview and try to talk myself in the door. The HP rep (who turned out to be a total doll) looked dubious, and I finally said, “But, I write A Practical Wedding!” and her face lit up and she let me right in. I mean, forget getting seats at fancy restaurants. If my job can get me an interview with Anya, I’m pretty much good. So I chatted her up during the interview about her creative process and working with patterns and how she never wants to sew again and made a lot of jokes. And then afterwards, I mentioned that I’m dear friends with this girl, and her face lit up and I was in. (And while we’re at it, her clothes are going on sale soon, and that is one on the ball creative business woman. Sign up at her website right now, and then we will all be rocking Anya creations all summer.) That was easily the highlight of the trip so far. Letting me talk creative process with a lady I admire? Heaven looks a lot like that, if you ask me.
(And PS, if you’re a blogger and you’re wondering if you should go to Alt next year, you totally should. I got to meet Michelle Edgemont, APW advertiser, planner of the Brooklyn party, and lady of awesome. My friend Liz met her, and apparently asked her if she knew me right away. When I met her, I totally got why in one second. We are alike, with our Brooklyn brashness and sense of humor. Anyway, I want to meet you next year. Hurrah.)
Pictures: Personal for A Practical Wedding