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Blog

Stories, sketches and thoughts from a creative mind. What is happening in the studio and what inspires Brush & Inc.

Alt Summit 2019 (part 1)

Michelle Vinson

It’s been a little over a month since I attended the week long conference in Palm Springs called Alt Summit. The conference was held across 4 different hotels (Saguaro, Ace Hotel, Parker Palm Springs and The Riviera). Each venue was packed with multiple classes, workshops, round tables, panels and demos to chose from. I met some amazing women and made some lasting friendships. From the power of instastories, mapping out your instagram posts, newsletters, photography, scaling a biz, using a manufacturing partner, taking your biz to trade shows, when to hire, how to license, pitching to press . . . the list goes on and on. I’ve put together a small sampling of everything that I walked away with. So . . . here it goes (at the least the first part of it).

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Saturday evening, I arrived at Newark Airport and boarded a plane headed to Palm Springs. Although, I had some jitters about leaving my family for an entire week . . . I was also happy to escape the last days of winter.

I had always wanted to go to Alt Summit and I knew it was time for me to attend. On a whim, I applied to volunteer for a free ticket. I would be responsible for my hotel stay and plane ticket. I totally forgot I even applied thinking I’d never hear back and then one night I get an email saying, “You are going to Alt Summit.” I took this as a sign that I had to go. I could figure out the rest and I was going to just go by myself. No buddy, no sis, no group to tackle the week with. . . just me. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about that and had some anxiety leading up to the week. I was going to stay with someone that my sister knew. “You will love her,” she said. I did.

This is Ginny . . .

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Owner of Ginny Ball Consulting. Ginny is smart and funny and became a fast friend. She is a connector and a cheerleader for all of the businesses that she works with. She wants them to succeed, she works hard and she knows her stuff. We stayed at the Saguaro Hotel. It’s a pretty instagrammable hotel in Palm Springs. Bright colors and some good Mexican food (which we ate almost every night…ha!)

We met, checked our bags and then went over to The Riviera for registration. I mean look at the welcome we received . . .

Photo credit: Alt Summit

Photo credit: Alt Summit

There I am in my floral dress, with Ginny and Janice Christensen, Director of Communications & Branding at Nora Flemming. Janice is also pretty incredible. In the first hour of arriving, I realized that these were “my people,” creative and driven, and so happy and grateful to be there.

Check in done and badges in hand, we separated and picked a class to attend. I started off listening to Amy Webb of This Little Miggy speak about her Alt Summit experiences and how to jump into the week and make a plan to make connections. Amy is an artist, advocate and writer. Her writing focuses on changing perceptions of disability one story at a time. This is Amy with her new book, When Charley Met Emma. Also, go follow her on instagram because she dances periodically and it always makes me smile :).

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Then, dinner with Ginny, Janice and Amanda from Scatter and Create (products that encourage joy and kindness) and then early to bed to tackle the week.

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My first volunteer assignment was at The Parker Palm Springs. Now, the Parker is pretty incredible. Scott and I stayed here a few years ago for a night and I soaked up every design detail then and again now. The hotel was designed by Jonathan Adler. The hotel, the grounds, the ballroom, the door that you walk through to get in, the café . . . all perfect. My assignment . . . greet people as they came in. Rough life, right? It was a great day. I met a ton of people, the weather was perfect, the setting was perfect. A good first day. And, this was lunch . . .

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Once, my shift was over . . . I walked the grounds and stumbled upon an embroidery workshop lead by Stacie Bloomfield of Gingiber. I follow Stacie on instagram. I love her style and how she shares the ins and outs of her business. I have enjoyed watching her grow from afar and was pleased to meet her in person.

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Two self-care tips that I wanted to follow throughout the week were: 1. Eat a good breakfast every morning and 2. Take little breaks for myself each day. This was the most perfect afternoon break. I sat next to Kristen Ley from Thimblepress and Jahje Ives from Baby Jives. Both successful, creative, bad ass women and both that I have kept in touch with after Alt.

Courtney and Robert Novogratz were also in the space presenting their new outdoor furniture line and home goods. Their style never disappoints. I have watched all of their shows and followed their sweet family over the years. So, this was also a treat to chat with Courtney. She is as sweet in person as she is on television.

Love these pillows!

Love these pillows!

Courtney Novogratz and me.

Courtney Novogratz and me.

Monday night ended with a gifting party. After a long line into a room full of goodies, we were allowed to select five. These are my five and they were all so so good!

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Day 2

My second and final volunteer day was at The Riviera as a greeter. Again . . . easy peasy. This time I attended some of the roundtables and listed to some keynote speakers. I started the day off with a great breakfast at the Riveria. I sat over there in the corner with my cup of coffee and power fruit/oatmeal bowl.

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Wait . . . go back . . . before my relaxing breakfast, I made myself take a selfie at the Alt photo stand. I could hear Scott’s voice in my head telling me to do everything. “Do everything they have there for you to do.” Okay, I’ll take selfies and pose in front of art installations. I’ll do it. I’ll do it all.

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Okay, back to the roundtables. What is a roundtable you may ask? A roundtable is literally a room full of round tables filled with different speakers/topics. Each session lasts about 30-40 minutes and then you rotate to a different table/topic. It was a little exhausting (I’m not going to lie), but it was a great way to pack in as much info in during a short amount of time. My shift included 2 (1-1/2 hour session) and then keynote speakers, The Novogratz and Cyndie Spiegal. Loved them both.

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My big take-away from this day was sitting in on the roundtable discussion from Kelly Oriard and Callie Christensen of Slumberkins. These girls have been best friends for 20 years and dreamed up and created this incredible brand. Their talk was so inspirational. They asked us to finish this sentence, “I know I have made it when . . . “

Their answer was, “When there is a Slumberkins on Ice.” Which they originally would joke about, but they now have a partnership with Jim Henson studios, books, and a huge line of products. So, I don’t think Slumberkins on Ice is out of their reach. They were smart and inspiring and didn’t hide the mistakes and bumps they have faced along the way. They also talked about the importance of celebrating small and big victories. They talked about how they once hired friends and family and quickly realized that, for them, that business plan did not work.

Since this roundtable, I periodically ask myself the question, “I have made it when . . . .?”
. . . I am in Target.
. . . I run into people that I don’t know and they are wearing/carrying/wallpapering with my patterns.
. . . Oprah wants me to custom design her table linens.

The day started to unwind. I sat and chatted with my friend Ruth Rau, founder of Mouse Loves Pig (that I met at the airport on our way out to Alt). Seriously . . . . these women are amazing. Ruth was another person that I was meant to meet. So much talent.

Roundtables done. Volunteering done (which I actually enjoyed so much). Facetimed my sweet family and then hopped into a photo truck, because why not?

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Ginny and Janice hosted a meet-up called “Gift Shows Demystified —Your Guide to Attending and Exhibiting at Market.” We sat poolside and listened to some valuable tips and tricks from these two experts. It was a lovely end to day two.

Ginny Ball & Janice Christensen

Ginny Ball & Janice Christensen

This was only Tuesday! I know . . . it was a busy week. So, I’ll stop here. But, stay tuned for Part 2 because my Wednesday was jam packed with some useful info that I will share and my Thursday was kind of perfect.

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