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

Alt Summit 2019 (part 2)

Michelle Vinson

Let’s jump in where we left off shall we. We are now mid-week of a jammed pack conference. After two days of volunteering, I was ready to fill the day with everything on my list. Here was my schedule . . .



9:00 a.m. Ask an Expert: Take an e-newsletter from “Meh” to “Yeah.”

I have done countless newsletters for clients over the years (both paper and e-newsletters). However, I think I have only done two for myself! Eek! So, I wanted some guidance and attended Asia Rau’s chat about e-newsletters. Asia owns Sparrow Soirées, a consulting service. Instagram and Facebook can go away in a second. What do we do then? We build our email lists now and connect with our customers that way. E-newsletters are another avenue for engaging and interacting with the people that love our brand. Asia kept stressing the importance of answering a question in every newsletter or solving a problem. What should you do this weekend? What can I buy mom for Mother’s Day? Tips of prepping your watercolor to paint. How to clean your brushes . . .

Make your newsletter a quick and easy read that is pleasing to look at. Mailchimp and Constant Contact are great platforms to use. Make sure you have permission to use someone’s email address . . . you can’t just randomly add people (unless they are mom or dad.) Use subject lines that won’t get lost in spam, but grab your reader’s attention. Include contact links to your website, email, phone or social media. After going to this session, I added to my instagram so I can collect email addresses with a simple click. Create give-aways and specials that also collect email address (remember to ask permission to add them to your newsletter list!) and when customers place orders (if you have an online shop).


11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m Ask an Expert: Brand Collaborations and Licensing with Jennifer Perch of Good Brand Licensing

Licensing is a huge area of my business that I would love to expand. I have done a couple of projects that involve licensing, but I want to learn more. Jennifer’s talk included finding a potential collaborative and licensing partner and how to present yourself. She talked about finding a good lawyer and team to guide you through the licensing world, protecting your art and knowing what your worth is.

She also shared some samples of artist overview sheets. Her examples showed a bio and photo of the artist and then a sampling and range of the work they have created. She mentioned that the amount of followers that an artist has definitely attracts partners and brands. They see this as a natural draw to your work which would result in sales for them (and you)! I have more research to do on this and have a call scheduled with Jennifer to talk about it more. We shall see where this area of my biz goes.

Then, I sat and watched this guy paint. This guy is Michael Corr and this is the start of his Frida Kahlo Mural. Love it.


How to Make Friends with the Media and Get Yourself and Brand Out There.

Trae Bodge shared some tips on following up with media and getting your brand out there. Follow up with kind and authentic messages and not generic cut/paste email inquiries. Know what you are pitching and why it would be a good fit for this publication or media outlet.


Her tips for forming good relationship are:
1. In Person: try to steer the conversation for them to think that you will benefit them at some point.
2. Social Media: Commenting on their posts or sharing their information so they know you are out there.
3. Referrals: use your friends and contacts to share their contacts with you.
4. Familarize yourself with their work before you reach out.

How to tell a compelling story and answer a need.
Create a press release with a Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of your business. Have you opened a new store? Added a new service? What can you offer advice for?

Don’t pitch using DM or call. Send out emails. And follow up.


Tara Nearents. Photo credit:  Rad & Happy

Tara Nearents. Photo credit: Rad & Happy

This is Tara Nearents from Rad & Happy. She’s actually Rad and Happy. Her talk was all about Rocking your Instagram Stories. Instagram stories are super awkward for me, but I know that they are also so important for a brand and for instagram. Apparently, they are more important than your actual posts now and are tremendously helpful in building your brand and engagement with customers, fans, viewers, all of it. Anyway, she was upbeat and positive and motivating in just going for it with your stories. She also said to not rewatch your video more than twice before posting it. Or . . . you will make yourself crazy! And, don’t imagine someone eye-rolling as they watch you. Imagine your closest friend or your sister smiling ear to ear. She said to smile with your eyes. Be authentic, but don't be a downer because no one wants to watch someone who is negative day in and out. Anyway, she is pretty awesome at her stories . . . I get it, I watch them. My take away from this workshop . . . I went outside and did an instastory right after and I am getting a little better about doing them on a regular (I’m working on it).

After Tara, I stuck around for Katie Saffert’s presentation on the Power of Creating a Community on Instagram. Katie is the founder of Hatched Collective which is a company that helps other companies build their brand. It was good for me to attend because it focused a lot on planning. Planning out your posts to create a story and a look and using instagram as a reflection of you and your brand. Mondays we do this, Tuesday post a commission, Wednesday a pattern, Thursday a new project idea . . .I’m making all of that up, but I need to plan more. If you have a business on instagram, do you prep and plan all of your posts? Do you schedule them? Do you use Planoly or another app to color coordinate your posts to look good together? Anyway, I schedule posts in batches sometimes, but I definitely need to focus on this more.

After 4 classes and a lot of talking (ha!) . . . I was ready to skip out and grab dinner with my mom, dad and Papa. They live less than an hour from Palm Springs and dinner with them was the perfect mid-week evening break.

My cute, cute family.

My cute, cute family.

How To Slay your Flat Lay!

Thursday morning, Ginny and I headed over to The Ace Hotel for a workshop on Flat Lays with Amber Dorsey. We worked on our own flat lays with props and backdrops that Amber brought. It was nice to attend a hands-on workshop on the final full day at the conference. These are a few that I did while I was there . . .

That marble counter top is really a piece of paper. Fun tip: purchase it on Amazon.

That marble counter top is really a piece of paper. Fun tip: purchase it on Amazon.

That wood grain backdrop, also paper.

That wood grain backdrop, also paper.


Once the workshop was over, Ginny and I took pictures in front of this incredible mural created by artist @_lauraberger_. It is so perfect.

I could not wait to attend the Panel: Changing Course—How to Find Your Passion For Your Brand and Thrive by Jahje Ives from Baby Jives, Kristen Ley from Thimblepress and Stacie Bloomfield from Gingiber (remember when I embroidered with them on Monday?). This was by far my fave talk of the week. They were honest and open and all three of them shared their stories about where they started and how they got to where they are now. It was so good that no one wanted it to end. So . . . a handful (more than a handful) of us followed them to lunch and continued the conversation there.

Kristen Ley, Stacie Bloomfield, Jahje Ives. Photo credit: Jahje Ives

Kristen Ley, Stacie Bloomfield, Jahje Ives. Photo credit: Jahje Ives

Our continued lunch conversation.

Our continued lunch conversation.

After lunch, I headed over to The Parker to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing with Ginny, Janice and Lisa MacCarthy. Lisa helps influencers and entrepreneurs launch profitable clothing lines. We talked about our goals, next steps, keeping in touch and what we got out of the week. Then, we sipped our iced coffees and chilled in the most beautiful lobby and then again outside.


We couldn’t leave without a shot in front of the infamous Parker wall . . .


My week was coming to a close. I was tired and excited and couldn’t wait to implement what I had learned into my everyday. Where will I go from here?

I have set aside time each week to work on my brand and create more art. I say “yes” to new opportunities, but am also learning when to say “no.” I am signing up for the National Stationery Show in NYC in August to increase my wholesale business, I am pulling together my wholesale catalog and also creating a bio/style sheet for potential licensing partners. I have scheduled a professional photo shoot to finally get a real headshot and working-in-the-studio shots for my website and to use on social media, I am working to make my studio/office a more organized space. I work out every morning and remember to continue my self-care/take breaks/eat a good breakfast/stay hydrated plan that I followed while I was at Alt Summit. I am excited to meet up with Ginny, Janice and Lisa again on the Parker Palm Springs lobby couches in 2020 to see where we all are a year from now.


Until next time . . .