The Texas Style Council Conference: My personal experience.



So this was supposed to be my big Texas Style Council Conference recap post, where I shared with you all the minutiae of the conference. I intended to give you behind-the-scenes photos, panel recaps, outfit pics and general tidbits from three days of parties, panels and events.

This is not to be.

As community outreach manager, I quickly learned that I would be lucky to take a deep breath during the conference, much less compose summaries of panels. I neglected to get photos with my favorite bloggers -- women I was truly excited to meet. I didn't get a chance to attend some of the panels during the symposium, which was a huge personal disappointment. I didn't connect with the brands and speakers I had hoped to. I was unable to really focus on socializing due to the overwhelming anxiety of trying to do a perfect job both for Indiana and TxSC attendees. I was so distracted that I had trouble concentrating on conversations and forgot things...like my book, which I intended to sell after my panel but was left behind at TxSC headquarters (my fault completely.) Truthfully, I was a nervous wreck, and my anxiety kept me from enjoying my time in Austin and connecting with many of the people I was around.

I'm not sure if I will ever have the opportunity to co-host a bloggers conference, especially one as large as TxSC was -- the event was oversold, and we ended up with 270+ bloggers -- and truthfully, I doubt I'd want to. I learned I am not so great at being an organizer. I am an excellent speaker, a wiz at social media and a talented writer. But natural born leader I am not. In my attempts to help meet the needs of so many people, of trying to impress my boss, of mingling with well-known bloggers and of the responsibilities of my job, I lost the joy I had when I attended TxSC as an attendee last year. In addition, I can't help but feel that the environment and feel of the conference was quite different this time around. The combination of so many attendees, a limited amount of space, and so many high-profile people created an event that was tough for me to process. I'm not trying to throw Indiana under the bus by saying that. It's just the way I felt.

Overall, I was exhausted, and stressed out, and probably rather unpleasant to be around myself. I neglected to make my personal priorities important, and as a result did not make the time to seek out bloggers I yearned to meet and attend the panels I was intrigued by. Worst of all, though, I was unable to give attendees the best version of myself. Instead I presented to them a frazzled, overwhelmed, and awkward women I hardly recognize.

I never understood just how much work goes into planning such a large, complex event. I suppose I was fortunate in that my responsibilities were limited to managing the social media accounts and blog, as well as prepare for the panel I was speaking on and the thrift workshop I co-led. I cannot imagine how I would have handled working with brands, locating spaces for the parties and symposium, signing speakers and making travel arrangements. I so admire Indiana for her hard work at pulling all of these elements together. Organizing and planning a conference is a highly complicated process. There's so much more that happens which attendees don't get to see.

Fortunately, I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from bloggers who were at the Texas Style Council Conference, and heard that the panels were informative, engaging and enjoyable. I had the pleasure of speaking about creative consumerism with Meryl, Grechen and Pamela, and it was fun to to talk to attendees about buying secondhand. The thrift workshop with Jentine, Jessie, and Pamela was a blast, despite the pouring rain (the weather during TxSC was less than ideal. I'm talking torrential downpours and chilly temperatures.) I also had an awesome roommate -- Kyla, who I met at last year's TxSC -- and was able to meet with a few local business owners. Blogging conferences overall are a pretty amazing opportunity to learn, to grow, to network and, most importantly, to have fun.

My lessons from TxSC? Hand out your business card to everyone you meet. Conferences are as much a networking opportunity as a social event. Don't be nervous to approach a blogger you admire. Wear comfortable shoes. Stay with the people who make you happy and bring out the best version of you. Smile more. Understand that you won't connect with everyone, and that's okay.

If you're hired to work on a similar event, get your job responsibilities in writing, and refuse to perform additional work unless paid for it. Insist on receiving credit for your job, preferably in the form of public thanks, media credit or other form of print. And demand to be compensated for what you are worth. (I received all of these things, so no worries from my end.)

Did you attend the Texas Style Council Conference? Have you attended other blogging conferences? I'd love to hear your thoughts on your experiences.

P.S - In a sad turn of events, I also lost my iPhone while in Austin...and the few photos I had taken with it. Boo. But here are a couple from the interwebs. If you have more photos of or with me, please let me know. I have a serious case of the sads today.


Grechen and I; a blogger modeling a vintage dress; and Linda and Sydney at the Hunt.Gather.Style pop-up shop, who dressed me for the weekend. My sequin blazer is a $8 thrifted score from a Dallas Goodwill.


From Hunt.Gather.Style I wore this: a vintage mink cape and crocodile clutch. Go big or go home, I figured.


I forget whose site I swiped this from (sorry.) There's me, Sara, a blogger whose name I didn't get, and Julie at the Poshmark Posh Party.


Being interviewed at the swap.


Amy, Indiana and I at the swap.

For more photos from the swap, head over to the Swapaholics page to see. If you were at TxSC, you might be in one of them!


19 comments:

  1. You were definitely NOT unpleasant.
    Always kind and open.
    You did a great job!

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    1. agree! agree!
      And the TxSC site is awesome. I'm using it to connect with new friends, get links for posts, identify people whose cards I didn't get... it's an invaluable resource.

      Delete
  2. Elissa, you were wonderful. I know it is alot of work to do something like this and all of your hard work is so appreciated. Get some rest,brush off the grumblies, and begin again. All of your work equals EXPOSURE and in the fashion world that is everything. It will pay off. I will email you a couple of photos that I have! You were awesome!

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  3. Aww Elissa, I know you were frazzled my dear, but you did a great job!! I can only imagine how much pressure you were under, and as an attendee, I had a great time, in spite of any things that could be improved. I loved meeting you and am glad that I attended!

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    1. This is pretty much exactly what I was about to type. You are a joy to be around, E, and I can't wait for our next Dallas meetup when you will sign a book for me.

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  4. If it is any consolation, I had no idea that you were feeling "frazzled, overwhelmed, and awkward." What I saw was a confident, cheerful woman who offered invaluable insight and a wonderful, warm smile to everyone in attendance.

    Also, your Creative Consumerism panel really did blow me away (as did the rest of the weekend). I can't wait to order your book and visit Saver's and other thrift stores again after reading it.

    <3,
    Diana

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  5. You were great, and think about how many women you helped have an enjoyable time by all the hard work you put in. I've been in the same situation where I want to be a part of the event, but also behind the scenes planning and helping. Sadly, one must decide which to do. Work hard and stay behind the scenes, or not get super involved and enjoy the event without worry or stress. It was great meeting you, and maybe next year you can hire an intern : )

    - Jesse

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  6. "Stay with the people who make you happy and bring out the best version of you. Smile more. Understand that you won't connect with everyone, and that's okay." - I couldn't agree more! I hope you were able to find those people. And I promise, you did not come off as the frazzled version of yourself that you were feeling. All that acting training paying off maybe? hehe And I can't believe you lost your iPhone?! Oh, no!!!

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  7. There's a great photo of you at Pam's blog today...that captures the feeling you are describing here. I know from the photos I've seen of all the attendees in the audience that this event has seriously GROWN from what it was. Remember to give yourself some attagirls.

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  8. If you were feeling overwhelmed and/or at all frazzled when we met, I didn't notice it at all! I can't say it enough: you guys did such an incredible job, and I think the conference was a huge success. I was absolutely delighted to finally meet you, and you were nothing but friendly, gracious, and a wonderful host. So sorry about your phone--these things are always such an adventure!

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  9. I'm so glad to have met you. When I talked to you, you did seem busy on the brain but you honestly looked wonderfully well kept, if that accounts for anything :)

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  10. Did you know that you can turn your iPhone off so that whoever found it can't access your data? Call the Apple store (or look online) and you can find out how to do so.
    Jaymalea

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  11. A nice smile actually masks all kinds of anxiety. I think you were pulling it off!

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  12. I work for a 2500 person conference and you are correct - it is a LOT of working. Planning and running a conference is a huge commitment and is all about details, organization and crisis management. I was not at the conference this year, but I was there last year and I know there was a lot of planning issues then as well. So don't feel bad!! I saw a lot of updates and chatter so as the community manager, I think you did a great job keeping the conversation going online.

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  13. Lady, I am sure you did an amazing job. We tend to be harder on ourselves than necessary, especially in areas we know we excel at. From what I saw and read from the conference you did an amazing job and I'd love to be counted among the attendees next year. It is amazing though how much more work these events take than you think they will. - Katy

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  14. Elissa, if that was you at your worst, I would LOVE to meet you at your best ... because your worst was pretty darn amazing. Thanks for all you did to make the weekend a success!!!

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  15. I agree that you made a wonderful impression and did an outstanding job!!! I enjoyed meeting you and I learned so much about thrifting from you that I have actually gone to 4 thrift shops since I have been home (and then on another trip). I had to go on a business trip to McAllen (on the Mexican border) and I found a 70's shirt from Sears that is right off the Brady Bunch! They also had a ton of sequins and I thought of you! I hope you are feeling better!!!
    Betsy
    cuteandcomfy.wordpress.com

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  16. I agree that you made a wonderful impression and did an outstanding job!!! I enjoyed meeting you and I learned so much about thrifting from you that I have actually gone to 4 thrift shops since I have been home (and then on another trip). I had to go on a business trip to McAllen (on the Mexican border) and I found a 70's shirt from Sears that is right off the Brady Bunch! They also had a ton of sequins and I thought of you! I hope you are feeling better!!!
    Betsy
    cuteandcomfy.wordpress.com

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  17. I agree with Genny - if those couple times we spoke was you at your WORST, wow....can we be besties?? I thought you were awesome! The conference was a huge success, and I know you were looking at it from an insider/planner perspective, but honestly - it was one of the most fab blogging experiences I have had. Thank you for all your time and hard work!!!

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