Last month I had the pleasure of attending the Simply Stylist NYC conference. The wonderful Sarah Boyd of Simply, Inc. organizes the annual event, bringing together those aspiring to work in fashion, styling and blogging with experts in the field willing to share their unique wisdom and experiences. Sarah’s philosophy is to promote kindness in the industry, building a network of people that support each other. Her team once again excelled in hosting us with warmth and kindness as they do every year.
Simply Stylist was a full day of inspiring panels and networking over brunch, cocktails, and pop-up shops. I left the event with a happy heart and a bright light bulb over my head. All the inspiration from the day manifested itself in my decision to revamp my whole blog that night. 6 hours later, the sun was up and Cool Gear Cavalier 2.0 was up and running. And as always, there was also plenty of advice that day that was brand new to me. Here are the top 5 super surprising valuable pieces of advice I got out of the conference.
You Can Learn Anything from Anyone
One of my favorite ideas (this keeps me up late at night sometimes!) is that we are all six degrees of separation from anyone else in the world. Networking at Simply Stylist confirmed this as soon as I sat down for the introductory brunch. There, I was seated next to Gwendolyn Floyd, entrepreneur and co-founder of Soko, a brand that promotes handmade, ethical jewelry from artisans in Kenya. While she was presenting later a panel, our morning talk gave me a chance to pick her brain a little bit.
I was particularly inspired by her story of combining technology & design to create an ethical and sustainable business model. When navigating an event like this, don’t be afraid to engage people you notice. Rather than admiring them from afar or waiting for them, just say hi and connect. Get out there and learn something new.
Your Circle Determines Your Success
One of the big topics of the day was community. Bloggers, stylists, and entrepreneurs all found their support and inspiration in like-minded individuals. Instead of relying on yourself for endless motivation and creativity, it's much healthier to turn to your friends. Don't underestimate the power of a group of bloggers working together.
Reach out to your friends and ask them what projects they are working on right now. Maybe you can plan a group post or a series together. Talking to other passionate, driven individuals will push your creative ideas much further than you thought. Take advantage of this.
Don't be Afraid to Disrupt
One of my favorite quotes of the day was by celebrity hair and make-up stylist guru Joey Maalouf. In his hilarious and very real panel, he gave a lot of courage for those moments when you do get an opportunity.
To take pressure off and get your creative juices going, remember that everyone wants that opportunity. You have it, so go in strong and present your most interesting pitch: “The crazier your idea sounds, the more genius it actually is.”
Blogging Gives You More Freedom Than You Realize
Many of the panelists were top-level stylists, entrepreneurs, and creatives. They all outlined years of internships, frustrations, and unemployment before getting any recognition. While that can be motivating, it's also restraining and stressful. Luckily for you, blogging does not have to be either.
As bloggers, we have our own space of online real estate, where we are free to express ourselves. Feeling pressured or uninspired? Remember you started your blog because of your passion. Appreciate all the creative autonomy you actually have (unlike working in a publication!). That's when your true voice will shine and you'll feel motivated to create your best work.
No Doesn't Mean No
James Nord of Fohr Card is one of the most exciting voices in the influencer industry. His weekly A Drink With James series (check it out here!) always has incredible tips on approaching brands, negotiating rates, writing Instagram captions and anything else you can think of. His advice at Simply Stylist was a little more unconventional.
James recommended to strategize the emails you send out to brands. You have a second to grab their attention, so don't be too vague, but try not to include your whole life story as well. And if they don't respond? Follow up after a week or so. If they don't respond again? Follow up again (nicely!). It's not a firm no until they say so.
I just did this last week for an important personal collaboration. I crafted the perfect draft email and never got a response. Two weeks later, I resent it with a sweet message after Thanksgiving. I got a reply the very next day and landed the project. Thanks, James!