CREATE & CULTIVATE DO’S/DON’TS

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So you want to attend a Create & Cultivate conference? This post is here to help! I’ll be breaking down my conference experience and comparing my expectations and realities for my weekend in New York with C&C.

As stated in my favorite conference moments post, Create & Cultivate is a movement for female entrepreneurs and their one day conferences have become quite the hot ticket over the last few years. The events are marketed toward bloggers, business owners, and creatives that are looking for a way to monetize their talents. This post is meant to compare what I was expecting to get out of the conference (based on recommendations and reviews from past attendees and the way in which the event is promoted) to what I was actually able to take away. The purpose of the post is to share my honest perspective of the conference for anyone who may be on the fence about attending. Here are my Create & Cultivate Do’s and Don’ts!

Emily
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Do…

have business cards on hand. With Luke’s help, I designed my own business cards and had them printed with MOO (can’t recommend them enough!). These were so helpful to have because the day was pretty hectic and when you meet so many people (and brands!) in such a short span of time, it’s nice to have something to remember them by. I chose to put a portrait of myself on mine to make the association between myself and my blog easier.

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Don’t…

buy VIP tickets for the ability to choose your own mentors. I was on the fence about whether to buy General Admission or VIP tickets and ended up taking so long to decide that VIP was my only option, as GA sold out in the meantime. I wanted to be able to select my track for the day and my mentors for the Mentor Power Hour, assuming that the mentors would be some of the panelists already on the agenda for the day. Mentors weren’t announced until at least a month after tickets had already sold out completely and when it was time to select mine, I wasn’t familiar with any of them. I chose the ones that seemed to be doing something similar to what I wanted to do, but I was pretty disappointed with this whole segment of the conference in general. The setting was not intimate in the least bit- each “mentor” had a group of 20-25 people surrounding her and, as I discovered in my first session of the two, if you weren’t within a few chairs of the mentor you couldn’t hear the conversation at all. It was a good time to ask questions, but the whole execution of this part of the day was really lacking in my opinion, with each group in large circles back to back in an open, echoey building. I did like getting to choose my track for the day, but in retrospect, I wouldn’t have paid an additional $200 to be able to do this. In the future, I hope to see Create & Cultivate develop an individual placement plan for attendees based on their background so that they are automatically placed in the track that is more beneficial to them regardless of if they’re a VIP or not.

Do…

reach out to fellow attendees before the conference. Since the conference is only one day, it’s a good idea to carve out additional time to spend with like-minded women while you’re in the same location. I just followed Create & Cultivate’s Instagram comment feeds to find other women who were also attending (and leaving comments like, “can’t wait!”) and then reached out to them via email to make dinner plans before our conference event on Friday evening. As an introvert, having a group of familiar faces on the day of the conference was really comforting and it helped alleviate some of the anxiety usually accompanied with large events.

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Don’t…

expect blogging “how-to’s”. There were two tracks at the NYC conference, the one I chose was the more blogger-geared of the two. While each panel had a different topic, most of the six seemed to run together because, for the most part, the blogger panelists gave the same information we’ve all read on those thousands of unhelpful “How to Blog” posts; be authentic, post consistently, only publish high-caliber content. As someone who was looking for answers and advice on how to begin to monetize her platform, hearing these shallow “tips” over and over again throughout the day was quite frustrating. In retrospect, a small blogging course on monetization probably would have been more helpful for this question I was hoping would be answered during my day at the conference.

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Don’t

get caught up with all of the amenities and fail to secure a good seat for the panels. There were so many good brands represented at Create & Cultivate like Kendra Scott, Birchbox, La Croix, and more but there was virtually no time to interact with them as our schedule was jam-packed. There was only about 20 minutes in between each panel- just enough time for a bathroom break and a quick refreshment refill before heading to the alternating indoor/outdoor stages. Luckily, I had decent seats for most, but I still struggled to hear the panelists if I didn’t have a spot front and center, so I can’t imagine that the ladies in the back of the group heard anything at all.

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Do…

book a room at the conference hotel or stay close to the venue. My friend Alexis stayed at the conference hotel and she was able to meet some other attendees that were also staying there and they split the Uber bill for their ride to the conference. I chose to stay close to the venue so that my early morning commute wouldn’t be such a hassle.

Don’t…

only talk to people you know. The biggest positive outcome of the conference for me was getting to meet other bloggers. While it was nice to have a familiar face throughout the day, I really pushed myself to chat with new people during our breakfast, lunch, and break. You never know the impact that a stranger can have on you until you introduce yourself and get to know them. P.S. Isn’t Rachel just the cutest?!

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I am happy that I chose to attend Create & Cultivate, but I do feel as if I could have spent the resources I used on this one event (conference tickets, airfare, and accommodations all add up!) to invest in smaller-scale things that would have been more beneficial to me at this point in my blogging journey and financial situation. For me, specific classes or workshops on blog monetization and growing an audience would have been a more cost-effective option than attending the conference. Looking back, I don’t think I would’ve dropped extra dough for the VIP “experience” because the extra cost primarily paid for a lot of frills that I wasn’t really interested in, like free drinks all day and access to a VIP lounge. As stated earlier, I hope that Create & Cultivate will do a placement system for attendees in the future, especially considering that the panel topics weren’t completely finalized before ticket sales opened, making it hard to tell which panel was the right choice.

Create & Cultivate has created a successful movement of entrepreneurial women and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to be in the same room as some of the panelists and other attendees. I think the conference is a wonderful outlet to meet other creatives and brands and to re-fill your inspiration tank, but if you’re looking for lots of specific blogging tips and tricks, I don’t think you’ll find them at at Create & Cultivate conference.

May 2017

“Create & Cultivate Do’s/Don’ts” Photographed by Emily Davis & Alexis Teichmiller

2017-05-31T04:23:29+00:00 May 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|6 Comments

BELL SLEEVE BLOUSE TWO WAYS + MY FIRST CHICWISH EXPERIENCE

Bell Sleeve Blouse Two Ways + My First Chicwish Experience 1

As soon as I booked tickets for the Create & Cultivate conference, I began putting together my outfits for the event. It was love at first sight when I scrolled upon this gorgeous lace blouse from Chicwish, a popular clothing company among the blogging community and a retailer I had been wanting to try out for quite some time. I placed my order on April 12th and felt a sense of relief as my outfit began to come to life. Even though the blouse was the first piece I ordered, around the middle of the month I began to wonder if it would arrive in time for the conference. Chicwish had emailed me an order confirmation, but I didn’t realize that there was no shipment confirmation until I received one on April 27th, over two weeks after I placed my order. I emailed customer service and after some back and forth, I was able to get a really sketchy tracking number that didn’t tell me much other than when my order had shipped out of China.

I arrived back home on Sunday after the conference to find my Chicwish order in the mailbox (just my luck!). ?  The top was well-constructed and arrived in tact (no loose stitches or holes), but I have a hard time saying that I was “impressed” by the quality- it retails for $60 and I’ve never paid more than $30 for a blouse of similar quality at Forever 21. I’m really lucky that it fit so well, because according to other reviews online, their return policy is an absolute nightmare and you have to pay to have the items returned to China before you’re eligible for a refund. I won’t lie and say I’m not in love with this top- it may be my favorite in my closet right now, but I really have mixed feelings about Chicwish after my first purchase with them.

I really wish my experience had been a better one, because I think they have so many cute and unique styles that are hard to find and/or are more expensive elsewhere, but I have a hard time supporting dishonest companies. Not telling me that something is out of stock and won’t ship out until two weeks after my order is placed (even though the funds were deducted from my account immediately after I ordered) is very dishonest. I also really don’t appreciate companies that treat bloggers differently than they would treat paying customers. When one of your favorite influencers recommends a new product or retailer, there is a level of trust that you’ve developed in them as a reader that makes it easier to branch out and try new things and products. Based on the numerous blogger raves, I expected much more from Chicwish. I’m not pinning this on bloggers because I’m sure many of them have never been on the consumer end in their exchanges with Chicwish and probably don’t know that this is happening, but it is unfortunate that their sponsored posts don’t depict the truth about their company’s sketchy practices.

It’s pretty frustrating when you find a company whose products you love, but their values just don’t align with yours. I won’t be ordering from Chicwish again after this experience and I wanted to warn all of you about their unprofessional business practices, hopefully before you find yourself in a similar situation.  I always want to be completely transparent and having worked in retail in the past, I place a high value on customer service and am not afraid in the least bit to call out a company in need of improvement. To end on a positive note, these trousers were my first ASOS purchase and I was really impressed with both the quality of the product (very accurately depicted on the website and nicely constructed), and how quickly the order arrived. There’s always a silver lining, ehh?

What’s the best (or worst!) online shopping experience you’ve ever had?! And yes, Amazon Prime orders count, too! ?

Emily
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Bell Sleeve Blouse Two Ways + My First Chicwish Experience
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Chicwish Amiable Blossoms Crochet Top with Bell Sleeves
River Island Tailored Pant With Frill Hem in Pink
ASOS Swanky Midi Heels in Gold
ALDO Dorewen Sunglasses in Midnight Black
ASOS Closet Lace Blouse with Satin Ruffle Detail in White
J. Crew Factory 4
Aldo Bellone Block Heels in Bone
Emily of lifestyle blog Epicurean Emily shares her favorite affordable Autumn/Winter 2017 Trends, including pearlescent embellishments and dramatically pleated skirts.
ASOS Little Mistress Monochrome Color Block Lace Top in Black/White
Ann Taylor The Ankle Pant in Triacetate Kate Fit in Pink Rosebud
ASOS Sweet Treat Ruffle Pointed Heels in Gold
zeroUV Women's Oversized Full Metal Wire Frame Glamour Round Sunglasses in Gold Amber
ASOS Premium Clean Tailored Pants in Dusty Pink
H&M Shorts with Scalloped Hems in Black
Target Sugarfix by BaubleBar Hoop Earrings in Gold
Amazon Kate Spade New York Cedar Street Maise Satchel in Lemonade

Chicwish Crochet Top with Bell Sleeves (exact & similar options linked)

ASOS Tailored Pants in Dusty Pink (exact & similar options linked)

J. Crew Scalloped Shorts in Black (exact & similar options linked)

Target Mossimo Black Faux Leather Crossbody Bag (no longer available, similar option linked) Also worn hereherehereherehere, and here

DKNY Kelly Green Bowler Bag (no longer available, similar option linked) Also worn hereherehere, and here

ALDO Bellone Shoes with Block Heel in Bone (exact linked)

Topshop “Gorgeous” Gold Glitter Mary-Janes (no longer available, similar options linked) Also worn hereherehere, and here

H&M Black Floral Applique Sunglasses (no longer available, similar option linked) Also worn herehere, and here

ALDO Round Sunglasses (no longer available, similar option linked) Also worn here and here

Target Sugarfix by Baublebar Hoop Earrings in Gold (exact linked) Also worn here

May 2017

“Bell Sleeve Blouse + My First Chicwish Experience” Photographed by Luke Bowes

2017-06-14T01:29:11+00:00 May 24th, 2017|Fashion|20 Comments

STROLLING IN SOHO

Strolling in Soho 1

For those of you who don’t know me personally, you should know that I rank a solid 10 on the introvert scale. Impending social events will have me in anxious knots for days, even weeks, sometimes. I do enjoy making new friends, but the repetitive process of rounds of introductions coupled with shallow small talk stresses me out to the max. I even read this book in preparation for the Create & Cultivate conference (and would definitely recommend- even for extroverts!). Blogging can be pretty solitary, but when it comes to networking events, making connections & contacts face to face is vital. I made a point to reach out to meet some other attendees, so I’d at least see some familiar faces at the conference and would be more at ease. Taking that initial leap of faith to reach out to a handful of total strangers online is how I was able to meet Alexis, a fellow creative based in Nashville who has her own blog and podcast, “The Laptop Lifestyle”. We ended up really hitting it off- heading to dinner after our Happy Hour event on Friday evening, accompanying each other at all of our panels on Saturday, and before saying our goodbyes on Sunday, deciding to make the most of our time in the city and wake up early to stroll the empty city streets and take some photos. Surrounding yourself with others who understand you, whether on a personal or emotional level, or just in shared similar interests & aspirations is so empowering and I headed back home with a renewed sense of all of the possibilities that can appear and amazing people you can connect with when you get out of your own head and begin to test your comfort zone.

Here are a few simple tips to help YOU start stepping outside of your comfort zone;

  • INITIATE A COFFEE DATE Maybe it’s with an old friend who you’d like to reconnect with, someone who you admire and look up to, or just someone who you feel needs a friend.
  • ATTEND A CLASS I’ve taken three classes this year at various venues (an essential oils class sponsored by my local Parks & Recreation Department, a class about how to grow sprouts and micro-greens at my local Co-Op, and a talk on the benefits of the herb Turmeric at my local library) and they are a great way to meet new people who share similar interests in a learning and self-improving environment. Having a task at hand is a great tactic for introverts to feel more comfortable in social situations (I’m telling you, read the book!)
  • WEIGH GOALS AGAINST ACTIONS Maybe you’re looking for a career change to a completely new industry that you know NO ONE in, so you need to network to get your name out there and meet potential employers and/or clients. Is landing your dream job worth a little time spent networking? The actions needed to achieve our goals often look much more accomplishable and less intimidating when we look at the bigger picture of what we’re working towards and writing them out (yes on pen & paper!) helps, too!
Emily
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Nordstrom Bernardo Breathable Microfiber Anorak in Crimson
H&M Off-the-Shoulder Top in Blue/Checked
H&M Skinny High Ankle Jeans in White Denim
Vans Perf Suede Slip-On in Silver Cloud/True White
Bloomingdale's AQUA x Maddie & Tae Floral Embroidered Anorak in Olive
Zara Frilled Gingham Top in Navy/White
Shopbop Levi's 721 High Rise Skinny Jeans in Western White
Kate Spade Cameron Street Maise in Toasted Wheat
Nordstrom Ellen Tracy Roll Sleeve Sail Cloth Anorak in White
Forever 21 Off-the-Shoulder Chambray Top in Blue
Nordstrom Nike Air Max Thea in Oatmeal/Sail/Khaki
Kohl's Apt. 9 Fiona Quilted Dome Satchel in Nude
Macy's Nautica Hooded Utility Anorak in Marine/Sailcream
Zara Gingham Top with Belled Sleeves in Blue/White
Nordstrom Nike Air Max Thea Sneaker in Oatmeal/Sail/Khaki
Target Sugarfix by BaubleBar Hoop Earrings in Gold

 MICHAEL Michael Kors 4-Pocket Utility Anorak in Orange Spice (no longer available, similar options linked) Also worn here

H&M Off-the-Shoulder Top (a few sizes left, similar options linked) Also worn here

Joe’s Cropped White Jeans (no longer available, similar options linked) Also worn here and here

Nike Air Max Thea Premium in Desert Camo (no longer available, similar options linked) Also worn here and here

DKNY Nude Bowler Bag (no longer available, similar options linked) Also worn here and here

2017-05-17T02:43:48+00:00 May 17th, 2017|Fashion|6 Comments

FAVORITE CREATE & CULTIVATE MOMENTS

Favorite Create & Cultivate Moments 1

I headed to New York City this weekend for the Create & Cultivate conference, a gathering of female entrepreneurs, empowering businesswomen, successful brands, and all around creatives to invest in Epicurean Emily and learn how to take the next steps to continue to grow my platform. I’ll talk more about my overall thoughts on the conference in a separate post, but I did want to share some of my biggest takeaways over the weekend in hopes that they may resonate with you, too!

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2017-05-10T13:44:17+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

FLAMENCO FUN

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Ok, I know I’ve said before that off-the-shoulder isn’t really my thing, so I want to firstly apologize for having two outfits featuring OTS styles back to back… A girl can change her mind, right?! What I really love about this dress is that while it’s still fitted, the voluminous ruffled neck-line detail adds such interest to something as simple as a white dress. It may just be one of my favorite Forever 21 purchases ever! I fell in love with these earrings from BaubleBar and even though they’re quite vibrant, I think they’ll go with so many things- like a simple white tee or my favorite black & white striped tee with boyfriend jeans. I was super excited to try out BaubleBar for the first time, as it’s a pretty popular online jewelry destination for bloggers and I love their unique and fun pieces. Most of you know that I’m not really into jewelry all that much, but I do love a great pair of statement earrings, and good quality ones are getting harder and harder to find at Forever 21. Even though they are made in China, I was pleased with the quality of this pair and they were packaged well for the shipping process. Since they offer free shipping with every purchase, I’m considering buying one new piece from them every month to begin to build a real accessory collection- because the one I have now is basically non-existent! ?    What’s one thing that you wish you had more of in your closet?

Emily
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Forever 21 One-Shoulder Mini Bodycon Dress
100 Percent Pure Lip Caramel in Scotch Kiss
BaubleBar Sandbar Drops in Yellow
Target Merona Lulu Block Heel Sandals
Forever 21 Selfie Leslie Backless Dress in Red
Target Mossimo Faux Leather Crossbody Handbag with Magnetic Closure in Black
Forever 21 Off the Shoulder Flounce Jumpsuit in Black

BaubleBar Sandbar Drops in Yellow (linked above)

Forever 21 White Off-the-Shoulder Dress with Contrast Detail (no longer available, similar options linked)

Target Merona Lulu Block Heeled Sandals in Black (linked above)

Target Mossimo Black Faux Leather Crossbody Bag (linked above) Also worn herehereherehere, and here

100 Percent Pure Lip Caramel in Scotch Kiss (linked above)

May 2017

“Flamenco Fun” photographed by Luke Bowes

2017-05-03T12:08:47+00:00 May 3rd, 2017|Fashion|8 Comments