The prospect of going to a networking event, by yourself, especially one led by people whose careers I’ve followed and been inspired by for many years, can well, be quite intimidating. And that’s initially how I felt when I walked up to the theater at the Grove. I checked in and was amazed at how incredibly organized the event was. Each attendee that was part of the “Fashion and Beauty” package was greeted by very enthusiastic volunteers for the event who gave us our badges (I was so excited to see my Blog name as part of my name badge) along with Simply Stylist binders. Inside the binders was the itinerary for the afternoon. (Even though I had already downloaded the Simply Stylist App I was still totes excited about the binder.) I contained my excitement and walked through towards the giant step and repeat where I had anticipated taking the very cliche Instagram photo that is almost mandatory when attending events like this. Alas, instead I opted to start a casual conversation with another event attendee, Hailey. Much like myself, Hailey was also a very ambitious person. She came from a background that included interning with Rachel Zoe and explained while she loved her current job knew she was worth something more. OMG?! Me too! Or rather I should say our circumstances were very similar. While I still very much enjoy going to work every day, I get a sense of fulfillment when I do the blogging thing. Which side note, it was also very refreshing to be surrounded by a group of people who understand how much of a task it is to maintain a decent blog. Alas, I quite enjoyed the side conversations i had with this girl. Someone who knows what it means to know you’re destined for greatness and failure isn’t an option. I was quite delighted.
The first part of conference was kicked off with E’s Catt Sadler interviewing the beautiful and astonishingly witty, Alessandra Ambrosio. To be truthful when her interview first started, I initially thought to myself, now what in the world would I have in common with a super model? Sometimes, and I’m ashamed to admit this I forget that even people who have wildly successful careers started out a dreamer. A kid who wasn’t afraid of wishing upon a star and wasn’t afraid to work to achieve their dreams. “If you want it, you got to fight for it”, was one of my favorite quotes of the day spoken by a true angel. Even she’s fought her battles and made her sacrifices. Sometimes you can only make it to birthdays and a few holidays when it comes to those in your social circle. But at the end of the day if you’re doing what you love then that’s what’s important. Someone commented during a panel discussion, you only get one life, so you better make it count.
While yes it was exciting to hear from various perspectives of success in the industry, I was even more thrilled to hear about each person’s journey. And that seems to be the key to each of these stories. It’s each journey and each individuals commitment to their own success, and method of story telling I suppose as well that made each of them stand out. And standing out is key as well. Jen Chae reaffirmed this sentiment by advising the audience “it’s about being you, be the one who stands out.” And if you’re reading this you’re probably thinking to yourself, well easier said than done. That’s where you dear fellow dreamer take it upon your self to fight for your dream. Because think about it. And the logic is quite practical. If you don’t fight for your dream who will? If you don’t enjoy your own brand or business, why would anyone else? And that’s almost part of the key to success as well. “Don’t get so caught up in the numbers game” said Cara Santana. And that’s true! You’re always going to have someone else’s numbers to compare to. But at the end of the day, just like anything else in life don’t concern yourself with what you don’t have but rather what you do. Give your audience a reason to continue following you. I was at a leadership meeting about 2 years ago, and the moderator said something that I have always found inspiring and true to this same exact concept. If you light something on fire, whether that be a business or your blog or your own sense of fashion, people are going to come to watch you burn. Sounds kind of gory I realize that (please forgive me, I’m watching the “Walking Dead” season finale as I type this, sacrilegious but pursuing a dream is a sacrifice and I’m just not paying attention to commercials.) Either way the sentiment is the same, be true to yourself. Be the one who stands out. Believe in yourself, and your brand and be genuine and kind a long the way. Don’t be afraid of the word no, because at the end of the day you’re probably going to hear a million no’s but it’s going to make that one yes that much more special. And that’s one of the other things that stayed with me while I was driving home. At the end of the day, this journey is your own. Nobody can take it from you. And as Michael Costello pointed out “don’t set one goal, set many.” And once you reach your end goal figure out a way to do it better.
Needless to say by the end of the panel sessions I was feeling tremendously inspired. Like I could conquer the world. And that feeling of empowerment and success, is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I learned a ton, was inspired lots and made connections that I hope will last a life time. LA is a big town and with all the lights one rarely see’s the stars in the sky. But if you look close enough you’ll find exactly what I did and I’ve truthfully known all along. The stars in the sky don’t shine as bright because there are simply beautiful souls on the ground whose passion and dreams shine far brighter. It’s a cheesy sentiment I realize but I have always had an affinity for cheesiness. I like it and it works for me. I cannot wait until the next panel! And who knows maybe next time I might even travel to Chicago or New York for a conference. Time to start considering meeting global dreamers.