The 2nd annual Gossip & Glamour Style Summit is a wrap! We had a blast hosting over 100+ of the top style bloggers in the city at The Thompson. The panel discussions were filled with insight and inspiration and offered bloggers coveted behind-the-scenes strategies for long-term success.
The first panel discussion, "The Art of Creative Collaborations: Strategies for working with fashion brands to maximize engagement" touched on how to secure paid collaborations, how to pitch in reverse, and how to track ROI on influencer partnerships. Featured panelists included Jessica Branning of Neiman Marcus, Danielle Pepperl of Brooks Running, Stephanie Chacharon of Fitcode, Sammy Scharg of Julep, and to round out the panel and offer a blogger perspective, we tapped Jess Estrada of FreshJess.com.
"We want to work with bloggers who already understand our brand and ethos," said Sammy Scharg of Julep. That was a sentiment echoed by other brands on the panel including Danielle Pepperl of Brooks Running who gets inquiries for product all the time. Brands want bloggers to know that if they're asking for free product from a brand, they'll have an easier time getting to a "yes" if they've already done their homework about who the brand is and who they're trying to target.
When it comes to paid collabs, brands admit they don't always have a budget to pay bloggers but when they do, they go straight back to the influencers they worked with in the past who took their unpaid collabs seriously and who organically love the brand, regardless of whether or not they were getting paid to post. They also noted that professionalism goes a long way in person and via email. "If we feature you at an in-store event, don't be late!" said Jessica Branning of Neiman Marcus. Typos are a major no-no and so is "going dark" via email. If you're too hard to track down brands will just find someone else to work with who is more responsive. Other nuggets of advice from the panel included following up with brands when your collab is over, offering metrics and feedback from readers, avoiding conflicts of interest by not tagging competitors in the same post, and reaching out to PR firms that work with brands you love in order to get connected.
The second panel "Beyond the Blog: How to successfully launch a second concept" focused on launching a business and/or adding a second revenue stream. Sponsored posts can only go so far and in the year ahead bloggers will need to add additional sources of revenue to stay afloat. Panelists included Moorea Seal, Jenny Keller, Brandy Brown and Tiffany Ishiguro. The discussion covered how to grow a loyal following, how to know when it's time to supplement your team with people who love doing the things you don't (like spreadsheets), how to use your network to build your brand in the early days of launching a business, and most importantly, how to diversify your revenue stream by building on the things you've already created.
"Whenever I'm trying to figure out if I should do something or not I always ask myself: Does it make money? Will it be fun? Is it good for my brand?" says Jenny Keller of Jenny Cookies, "It has to be two out of the three in order for me to do it." Jenny got her start by getting noticed by Tori Spelling by having a friend take some cookies to a book signing in Hollywood. She was later contacted by Tori via Twitter and the rest is history. Jenny now has a bakeshop in Lake Stevens in addition to being an author and influencer on her own site at JennyCookies.com.
Tiffany Ishiguro talked about the importance of leveraging your network to build your business. In the early days of building T+J Designs she was on a photoshoot with a fellow style blogger who later introduced her to the accessories buyer at Nordstrom. T+J Designs ended up getting featured by Haute Look, which instantly helped elevate the entire brand.
Brandy Brown of Marabou Designs discussed the importance of knowing your value and getting paid for doing the things you love. She also noted that if you don't want to be the one negotiating fees or signing contracts, find someone who can do it on your behalf so that you aren't missing opportunities to grow your brand.
Moorea shared strategies for building an engaged following via social media and spoke about the importance of selling direct to the customers in order to enhance the buying experience. She also dropped a major bombshell by announcing that she's moving her shop in Belltown to First Ave. later this summer.
Other tips for success included being open to collabs with like-minded brands that may be outside of your niche. Jenny Keller looked beyond baking to do collabs with Minted.com and other lifestyle companies that fit under her brand umbrella. Tiffany discussed diversifying her revenue stream by adding a wholesale component to her business, and Moorea spoke about going direct-to-consumer after building a strong following on Pinterest by directing traffic to her own site instead of a third-party.
Keynote speaker Alan Gertner of Tokyo Smoke wrapped up the event with an inspiring keynote speech about winning at life by doing work you care about with people you care about. He also announced that he's open a Tokyo Smoke concept shop right here in Seattle later this year. Stay tuned for details + an exclusive invite to the preview party.
I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make the Style Summit possible including our advisory board who truly made the event seamless. Teamwork makes the dream work and I am eternally grateful for my tribe. It has been a privilege watching the style blogging community in the city grow and evolve over the past few years. The Style Summit started as a passion project and grew into a platform for bloggers to connect, share ideas, and spark creative collaborations. I can't wait to bring it back again next year!
We invite you to follow the conversation on social using the hashtag #SEAStyleSummit. You can also view official event photos here. If you missed the Style Summit this year, please be sure to sign up for the Gossip & Glamour mailing list to stay in the loop on next year's event!
Style Summit Thank You's
Vivian Hsu Photography
Coupe Rokei Salon
Jenna Lynn Fernandez Photography