Alt Summit 2013

Oh, Altitude Summit. You complete me.

No, really. You do. I can’t quit you.  As a sophomore attendee of Alt Summit, I was more excited for January than even Christmas to return because I knew exactly what I was in for: a whirlwind of dinners, sponsors, parties, fun things to dress up for, and the most amazing group of creatives ever. My people.   That’s not to say that I wasn’t still all butterflies & nerves the night before, probably compounded since I was a speaker this year at a roundtable.

This year was less about the panels for me, and more about connections. I don’t know if it’s because I felt like I was already on top of a lot of the topics discussed in the panels, but I got a lot more out of meeting up with people in the lounges and hallways. The roundtable discussion that I led was also an excellent opportunity to connect with people one-on-one; I hope that in future years there can be more of that smaller-scale interaction that the roundtables facilitate. I also learned a ton in the design classes on Saturday, a great mix of hands-on, one-on-one interaction with the instructors. I wish there were more of that too.

The sponsors in general this year were really fantastic and for the most part, a perfect fit with the wide variety of creatives in attendance. I also loved chatting with the Dash & Albert/Annie Selke representatives and the Serena & Lily girls too.  Joss & Main was in attendance and sponsored the amazing Clue-themed party — and I even won a headboard and pillows from them. How crazy is that?

The Land of Nod hosted a fantastic kick-off dinner for a small group of us, and I could not have been more bowled over. I was excited to connect with them this year because I have loved their aesthetic for years and their sense of whimsy has only increased over time. Their modern, colorful and eclectic home decor items have left many of us lusting over their catalogs (and the newest one is good, you guys. REALLY good).  I talked with plenty of girls at Alt who don’t even have kids who love their stuff. To me, that’s the sign of kid design done right.  They threw a chic camp-themed event in a loft of a local brewery in Salt Lake City and had these amazing blankets wrapped up for each one of us. Each table setting was perfection.

And can I just tell you the sense of pride I have in our Oklahoma contingent of bloggers? Kathleen said it best in this post — and I am thrilled to see the creativity that is happening in this state. That photo above? That was only the first day. It continued to fill in even more. Things are happening here in Oklahoma.  It thrills me to pieces to be a part of such a fantastic group of women.

It’s funny too that you have to fly across the country to hang out with the people that are already in your own city. I roomed with Pippin & Pearl and Rachael Really and (on the last night) Whitney English and Amber Housley. Connecting (there’s that word again!) is really what this entire weekend was all about. The exchange of ideas. The encouragement. The cheerleading. I owe these women a lot — they support me wholeheartedly and likewise, I want to give them all the support I can as well.

As always, the parties and the photobooths are legendary. I wish I had a Smilebooth in my living room and now I’m in the mood to throw a party. Anyone else want to have a fancy dress party just for the fun of it?

The overarching theme from last year remains this: there is room enough for all of us if we are being truly authentic to ourselves. As I chatted with my round table group, I was reminded of my first job out of college in the fashion industry. It was a harsh world and there was not much support from fellow designers.  But as I’ve entered the blogosphere in the last 5 years, I’ve seen an entirely different creative industry, and subsequently, experience. My heart longs to be an encourager and filled with joy that I can pass along to others – I don’t ever want anybody to feel like they’re alone in the way that we did in that first year. The best part about this weekend was the sharing of ideas, resources, and collective experience.

I was chatting with the lovely Gabrielle Blair (of Design Mom fame) on the last day and I told her how thankful I am that she and her sister Sara have worked so hard to put this event together. I honestly believe that so much of the amazing things that happened in 2012 for me were kickstarted by Alt. I came away motivated, empowered, and ready to greet the world. And in the end, this year’s Alt was no different.

 Let’s do this, 2013. I am ready for you.

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