Takeaways From My KC Weekend Getaway
A couple weekends ago, I had the immense pleasure of attending the Go Blog Social conference in Kansas City! I was sponsored to go by the Midwest Influencer Network and Visit KC, and I have to say a great big "thank you!" I don't mind a quick roadtrip, and I also don't mind driving alone, so it was the perfect little getaway for me.
I was invited by Visit KC to stay in the absolutely gorgeous and perfectly located Ambassador Hotel. Located within sight of the Power and Light District, and a few blocks' walk from the venue for Go Blog Social, the Ambassador is really ideal for staying downtown. With its own lot for hotel guests, I felt comfortable being able to leave my car unattended while out and about. Well, by "my car," I mean my mom's car, because I borrowed it for the weekend. My little Scarlet is getting kind of rickety and no one in my family trusts her to make long road trips anymore... Anywho, the staff was incredibly friendly and accommodating, even when I arrived around 10:00pm to check in. Because I work Monday through Friday, I drove to KC after my day on Friday, and missed day one of the conference. That made me sad, but being able to attend at all was so exciting!
I made it up to my room, where my roomie for the night and fellow Saint Louis blogger, Erika Sevigny of All Things E, was already cozy in her PJs. I discovered a welcome bag from Visit KC on my bed, and it was stuffed full of goodies, including a gift card to Kaldi's Coffee that was put to very good use on Sunday. After oohing and ahhing over the gorgeous and dreamy marble Jack and Jill bathroom, I settled into my comfy bed and dozed off before my big day on Saturday.
I arrived at the conference just slightly early. Due to my perpetual lateness to just about everything, I ran a bit behind, which caused Erika and I not to be able to stop by a Kaldi's on the way there (sorry, Erika!). It didn't matter, however, because freshly brewed coffee from local coffee company The Roasterie perked me up, and paired nicely with the provided Mocha Almond treats from Rawxies.
Some of the speakers for day two of the conference included Mandy of Sugar Bee Crafts, Callie of Rawxies, Enza of Enza's Bargains, and Meggan and Landon of Lily Jade.
Some of my takeaway notes from the speakers include:
- When reposting a contributed post to another blog on your OWN blog, change the first paragraph so Google reads it as new.
- An email with stats is sometimes just as effective for some companies as a fully-designed media kit page.
- Introduce a brand to your readers in a way you would write about an inspiring new friend.
- Some companies and brands think that Instagram has taken over blogging. This was an interesting thought because I prefer content. It takes more work and involvement than simply posting a well-photographed outfit.
- Some companies and brands may not care as much about your number of followers as they do about your actual interactions with your followers.
Although I think I went into the conference thinking that the conference was going to have a bit more focus on building and strengthening your own blog, its stats, and its exposure, I think all the lessons I took away are most valuable! I've already put Mandy's advice of having a strict editorial schedule and concrete expectations with your contributing bloggers to use (or, well, tried to). I contribute to What the Doost!?, and I haven't been as consistent with supplying posts as I should in order to best build our relationship. So, I spoke with Gina at WTD and we have a nice little calendar going!
One of the best parts about attending events like this is meeting the PEOPLE. I love hanging out with both old and new friends. Cassie of Style Cassentials and I posed in front of the Go Blog Social backdrop (pictured above) and caught up since we hadn't seen each other in a while, even though we both live in Saint Louis. I automatically connected with the gorgeous Dasha of Windy City Wardrobe (in the patterned top above and below), and I think it had everything to do with us both being smiley people. I swear, being friendly really makes a difference in the world. She is driven, smart, creative, and wicked with a camera. I can't wait to visit her in Chicago sometime! I caught her chatting with Aziza of The Bargain Beauty - they saw me lift my camera, and without hesitation, they both turned and posed. I laughed so hard I almost cried.
Another friend I made on Saturday was the stunning Emileigh, blogger of Flashback Summer. I really encourage you to check out her vintage-focused fabulous style, and learn more about her amazing multi-cultural, mult-continental background! As you know, it's not a blogger event without a bazillion photos being snapped, so it was super funny to watch us all take pictures of one another outside!
The conference's home for the weekend was the Berg Event Space. Carefully decorated with a fun array of curated objects, the space was totally aligned with a blogger's aesthetic. I can't get enough of exposed brick, and hope to one day live in a home with a wall of it. After my day at the conference, I headed back to the hotel to change and freshen up. I had more sights and sites to see before the day ended!
Of course I had to go thrifting/vintage shopping! After some Googling, and going to the wrong address, I ended up at Re-Runs on Broadway. The address confusion stems from an old location that Re-Runs had in the West Bottoms district. I walked in and immediately knew I was in trouble. So many gorgeous vintage items hung from floor to ceiling. This is definitely one of your more upscale vintage shops, too: not a single item I examined had a snag, stain, or blemish. The prices reflect this, and are not for those who depend on super thrifty finds to save their wallet. However, the prices weren't outrageous either. I immediately snapped up a 18kt gold plated pinky ring with a fancy "B" sculpted into it. The letter B means nothing to me, except for maybe "boss bitch," so I'll use that.
Vintage-styled Playboy bunnies peeked out of the window, giving a nod to the fact that it was Easter weekend. The owner/"proprietor," Ken, was delightful to talk to and visit with. He told me that Re-Runs has been around in some capacity or another for about 30 years. I can see why - between the selection and his wonderful customer service, Re-Runs must have a loyal base. I have read that films, media, and other brands pick up clothes for productions and such, so you know that their inventory is worth checking out. And Ken did me a huge favor with my purchase. I found an amazing pantsuit combo, in the perfect black and white pinstripe, but the pants just didn't fit. As you know, #thesethighsdontlie. He was kind enough to split up the items so that I could buy the blazer and not the pants. Just wait till I get this jacket in an outfit post! I'm calling it my "Jill Skellington" look...
After doing my shopping, I headed to the Crossroads Arts District to grab a burger with an old friend. I met up with Albana at Anton's Taproom, which unfortunately sits on a street under a lot of construction, so try to ignore all the orange cones in my photo! The food and service at Anton's was great, and Albana and I had a grand time catching up. I don't even know how many years it's been since we last saw each other! We inhaled our burgers and then headed back to the Ambassador to have a drink at their bar and lounge, which is part of their in-house restaurant, Reserve. Between my beer at Anton's and my two Sidecars at Reserve, I can't express enough how excited I was to discover that checkout time at the Ambassador is 12pm. I was not about to move anywhere quickly on Sunday morning, that was for sure!
Sunday was a day for me to be lazy, take my time, and do just a little exploring. I headed to the Country Club Plaza and walked around for a bit in the gorgeous weather. I had totally planned on dropping some cash at their American Apparel location, but when I arrived, it was closed. Darn Easter! So I set up shop in the Kaldi's Coffee there in the plaza, and worked for about three hours. Thanks again for the gift card, Visit KC! While sitting in this Kaldi's for hours on end and drinking my weight in lattes, I came up with a topic to write about for What the Doost!? that pertains to personal past experiences, and how they shouldn't affect your current outlook on life.
While waiting for one of my lattes to be made (in the mug that Visit KC also gifted to me!) I stopped to compliment a young lady on her top. Her name is Maddie and she's actually originally from Saint Louis, but studying at the Kansas City Art Institute. We spent quite a while chatting and talking about our mutual art-oriented interests, and planned to connect again when we're in the same city. She is also an avid thrift shopper, so I see an amazing lady shopping date in our future!
Sunday's Outfit Details
Hat: Urban Outfitters | Jacket, Boots, Bag, Van Halen T-Shirt: Thrifted
Disco Pants: American Apparel | Scarf: Hand-Me-Down From Heartland; Underdog
After writing my fun blog post for why I was hoping to become the Official Explore Saint Louis Summer Ambassador of 2015, I packed up all my items, hit a gas station, and jumped on the road. Well, not before stopping in front of that white wall in the parking garage to show off my duds for the day. I think I'm finally heading in a more realized personal style theme, and that outfit was a pretty accurate representation of what's to come.
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked Kansas City while I stayed there! The last time I visited, I was probably in early college, and I just wasn't able to enjoy it. I like traveling alone because it gives you the ability to almost do whatever you want, and I did just that! I didn't have to rush around to see things that other people wanted to see. I wasn't on a strict schedule making all the tourist stops. This actually got me excited to go back! Next time I'm in Kansas City, I'll have a better understanding of the neighborhoods and getting around, and I'll be able to plan to see the things I read/learned about while there for Go Blog Social. My excitement to return is only further fueled by the hospitality of Visit KC, and the friendliness of everyone I met at the conference.
Some of my personal takeaways from the trip include:
- Traveling by myself is enjoyable, but can also be intimidating. It opens my mind up for a lot of reflection, wandering, and questions.
- Making connections while on your own personal trips is so important. You may just make a friend or collaboration partner for life.
- Let things go. You can't plan everything. You might not expect to get lost. Don't get upset when a store you don't have access to in STL is closed when you try to go.
- Smile at strangers. You might make a friend.
- Having a MacBook Air is really handy. The power lasts hours and hours, so you can play your music from your laptop and not have to listen to the radio.
- Discover new radio stations when your laptop dies. You might be inspired, or find out about bands you wish you'd heard of long ago.
- You might just find a new "home away from home," and start planning when you can return.
Do you visit KC often? If so, what's YOUR favorite spot to stop by?