Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spark Sessions: A Fashion And Beauty Blogger Conference

Were you at Spark Sessions, Toronto’s first fashion and beauty blogger conference, this weekend? If not, you missed out on so, so much.

If you’re familiar with this blog, you’ll know that I’m not usually a gusher but I am going be gushing in this entry because this was an excellent conference. I learned lots, I met tons of people and I was wowed by how smooth the whole weekend was.

Since this was the conference’s first outing, and since it was being organized by a small collection of bloggers who all have other jobs besides Spark Sessions, I did expect a few bumps. But if there were any, I didn’t notice them. Seminars started and ended on time, registration was a breeze and if you had a question, someone had an answer.

This two-day, all-day event, took place at the Centre for Innovation, an old, bricks-and-exposed-beams building that offered just the right amount of space (and unisex bathrooms, which is important when you’re at an event where 95% of the attendees are ladies). In attendance were 120 bloggers who I was told by co-organizer Elaine Atkins, sold out the event twice.

After all of the tickets were originally snapped up, she explained to me, Spark Sessions was flooded with messages from bloggers who really, really wanted to attend the conference. So they opened up a few more spots that were then quickly purchased. As of Saturday morning, there was actually a 30-person wait list. Clearly, the demand for this event is out there.

I picked up my ticket as soon as the event went on sale so I paid an early-bird rate of $70. The regular price though was $99, which is still quite reasonable for what we got. And what did we get? Yummy breakfast and lunch on both days; a steady stream of assorted beverages and candy; a Saturday evening party that featured free booze, manicures and a beauty product and clothing swap; tons of networking opportunities and over $300 in free stuff. Oh, and we got to attend some great seminars.

The full agenda can be read over here, while the speakers list can be found here. Topics ranged from the more technical, SEO to photo editing for example, to the business side, how to make money and how to work with PR agencies, to the basics, like how to develop your brand.

I’ve always felt that one of the best ways to judge a seminar is by the number of intelligent questions that are asked at the end. Based on that, all of the seminars were hugely successful. Some of the questions that attendees asked were really specific or technical but the speakers always had a solid answer.

In addition to the seminars, there were also two keynote speakers: Canadian fashion legend Jeanne Beker and gossip queen Lainey Lui. Both were great, inspirational speakers and who were completely appropriate choices for the conference. Actually, I can’t think of better keynote speakers for a group of fashion and beauty bloggers than those two.

Besides learning a lot at Spark Sessions, I also met some great people. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about the social side of things, particularly since I was attending an event where I didn’t know anyone, but in the end things were fine. While some people were certainly there with friends, most people at Spark Sessions were like me, flying solo, and so they were happy to chat and exchange business cards.

Overall, I was really impressed with this event and I can’t wait to attend next year’s event. Oh, the organizers of Spark Sessions haven’t officially confirmed that there will be a second edition of this conference but based on how successful this first one was, I’m positive that it will be returning.

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