Fashion isn't a 'one size fits all' concept; nor is it simply for women up to age 25. As we all know, women and moms love fashion post-kids and a new conference recently showcased the business side of working with the fashion, beauty and style categories for bloggers of all sizes and ages. Created by Momtrends, MomGenerations, Lady and the Blog and Power Moms Media, the innovative and inspiring Fashion Forward Conference was the first-ever fashion and style conference where bloggers learned everything on how push their brand to the next level within the fashion, beauty and style categories as well as receive incredible tips and insight on how to successfully grow their brand while also networking and watching a real moms and kids fashion show.
Held at the swank 404, located in the heart of midtown, bloggers and editors had the opportunity to check out amazing panels moderated by iVillage; a keynote from Jill Herzig, Editor-in-Chief of Redbook; two fashion shows featuring top online moms; and incredible networking opportunities including a mini-brand showcase featuring Stride Rite, PolkaDot What and Snugli (more on our sponsors in part-two).
To kick-off the event, Nicole (Momtrends) and Audrey (Mom Generations) spoke about how excited they were to both incorporate the branding side of blogging to women as well as have an afternoon of business, education and fun. Audrey also addressed why Vera (Lady and the Blog) was not in attendance due to having to rest during her pregnancy, but was following along via Twitter and showing her support throughout the day. Kelly Bensimon of the Real Housewives fame, was also there for the opening remarks and makeup artist Andrew Sotomayer who gave us all a preview of their new show on iVillage, DIY Beautify that features real women learning how to apply makeup and learn all about new makeup trends.
The first panel, 'Style Your Success' was next that featured Samantha Ettus (Bestselling author and founder, Working Moms Lifestyle); Michelle Madhok (SheFinds); Kendra Bracken-Ferguson (co-founder of Digital Brand Architects) and Julie Deane (CEO of Cambridge Satchel) who all highlighted their unique experiences in business as well as how their organizations were formed. Moderated by Kelly Wallace, Chief Correspondent of iVillage, the inspiring panel first talked about the moments that made them want to start their own company. Michelle spoke of how she wanted to own her own time; while Kendra (who started her company in a weekend) knew she discovered a niche (that combined with her background and experiences) was the perfect solution for a missing category in the blogging industry.
Julie was inspiring as she spoke about how her company started as the result of bullying and Samantha discussed how networking is a powerful tool and women should not take 'no' easily. In the face of figuring out a concept for your brand, Kendra spoke of being open and ready for opportunities and to understand how uniquely you do something. Michelle spoke of the financial side of working for yourself and stated, "Don't work for free!" She also noted that all brands and bloggers should have a professional media kit and to learn (and master) the verbiage of your business. It was also interesting to hear from Julie who spoke about her dedication to craftsmanship and how her brand differentiates themselves from a sea of handbag manufacturers.
Keynote speaker Jill Herzig, Editor-in-Chief of Redbook was up next and spoke about her history in magazines that involved working for Cosmopolitan under the infamous Helen- Gurley Brown and later Glamour under an unconventional editor who choose not to have a voice in the magazine, but rather focused on what was in it for the reader. Jill noted that her path and roles under these unique women have allowed her to create a multi-platform brand reaching young, married women through interactive programs and fresh editorial content.
Up next was our real mom/real women fashion show featuring brands like Levi's, Sonsi, Eileen Fisher, LOFT, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Maggy London and Rent the Runaway (see full list of bloggers below). There were also stunning accessories to complete the look with pieces from Tribe Bags, Cambridge Satchels, ECCO shoes, Casa Couture, Aerosoles, Marie Todd and Theodora & Callum and modern hair looks styled by the Robert Stuart Salon and gorgeous makeup by Evy Drew. All of the bloggers and editors involved in the show looked stunning in their unique pieces that showcased their personalities and body types - where no one felt judged. Even better was that there was no one size fits all model but simply to illustrate how these women could wear accessible fashion in the real world.
Fashion Forward Conference Runway Show Recap
- Nicole Feliciano @momtrends - Levi's and Snugli and Rent the Runway
- Audrey McClelland @audreymcclellan - Levi's
- Andrea Fellman @savvysassymoms - Levi's and Rent the Runway
- Sherry Aikens - @babypop - Sonsi
- Nancy Horn @mamamaven - Sonsi
- Linda Grant @nycsinglemom - Sonsi
- Beth Felman @rolemommy - Look sponsored by GM
- Julie Edelman @accidentlhswife - Look sponsored by GM
- Roo Ciambriello @roociambriello - Look sponsored by GM
- Melissa Angert @melissaangert - Look sponsored by GM
- Maria Colaco @pluslily -Ingrid and Isabel
- Nicole Daley @daleyprnews - Ingrid and Isabel
- Liza Huber @sagespoonfuls - Ingrid and Isabel
- Sharon Langert @fashion_isha - Eileen Fisher
- Clarissa Nassar @theposhparent -Eileen Fisher
- Pam Kirkbride @triplethreatmom - LOFT
- Jyl Johnson @momitforward - LOFT
- Lainie Gutterman @meandbabyi - Lauren by Ralph Lauren
- JoLynne Shane @jolynnes - Lauren by Ralph Lauren
- Serena Norr @mamagoesnatural - Maggie London
- Lyss Stern @divamoms - Maggie London
- Brooke Stewart @powermomsmedia - Jeans designed by Clorox
After the exciting fashion show, the second panel was next where guests learned all about the Power of Partnerships with the panel that was made up of Ingrid Carney, CEO of Ingrid and Isabel; Marissa Thalberg, Head of Digital Marketing at Estee Launder and Founder of Executive Moms; Lyss Stern CEO of Diva Moms; Andrew Sotomayer, makeup artist and host of DIYBeautify and Lisa Todd, CEO of Marie Todd Jewelry.
Moderated by Audrey McClelland, the panel discussed how they paired with some companies as well as what works for their business model. Lyss spoke about starting an idea that no one backed, but also discovered certain partnerships as well as a need in the market and stayed determined to make her dream happen. Lisa spoke of being a former model and discovering how jewelry and creativity moved her to change careers. Andrew also mentioned that every partnership that matters is for your audience. He noted that working with brands and companies that make sense can allow you to grow and expand your own personal brand. Ingrid spoke about staying grounded and answering messages and emails from her customers while Marissa spoke of using her experience to work both in a traditional job at Estee Lauder as well as being the founder of Executive Moms.
Next up was the adorable kids' fashion show (more on that in part two) that was sponsored by the Tea Collection and then an accessorizing panel with handbag and accessory maven, Pamela Pekerman. Moderated by Nicole Feliciano, Pamela spoke of finding her niche (orginally just handbags) and how she expanded on her passion. She spoke about how crucial it is to work with companies and brands that you believe in as well as the importance of being prepared and professional for anything that may come up. She spoke about mastering your personal pitch, and that if you don't have one to master what your website or blog is about and to understand exactly what you want to do within your given sector.
The action-packed day closed with a cocktail hour with tasty drinks from VitaFrute, wine and delicious PopChips and networking and chatting amongst new and old friends.
An afternoon filled with inspiring people, fashionable looks, and the business side of blogging and branding allowed all involved to learn more about the industry and how to successfully grow their brand. Through the Fashion Forward Conference, fashion, style and beauty bloggers and editors were better equipped with tools and tips to focus their brands towards success as well as showcasing that the fashion industry is not just for women in their early 20s, but as Nicole stated it is for 'the population of hip, trendy women over the age of 25 that has been underserved.'