BlogHer 2010: A Pre-Wrap Up

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I want to do another more thorough wrap up but I had to get this off my chest. This is in response to some of the sanctimonious, preachy things I've been reading about BlogHer and the parties.

A few weeks ago I made a phone call I was a little nervous to make because I wasn't sure how it would be received. A year ago after BlogHer '09 I was invited to work with a company (along with many others), but haven't because I didn't see myself well represented in their products. I had asked questions and requested more information but wasn't getting much of a response. This call, to the marketing director, was a last ditch effort of sorts. If I got a good response, the conversation went well and I felt I was really being heard, I'd make more of an effort and would feel good about the partnership.

I made the call and felt much better about the company and the brand afterward. I gave my honest opinion (hopefully not in a mean way) and voiced my concerns. I got an honest answer, not marketing bullshit. I appreciate that. It goes along way. I told myself I'd get more involved, see where things go and continue to push for a change I really feel was needed.

Fast forward to the pre-BlogHer scheduling craziness. I saw that this company would be at BlogHer again. Not only that, but I had invites to both places they would be. I take this as a sign. Now I will have an opportunity to talk face to face, look at new products and offer myself up for any future consulting on products for women of color.

Front lobby of their new offices
I had my first chance to meet with the people from e.l.f. on Friday morning at Getting Gorgeous. I asked if the marketing director was there, introduced myself and thanked her for her time on the phone. We chatted some more, she game me some material to look over and showed me some of the products. Again, I appreciated the conversation.

When it was my turn to get my makeup done, I told Kim, one of the e.l.f. makeup artists, a little bit of my story. Kim is a black woman and is fairly new to the company. She agreed with my perspective and asked if she could pass along my comments to the company president. I gave her my card.

New items plus the XBox Kinect
My next opportunity came at their sponsored party; Glamour and Games. This time, I got to speak with the creative director too. By now, I can tell that my concerns are being heard. I'm being taken seriously. How often does one get the chance to have the ear of top people at a company?* I definitely felt this was my opportunity to be the unofficial spokesperson for other women of color and I couldn't let it go by. Kim did my make up again, and I asked if she would use the mineral power since it was something I planned to order and I wasn't sure which shade to buy.

She chose Dark, which is what I would have ordered. Can you guess where this is going? It was ALL wrong. Instead of the matte coverage mineral foundation is supposed to give, I looked like I had reddish-pink blush all over my face. Kim called the marketing director over.

"See? This is what I've been trying to tell you. Black skin has so many different undertones. This has way too much red in it."

Now I know I have to order Dark and Warm and mix the two. I would not have even thought of doing that on my own. Not only did I get to tell people from e.l.f. that I haven't taken advantage of any of their offers because I was too unsure of how their products would look on my skin, they got to see it firsthand. 

I was impressed with the variety
If I had ordered the Dark and put it on at home with those results, (especially given my previous frustration) I would have written them off entirely. Would I have told others why I didn't use their products? Would I have sent out a frustrated Tweet or email? Who knows. But they would have lost me for good.

So yes, I was at a parties when I could have been in sessions or listening to closing keynotes. But, if listening to my concerns and seeing how awful my face looked with their product on it is even a small catalyst for change within e.l.f., (or better yet, gives Kim the opportunity to develop the line for women of color that she wants to do) then it was totally worth it for me.

YOU may not have had an interest in the sponsored parties but there's no reason to look down your nose at those who did. Not everyone goes to a conference for the same reasons. Since the conference ended I've read too many posts about what I should and should not have been doing at BlogHer. How dare I enjoy New York! There's learning to be done! MYOB.

I'm not here to police anyone. I won't tell anyone how they should spend their time at an event they used their own money to attend. It's not up to me to determine what value anyone gets by attending a conference. We all have our reasons for going to BlogHer (or any conference) and they're all different. That's supposed to be part of the beauty of blogging! Celebrating our differences! How sad that, immediately after an event that is supposed to inspire, educate and empower our community some people can only judge.

You do you and I'll do me, agreed?

*Social media has made us think we always have someone's attention. Most companies, if they're doing it right, are monitoring what we say but how many are willing to take action before it becomes damage control? 

Thank you to e.l.f. and XBox for hosting!


  1. Nice post. I have to say, I'm a bit confused and saddened by the mysterious negativity surrounding Blogher. I don't know exactly what people are saying and what happens there, but everyone seems to come home with a mixed review, and I don't understand why there's so much judgment.

    I thought it was something I'd like to go to, but I'm left a little perplexed.

    I'm glad your voice was heard and that you did what you felt was right. :)

  2. OK, I've had your post open for 10 minutes and haven't been able to come up with something more fabulous to say than 'hooray! for you!" This is what I envisioned the BlogHer branding connection to be -- and this is what I think it should be. So many of the people on the expo floor were just models they couldn't answer questions. But these companies who really worked hard to recruit bloggers - that's great! It is an interesting dilemma that they all happen during the conference but the sessions I went to -- and I only missed one session -- were mostly well attended.

    Everyone is going to have a different experience. I'm thrilled for my friends like you who are working with brands and making a difference. I think it is GREAT! You work hard!

  3. I think this post is awesome. You went to Blogher with certain intentions and they were met. Some folks went just to hang in the city with no thoughts of attending any of the sessions. This was my first time at any kind of conference. I attended sessions, I got out into the city, I met people, I feel as though my needs were met. Everyone should go for their own purposes and not knock anyone who's purpose is different than theirs. I'm so glad you got out of it what you needed.

  4. I'm impressed you went to so much trouble connecting with this brand. Thanks from a fellow WOC

    Fourth Breakfast

  5. i originally signed up for blogher because it was in nyc, and i wanted to visit my hometown. but i was so happy to meet people and talk to other bloggers. i had no expectations whatsoever, so i wasn't disappointed--in fact, i was pleasantly surprised.

    the only bad experience i would say i had was overhearing "big" bloggers talking down to their fans, which i don't think is cool (i didn't have that happen to me specifically, but still).

    anyway, i think it's so irritating when people get all judgmental and preachy-preachy at others, especially others they should be supporting. good for you for doing what you set out to do.

  6. @Ginger- IMHO it comes down to expectations. People leave feeling their needs weren't met somehow. It's impossible to please 2,000 people let alone 2,000 women!

    BlogHer may not be the right conference for everyone. If you decide to come to San Diego next year, let me know!

    I think the BlogHer team did a great job. That said, I have a few observations of my own that I want to get into another post.

    @Lori - Right? :D

    @Natalie - I read in someone's post the term "booth bunnies" and I laughed out loud. So true! If you're going to have people handing out Spanx, it might be a good idea to send people who actually need to use it! LOL!

    @Angela - Thank you! I can't hold the BlogHer team or anyone else responsible for what I get out of the conference. The experience is what you make of it.

    @Fourth Breakfast - Don't be too impressed, LOL! It was a bit self serving as I hope to work with them more. I just think they're missing a big percent of their audience and they need to work on that.

    @Alexis - Me too. My first visit to New York over my birthday. 'Nuff said. I wish you were the first person I'd heard mention 'big' bloggers not responding well to their readers. That's just plain wrong.

  7. I agree with you - a conference like BlogHer has many different functions, and we all go into it with different expectations. If we come away feeling like we got what we came for, then it was a success, no matter which offerings we attended.

    I'm just so happy I finally got to meet you!

  8. This is an excellent perspective and frankly, one I hadn't considered before.

    You work so hard and offer so much insight. I'm proud of ya.

  9. I haven't seen any negativity yet and I hope I don't. I'm not sure why women feel the need to be so judgmental of one another, but it needs to stop. Each of us can take responsibility for getting what we want from an experience and not let what other people do enter into the equation. By the way, I'm baffled by who these "big bloggers" are. I've never had a single issue with anyone being rude to me.

  10. @Donna - I'm still amazed we had to fly to the complete opposite coast to finally meet!

    @SDM - Thanks, dear!

    @MTM - It hasn't happened to me personally (anyone being rude) but I've been told stories of business cards being handed back and other WTF? kind of moments.

  11. Love this post! I had a great time at BlogHer and am looking forward to San Diego!

  12. Hi, Melanie! I tried to follow your Tweets while you were at BlogHer but I'm glad you wrote this recap too.

    What I like about conferences is that there is MUCH to choose from. I find nothing wrong if a sponsor has a whole set up just for your perusal, to test products, interview their employees, what have you EVEN IF there is a session going on. Sometimes attendees just need a break from a session & it's nice to know that there is an alternative (like visiting a vendor station).

    The best part about this is that you were able to resolve the issue you had with the company right there. Good for you!

    Great job on the recap!

  13. Love the post. Love you.


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