One of my greatest joys is organizing the Texas Style Council conference each year. My passion is helping people to figure out how to use their online entities to make genuine connections with others offline. Last year was the TxSC's third endeavor, and I was absolutely honored and humbled that 288 attendees joined in the very full and very rewarding weekend in March, during SXSW.
If you attended our three day conference in 2012 or 2011, please know that this year we're going to look a little different:
I was pleased with last year's conference, but what stuck with me is the feedback that our attendees love that we focus on networking and our speakers seemed approachable and helpful in smaller settings. Many people said they enjoyed our smaller workshops and breakout sessions, perhaps even moreso than our large panel presentations. So this year, we are scrapping the panel/ audience format altogether. Instead, we'll host three "schools" of classes: Business School, Blog School, and Gen Ed. Classes will be taught by individuals in a smaller, more interactive setting. If you've attended SXSW before, these will looks similar to the "core conversations". Feel free to mix and match your courses to create a curriculum specific to your own goals in your career or life, in general.
REACH + AUDIENCE
In the past, our conference has been tailored specifically for fashion bloggers and independent apparel and accessory retailers. We recognize that there is an industry movement, where the lines between blogging types are becoming blurred. To that end, we are shifting to be more "lifestyle" focused vs. strictly fashion focused. Our programming will have relevant materials for all women who use social media and blogs to connect with others. Lifestyle, personal style, beauty, mom, and DIY bloggers will feel at home at TxSC. We also have programming for small business owners, independent designers, retail entities, and tech companies who have a female-centric client base.
In 2010, we started off as a small group of 30 fashion loving women who gathered at a condo for brunch, crafting, and shopping. In 2011, Grechen Reiter and I grew the TxSC into a fully-staged three day conference with 150 attendees. Last year, all 250 (and then some!) tickets sold out and we had nearly 100 people on the waiting list. Our sponsorship opportunities sold out quickly, and our Posh Party was incredibly crowded. This year we hope to accommodate 400+ attendees and make sure we all have plenty of room to comfortably mix and mingle at our events.
AUGUST vs. MARCH
This year is an experiment. For the last three years, the TxSC has occurred during SXSW Interactive. This was to accommodate speakers and brands who were already in town (so they could do just one trip to Austin). However, this made our sponsors and speakers spread quite thin, and it was nearly impossible for our attendees to find lodging, affordable flights, and to navigate our city in our extremely congested traffic. We looked over our attendee list last year and only 10% of our participants (including sponsors and speakers) were here for SXSW. 90% of our attendees traveled to Austin specifically for TxSC. While it will be unreasonably hot here in Austin in August, moving the TxSC to a time slot between SXSW and ACL should make lodging and traveling quite a bit easier.
ADVISORY TEAM + STAFF + VOLUNTEER CALL
With exponential growth comes the need to have more hands on deck. We have hired a social media director, a director of programming, a logistics manager, and a registration manager. In addition to that, we have culled an advisory team of bloggers and business owners to approve and offer feedback on all major decisions. If you're interested in working with any of our staff members in exchange for a discounted conference ticket, please contact us. We are looking for volunteers in the local Austin area, since we do hold once weekly meet-ups. We are specifically looking for blog contributors, research team members, registration assistants, and production assistants.
It is important to the TxSC that we offer diverse programming. While certainly the industry does have a specific majority, we encourage those who offer a unique perspective to the greater blogging community and business world to pitch workshop sessions. We are particularly interested in the following topics: women in tech, cultural diversity viewpoints, mom and beauty bloggers, video bloggers, and gen ed workshops (crafts, photography, yoga, improv, etc).
PROM PARTY / BRAND EXPERIENCE
Our Saturday night party is always the most anticipated event. With photobooths, contests, and opportunities to connect with bloggers and brands you love, we are going all out with our school theme and throwing an adult prom. It's really just an excuse to wear a fancy dress and killer shoes, though. If you want to bring a date, great! Every registered attendee may invite one guest (but trust us, the party is meant for networking, so going stag is way more fun)!
I'm excited about the changes, and I'm thrilled to try this new format in a new time of year. Thanks for your enthusiasm! I can't wait to see you all here in August! If you want to get a hold of me or my team, feel free to use the contact page.