This was my first Blogher Health experience although not my first Blogher experience. I was not disappointed. As I start all conferences with a purpose, I had my why in my mind and heart. I am not interested in going to conferences for the sake I was there but to get something out of them that I can apply to my business and life.
Not even a few minutes and I ran right into my good friend, Karina D’ Bautista. I met her at the LA Blogher Biz conference,and we had such instant connection. We decided to sit with one another and catch up. She is about business, as the founder of Latinxgal which is a haven to help Latinxgal creators have a space to create and influence. I was happy to hear that she is also starting a podcast called Latinxgal the podcast. When you go to such large conferences it’s about what you put into it that makes it flow for you. I always make the conferences smaller by looking into making meaningful conversations and relationships but still enjoying the largeness of it all. It can be overwhelming but like I said my system has worked. Let me refresh you on how I interact within a Blogher conference:
SO now that I have given you my top 3 secrets to making a successful Blogher conference experience, I detailed it in detail in the Blogher 2019 Parts 1 and 2 which you can look here.
All conferences start with getting checked in and grabbing your swag bag. Blogher NEVER disappoints with sponsored goodies. The products for the Blogher Health 20 were about wellness and health so it’s no wonder sponsors like Nature Made Vitamins and Veeda was on the rooster.
We started the day with breakfast and coffee supplied by La Colombe. I had not tried their flavored Draft Latte but the one I fell in love with was the Vanilla. Its lactose free and smooth to drink that you forget its coffee. I had several throughout the day.
One of the first stops for me was back to Invitae which I had made connections with the day before for the Soul Cycle Tap into Heart Health event. They were there talking to us about heart health and encouraging us to consider the technology of having genetic testing to determine any underlying health issues. It’s a discouraging thing to eat right, work out and find that no matter how much effort you put into being a better version of yourself it just isn’t helping. Invitae also have a network of help to get the genetic testing done, interpreting the results, and the next steps following the testing. Unlike recreational genetic testing this is to ensure that you find answers that you might not otherwise have to help you and your doctor find a regiment that can assist in your ultimate health.
One of the highlights of the day for vendors was PCA skin. This is a professional level skin care that considers education of skin to help the skin. They specialize in peels and have been in existence for 25 years. Oh, and in case you are wondering they specialize in skin care for all skin care needs and tones. I had an intimate conversation and learned a lot such as the amount of money that we waste each year in store bought products due to attempting to find something that works. We have a thousand bottles of skin care bottles on our dressers but say things like we don’t have money to get professional skin care in the form of facials that are needed to help the skin get balanced and bright. PCA skin is leading the charge to help women skin look their best. I received some new products that I will be taking to my esthetician when I got to her this weekend. I have been taking the time to visit my local esthetician because I know that great skin begins with a professional touch along with professional grade products so I can declutter my vanity from skin care pileup.
The Class with Sophie Kos
I decided to cap my vendor stop at just the two as it was time for the main attractions to start and that was the conference itself. We had another session with Sophie Kos to take The Class. You remember that out of body experience I told you about from the day before? It was much bigger crowd and a little bit smaller session but at least I felt I knew this time what to expect. Again,The Class is about tapping into yourself and hearing and speaking intentions while you stretch and push past your uncomfortable feeling. This was sponsored by Pacira BioSciences.
With a warm welcome from SHEmedia CEO, Samantha Skey who by the way was killing it in her outfit it was time to start. Every time you see Samantha, she is always approachable and just a badass woman in her own right. When she says her goal is to make sure that woman know their worth and charge for it, she means it. SHEmedia is for and about the uplifting of women and their voices and has been consistent in the mission.
Self-Care and Success
This first session was a must. This was a candid conversation with Jen Gotch and Alli Webb on what it’s like to build a brand and still maintain mental health. We all have been there especially if you are a creative. You are out and about trying to do it all and be “on” but behind the scenes you have balance sometimes and sometimes you don’t. Both women did NOT hold back on their failure in this maintenance. Monica Padman did a great job moderating the conversation. It’s a conversation that needs to be had across the board but if we are honest no one wants to go first. You can build a brand and take breaks. You can build a brand and not get the formula right. Both women were candid and if you don’t know who they are let me enlighten you.
Jen Gotch is the author of the Upside of Being Down and the owner of Bando which sells products that speak on wellness. For instance, a necklace that says Bipolar that speaks on knocking out the stigma of dealing with mental health behind doors. Now how does a company that is built on wellness have an owner that says sometimes she gets it right and sometimes she doesn’t? Easily, its life. It’s how we all move in this world. No one gets it 100 percent correct and its okay to build and tweak things along the way. Alli Webb is the owner of The Drybar. It’s built on allowing women the pleasure of coming in and getting their hair done and leaving feeling like a thousand bucks. But she also is clear on although the mission was simple there were major mistakes along the way. They have had to make apologies when mistakes were made or when customers felt the ball was drop. Everyone wants to be successful no one wants to climb those steps to get there when it seems all Hell has broken loose. I don’t think there was a better way to start the day than speaking on the ups and downs of what is success and what is success if you can’t get you together while doing it.
Next up as a blunt and necessary conversation about vaccinations. This I know is a sensitive conversation. One of the best ways we can protect our children and others is through vaccinations. Right now, there are people on one side and others on the other. It’s a topic that we must speak on. When we look at the children who aren’t vaccinated and the sicknesses that come from it. We were given the information from Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Development at Pfizer. Again, this isn’t a choice that is up for me to battle with. I know for me personally my kids were born with certain risks that if I had not vaccinated them with their weak immune systems they might not be here and that’s real for me as a parent.
Paging Dr. Google
I know for one whenever I am sick the worse things to do is Google search my systems. I think I have personally died a few times. The internet is a great wealth of information when it works but when it’s time to get information we need to know where accredited information to use. Thankfully Blogher had a team of women doctors from all fields present. They had Dr. Yasmeen Agosti, Dr. Stephanie Canale, Dr. Jessica Shepherd, and Dr. Cara present to break the misuse of information down. As doctors it was refreshing to hear them encourage us to ask more questions and if the relationship you have with your doctors isn’t solid, they encouraged us to find one that is. That is important. If the basics of your doctors isn’t one that you can rely on you are less likely to utilize them and depend on places like Google to mislead you. This session was moderated by Reshma Gopaldas who told of how when she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, went down her own rabbit hole of misinformation. One of the places for credible information is the CDC site or American Academy of Pediatrics. One of the things you will notice from a legitimate site especially a medical one is the lack of fluff. You won’t see a lot of pretty graphics, but the information is good. If you see sites with a lot of pop ups, ads, or many unnecessary graphics it’s a sign that the site may not be credible. One of the best ways to combat bad information is even if you find something online-take what you found to your doctor and ask questions.
Moms on a Mission
I was so glad I attended this important session. This was about the diaper poverty. Women and families who lack the basic needs to diaper and care for their infants and kids. We learned from a mother (in video) who was working full time but couldn’t afford diapers. She would wash one diaper and hang it up and switch them back and forth between her kids. This is a real need. Let me break it down for you in another way, if you place a child in a daycare facility, they require 8-12 diapers to be dropped off or you can’t leave that child at the facility. A mom who doesn’t have them is now missing work and often is the only bread winner for the home leaving the cycle continuing without solution. Baby2Baby provides diapers and supplies to women and families. This session was moderated by Lisa Ling who I have the upmost respect for. Anytime she’s on scene you know that her reporting is true because her character speaks volumes. Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein lead the charge in helping this mission. Just in case you are wondering you can donate here.
She spoke on building relationships and not networking. When you network you only focus on getting a certain amount of business cards. I know for creators you focus on making more social media connections to build numbers instead of building actual relationships that become mutually beneficially. She has a book called The Relationship Game where she breaks down the notion of what it takes to build meaningful relationships in business. I loved the 3 things we should ask:
She encouraged us to use this method and make an email that we send as a follow up 3 days later after meeting someone. You can get more of her tips here by ordering her book here!
This was an amazing panel. I had been looking forward to this one for quite some time. The panel included Hunter McGrady, Maye Musk, and Camila Coelho and moderated by Mansi Pathak. It was one of the most refreshing. You heard from Maye talk about being older and doing what she loves on her terms. Unlike when you are younger, and you jump through hoops for brands she made her statement on what she would and wouldn’t do. If you don’t remember Maye maybe you remember her from the Covergirl commercial. I remember when I saw it and I thought about how beautiful she was and how her age had no bearing on her beauty-FYI it still doesn’t. Any woman making excuses after hearing her story is just not with it. I loved hearing from Hunter McGrady who talks about not dealing with brands who didn’t support her size or with brands who didn’t include women of color. Was she not worthy of nice things because she’s considered a “plus size” woman? Nope. So why would she be with brands who didn’t mirror inclusivity? So, refreshing to hear her speak. Finally, Camila who talked about being different and her mom encouraging her that her difference is what would make her stand out. Shout out to the moms who mold their daughters early instead of trying to compete or tear them down! Hearing how she wants to use all forms of social media since that’s where she got her start to empower other young women. She’s stunning not just because she’s beautiful on the outside but because she has something to add from the inside. There are a lot of pretty women but not a lot of pretty women who don’t mind taking risks and saying no for the greater good of ALL women.
Own your Health
This session reiterated the many times we aren’t even out own advocates let alone an advocate for someone else. This panel was with Dr. Taz Bhata, Jenna Finley, and Rachel Thee and moderated by Reshma. It was funny but super informative. So many times we don’t ask or honestly too scared thinking that a question is too dumb enough to ask and let things slide that can build up and be a bigger issue as time goes by. It’s important for us to ask often. For instance when you go to the doctor, write down a few questions so we aren’t “that patient” down to ask so we don’t forget about it later down the line. This helps so we can self-guide the appointment in our favor.
Passion to Profit
This was with none other than Hilary Duff and moderated by Jessica Hall. We learn about all of the aspects that being a mom has changed Hilary Duff who many remember from their childhood show, Lizzie McGuire. That is where I remember her the most as a kid. Seeing her all grown up and owning that stage was such a beautiful thing to see. Hilary has also partnered with Veeda and Happy Camper as she is quite interested in making sure that the products we use for feminine hygiene and what we put on our little kids are not only natural but sustainable. Natural products that can’t hold during the time you need them the most is not what any woman or mom would need. She spoke very candidly about this pressure to act as if women don’t have periods and the shame that is associated with it. From hiding our products in as we proceed to the bathroom to period poverty where girls don’t have the necessary products and end up missing work or school. Period poverty is very real and is a right for women to have what they need.
Thank you to Lemonade LA for providing lunch for all of the participants. You know I got the vegan box and the food was good. That lemonade though, I need all the gallons! Not too sweet it was the perfect refreshment in that LA sun.
A conversation about Reproductive Rights
We can’t have equality if we can’t control our own bodies-periodt! This is crazy that even if you don’t agree with abortion you should agree that a woman has a right to make the decisions that matter to her for her body and her rights. I have seen and heard both sides of the coin but at the end of the day if we allow the government or a man to control our bodies we are losing every single day. As a mom of young ladies I would hate for them to be in a situation and had to have some entity say sorry we will make that right or decision for you. If we don’t take a stand now we will never be able to give our daughters the proper future since we are struggling with our now. Busy Philips, Nancy Northup and Blogher’s very own Samantha Skey talk about all of that and more as we try to put into perspective that we are losing the battle of Roe v. Wade. The time to move is now. Also congrats to Nancy for receiving the VOTY Visionary Award and Busy for winning the VOTY Truth Teller Award. These ladies are fighting a very real and serious fight. Just like they are fighting there is something we can do too. On March 4 stand with Myrightmydecision as the Supreme Court hears June Medical Services v. Gee. This is going to be monumental. If you can’t be there-spread the word!! Be an ally for another woman we can talk about these issues just like we talk about everything else and talk about it without shame or fear.
Food as Fuel
When I had my first child is when I researched how to keep my daughter alive practically. I wanted her to be healthy especially since she was a preemie. I ran into articles about Agatha Achindu when she spoke on keeping kids plates colorful and that kids will reject but we can still have them eat foods that are good for them. Fast forward to this moment at Blogher and I am seated in the front. I have a son that eats it all, a daughter (that same one) who loves salads and a smaller child that is caught in the middle but is still introduced to an array of colorful foods. Achindu was joined by Dr. Susan Mitmesser and Chelsea Williams as they talk about eating food for the right reasons. One thing that stuck out to me and I tweeted about it is how when I first went vegan in the very beginning I was fine than I started wanted to try food that mimicked meat and the amounts of calories and things in those foods aren’t always good. Food that is more water based and have more nutritional value is better. It was a gut checked to make sure I took it back to what works for me. In my home personally I have never pushed veganism on anyone. I teach them to eat what’s best for them but eat what’s best for them.
Platform for Good
Guided by Carly Anderson, Dani Donovan, Erin Jackson, and Kendall Rayburn; moderated by Justine Goodman we talked all the things that social media and our audiences are good for. However we all have a responsibility to do the best for others by being authentic and real and that means balancing this need to overdo pictures, etc. as we progress in our influencer journeys. How we move on our networks matter and we owe it to ourselves and the eyes on us to use it responsibly. For instance if we encourage someone to do what they need to do for their health end with a call to action. Don’t just leave it openly and remember that what works for us may not work for others.
Hollywood on Health
This dynamic panel of speakers had me cracking up. It was made of Lauren Ash, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Rachel Matthews, Kelly McCreary, and Jade Pettyjohn; moderated by Bonnie Fuller. They talked about it all from having fibroids and having to speak up about the fact that if you went to the doctors and you said your arm hurt no doctor would say oh well arms are supposed to hurt but we don’t apply the same to feminine pain and that’s what lead Kelly McCreary to finally get help for her fibroids-well that and her husband was an amazing advocate. Shout out to the men who get it! They talked about the ways that Hollywood is embracing change especially for me specifically on natural hair. Shout out to the women who kept keeping space until now it’s becoming more and more acceptable for people to celebrate their differences and walk in it unashamed!
Wine and Gyn
Minus the wine I actually was sipping Truly– a hard seltzer. I loved the raspberry lime while eating snacks by Hungry Girl. It wasn’t that wine wasn’t available I just went in and divulged on these options. I definitely needed some wine as we talked with Dr. Marcy Crouch, and Dr. Jennifer Lang (moderated by Reshma) on all things like pain during sex or not being able to hold your pee. These are things that many women go through and yet when we mention pelvic floors and Kegels (did you do one?) we don’t talk about the reality that yours or maybe just mine need to be strengthened from them 3 kids I had. Oh just me?! That’s fine. The US is one of the only countries that don’t allow women to rehab their vaginas after major birth etc.
How much filters do you use on social media? I use them but I do my best to use them sparingly as I don’t need to be walking around and someone can’t recognize me because I don’t have Bambi antlers on my head. Dr. Candace Spann, Maya Howard, Rachel Pitzel, and Britney Vest all discuss this being authentic talk. How far is too far? How much is too much? Do we have a responsibility to say I am not going to airbrush or try too hard to edit my pictures? However we all like a good picture and sometimes we need a little spruce up. The balance is not always easy.
Blogher University: Working with Brands
We all want to work with brands for the most part. Knowing how to negotiate your contract whether you are starting out from getting products to getting paid and the balance it takes to know how to switch from one to the other is important. They also talked about when it’s appropriate to know when you are ready for a manager. Working hard to give the brands what they asked and aka what they paid for is key too. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes. When you see someone working with brands you may want to get into it but there is always more to be done behind the scenes to make it all work. Be willing to do the work but stick to being organized when doing so to meet deadlines.
Leann Rimes sweet angelic voice
Leann talked about her blog and finding the passion and balance to get it done. She talked about the things that she learned in the business and how now she speaks to the things that make sense for her instead of doing things she felt she had to. She also sang us to Jesus in a psychedelic way. She led us into song and it was the most beautiful thing ever. FYI she definitely spoke on being true to yourself. I loved the fact that outside of her singing which none of us thought would even happen she sat literally and talked with us. She poured from her soul. I literally was at her concert here in Philly a few weeks ago and she was sick. Just like a true boss that she is she did her best. Seeing her in the front row and hearing her was one of the best ways to end the night. That and the tacos and wine but it all was the best time.
Thank you to all sponsors mentioned and not mentioned in this blog-all of them which I am still going through in the grab bag are amazing. I had the best time. Thank you Blogher for having me. I look forward to many more. I can’t wait to continue making some strong relationships with the attendees as well as a lot of the brands too. This was a great way to keep pushing towards my health goals and to encourage others to do the same. This is the time to take care of myself and my brand!!