Ack! I’m Speaking At Alt Summit!

Altitude Summit, or “Alt Summit,” or just “Alt,” is a business conference for bloggers, creatives and designers held in Salt Lake City. Since its inception in 2009, it’s expanded to include an online channel where folks can take ongoing classes from blogging and social media experts, as well as an entire online conference, as well as one-day Alt Design Camps on various topics held around the country. In the past, the flagship conference has always been held in January in Salt Lake City, but by popular demand, this year, they’re holding a second conference in June. (And the keynote speaker is Martha Stewart!!!!!!)

Seriously? WTF. I don’t even know.

I attended Alt in January 2013 for the first time, with pretty much no clue what I was getting into. I’d heard of the conference, and I’d seen photos of the fancy sponsored parties and very stylish-looking people looking like they were Having Fun!, but since I’m not really a blogger, I wasn’t deeply involved in that world. I wasn’t sure what to expect, or if the experience would end up being relevant for me. I’d just started contributing illustrations to Design Mom, which was really my primary connection to Alt: Gabrielle Blair, a.k.a. Design Mom, is one of Alt’s founders.

Alt had been sold out for months when a friend posted on Facebook that a friend of hers needed to sell her ticket, and something in me said “you should go to this!” So. Despite not having any money and not really being a blogger, I bought her ticket. (I am in a constant process of learning that, as it turns out, logic isn’t always the best way to make a decision. I’m as surprised as you are, seriously.)

At the time, I was still freelancing in advertising, and I had my etsy shop on the side. I’d also just run a successful Kickstarter project to get my Un-Tourist Scarves printed, so I was hoping that maybe I was going to start designing scarves for a living. But I really didn’t know. I knew I wanted to draw and write and work for myself, but I had no idea how that was going to happen.

Leading up to the conference, I was full of second thoughts: I’m a horrible networker. I don’t have a million cute outfits. I don’t even have a blog. BLAH BLAH BLAH. But I went, and it was awesome. In addition to learning a ton about a ton of things, from 3D printing to Pinterest strategy, I made some great friends, made work connections with conference sponsors/speakers, including Chronicle Books and Michael Miller Fabrics, and got to meet one of my personal design heroes, Stefan Sagmeister, who gave one of the keynotes. ¬†And I left feeling like I still didn’t know exactly HOW the next phase of my career was going to happen, but way more certain that it WAS going to happen.

Anyway! All of this is backstory to tell you that I’m returning to Alt next month, as a speaker. Yikes! I pitched them on me leading a roundtable session, which is basically just talking to a small group of 10 or 15 people. They have like 20 happening at once, it’s really relaxed, and attendees can sit in on one, or move around to a few different ones during the session. I figured a roundtable would be a good, no-pressure way to go as a speaker, since I’m not, like, a SPEAKER.

But then they asked me to do a larger standalone presentation. Which is terrifying. But I’m gonna do it, because fear is an asshole. The general topic is my process of going from designer to product maker — bringing a product to market. But because there are a lot of different ways I can go with this, I’d love your feedback. If you were at my talk, what information would YOU most like me to share? Let me know in the comments, would you?

OK. Back to packing for the stationery show. Procrastination is so powerful, right?



17 thoughts on “Ack! I’m Speaking At Alt Summit!

  1. Congrats! I would LOVE to go to Alt, and bring my sister too, but I just can’t do it right now. I think you’re awesome and I hope your talk shows up online. And I’m sure you’ll have cute outfits and lots of fun/inspiring things to say. :]

  2. Hey, as a tiny trembling voiced presentator, I love your fear-is-an-asshole attitude! My 2 cents: I always love to hear about worst ideas (and how it turned out was the worst) and surprising things in others business paths, with practical, detailed advices.
    Would love to be there!


  3. Your story is compelling, inspiring and exciting to watch unfold. And you are so right. Fear IS an asshole. If I were there I would want to hear more about your certainty about the next phase of your career happening and the illogical yet excellent decisions you’ve made along the way. I would also want to know about your approach to marketing at this phase of your career, how you’ve met the connections that have been most helpful to you, and of course a list of things you’ve done to get products from an etsy store to the market. Thanks for sharing your career path, as well as your art, with us!

    • Thank you so much Jackie! I’m sorry it’s taking me so long to reply to all these thoughtful comments. Life has been really crazy. I am literally going to be writing this Alt presentation on the plane to Salt Lake City — haha!

  4. Hello Emily,
    Congratulations on being an Alt speaker! I live in Australia so have never been to Alt but have definitely seen and read lots about it around the blogosphere. If I were able to go to Alt, I’d love to hear about your production process, how you figure out your demand, how much inventory you stock, etc. Hope that helps! :)
    Ronnie xo
    p.s. I came to your blog just now via Elise Blaha’s blog. :)

    • Thank you Kelsy!! I got your email and I promise to respond at some point, or do a detailed blog post — I’m buried in work at the moment, but I did get and read it. THANK YOU!

  5. YAY! You are one of the speakers that I have vowed to absolutely not miss at Alt. I’m really excited for your presentation! I’d love to hear a bit about how you got the momentum for your product line going — did you collaborate with people, send them free cards/prints to get your name out there, or did you just have good luck (and great products!!) with getting noticed right away?

    Can’t wait!! :)

    • Oh gosh Melyssa — it’s so funny every time someone is like “I can’t wait to hear your presentation” because I just think, “ME TOO!” :) Thank you so much, and thanks for these suggestions!

  6. I’m so excited you’re going to be at Alt and can’t wait to hear you speak! If you have a moment free, I’d love to grab a drink and geek out over stationery and watercolors (not to mention just connect with someone I admire in our field!)

    • Thank you Courtney! I’m looking forward to meeting you! Have you been to Alt before? It’s pretty jam-packed schedule-wise, and I have to take off early Friday morning to get back for a wedding, but I would love to try and connect for at least a few minutes! xo

  7. I’m heading to Alt for my first time (aren’t first times of anything pretty exciting!?) and am really looking forward to hearing your presentation. I know it’s rather late in the game to comment on your Alt topic, but just to pipe in, I would be interested to hear the nitty gritty, un-pretty schlepping details of how you go from making a great stationery line and then getting it on the market. Not any of the motivational side, but the real side. Though, I’m sure I’ll be learning a lot from you – cheers and good luck! Safe travels.

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