What I Learned: Alt Summit NYC

bloggingVirginia Hart3 Comments

I had the pleasure of attending a full day of learning and networking at Alt Summit here in NYC yesterday! I have been looking forward to this event for aaages and it certainly didn't disappoint. I honestly can't remember the last time I felt so creatively inspired -- I met so many incredible people, made some amazing connections, and walked away feeling like I have a new niche. Since some of you might be like, Alt Saywhat?!, I wanted to share a few photos and takeaways to give you a feel for what it's all about. Why did I go? Alt Summit (short for Altitude Design Summit) is a conference for bloggers, designers, and creative entrepreneurs. I am a blogger/designer who is somewhere in between hobby and business. I don't quite know what's in store for me down the road, but I tend to dream on the bigger side just in case I'm lucky enough for them to come true! I figure important steps right now are educating myself and being proactive -- hence, signing up for this in the first place. It also gave me a great deadline for launching my new website...I operate better with deadlines, don't you?

The conference kicked off Wednesday night with dinners hosted by various sponsors. My dinner was at Bagatelle (walking distance from my apartment, but it was my first time!) with about 15 others & the sisters who founded Alt, Sara Urquhart & Gabrielle Blair.

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^^^The dinner had a yellow theme and we received these adorable books & luggage tags!


 ^^^ the next morning :)

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^^^How gorgeous is the space?

It was held at Martha Stewart's headquarters right on the Hudson.

We spent the first part of the morning networking & crafting. My kind of way to "wake up."

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^^^my notebook for the day.

The speakers & panelists included:

Martha Stewart (the one & only!)

Grace Bonney, Design Sponge

Kathleen King, Tate's Bake Shop

Bob McClure, McClure Pickles (tried these for the first time and they're insane. in a good way.)

Stephanie Housley, Coral & Tusk

Pilar Guzman, Editor-in-Chief of Martha Stewart Living

Trace Stewart, Moomah

Jennifer Rubio, Warby Parker

John Jannuzzi, Lucky Magazine

Nate Padavick/Salli Swindell, They Draw & Cook

Ginny Wolfe,

Kennan Cummings, Days

Sara Paul, Blue Q

Todd Gibson, Liesl & Co.

Isabel Kallman, Alpha Mom

Jen Lee Koss, Brika

Ross Popoff-Walker, UX Design

Valentine Freeman, Ace Hotel

Garance Dore (French illustrator & photographer)

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^^^no better hostess than Martha.

This post would be too long if I shared everything I learned / wrote down, but here are a few of my biggest takeaways:

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  • Investing actual $$$ in your blog or business is important for the longevity of your personal brand.
  • Must participate in technological changes. Early adoption of "big picture" social media change is important.
  • The conversation on the internet is changing and we have to direct the conversation differently. For ex: Warby Parker replies to every single tweet. If you have a question about something, they will not only respond to you, but they will reply with a personal YouTube video directly to you. Customers are so caught off guard by such a personal online convo that they retweet it 60% of the time. (Social media done right.)
  • Image content is shifting to mainly vertical images all because of Pinterest. (This never dawned on me, but it's so true!)
  • Attempt "rejection therapy." Ask uncomfortable questions to people that intimidate you until you don't feel that way. Ask to collaborate with your dream partners until "no" turns into a "yes" or until "no" isn't uncomfortable to hear. Things are more obtainable than you think, but we're often too afraid to even ask.
  • Recognize weaknesses & hire others to fulfill those needs.
  • Keep a work/life balance. "It's just cookies." - what the woman behind Tate's Cookies (she sells ~ 2 million cookies per wk) reminds herself.
  • Have a clear mission statement.
  • Make time in workload to create for the fun of creating and it will refresh you.
  • Give yourself a physical separation from your work space.
  • Design is not just how it looks. It's how it works. Products should be first useful, then usable, then beautiful.
  • Figure out how much your time is worth (charge enough!) and realize when you need help to complete the tasks at hand.
  • How Garance Dore judges her employees --> Rules for showing up to work: Arrive on time. Arrive smiling (as opposed to deep sighing into your Starbucks). Do what needs to get done.
  • Employees to avoid --> People with weight on their shoulders weigh heavily on you as well.
  • Haters gonna hate. (Just ignore Missus Anonymous and all her annoying friends.)
  • "No" is not a bad word. Turning jobs down is okay.
  • Business owners must prove themselves everyday for the rest of their lives. There is no "getting there" that happens; it's a constant task.
  • If you spend too much time working, you're less creative. Sigh... so true!
  • And my favorite: Urgency versus Importance.


Reduce your time in Quadrant 1 (dealing with things that are both important AND urgent). Avoid Quadrant 3 the most (the non-important things you decide are urgent) because too much time in Quadrant 1 & 3 push you to 4 where you feel so brain-dead you can't deal with anything else besides non-important/non-urgent matter. Spend most of your time in Quadrant 2 for things that are important, but not urgent - the stuff that actually enhances the quality of life. Seems so obvious but goodness! ...I needed this reminder.

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^^^so many pretty business cards. spot mine? ;)

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^^^Garance Dore. French & fabulous. (pssst, she dates The Sartorialist!)

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^^^An after party isn't complete without a candy bar!  How cute is this? I brought Patrick a goodie bag :)

photo 2^^^I grabbed some Tate's cookies, too.

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A personal highlight was getting to speak to one of my favorite calligraphers, Kathryn Murray. Vane Broussard pointed her out to me and I basically knocked her down I was so excited. She was as nice as she can be, saying I could contact her anytime with questions. She even told me about her workspace (I'm always so curious since I know I need to change mine) and let me in on a few of her process secrets :)

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^^^Swag galore. It was a good thing I took a giant purse!


Thanks again to Alt Summit and all the fabulous sponsors for hosting us. I'm so grateful I was able to attend!

For anyone considering going to an Alt event in the future, I would highly recommend.


bloggingVirginia Hart8 Comments

welcome 12









photography by Maggie Christakos

Welcome to my new website!

Thank you so much for stopping by and having a look around. I'm still learning the ropes behind the scenes so please bear with me as I figure everything out and update old posts to work in the new format. I feel like I'm learning a new language :) I would like to take a moment and thank my wonderful website designers (without whom I don't know what I would do), Sarah & Lindsay from Hello Monday Creative. They are a delight to work with, both incredibly talented and were so patient with my obnoxiously long list of questions & requests ;) They created a website that not only captured my vision and goals, but also exceeded my highest expectations. I am so grateful for all their hard work!

I'd love to hear your feedback on the new design. Let me know if you have any questions on navigating the different pages!

Hope you're having a terrific week --


update! I am so honored and excited about your interest in my custom work. Please note that I am now booking work for fall & winter 2013 and will not be able to take on any other projects before then. Thanks for understanding!