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The Blog of Emily McDowell Studio

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.[/caption] 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? xo Emily

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