It already feels like weeks have passed since heading to Los Angeles for We All Grow Summit, but in actuality it’s only been less than two weeks! I’m guessing it’s because since leaving the gorgeous Long Beach setting of the Hotel Maya, I’ve been to Arkansas and New York City but I’m making a concerted effort to document my experience before time and memories escape me.
This was my second year attending We All Grow (which makes my attendance score 100%!) and I am so full as a result. Launched by my dear friend Ana Flores or Latina Bloggers Connect, We All Grow Summit is “the go-to professional conference for Latinas in the digital space.” I know what you’re thinking – and you’re right! I’m not Latina but there is no way I would miss this labor of love that Ana has birthed so thoughtfully and gracefully.
I ended up having to leave a day early to make it home in time for my daughter’s 10th birthday – those special occasions are non-negotiables in my house – but I was able to drink in the WAG awesomeness for 2 full days. Here are my highlights:
- The Hotel! I had never been to Long Beach before, but I have attended more conferences than is normal. The Hotel Maya is, hands down, one of my favorites. The property is a Hilton hotel, but the design and layout makes it feel like a boutique, resort hotel with tons of open spaces, cozy nooks and whimsical design elements. Maybe it was my Hilton Honors status, or maybe we just lucked out, but Jazzy, Cara and I were given a walk-out, waterfront room that was perfect. The staff was super-friendly, the grounds gorgeous and the rooms lovely. We also spent MUCH time at Fuego, the on-site restaurant and bar that had inside and patio seating, and delicious guacamole that I may or may not have overdosed on.
- The ‘Eyes on L.A. Style with Transitions Lenses and Visionworks’ Field Trip! What a brilliant idea. The day before the conference officially begins, We All Grow partners with amazing sponsors to host field trips for attendees. There were several to select from this year (you have to submit your choices in order of preference and wait to be matched) and absolutely no trip was a bum deal. I went on the LA Style Tour with Transitions Lenses and Visionworks and was secretly thrilled that glasses were being treated as as style accessory since I am a proud specs wearer and love changing up my look with a variety of frames. I was also pleased to be re-introduced to Transitions Lenses as I used to wear them about 5+ years ago but stopped when I started wearing more trendy frames; now that the lenses are available for all frames, I’m totally going to get a pair. Trust me when I say that going back and forth between my prescription frames and my prescription sunglasses frames is a pain in the butt that I am eager to do without. Ok, back to the field trip. The focal point of the day was meeting with eyewear designers Coco and Breezy, who are Black and Latina twins and are rays of upbeat and bubbly millennial sunshine. We got to spend the day with them, doing Q&A, having lunch at Gracias Madre (OH SO GOOD), and then doing a styled photo shoot. We also got down on our party bus, where the girls played DJ and had us hitting The Dab and wining to Rihanna. It was a good day.
- The Neutrogena Suite. Talk about pulling out all the stops. As a conference producer, I know just how much work and investment goes into creating memorable experiences at events and I can say that the Neutrogena team (and ALL the WAG sponsors, really) went all out. We got the opportunity to register for a beauty experience with Neutrogena and I received a personalized skin and eye consult from a cosmetic dermatologist, along with a customized prescription for certain Neutrogena products, a makeup application AND THEN a bag full of product. After that whole shebang, a photographer was on stand-by to take headshots post-glamover. I’ve got to also give a special shoutout to the Aveeno suite that has stunning decor, handmade specialty lattes and custom smoothies. [A note about the overall conference decor: I loved it all. The meeting room centerpieces, the stage design, the programs – everything was so cohesive and nicely done.]
- The Podcast Workshop! Hubby and I have been throwing around the idea for a podcast for at least a year now. As soon as life slows down, maybe we’ll get to it (ha ha). Until then, I’ve been doing research and mapping out a loose plan. So when I saw the “Access Your Audience Through Podcasts” session on the agenda, I made a point to be there. Remember how I said earlier that I have been to ALL THE CONFERENCES? Well, it’s very rare when a session bowls me over with info because, tbh, I’ve pretty much heard it all at blogger conferences. But this one ROCKED. Each of the speakers were so knowledgeable and the presentations were so informative and thorough, filled with practical takeaways, specific resources and even a demo of recommended equipment. I got the sit with the ladies from the Super Mamás podcast at lunch and told them just how impressed I was by their session. Well done, ladies!
- My Surprise Visitors! Social media is a hoot. Thanks to my Instagram posts, friends old and new – and even family!! – saw that I was on the Left Coast and I was blessed with several impromptu visits. My cousin, Justin, who just moved to Cali from Montreal happened to be on vacation in Redondo Beach with his girlfriend and came by for a late lunch; a PR friend, Deej Blackmon also stopped by with her wife and puppy for drinks and guac; and my bestie from law school and bridesmaid, Jamila, came by for dinner. What a sweet, sweet day!
There is so much more that I could talk about when it comes to this event: the warm-natured attendees; riding with the top down to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles with Barbara, Laurie, Cara and Jazzy; the excellent general sessions; the pride in the Latina blogging community; the fashion (!!); but, I think you get the idea. A million kudos of Ana and her spectacular We All Grow Summit team – ¡Felicidades!
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