Yellow Conference 2017 Recap

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Yellow Conference is a 2-day conference (with an optional additional workshop day) in LA geared towards entrepreneurially minded women who want to use their creativity and skills for good. This is the first time I’ve repeated going to a conference two years in a row and I can honestly say the experience was just as inspirational as the first year I attended.

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I’ve been to many conferences over the years but there is a reason why Yellow is one of my favorites. The conference itself is organized by Joanna Waterfall who is a graphic designer and therefore every touchpoint and element of your experience is well thought out and designed.  From the way you enter into the conference, the art installations incorporated into the space, kiss ass welcome bags or even just the speaker intro slides.  Every single piece that you interact with is branded and fits into their brand story which I greatly appreciate.

Going back to the welcome bags, I am not saying I attend conferences just for the welcome bags but a good welcome bag doesn’t hurt. Yellow Conference by far has one of the best goodie bags of all the conferences I’ve been to. You receive a huge fabric tote bag (that is actually good quality and also an awesome design) filled to the brim with products from do good brands that the total value often amounts to more than the conference ticket price. It’s also a fun way to learn about companies that are making the world a better place and sampling their products. I learned from my mistakes last year of bringing a small suitcase to make sure I left room this year for all the great swag.

Every year the conference is held in a gorgeous warehouse space in the arts district of LA.  Despite being in LA, this conference is actually pretty affordable compared to other conferences I’ve attended. I’ll break down all my costs below for anyone considering the trip next year.  The arts district is definitely a transitional warehouse area but I never felt unsafe. And it’s full of lots of really cool restaurants and coffee shops you can walk to during your breaks.  Some of my favorite spots were Zinc Cafe, Cafe Gratitude, the rooftop at the ACE hotel and Groundwork Coffee Co (get their horchata cold brew which is not on the menu but is like Christmas in a glass). Last year I rented an Airbnb in the neighborhood with a few girls and this year I stayed at the ACE Hotel (the designated hotel for the conference and they offer a discount code) which did require using uber/lyft but the rides were $5-$8 at most.

There’s also a Do Good Goods marketplace with more than 20 vendors that produce either ethical goods or give back to charities.  From clothing, jewelry, stationery, and home goods it was a fun place to shop during speaker breaks and I learned about so many awesome brands who have beautiful products and are doing such great things.  The year before the market was smaller and it was great to see that there were so many more vendors this year and I hope it continues to grow with each year.

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 Just a few of the awesome goods in the swag bag.

Just a few of the awesome goods in the swag bag.

One thing I love about the Yellow Conference is the diversity of women who attend.  I’ve met photographers, fellow designers, copywriters, artists, PR and marketing strategists, magazine editors and more but the one thing they all have in common is that they are all passionate about making the world a better place.  The speaker lineup is also very diverse from an activist to a Grammy nominated musician to a founder of an ethical clothing line there were so many great perspectives from people who are so inspiring.

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I thought I’d share a few takeaways and themes from the various sessions that stuck with me:

  1. The time to start is now | Several speakers touched on the fact that there will never be the perfect time to start that project you’ve been dreaming of.  Ashley LeMieux of The Shine Project so perfectly phrased it “Right now is the only time we have that is guaranteed and sometimes all it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage. Do one courageous thing a day” and “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. Done is better than perfect.” This really hit home for me as I’ve put off some projects as we’ve been going through the trials of fertility treatments. While this time has been emotionally draining I still shouldn’t be putting my dreams on hold and I can still make progress on them every day, even if it is just baby steps. It is all about moving the needle forward little by little.

  2. Self-care should be a priority | This is something I’ve “known” but I don’t always listen to very well! Many speakers drove this point home though pointing out that you are of no use to anyone and the good you want to do if you aren’t taking care of yourself.  As Natalie Warne, an activist and speaker said, “Give yourself grace, you aren’t meant to do it all, put the oxygen mask on you first, the healthier we are the most sustained we can work for our causes.” It’s not selfish, it is common sense.  How will you be able to help others and make a difference if you are passed out?  I think this point is especially important for women working in purpose-driven fields because it can feel wrong to prioritize yourself and we often feel guilty.

  3. Trust your Gut and think outside the box |  Golriz Lucina of Soul Pancake said “The best ideas sometimes start out as the weirdest of ideas. Get outside. Get out of your head.  Mostly, get inspired.” I think a lot of times we can feel uninspired or like there are no new ideas thanks to social media which is why it’s so important to think outside the box and never underestimate the power of the gut check. Also, you should really look up Soul Pancakes work, if you haven’t heard of them before (I hadn’t) they are a media and production company owned by the actor Rainn Wilson that tackles life’s big questions and celebrates the beauty of humanity.  You’ve probably seen one of their many viral videos on social media and not even realized it.

  4. What you do does not define you | Moorea Seal’s talk was sprinkled with so many good life nuggets but what I loved most was hearing about how she has pursued so many different passions through the years.  I think it can be easy to find something you are good at and just stick with it and be scared to try something else. As Moorea said “Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it. And when you let something go you don’t have to let it go for forever.  It’s ok to just put it to the side for a while.” As some of you may know, my business started as doing wedding and event designs on the side of my corporate design job. At the time it was a really great creative outlet but when I went full time I realized I had lost my love for it and missed the strategic aspects of design I had enjoyed from my day job.  That is when I pivoted to doing small business branding but it was so hard to let go of the invitation aspect of my business because so many people told me I was good at it and that’s where I started.  I actually just recently took event design down from my website all together but it took me a while to come to terms with the fact it no longer brought me joy. Maybe someday I’ll feel differently and will want to go back to offering invitations. I had to give myself permission to let it go but knowing if I want to go back to it someday it will be there. Also, if Moorea’s name sounds familiar it is because she is the woman behind all the 52 lists books. What started as a passion project for her turned into something so much bigger which I love.

  5. Speak to your customers like they are the hero | This one was in one of my workshop sessions but it’s such a valuable point.  The number one reason brands fail in their messaging is because they speak to their customers as if they themselves are the hero.  Empathize with your customer’s pain points and make them the center of your brand story.

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Lastly, I thought I’d break down what my costs were to attend the conference.  These may vary from person to person depending on where you are flying from or where you eat but if you haven’t attended very many conferences this will help give you a ballpark for planning. I find conferences are a really great investment both in myself and in my business and I prioritize budgeting for 1-2 per year.

 The ACE Hotel rooftop was a small slice of heaven. 

The ACE Hotel rooftop was a small slice of heaven. 

 I grabbed dinner at Cafe Gratitude one night and loved the healthy menu and positivity.

I grabbed dinner at Cafe Gratitude one night and loved the healthy menu and positivity.

3-day conference ticket: $269

I did get the ticket at the discounted yellow collective member price and in the future I think they are selling the workshops separately. Tickets for the 2-day speaker portion of the conference are currently on sale for $247 though I imagine the price will go up as it gets closer.

Lodging: $332

This year I shared a room at the ACE hotel with two friends also attending the conference for three nights. This did add extra uber/lyft costs as opposed to staying in an Airbnb within walking distance which is what we did last year. I honestly enjoyed both options equally.

Meals: $150

This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and extra coffees for three full days.

Flight: $178

I got a direct round trip flight from Denver to LAX on Southwest airlines and actually bought my flight less than a month before the conference. I flew in Wednesday night before the conference and flew out Saturday night after the workshops finished up and just brought my suitcase with me to the workshops where they easily stored it for me for the day.

Lyft Rides: $95

A large chunk of that is my lyft to and from the airport ($27 when I arrived and $48 when I left) and most of my lyft’s were $5-$8 between the hotel and conference.

Total Conference Cost: $1,024.00

The Yellow Conference is one of my favorite conferences and I’ve already purchased my ticket for next year to attend for my third time! If you are wishing to do more with your business or talents and want to spend a few days with a ton of inspirational women who are changing the world I highly recommend it.

I thought I’d close with an inspirational quote shared at the conference that I just love:

“If there ever comes a time when women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known.” - Matthew Arnold