Yesterday, ahead of New York Fashion Week, I attended a lovely luncheon at Nomâde in Westport, Connecticut, hosted by LTK (formerly rewardStyle), The Connecticut Edit, and Moffly Media with some of the state’s best and most creative brands and female content creators. It was such a pleasure to join the hosts for an afternoon of learning, inspiration, and wonderful conversation. LTK’s VP of Creator Expansion & The Connecticut Edit’s founder Samantha Yanks hosted a fantastic panel of inspirational women like PR, health, and beauty pro Chelsea Keyes McDuffie, Kat Ashmoore, the founder of Kat Can Cook, and Vanessa Lewis, local business owner of Penfield Collective. I’ll take you along with me and share what I learned about the current state of content creation at the pre-NYFW LTK Connecticut Creator Luncheon!
The afternoon began with a cocktail reception and mingling. It was so much fun to meet fellow Connecticut content creators and businesses. The restaurant was the perfect setting for the event, and their bright, airy private dining space was gorgeous. When we moved to sit for lunch, I sat next to the very talented woman who had created all of the stunning floral arrangements for the day named Kim, who founded her business, Mary Stuart Flowers, during the pandemic. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know how much I adore all things botanical, so it felt very serendipitous that out of the large crowd, we met one another. Check out her website and book her early – she’s almost full for the 2023 season!
The tablescapes felt like a renaissance still-life painting coming to life. The fresh fruit and hanging flowers made the entire space feel so magical and whimsical. These are seriously some of the prettiest arrangements I’ve ever seen. I also loved the restaurant’s overall vibe – the woven light fixtures, glass ceilings, reclaimed wooden decor, and solar panels on the roof – it felt like I was back in Tulum! Éluwa candles not only added candles to the tablescapes but also gave each attendee a gorgeous handmade candle too! They’re so lovely and completely non-toxic, so give them a looksie if you want a high-quality, chic candle that won’t damage your health.
What I Learned During the LTK Connecticut Creator Luncheon
Be Authentically You
Being a content creator can take so many forms. What works for me (writing about luxury travel and lifestyle, with a heavy emphasis on photography and written blog posts) likely wouldn’t work for a TikToker who makes short-form videos and vice-versa. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, which is why experimentation and finding one’s own voice is so important. That’s why content creators should always be original and put their own spin on it.
Take this event, for example. There were maybe 50 or so creators there, and if you look at how we covered the event, everyone did it from a different angle. The same is true of any product, place, event, concept, or style. We all have our own perspectives, so own that, tell your story, and be authentically you!
Have Opinions & Don’t Be Afraid to Share & Change Them
This is something that really resonated with me. So much of what I do is about sharing my opinions on the places I visit. I’ve always only ever written about positive experiences because I’ve never believed in bashing anyone or any place online. Still, I do think I need to be more intentional about sharing more of my personal life and beliefs. So often, I try to stay neutral, but where’s the fun in that? The things I believe in, enjoy, and value shape how I see the world, and the more I share about myself, the more people can relate to and get to know me.
Besides, even if people disagree or argue about something in the comments, it boosts my content’s post in the eyes of social media algorithms, haha.
Advice for Working with Brands
I’ll never forget my first brand collaboration. It was summertime, and I was still in university at Michigan, but I was focusing on my Instagram and YouTube channel back then. A brand of spirit tees reached out to me and wanted me to wear some in one of my posts and asked what I wanted on it. I replied within 30 seconds of getting that email (okay, not exactly 30 seconds, but I immediately responded, haha), and we agreed on having them send me a few custom spirit tees. I posted about them within a day of receiving them, and the small business immediately sold out! It was so insane!
They reached out again and wanted to send me more, but this time they wanted to pay me because I’d helped them sell more than 500 custom tees in a single afternoon. While negotiating with them, I asked how I should send back the first few tees they’d sent, and they told me I could keep them. Looking back on it, they wouldn’t want customized items back, but that was when I truly began to understand the power of content creation.
I tell you all this because it ties into the advice Chelsea Keyes McDuffie gave us about working with brands from the brand’s side. I’ve always done my best to live this advice, and I hope it helps anyone starting out in content creation who wants to work with brands:
- Reply promptly to emails, calls, DMs, or other forms of contact. Brands generally move quickly, and you might get left behind!
- Be clear in your expectations and give the brand as much information about what to expect from you as possible.
- Create your content promptly and send them the links to the finished products – don’t make them hunt for it.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out and introduce yourself to brands, agencies, and PR reps. Even if they don’t have campaign fits for you now, you might be the perfect fit for something else down the road.
- Be authentically yourself – it makes work easier!
Brands Need Creators As Much As We Need Them
Working as a content creator is all about developing symbiotic relationships with brands. They need us to raise awareness, sell products, and evangelize for what they’re doing/offering/selling, and we need them to create stellar products/services/destinations to promote and pay us to do so either with flat fees or commission. Vanessa Lewis of Penfield Collective talked about how much content creators have helped her business grow and how she gives back to us by giving us the maximum commission possible. In the process, we all get to make customers look and feel their best! It’s a win-win-win, so never doubt what you do as a content creator matters as much as any other marketing or advertising professional!
My Favorites from Penfield Collective
This event was so much fun and so inspirational. I love that so many women came together to uplift one another, celebrate our line of work, and inspire each other. The food was amazing, the conversations were excellent, and the talent there was unbelievable. I was able to meet my very sweet and supportive LTK account rep for the first time (Hi, Joyce!), and I made some really great new friends in the area. If you have any questions about the event, please let me know, and I’ll happily share what I learned. In the meantime, please consider supporting the great local brands that not only made this event possible but oh so lovely!