The Child in Me: Blogfest 2011 Day One!

You can't help but be struck by the incredible architecture of the Hearst Tower in Manhattan, home of the Hearst publications, including Town & Country, Veranda, House Beautiful, and Elle Decor (a few of my favorite things)! Isn't it amazing? How'd you like to show up to work here every morning?

It's a little hard for me to believe that this is where I showed up for work (well, sort of) on Monday, May 16th to participate in Blogfest 2011. To say it was a whirlwind experience is an understatement. What an opportunity I feel so fortunate to have been a part of! And I'm just as excited to share my experience with you! With such a packed agenda, Blogfest can't be summed up right here, so you can look forward to a several posts in the weeks ahead.

Our first day started with a luncheon hosted by House Beautiful on the 44th floor. Check out this view!

 View of Central Park from the 44th floor
Image courtesy of: Mike Lee via flickr

Okay, I confess. It was totally foggy and we couldn't see a thing. I have to look on the bright side (no pun intended), though, because if we had views like this, I don't know how easy it would've been to pay attention!

About the "child in me" reference in my title. Do you remember how you felt on your first day of grade school? Overwhelmed...excited...inquisitive...awe-filled? Who do I talk to first? Where do I sit? Yup. That was me. There I was on the 44th floor of the Hearst Tower surrounded by all these people I've heard about, read about, seen on blogs, twitter, and facebook -- amazingly talented people I was meeting in real life! Add the editorial staff and key members of the Kravet team. It took me right back to those feelings from first grade; a little bit overwhelming.

From L to R: Ann Feldstein, Cary Kravet, Jennifer Powell, Beth Greene [Kravet]
and Newell Turner [House Beautiful]
Photo Courtesy of Kravet

One of the first people I saw and wanted to say hello to was Linda Merrill from Surroundings. Although we're both in Massachusetts, it took a trip to New York for us to meet up in person! I also had the opportunity to speak with Ellen Kravet -- I laughingly admit, I thought I was speaking with Ellen from Kravet, not Ellen Kravet - as in owner of the company, Kravet - who I found to be welcoming and down-to-earth!  And I found that to be true of all the Kravets I met - like long-time friends. [A highlight for me during Blogfest was meeting Uta Kravet, mother to the fourth-generation Kravet's that now head the company -- but more on that in a later post!]

Beth Greene, VP of Communications and Marketing at Kravet, welcomed us. She was really the reason any of us were there in the first place. Beth conceived of Blogfest-- it's her "baby" as you'll hear in the video -- and brought her idea to the magazines;all of them immediately jumping on board.
Watch live streaming video from blogfest2011 at

In her welcome, Beth said, "As bloggers, you are quickly being recognized as tastemakers and trendsetters. The group gathered here represents the brightest stars and the best of the best in the design blogging world. You have the creativity, passion, and talent that will usher our industry into a new era." I must say, I was so honored to be among the small audience to whom these words were spoken.  [We all enjoy a little pat on the back now and then, right?].

A panel discussion, "The Importance of Blogs to the Print Magazine Today," with the Hearst editors followed lunch, as well as inside looks at Veranda and House Beautiful from their respective editors. One message that came across loud and clear (and one that made me oh-so-happy) is that print magazines are here to stay! In case you may have been fooled to think otherwise, they're not going anywhere. For those of us who love to turn the page - many of my customers falling to this category - we don't have to say goodbye.

From L to R: Mark Rozzo, Newell Turner, Dara Caponigro

I have to say that throughout the day, I was incredibly impressed with the level of respect these consummate professionals had for each other. I enjoyed meeting their teams and hearing about their individual journeys. It was evident that they are clearly working toward the same vision and we are a part of that vision! For me, I left the panel discussions feeling inspired, validated and respected. Working as a solo-entreprenuer, it was incredibly rewarding to hear from these "big players" that they recognize, watch and read the content that we produce. "You, bloggers, are our beat reporters; you are our eyes and ears to seeing what's going on about the country."

And for my readers who are also bloggers, you will be interested to hear some of the advice that was given. Talking about what makes for a great blog, the editors seemed in agreement. Having and staying true to your own point of view is key, as is writing well and holding yourself to the level of a journalist. And a point that really rang true for me was: Have a mission! Know who you're writing for and stay focused on them. In my case, Storibook Designs Open Studio is for my customers. I aim to educate and serve as a resource for what the decorating and design world has to offer so you, my clients and readers, can make the best decisions for your home.

My mission mirrors something that Dara Caponigro (Editor in Chief at Veranda) said when describing her magazine: "Our emphasis is on beauty and quality. 'Buy less and buy well.' So many people are so quick to buy things just to buy them." Yes! I love that! That's exactly what I strive for when working with clients. I strive to provide answers to the questions, here on my blog, that I am asked so often in order to guide my clients in "buying well".

Each of the panelists shared so much with us, from their respective missions and vision to what they have planned for the future. From magazines to brands, they are reaching out and finding new ways to bring us their content. In addition to the beautiful glossy print magazines we're accustomed to, we will continue to find many new ways to read, search and experience their content. Just one example -- Architectural Digest just released an app called AD Amazing Kitchens available for download on iTunes, which will soon be followed by others. House Beautiful will also be launching apps, putting fun, interactive design literally at our fingertips.

Image: iTunes

There is so much more for me to share with you, too much for this one post, so I hope you'll continue to join me as I share my Blogfest experiences!

My highlights of the 3-day tour include a "meet-the-designers" event at Mayo Studios, a delightful afternoon with Barbara Barry, exclusive tour of the Kravet Design Studios and so much more!

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