For the last four years, every September, Better Homes & Gardens presents its Sylemaker issue and focuses on individuals who “influence style at home and beyond.” I’m a digital subscriber to the magazine, and this past issue was filled with stylemakers such as Darby Stanchfield, Erin Gleenson, Eddie Ross and Jen Ramos. A day-long “Stylemaker Celebration” event is held in NYC as a way for influencers and the magazine to come together and share ideas and talents with each other.
It’s awesome these days to see brands and magazines taking bloggers more seriously and honoring what they bring to the table creatively and through their blogs. You, the readers, are who make these brands take notice with your influence and voice. That you incorporate Honey We’re Home into your blog reading surely helped me be one of the bloggers, designers, and creators invited to the Better Homes & Gardens Stylemaker Celebration this year.
Today’s post is a behind-the-scenes peek of the event. If this means nothing to you, no worries, check back later this week for more home decor and fashion posts, and a big GIVEAWAY on Thursday!
One thing you might not realize at the outset is that, although we were invited to the event, we were also responsible for travel and lodging (albeit with a discounted hotel rate). I have been to some events where airfare/hotel is covered, so it’s not necessarily out of the norm, but this wasn’t one of them. Luckily, flights to and from NY were really inexpensive when I booked and I roomed with my partner-in-crime
, so we shared the hotel rate. I don’t share this to sound ungrateful or as a complaint, just full disclosure as part of the behind-the-scenes info and also so you can plan/budget for events like this in the future.
When I arrived in NYC starving, there was just time to pop into a street-side restaurant for a slice of NYC pizza (delicious!), then meeting up later for a dinner arranged by Stefanie (Brooklyn Limestone
). At the dinner, I was thrilled to meet one of my favorite Canadian blogger friends Jennifer (Rambling Renovators
). You can tell how happy Cassie and I are to be walking the city streets on the way to dinner. It’s true that the energy of New York is invigorating when you haven’t been in awhile!
And who doesn’t love street vendor flower markets?
MK cross body bag (perfect for traveling) similar here
Events like these are most cherished because you get face-to-face time with people you usually connect with only online. You get a chance to catch up on blog news, tips and tricks, and just general girlie chit chat. Of course we all wanted to know what Stefanie was up to for Halloween and I can’t wait for her post to go live! It was also interesting to hear how different blogging is in Canada as opposed to the U.S. in terms of brands paying much less for sponsored posts. I was really surprised to hear that, given I’m a fan of so many Canadian blogs that put out great consistent, relevant content.
BHG STYLEMAKER CELEBRATION
The BHG Stylemaker Celebration is just a one-day event and they packed a lot into it! I will say they did breakfast right with a big, beautiful spread of delicious muffins, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, coffee and juice. Lunch later was also nice. This was the first time we got to meet up with gals and was also the first time I got to meet Emily A. Clark
and Ibie (@ifalc on Instagram
). Emily and I have been online friends years, and I’m so happy I finally got to meet her. Her southern accent is awesome! Ibie’s instagram has a special place in my heart and I’m following her recent move from DC to Arizona. Her home renovation is gonna be spectacular!
We were also introduced to the new BGH editor-in-chief, Stephen Orr, and he was truly delightful. Very funny and smart and approachable. Before coming to BHG, his work included executive editor at Conde Nast Traveler; VP, Editorial Director at Martha Stewart Living; and a past contributing editor to Domino. Not to mention he’s a two-time published author. I’m excited to see what he brings to BHG in the future. I think it’s going to be even better than before.
On my agenda for the day was flower arranging, food styling, how to get a book deal, and social video. The food styling and flower arranging classes were my favorite and unfortunately, the social video session didn’t teach much as far as how to actually make a video. That class mostly focused on the different platforms that use social video, but I did hear that iMovie is a good app for video-making. I’d like to explore this in the future, so stay tuned! If you have any tips to share on creating short videos, I’d love to hear.
Gorgeous food photography is a huge passion of mine and a field I’m very inexperienced in, so this was a class favorite. BHG Senior Deputy Food Editor Nancy Hopkins brought along some very talented food stylists, including Libbie Summers, Jill Lust, and Simon Andrews to share their insight in food styling. Food photography, when done right, makes you want to eat the page!
That’s Libbie below, recreating a very funny moment when she learned in a bathroom over the phone how to create “the perfect dollop” of whip cream. I didn’t know there was such a thing!
Food Styling Tips:
There’s perfection in imperfection.
Always take a photo of the inside of a cake.
Make sure the lighting goes with the mood of your dish/setting/props.
Use flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder with restraint.
Keep it real – the last piece of pie in a dirty pie plate is often beautiful.
Less is more – don’t overfill the plate. Negative space creates interest and gives the eye a place to rest.
Keep it loose – let items drop onto the plate naturally.
Rough cuts, rather than perfect dice, looks more natural.
Spin the platter to catch the light differently and see the food from another perspective.
They brought in one of the best in the biz as far as flower arranging goes, with Matthew Robbins. He’s known for his jaw dropping wedding flowers and has a beautiful book out, Inspired Weddings
This class was fun (and smelled amazing) because, after Robbins’ demonstration, we each got a huge bundle of flowers to arrange for ourselves. Mine is the one below.
Floral Arranging Tips:
Create a floral kit (floral tape, clear tape for creating a grid, floral foam, floral frog, natural twine, matches to burn certain types of stems, floral food packs, and moss or stones for filler on top to mask floral foam).
When arranging: cut stems as you go to vary the length; use your container as a guide for cutting stem length (the flower neck should be above the vessel, but not too high); turn the container to keep the arrangement balanced from all sides, design in odd numbers for here blooms.
Make sure the arrangement has a focal point.
If you run out of blooms, arrange the floral to the camera.
Darker floral need lighter blooms for contrast to show up.
Less expected filler options include: eucalyptus, hosta, dusty miller, geranium leaves, rosemary, berries or fruit, jasmine or other vine.
The Truth About Getting A Book Deal
Although I have no plans to become a published author anytime soon, the biggest lessons I learned about a book deal are that: 1) it takes about 2 years to come to fruition (one year for the author to put the book together and another year of edits); 2) it’s a labor intensive process that can take over your entire life, and 3) it’s not necessarily profitable (but book tours and public appearances can be).
I was most excited to learn of Spouted Kitchen
(a gorgeous food blog where Sara Forte creates the recipes and her husband/wedding photographer, Hugh, takes the pictures). If you love gorgeous food photography, you’ll definitely want to follow them or buy their books: Bowl & Spoon
and A Tastier Take on Whole Foods
Also delightful was meeting Eddie Ross
. I’ve heard other bloggers rave about meeting him and now I can see why. He’s the kind of person who gives you his full attention when he’s talking to you and is genuinely interested in what you have to say. We were each given his new book, Modern Mix
, and I can’t wait to dive in!
I didn’t last for long in heels, so my leopard flats
took over. Comfort won out this time!
After the long day of classes, we enjoyed cocktails on the rooftop terrace (of course I drank water!) and Brooke Shields made a rather brief appearance. Just as we walked over to approach her, her people ushered her away. Oh well.
Ibie, Kristin, Cassie
I spent most of my time snapping pictures and didn’t end up in too many. But, as many photos as I took, I didn’t get any of so many wonderful friends that I so enjoyed chatting with, so I put together a collage in case you want to pay them a visit.
Thursday was Gwen’s
birthday and we got to celebrate with her fun NYC friends! I have been a huge fan of her blog since Day 1 (I’ve actually read every post!) and was thrilled to meet her in person. She’s just as cool as you’d imagine, totally sweet and down to earth. And model stunning, but without any effort. You’d want to hate her if you didn’t enjoy her company so much. 😉
Over the years, you may have heard me mention that Kate’s blog
was one of the very first home decor blogs I ever followed and fell in love with, which also inspired me to begin my own. Kate is one of the bloggers I’ve met that is actually a little different than what I’d imagine, but in a good way! She’s got a lot more vibrant energy than I realized given her soothing home decor style. I should’ve known since she keeps up with her blog so well and does so many amazing renovation projects. She’s also gotten bit by the fitness bug and looks so good! In 2008, when I started reading Centsational Girl
, I never dreamed I’d be casually hanging out with her 7 years later!
On Friday morning there was just enough time for Cassie and I to walk by Central Park to The Smith
for breakfast before we had to head back to the hotel and pack and go!
We went to the one at Lincoln Square and it’s cool because you can sit inside or out and people watch as you dine. The food was delicious too, but kinda hard to screw up eggs Benedict and home fries!
This was a whirlwind trip for sure, but was filled with so many friends that it was definitely one of my favorite blog trips to date. Thank you so much for reading Honey We’re Home, leaving comments, pinning and sharing my content and making trips like this possible! I appreciate you so much!