Thursday, July 20, 2006

Recap: The Bloggers Who Brunched

Contributing a frosty gold eye pencil to the goodie bag was Bourjois. The lovely Diane told me about the history of her firm which began making blush for Parisian can-can dancers. She says their mascaras are also a specialty, but the niftiest thing I saw in her own purse (available at Sephora) were the mini-glosses looped by cords to her cell phone for the times you're carrying the absolute minimum. She had a nice nude and pink shade attached which would probably work for 90% of the summertime. She says they're suprisingly long-lasting for the size, so there's my adorable girlfriend tip for you.

Back from Bloggers Who Brunch (BWB). The venue was a very cute, mod restaurant, Counter. The featured cocktail was less sticky than I'd imagined, but hazardous in its liquor-camoflaging properties. The noshes were nice, buffet style. The hummus was reported as life-changing, but I only had a string bean's worth, and I have a large life to change. I did enjoy eating it, though. I learned later that everything served is organic/vegetarian, so my crab cake tropicale on a dollop of dilly mayo in an endive spoon might've been soycrab with non-egg emulsified dressing. But tasty. After these things (I say these things as if I'm attending one a week, though it reminded me of the Pajamas Media launch last fall), I'm always impressed with the bright and winning people I meet, I'm thoughtful as forecasts are spun which we hope are strong enough to lasso the future, and I'm profoundly discouraged about my own energies as compared to the opportunity.

At the Pajamas Party (my previous recaps here), participants were strongly concentrated in the arena of political opinion/news blogging with some lifestyle and miscellaneous sites (Hello! That's me waving!) around the fringes. However, today's group is particularly involved in fashion and beauty, gossip and culture, and anything to which the suffix "ista" can be added. Would you be surprised to know that these stylish and trend-conscious purveyors of content had similar concerns as the occasionally rumple-suited political types? Well, they do.

Briefly reappearing from last fall's event was also Kim of I Am Pretty NYC with her professional make-up wheelie as she stopped by on her way to a job. But the other notable deja vu was a concern for legitimacy with the mainstream media. I'm down with the need to "monetize", but I think "legitimizing" is the natural result when the content and audience demand it. Pajamas Media orignally launched with a VC's idea of a good name, Open Source Media (OSM), bowing to staid business advice to evolve as a more serious, scalable-sounding entity. Well, that petered away the spirit of the thing, squandering the cheerful unorthodoxy and goodwill of the working label. (The informal PJ monikker was itself a defense against an MSM journo who attacked the arguments of bloggers with nothing more convincing than a put-down of them as muddle-headed, slack-jawed, nightwear-clad sloths in their basements.) I'm pleased PJ Media showed the moxy to return to their roots and fix the error. The point was then-- as it remains now-- that if the content is appealing, it doesn't matter if you leave your PJ's less than Balzac left his dressing gown. And it may even be more memorable if you don't.

There are widely divergent paths, even in the uncharted Wild West of the internet. Some sites are going to be gonzo blockbusters and some are part of the long tail. (That's me waving again.) If we were traveling the graphical slope of all the websites you could visit, from most online traffic to least, after you slalom (most adroitly, may I add?) the towering mountains of viewership for the top sites, there's a sheer cliff drop followed by the teeming masses of smaller sites which appear as mere rubble by comparison. However, because modern technology allows efficent small-scale production with customized service, and because easy shipping and communication allow discriminating consumers to locate and comfortably use distant marketplaces, a niche enterprise can survive and even thrive servicing a few devotees. People with specialized interests can find sellers or advisers with "vertical knowledge," which is marketing-speak for deep expertise in a subject, and these sellers don't need to be geographically convenient or even exist as a public retail outlet. For a pithy further discussion of the long tail phenomenon, read the latest TCS article by Glenn Reynolds. Bonus topic: How to put yourself through college on diaper fetishists.

I mention the long tail, because the focus today was primarily the other end of the continuum. That is, focus on becoming influential heavy-hitters, countwise, which makes sense in that many of these sites are dealing with mass-produced articles (and celebrities) of popular culture. Part of what BWB is also doing is trying to establish their reputations for expertise in various areas- handbags, makeup, fashion design- which will allow them to promote their own content and sell ad space, to participate as resources for traditional media, even to integrate with traditional media outlets. Some of these are pure bloggers, some podcasters, but they are industry professionals and passionate pro-ams who have tons to share about the objects of their desire. A couple of our speakers have already gotten book deals on the strength of their blogging such as Meghan Cleary's The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You and Kathryn Finney's How To Be A Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous For Less. By the way, whatever happened to short names? Without colons? Like my friend's dad, Bob?

I may have more theoretical hype to spew tomorrow, but for now, I'd like to note that the charm of the room was exceptional and aesthetic regard was evident. There was tremendous enthusiasm and conceptual innovation flying around. Perhaps, they'll remember me and let me wash their cars someday. I'd like to thank hostesses and organizers Lesley of FashionTribes and Pamela of BagTrends, whose sister-partner Michelle and mom were there, too. The event was sponsored by Glam (and the Glam network of sites) whose CEO Samir Arora spoke about his storied experiences from the misty beginnings of the internet phenomenon and his optimism for the newest growth spurts. Also sponsoring were Bust magazine, and Bacardi (look them up yourself if you're legal).

Following are the rest of the luminaries who came and chatted with the (unintended?) side effect of crippling my self-confidence by their prodigious efforts. I may have missed or mistaken a couple, and I apologize in advance. Please e-mail me any fixes.

Additionally speaking to the group were Constance White, Ebay style director and blogger for Splendora, and Najwa Moses, bold videoblogger and Styleaholic. Also present were Lauren from Second City Style e-zine, fresh from my old home town; Karen, champion of independent designers from Clothes-Pin; Emily, the newest Fashion Tribe member; Linda LaSala of Girlawhirl; Phil, the Millionaire Socialite from Coutorture; Tia of The Quest For It; professional make-up artist Elke from The Beauty Newsletter who says Wet-n-Wild lip gloss actually rocks like MAC; Patrice from Boo, You Whore!; The Nichelle of Nichelle Newsletter and Cupcakes Take the Cake, which is as narrow and delicious a niche as it sounds; either Dennis or Bennett (sorry, transcription cramp) from Open All Night; Vera of I'm Not Obsessed; Liza of Culture Kitchen; Danielle of Celebrity Baby Blog , whose 9 month-old daughter was quite bubbly and easygoing as I can vouch as her left-hand neighbor; and Tara of When Tara Met Blog. Update: I'm Not Obsessed and Nichelle Newsletter have also posted reports from today, with pics.

My personal feeling is that for a wide-ranging, inconsistent type like myself, what probably makes the most sense is not necessarily being part of a themed stable to which I won't regularly contribute, but being able somehow to highlight among my piles of ridiculousness those lengthier essays or more originally-interpreted topics which might be of interest for syndication or reprint. I'm going to look further into Nightcap Syndication to see if that's their notion. I know that doing more of that may require migrating from the beloved freebie tools I'm using to add tags. But I might need to do that anyway if I want to add multimedia, which I do want a bit. I firmly believe that while few of you (if any) are interested in everything I post, some of you must find the variety diverting, and on any topic, I might have a few hundred good words to share in my lifetime, and I'd like to find a way to maximize the use of those meager scraps.


TaraMetBlog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TaraMetBlog said...

hmm I hit delete by mistake before.

It was nice meeting you and thanks for the link. Don't worry my blog is more lifestyle too, I hardly write about fashion, so you weren't alone yesterday.

Hmm the eye pencil I got is bright teal, a bit wacky for me. I'm so going to have to look for those mini glosses for my cell phone.

deb said...

Henway. Great recap! (that's me jumping up and down!) I was so bummed I could not be there in person - but I was there in spirit channeled thought Lesley as my proxie..;) I am so glad fun was had by all. As for long tail, syndication etc. - ping me love to chat and hear more from you.

Cheers, D [aka Glam community director/advisor and blogging/long tail champion [also blogging at

Lauren Dimet said...

Second City Style thanks you for the mention and the recap! I am so glad I came in from Chi-town for this event. To meet the faces behind the blogs I have been following was just fantastic. I hope I can make it in for others. The speakers Lesley and Pam arranged rocked.

The mini glosses for the cell phones? Way cool. I have long been a huge fan of Bourjois double wand mascara. And that's about all I know when it comes to beauty products!

clothes-pin said...

Thanks for the mention and the recap. It really was an exceptional event, and so nice to meet everyone. Am I the only person excited by my ebay notebook?!!