It totally feels like a dream, but unless the calendar is lying, today marks the very first Blogalicious Weekend conference exactly TEN YEARS ago. My kiddies were 1, 3 and 5 and “working” registration along with my Mom, Sis, Auntie and Husband. Justice Ny, Justice Jonesie and I were giddy, incredulous and had no idea what we in store for. And then Day 1 started and it was…magic.
So much has happened over the years of our Blogalicious adventure – it would be completely impossible to capture it all. A google search of “Blogalicious” still baffles me to this day! We formed a community. We made new friends. SO MANY new friends! We lost dear friends (you’ll always be with us Susan Niebur, Jewel Figueras and Raijean Stroud). Marriages suffered. Kids grew up. Nyasha and I lost a dear friend and business partner. It was (is) hard. We broke glass ceilings for bloggers of color and set trends. We learned so doggone much. We built a team. We moved into our own office space. We built a brand and through our zealousness, we created a celebrated and special platform that allowed crazy dope things to manifest.
We’ve watched you guys form best friendships, launch businesses, pivot, quit your jobs, start new jobs, quit your blogs, start new blogs, have babies, launch your own conferences, and on and on. We figured out influencer marketing together! We were way ahead of our time and launched The bLink Marketing Network, a lifestyle content site (shoutout to My Blogalicious!) and we even filmed a whole movie thanks to the vision of Lamar and Ronnie Tyler. We launched our own lipstick color (thanks Liquid Courage)! Our Blogalicious Tees crushed it every year courtesy of Tees In the Trap. Our bags were dope because Mess In a Bottle is dope. We collaborated with brands (ALL THE BRANDS), served as each others’ support system and navigated the new-fangled platforms of Pinterest and Instagram. We connected online in groups (all the groups!) Who remembers the Blogalicious Forum on Big Tent? And on our #BeUplifted Twitter chats. Then we connected IRL at Meetups and ShopTalks all over the country.
If I had a dollar for every time one of you sent me a note or an email or a text or a DM or a card in the mail letting me know how Blogalicious changed your life, I’d be rich. But then again, your “love notes” have made me rich because oh my gosh we changed lives! What a wild ride this has been. We got a proclamation from the cities of Atlanta and Miami. Princess Tiana flew all the way from Disney World to San Antonio to hang out with us. Ava DuVernay screened a little-known movie of hers for us in Vegas — before she was AVA DUVERNAY.
We were invited to live blog President Barack Obama’s speech from VIP seats at the National Urban League’s Centennial Conference. We screened Beyond The Lights and got to talk with film director Gina Prince-Bythewood. We were the firsts to screen Coco and the firsts to see the trailer for Black Panther. National Urban League President Marc Morial gave a keynote for us. So did Amy DuBois Barnett. We had a main stage interview with Issa Rae. And Luvvie. And Mahisha Dellinger. And Paul Brunson. And Adrienne (Bailon) Haughton. And Myleik Teele. And Pamela Booker. And Gwen Jimmere. And Nely Galán. And Elisa Camahort Page. And so.many.bosses.
Cynthia Bailey of RHOA hosted a live and direct day party in the ORS Lounge in Atlanta. Kim Coles crashed the very first conference and we all became friends. Paula Patton greeted every one of us in the Cover Girl Queen Collection Suite at Blogalicious DC. Soledad O’Brien saw our conference trending on Twitter and insisted on video-ing in for a live chat in our main ballroom. She was so cool. Kindred the Family Soul performed for us in Miami; Fatin still checks on the Blogalicious Family to this day. And I don’t have to remind y’all about Lamman Rucker. Hey boo.
We amplified so many social justice, humanitarian and charitable causes: from The Malala Fund to Shot@Life to the International Rescue Committee for refugees to to the American Cancer Society to Save the Children to the American Heart Association to the ONE Campaign. We had hard conversations after events like the death of Freddie Gray, the unrest in Ferguson, MI and surrounding controversial brand issues like Monsanto’s ethics in the food industry and Dove’s advertising misstep. We weathered the sobering coincidence of having the Baltimore Police Department setup their Crisis Command Center on-site at our conference in anticipation of the Freddie Gray verdict and we literally weathered Hurricanes Maria and Irma in the days before our last conference in Miami.
Through all of that we did what we do and we kept it Blogalicious. We had a rap cypher with McDonald’s, did Zumba in the American Airlines Arena with Kia Motors, and danced our [badges] off at the parties. Ohhhh the parties! Cocktail parties, day parties, silent parties, parties on the Vegas Strip, parties on South Beach, 80s parties, white parties (heyyy Change The Cycle!), and even pajama parties. And of course — we turned out the club with Doug E. Fresh.
The stories that my team and I have are endless. Not only the ones that happened at our events or online but oh the stories we have from behind the scenes. This is the part where I start to cry over my keyboard. Y’all. The people that worked 24/7 to make Blogalicious what it is are priceless to me. Jana, Terrance, Pamela, Xina, Cara, Rachel, Ariel, Leticia, Jessica, Ashlee, Carla, Marcus, Debbie aka Grandma, and of course Jazzy — Happy 10th Anniversary! You all are truly my family and I can’t wait to see what trouble we get into next.
I can’t even begin to choose photos to include in this post! Check out all of our albums HERE. No, for real – grab a cup of tea and take a drip down memory lane.