This weekend, I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in Berlin to attend Holly Becker's decor8 book launch party. Holly has been a kind supporter of my artwork over the years with her award-winning design blog, so when I found out she was celebrating the German launch of her book Decorate, I knew I wanted to attend!
It was fantastic to meet Holly in person. She is incredibly witty and charming when she speaks, and she's a great entertainer. It is one thing to know a person's "written voice" - but Holly was such a pro in moderating this event and she truly did an excellent job. I was impressed and inspired by her gorgeous presence!
Holly also shared her very personal story, which I wasn't aware of before. It turns out that she studied business and marketing, and worked at a large corporation as a project manager before she turned to decorating, writing, and blogging.
Although Holly was very successful for many years doing her corporate work, she felt frustrated with her job and as if she was missing out on doing something creative with her life. So she started thinking about what she loved to do as a child.
As a young girl, she used to constantly rearrange the furniture in her family home and was always interested in design and decoration. She also loved to write, teach, and make books, and she even had pretend book signings with her stuffed animals and dolls!
After Holly quit her corporate job, she was so determined to succeed, she simply refused to give up. She told us about calling magazines repeatedly, editors hanging up on her, people telling her that her blog would never amount to anything, and others tried to convince her that blogs in general were a waste of time.
Her blog decor8 now has over 48,000 unique readers daily with an additional 78,000 daily RSS subscribers, around 500,000 unique IPs (individual readers) monthly, and over 1 million hits monthly - and Holly's new book is already in its 4th reprint and is now being translated into several languages. So how is that for "persistence pays off" ?!
Holly's main advice for blogging and establishing an online presence is to build a community first, and then allow the business to follow. She is convinced that people respond best to personal connections, and the more they can connect to you as a person, the more interested they will be in your professional side. Holly encouraged us all to use our blogs to show the process and the personal stories behind our creative work.
Her closing message was: Think bigger, think outside of your limitations. Be consistent, don't be afraid, and just do it!
Holly's charisma and confidence certainly convinced me, and I'm hoping that she will be hosting more creative blogging events in the future. Okay Holly? You can just sign me up right now ;)
Matt Stinchcomb of Etsy also gave a great presentation, and told us the fun story of how Etsy was founded. In a nutshell, four creative guys came together in Brooklyn and wanted to create a website where people from all over the world could sell their handmade goods. He talked about how Etsy's mission has evolved to empower creative people to set up their own businesses, and he spoke very passionately about what is going on with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
He ended his presentation with a lovely quote from German economic theorist E.F. Schumacher:
"Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant, and the beautiful."
- from Small is Beautiful
Sitting right beside me in the audience (in the blue dress) was Holly's co-author - a lovely, talented English lady named Johanna Copestick.
On the celebratory side, there were gorgeous cupcakes in all colors, shapes, and flavors.
They were almost too pretty to eat - but only almost!
A quite famous German women's magazine called Brigitte helped sponsor the event, and they collected the blog addresses of attendees to post an online blogroll on their website.
What fun to click through this incredible, mostly European blogroll.
There I am with my friend Eleanor from E.M. Papers who also came up from Munich for the book launch. All photos were taken by photographer Sina Preikschat for Brigitte.
You could buy Holly's book in the German edition called Lust auf Wohnen or order Decorate in English.
Of course I got Holly to sign my copy!
As you can see, the event was both a great learning experience and an entertaining celebration. There were also interesting presentations in German from Brigitte's Steffi Luxat and Caroline Ditting of Callwey Verlag, Holly's German publisher. A personal recap of Holly's book launch is now up on decor8 as well.
A huge thanks goes out to Holly and her team for hosting such a fabulous book launch party! It was an honor to attend, and I can't wait to meet you again at many future events in Germany. I think the time is ripe for blogging to really pick up speed in Europe, and very successful blogs like decor8 are a huge inspiration for us all!
Big hugs from Munich!