I am a creative through and through; there is no doubt about that. With that being said though, for me to run a successful blog and maintain a solid brand image, I have to rely on a lot more than just creativity. A little while ago I wrote a post on the Threads business accelerator program (which you can read here if you missed it!), but to sum it up it is essentially a program put together to teach fashion entrepreneurs the business side of the fashion industry. Because in all industries, creative or not, a business mind is necessary for growth! Since then a lot has been happening. The 12-week program has begun and the 12 finalists have all started what are called ‘classrooms’. These comprise of different speakers who are all experts in their field, that come and give presentations on their specific focus. The finalists are spread out between four different cities; Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. These classrooms are recorded so that everyone can see and interact with the speakers and other participants during the session – regardless of which city the presentation is taking place in. Technology, right!?
I have been lucky enough to be a part of this amazing journey in my own small way, by being able to attend some of the classrooms and share my experiences on Lauren Carmen with you! Over the next few weeks I will take you along with me over a series of posts, letting you into the world of Threads, fashion, business and entrepreneurs! Kicking this off with the first classroom I attended on the 29th of January…
Monday’s classroom wasn’t the first of the programme, though it was the first one I attended, so everything was already in full force and the finalists were knee deep in the curriculum already.
Of course me being the person that I am, I was a bit nervous before (I know it’s silly, don’t remind me) but you can’t control butterflies! Doing something new is always daunting, but as I continue to learn, it’s one of the most rewarding things. And anyway, it means it's something important to you - doesn't it? Held at the Astro Tech Conference Centre (which is amazing, by the way) I was greeted by Tania, the founder of Threads, and the first speaker of the day: Professor Michele Venter-Davis from Vega School. With a cup of tea and my camera in hand, I was ready to start the day – surely I'm not the only one who feels prepared when armed with tea? 😉
Right before the first session began I met two of the fashion designers taking part in the Joburg classroom. Tshego, or Ms Manche, the fierce lady behind the brand La Manche. And then Junior Mmotla, the founder of Mamagasehome clothing. Two very diverse entrepreneurs, but both fascinating in their own ways. I also found them both very inspirational - seeing people live out their dreams is possibly one of the best things on earth!
The first session was based on ‘Strategic Brand Management’ and Professor Michele was an amazing woman to listen to. Being a lecturer at Vega School, which focuses majorly on branding and management, she has so much insight into what makes a successful brand. Evidently, entrepreneurs need to know their brands inside-out and ultimately need to offer people experiences. It makes a lot of sense though. For example, when people visit my blog I want to convey a feeling of positivity and enjoyment, as well as offer make-up tips and general lifestyle. It all works together.
The second session of the day was led by Gugu Nkabinde, and what an amazing woman she is. So vibrant, energetic and passionate. She is the founder of Gugu Intimates, a nude underwear range for skin of every colour. She was speaking on ‘Brand Strategy – Thought Leadership’ and she took us through her whole journey. It's quite incredible to see the twists and turns people take in their life – expected or not. She spoke a lot about her wild ideas and crazy energy that she's always had, which basically led her to leaving behind all other jobs to focus on her own project. It just shows you that belief in yourself and your wacky ways is so important! Being able to dream over and over again throughout your life is allowed - why do we think it's not!? I loved how she emphasised this point. I honestly couldn't agree more...
Jordan Major was in charge of the third and fourth sessions. He is an experiential marketer, creative strategist and a trend observer (pretty cool that such positions like trend observers exist! Basically he gets to try predict trends and the impact they’ll have). He was also pretty damn interesting. His first presentation was ‘Market Trends and Industry Development’. He referred a lot to the future of advertising agencies and how their lifespan is decreasing, while other channels like Facebook and Instagram take over. We don't really think about this everyday, but it's obvious that social media is the place to be seen. I know personally I'm a huge sucker for an Instagram binge (aren't most people?!)
The conference centre gave us the most delicious lunch after this session, but in all honesty, my dessert-obsessed self was patiently waiting for the chocolate mousse. Yes, it was goooood. 😉
Jordan’s second presentation was about ‘Experiential Marketing’. Before this I had never heard that term before, but unsurprisingly, it’s a huge field. Summed up, it's pretty much the idea that people enjoy the experience as much as the actual product or item. I think it's quite accurate - you know when you're online, looking at clothes and make-up, and you decide to add something to your cart? That feeling of pure joy and excitement that overcomes you? Same.
The last speaker of the day was Murray Legg, the CEO of a website called Webfluential. The subject of this session was ‘Influencer Marketing’, and believe me, I was all ears! What Webfluential does is pair up influencers such as bloggers, Instagrammers etc, with marketers and brands. Influencer and brand collaborations are made so much easier in this way. All the bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers I follow are all involved in collaborations with brands, so it was a topic that I'm extremely fascinated by. Though Webfluential only accepts influencers with 1000 Instagram followers or more, it's certainly something I'll try - when I reach the 1000 milestone!
And that sums up my first Threads classroom! I can safely say that it was one of the most compelling days for me. Being a blogger and wanting to really challenge myself this year with pushing Lauren Carmen further, made it all the more fascinating. I'm really excited to be involved in such an exciting program!
I would love to know what you think about the Threads program and the speakers from this classroom - is this something you'd be interested in doing?