Working Essence Fest has been a goal of mine for a couple of years. In the spirit of 2018 being my "Cardi B" year...it finally happened!
I was in such awe by working Essence Fest & I gained so much from the experience. In an effort not to overwhelm you all I have broken down what I learned into 5 categories!
First you're probably wondering what exactly did I do at Essence Fest. Well to start, I want to clarify. I didn't work directly through Essence or work at the actual Essence Fest. I worked Essence Fest related events. However, I still consider this as progress. I was able to network & build my portfolio to help in the future of actually working for the brand.
The Power of Intention
At the beginning of 2017 I had the opportunity to attend a vision board party. If you didn't catch that blog post you can read it here. If you take a look at it you can see a picture of my vision board that year & where I had put an Essence clipping on it. From there I also wrote in one of my journals my goal to work for Essence/Essence Fest in some capacity. I didn't care what it was, I just wanted in. lol. I was positive that whatever task I would do I would use it as an opportunity to grow.
I believe everything happens when it's supposed to. I believe that where you are in life right now is exactly where you should be. We do too much of comparing ourselves to where other people are in their lives or beating ourselves up because we should be "farther along."
If I had worked Essence in 2017 I may not have been as prepared to do as well as I was able to do. I am further along as a blogger & I have grown my skills.
The Benefits of Being Solo
The first time I experienced Essence Fest was in 2016. I was in complete awe & fell in love. I had just begun blogging & told myself that one day I would be recognized at Essence Fest in some capacity as a fashion blogger/contributor.
The next year I decided I would visit solo in order to take full advantage of what Essence Fest had to offer. When discussing this with my friends they wanted to attend too. But we got to New Orleans, plans changed, & we never made it to anything that was even Essence Fest related.
But I'm not going to lie. That wasn't the only thing that stopped me from experiencing Essence Fest that year. It was my mind. Fear had set it. The fear of being alone. Not so much the physical fear (although that is a concern), it was a mental fear. There's not much I have done truly alone that compares to blogging. My family & friends don't know much about the industry & sometimes don't understand it or the vision I have for it. & that's okay.
So in 2018 I committed myself to go after everything I want in life. My friends were going to Houston the same weekend & although I wanted to go to with them I said no & committed myself to going to Essence Fest.
As the Life & Style Editor of beBATONROUGE, I was asked to interview Jake Smollett. For those of you that don’t know, he’s the brother of Jussie & Jurnee Smollett. From that interview, the videographer asked if I'd like to cover the celebrity events with his production company over the weekend. Because I didn't have any plans with friends or anybody else with me whose time I may have to had taken into consideration I was able to accept this opportunity. The experience gave me the opportunity to learn, network, & grow my skills as an influencer & media personality.
Overall I learned you can't always take your friends with you & there's nothing wrong with that. It's okay that you all have different aspirations. You have to be unwavering in your pursuits & committed to doing the work. Don't be afraid of experiencing this by yourself. I know it's cute to always have your girls around or you want them to share in the moment, but there's work to be done. Get to it.
& sometimes it takes you doing something by yourself for others to know that you're serious & you mean business. You don't always need an audience. Do the work & the results will follow. When people see that, they respect you even more & really believe in your hustle.
The Benefits of Networking
Network! Network! Network! Every event that you attend try to leave with a new contact you didn't have before. Of course at Essence Fest you'll come across a lot of big names & some of your Instagram favorites. This is the time for you to speak up & meet them! Essence Fest is designed for them to meet with their followers & fans.
While working the Ciroc Women's Empowerment brunch I was in the same room with Teyana Taylor, Mona Scott-Young, Supa, Yandy Smith, & so many more. I literally gasped when Nichole Lynel turned around. lol. She probably thought I was crazy. Arian Simone was someone I have been following on Instagram for awhile. I took the opportunity to speak to her & asked for a picture. She later DMed me & invited me to her Fearless Conference. I almost started crying! Thing is I had been wanting to go for months but couldn’t afford it only for her to PERSONALLY invite me! What if I wouldn’t have taken the moment to speak to her!?
Celebrities Are Humans Too!
It was so great to see celebrities greet each other after not seeing each other for awhile. It was like a Black Excellence reunion!
There were a few celebrities that I asked for a pic and they respectfully declined. Did I get mad? No. They were tired & and are always taking pictures. It was great just speak to them.
I was standing ARM & ARM with Omari Hardwick & didn’t even know! When I did realize his security guard gave me a signal to chill. lol. I complied & Omari turned to talk to me. I know that we live in an era where we NEED a picture to prove something, but sometimes the experience is enough.
That’s all I have! Comment below if you’re attending Essence Fest!