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The Conference, what did you think?

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
So Mamas,

The conference has come and gone, I personally think it was an awesome experience. So many crafty, artsy, wonderful mama's making amazing carriers~! Not to mention the coolness of meeting people like Susan, creator of the Maya Wrap, and Dr. Maria Blois author of "Babywearing The Benefits & Beauty of This Ancient Tradition" .

Kozy Kelly helped me out a ton, by loaning me a Kozy to wear my 14 month old daughter in for about 14 hours over the whole weekend. Wow!! What a great carrier! I am in love! I HAVE to have one!!!

The fashion show was a hoot! Beatutiful carriers, and we all agree there is nothing sexier than a man wearing his baby!

Thanks so much to Jenrose for all her hard work and for allowing me to be a part of it all! Thanks to all the volunteers and the work they did for all of us to help it to be such a great event. Thank to all the vendors who worked so hard not only for themselves but for each other, helping those who were by themselves get out of the exhibits hall to get kiddos from childcare or food to eat, proving that we are truly a community! Thanks also to Kelly for all the effort that went into the childcare.

post #2 of 39
I need a gm wrap!
post #3 of 39
It totally rocked! I'm working on uploading a ton of pics and will post the link to the photos when I'm done.

ETA: I had never really met or talked to many MDC mamas but I met so many wonderful local gals at the conference! Thankyou all for your volunteerign and making it a HUGE success!
post #4 of 39
Wow, it sounds like it was awesome!!
I would love to see those pics
post #5 of 39
Kristine, you met us....its now trying to figure out user name to real names!
post #6 of 39
Originally Posted by frogger
Kristine, you met us....its now trying to figure out user name to real names!
Oh yes! I recognized your MDC name because you told me but I will not recognize many others, lol.

Here are pictures I have: http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v149/slingpics/
post #7 of 39
Thread Starter 
Mamafae = Nichol Exhibits Coordinator and lunitic for not sleeping enough!
post #8 of 39
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by frogger
I need a gm wrap!
yeah well when you're not looking I am SO going to steal your Kozy!
post #9 of 39
Nichol did you see this one of us

and Kristine, you got a pic of the upside down onbu! I was thinking, maybe it didn't work the right way since she was bfing and not that small of a mama. Maybe it was more comfortable the way she had it?

Nichol are you going to the nino meeting next tuesday?
post #10 of 39
Thread Starter 
Boy don't we look happy and exhusted all at the same time! LOL. Thanks Kristine for the posting of the pics! I will get mine up asap I promise!
post #11 of 39
Great pics, ladies!

Keep them coming!
post #12 of 39
Wow that looked like a great time

Kristine, in some of your pics it looked like they making a Onbuhimo? The ribbon on the edge of the straps is very pretty!

What were some of the topics covered?

hope you guys don't mind me butting in
post #13 of 39
I just saw the schedule with the session listing. So many great topics!!!

Was there talk of the next one?
post #14 of 39
Next one in 2008, probably on the East Coast.

There will be a regional one at Reed (we'll have the conference center, though!) in 2009.

Kristine, Nichol, Leslie, I love you guys.

ETA Heh, you can almost read the "Feed me!" on my nametag in that pic.
post #15 of 39
Thread Starter 
I love you too Arwyn you super volunteer you!

I am looking forward to having a regional here that would be fun. In the mean time lets all plan on making the PDX NINO group rock the west coast!!
post #16 of 39
Originally Posted by frogger

and Kristine, you got a pic of the upside down onbu! I was thinking, maybe it didn't work the right way since she was bfing and not that small of a mama. Maybe it was more comfortable the way she had it?
Hey that was me! You are totally right. I felt so crappy for bumming you out Kristine I actually asked a couple of other mama's if they wouldn't mind modeling it, but everyone had exhausted babes. Lily couldn't latch on without the onbu upside down and the Maya wrap lady (what was her name : ) said that she thought it showed versatility. That was true!!!! XXOXOXOX Jessica
post #17 of 39
The next one in three years!?!? Way too far away. I definitely think we should stage another, more modest, con MUCH sooner than that! Next summer, one day, ten booths, five classes, $12 all day. Whatcha say!?

Did anyone read the Willamette Week's announcement for the conference? :
My main suggestions for next time:

1. More, more, more publicity. Cheaper, simpler posters. At all farmer's markets, natural food stores, birthing centers, Doernbacher, teen-parent support centers, child-care centers and Early Childhood Ed. departments.

2. Catchier name. "Slingfest." "CarrierCon." I dunno.

3. Bring the cost down, way down. Was Reed terribly expensive? Couldn't the schedules have been drastically simplified?

4. Sell tickets for individual classes or make people pre-register for a given "track." Hands-on classes should really be limited in size.

I'm inspired to get active in NINO now. Yay!
post #18 of 39
Originally Posted by mamajessica
Hey that was me! You are totally right. I felt so crappy for bumming you out Kristine I actually asked a couple of other mama's if they wouldn't mind modeling it, but everyone had exhausted babes. Lily couldn't latch on without the onbu upside down and the Maya wrap lady (what was her name : ) said that she thought it showed versatility. That was true!!!! XXOXOXOX Jessica
Thanks for explaining your reasoning. Unfortunately I cant use any of those pictures on my website or I'd open myself to HUGE liability issues because its not tested for that use or safely. All my carriers are tested for 6 months for safety prior to being released to the public, I didnt test that position because it wasnt meant to be worn that way, lol. Onbuhimos are actually meant to be back carriers and rarely used as front carriers. (the name even means back carrier, lol) KWIM? Aw well, I learned alot from this and wont be submitting them to future shows unless I am actually free to do it myself or be backstage to make sure its worn safely. I know it wasnt intentional that it was done that way as well and knwo you didnt mean to bum me out, just a misunderstanding.
post #19 of 39
Due to financial thingamabobs with Reed, there WILL be one there in 2009. But we can certainly plan a smaller one for next year (I'd love to help, but I won't be a major pusher toward getting it done) - in fact, TPTB's hope is for many smaller, regional conferences next year to really get the groundswell going to support the next international conference in 2008. I concur on the need for megamore marketing.

I do think we need to reconsider price, though, unless we can get a LOT of advertising revenue in. $12/person times, at reasonable estimate, 50 people is only $600. It'd be basically impossible to run a conference of any size on that much, even if we could get the venue free. (This conference cost over $21,000, and the Reed portion was at least half of that.) I'm all for cheap, accessable to everyone conferences, but we also need to realistically balance that with the actual costs.

So everyone local knows about the next PDX NINO meeting next Tues, right? I'm so there.
post #20 of 39
Price: This was an international conference and intended to be an international conference. Compared to La Leche's international conferences, we came in at about 1/4 the cost or less for most things. Compared to Midwifery Today's conferences, we came in at about 2/3 the cost, but they *never* do childcare, rarely manage housing, and almost never do food. We were cheaper than DONA as well. We managed to provide low cost options so that anyone who could get their buns over to campus could get help with babywearing at some level. Those who wanted to take classes with some of the best babywearing instructors in the world could pay $10-$15 per class (and yes, we let walk-ins buy tickets for individual classes but only advertised the fact on Saturday). Those who wanted the whole experience paid more. We had people who put up to $2000 into the conference without even *coming* they thought it was so important.

It is flat out impossible to do a conference for $12 per day that involves flying speakers in. Most babywearing classes are either done free by someone selling slings, or cost at least $10 and up to $40 per class. The fact that someone could walk in and have Kelley from Kozy help with a mei tai in the conference booth was pretty dang awesome if you ask me.

And yes, we got a ton of advertising revenue, but the conference itself... let's put it this way. Those who paid attention and are an active part of the babywearing community had an option to get an early price of $50 per day. Those who found out later, paid more, and that's the way it is--we had bills to pay.

So what costs money in a conference?
Flying teachers in: $2800, including Jeni Norton, who founded thebabywearer.com, Barbara Wishingrad of the Rebozo Way project, Vijay Owens of Nine In, Nine Out, and Maria Blois. I also helped two others because both needed to be there to teach and help and could not come without help. For the first international conference, those ladies *needed* to be there. A regional event can get by on people who can drive or who are willing to pay their own way. MOST of our teachers got their own travel expenses.
Dorm: At $33 per night, a complete bargain. But we provided those who taught with room and board ($24 per day) for each day they taught. Most of our teachers could not or would not have come had they not been helped that way. Take the number of classes we had and multiply it by about $50 per class. Worth it to get the people we got teaching. But cheap? Not particularly. Those who attended felt it was worth it.
Venue: Reed is *cheap*. Seriously cheap. Our rooms cost us less than $4,000 which is just incredible if you know event planning. Food was $24 per *day* per person--LLLI and DONA freuqently get dinged $24 *per person per meal* for food. And $100-$150 per night for hotel rooms.

We could have done it on the cheap, made people find their own lodging, not provided food, not offered childcare...and how many people could have come from out of town? How many people *would* have come? How would they have felt when they got there?

What we did:
We picked people up from the airport: 2 vans and 1 car and something like 20 trips, with people just chipping in what they could do for gas. Broke even.
We had childcare available for donations... people paid what they could afford, for top notch care that I'm told kids were begging to go to. Broke even.
We had baby bouncers who kept herds of small children entertained and happy to the point that my daughter earned something in the vicinity of $150+ worth of *tips* she was so busy with it. Not a cost to the conference.
There was organic/free range food available 3 times per day on campus for less than $10 per meal, totally flexible for crazy food issues like I have and *healthy* if one chose. Even the burgers were free range beef. This is one of our largest "costs"...the teachers meals were paid for, their families meals were mostly not.
People could stay on campus, and did, and we worked hard to make it work for people. Teachers were mostly paid for, support people and attendees paid for themselves.
We offered a wide range of classes which will probably be significantly tweaked and rearranged next time to make them most user-friendly. But they covered a gamut. This was part trade show, part conference, part convention, and part retreat. It hasn't been done before in this community in this way. We had nothing to base it on for *our* specific demographic.

The general mood was that we took care of each other. That we helped each other. When my day fell apart on Monday when my daughter was not able to board her plane as scheduled, people came together and packed me up when I could not be on campus. People who were not scheduled as volunteers, who'd paid the full amount, just pitched in and helped anyway because they wanted to. We were all tired. We were all dealing with longer walks than we were used to, often with being alone with kids when we were not used to travelling alone, or being without kids for the first time in years. But even through that, I saw more grace and gentleness and kindness in one spot than I've ever seen.

Even so, the conference *may* break even. Barely. Or we may be a few thou short, which we have a backup plan for.

Can things be done cheaper? Sure. If I'd had more help, sooner, a whole lot of things that were relatively expensively done would have been done cheaper, better and more gracefully. I didn't tap into the PDX community fully anywhere near as soon as I should have, but we know better now for next time.

But please don't undervalue babywearing. I see this a lot... people think it should all be cheap or free. Well, there are a lot of free and cheap resources out there. But if you want someone else to make it happen, be it a carrier custom made or a class they're teaching, please value their time and energy and what goes into the product. We did have free and cheap options, and a lot of people made use of them and I'm *glad* they did. But the parts of the conference that were not cheap or free were worth every penny, every drop of sweat we put into them. Would we do some things differently later? Sure. But this was the first one. It needed to come from the whole community, be for the whole community, not just Portland. We learned a lot. Had I priced it any lower, we would not have had more people. We could have had fewer.

Our conference will end up costing between $20,000 and $25,000. Most conferences cost $30,000-$50,000. We brought in about $21,000 from all sources.
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