Being a part of the Southern Bloggers Conference organizing team has really boosted my confidence.
I used to be afraid of rejection, so afraid of hearing "no" for an answer. But lately, all I've been hearing is, "Yes."
As in, "Yes, our company would love to be involved with the Southern Bloggers' Conference."
Our team has recruited some amazing sponsors and donors, some of which you've already read about here and on our SBC team member blogs:
Today, I'm going to introduce you to a few more of our swag bag and giveaway donor-sponsors.
Perhaps you've heard of some of them...
Like Vera Bradley, a company that has been infusing color into women's lives for more than 30 years.
Friends Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller founded the company in 1982. They were wives and moms, just like many of us bloggers are, and they pored their hearts into building their dream business.
While on vacation, Barb and Pat were waiting for a flight in Atlanta when they noticed all the luggage was boring and black. There weren't any pretty or feminine bags in the terminal that day. The friends had it in their minds to change that.
They each borrowed $250 from their husbands (really!) to buy fabric to make colorful handbags and luggage. Within a year, they'd turned their husbands' $500 investment into a $10,000 profit.
Today, Vera Bradley is one of the most recognizable brands of handbags, luggage, accessories and gifts. The publicly traded company has annual sales of $461 million through its 52 retail stores, online store, eight outlets and more than 3,400 specialty retailers. Through the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, established in 1993, the company has raised more than $15 million and pledged an additional $5 million to breast cancer research.
We are proud to have them Vera Bradley as a supporter of the Southern Bloggers conference. I won't give away all the surprises, but everyone who attends the conference will be getting special gifts from Vera Bradley! I will say that one of the patterns is very appropriate for North Carolina.
Like Vera Bradley, many of our sponsor companies are led by exceptional women entrepreneurs.
That's how Forbes magazine described Alison Prince, the founder and president of Pick Your Plum.
The company offers one amazing craft deal every day in limited quantities. And when I say, amazing, I mean amazing prices, amazing products, amazing customer service.
I've ordered lots from Pick Your Plum -- washi tape, baker's twine, wooden cutouts, personalized ribbon, a return address stamp, ribbon, trim....and the list goes on. That reminds me, I need to check today's Pick Your Plum deal!
And when you get your swag bag at the conference, be sure to check it for a special gift from Pick Your Plum.
When I was choosing companies to approach about potential sponsorship of the Southern Bloggers Conference, I reached out to those whose products I love and use. Like the Popcorn Fanatic.
When I first heard about Popcorn Fanatic, I sent my husband on a special trip to buy a selection of their gourmet flavored popcorn.
I happen to live near their retail store in Winston-Salem, N.C., but Popcorn Fanatic also sells online. So, no matter where you live, you can get your fix of delicious gourmet popcorn.
Popcorn Fanatic sells sweet, savory and candy flavor popcorn. I'm a big fan of the Chicago mix and the white chocolate peanut butter, and I'm also dying to try their pimiento cheese and sweet butter.
The Popcorn Fanatic has agreed to make up a special flavor just for our swag bags. You can vote in the poll on the Southern Bloggers Conference Facebook page.
Will it be pimiento cheese, sweet potato, sweet butter or N.C. BBQ in our swag bags?
And speaking of North Carolina barbecue, you definitely need to try some while you're here for the conference.
Our sponsor, the NC BBQ Company, will make that easy.
They'll have a booth at the conference on Friday night, and they'll also be providing a gift box of authentic North Carolina BBQ for a lucky door prize winner. The company is also very eager to work with bloggers, so make sure you stop by their booth to talk to them.
And don't worry about how you're going to get that barbecue home if you win. The nifty thing about the NC BBQ Company is that they ship barbecue gift boxes all over the country. So, you can have authentic N.C.-style pork barbecue no matter where you live.
And while we're on the subject of N.C. BBQ, let me school you a bit.
Ours is pork barbecue, and there are two regional styles served here, depending on what part of the state you're in. There's Eastern style and Western Ssyle, also sometimes called Piedmont or Lexington style BBQ. We take our barbecue seriously here in North Carolina; debates about 'cue can get more contentious than those about politics.
I was raised on Eastern style, and it's definitely my favorite of the two, though my husband swears by Western style. We obviously need to try a BBQ battle box.
The NC BBQ Company's Eastern style barbecue is made from pork shoulders and hams slow cooked and smoked with hickory or oak coals. The pork is pulled, mixed and chopped and combined with a light vinegar sauce. It is served with a mayonnaise based coleslaw.
The NC BBQ Company's Western style BBQ is made from pork shoulders slow cooked and smoked over Hickory coals. It is served chopped without sauce added during the preparation. Sauce is served on the side. It is also served with a vinegar-based red slaw.
Have we made you hungry for a ticket to the Southern Bloggers Conference? We still have a few conference tickets left, but if you don't want to miss out on the great swag, giveaways and speakers, you need to buy yours soon. These tickets will sell out -- maybe as soon as this week.