Guest Post: My First Design Bloggers Conference by Susie Feia

AJapko2016 is the sixth year of the annual Design Bloggers Conference (Also known as the DBC), organized by the energetic Adam Japko and Esteem Media. Originally just the DBC, it has expanded to include several additional conferences and is now known as the Home & Garden Digital Marketing Week. I attended the DBC portion – the first two days of the week’s conference.

This was my first time attending – I was a DBC virgin! Hoping to gain some tips as I set out to launch my blog, I was excited, yet feeling a little overwhelmed at the same time. While I’ve been active on Social Media for years, I’m a newbie in the blogging world, and was sure I’d be the most inexperienced one there. But I came away from the DBC feeling incredibly informed, inspired, and motivated. And here’s why:

Even though many of the attendees are experienced design bloggers, with well-regarded blogs, (19% have been active bloggers for 5 or more years), almost 36% had been blogging less than a year – like me! And the attendees ranged in age from high schoolers to talented designers in their 60’s –a very diverse group. I had worried needlessly; I fit right in!

So no matter what your experience level is – a beginner looking for ways to grow your blog, or experienced blogger looking to diversify, monetize your blog or move into ecommerce – there was someone you could relate to. I was amazed to find out that the combined reach of the bloggers was more than House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Traditional Home or Arch Digest. I was in very impressive company!

To kick off the DBC, there was an opening night after party held at the Ferguson Showroom. On top of a fun showroom to wander through, Ferguson was a great host, providing yummy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and live music.

But the highlight of the evening was having time to catch up with old friends, and meet IRL those people that had, up until now, been “on-line” friends. It was like summer camp where you bond instantly and become hard and fast friends!


The smiles and laughter show what a fun time everyone was having!

Making those connections the first day translated into a valuable resource over the course of the conference, as everyone was happy and willing to share their tips, tricks and practical ideas about blogging and social media. Have a question? Not only could you get answers, but more importantly, you were also provided encouragement and support.

And the conversations went far beyond blogging and social media: all aspects of running a business and dealing with clients were fair game for an in-depth discussion. We all learned from each other, as much as we learned from the conference speakers!

An amazing line-up of speakers rocked the DBC!! 

Talented, smart – and funny too! – the DBC speakers were the juice that motivated us! It was exciting to learn how they achieved their success, but the stories were also backed up with key strategies to help us achieve our business objectives. All the attendees went home with different tactics that were important to them, depending on what their business goals are, but collectively, we all felt that rush of inspiration that fuels our passion. The keynote speakers and celebrated designers Cynthia Rowley, India Hicks, Nathan Turner and Mary McDonald kept me entertained, inspired, laughing at their humor and gushing over their gorgeous projects and personal homes.

BlakeneyJustina Blakeney was one of my favorite speakers because of the way she approached business!

Justina is the author of the best-selling book “The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes”. She is also a social media maven as “The Jungalow”, where she has an on-line audience of over 1.5 million! She commanded the room as she shared her experience in creating a successful brand. Justina advised us to strive for authenticity (not necessarily originality) and be able to clearly define what your brand stands for in three words. “Create community around what you’re trying to build!”

DwyerAnd I can’t go without mentioning this cutie! Connor Dwyer is still in college, and this was his first time speaking at a conference. He was invited to speak because he rocks Instagram with almost 78,000 followers! Connor reinforced the wisdom many of the speakers shared again and again: know your brand niche and curate your images and social media postings to reflect this. Follow him @CONNORTD or @Thadthefinger to see how he does this successfully!

So much info was presented about building your brand, blogging, Pinterest, Instagram, writing, taking photos, SEO, analytics and brand/vendor collaboration by the knowledgeable roster of speakers. I know many of my friends were making adjustments to their blogging strategies and redefining their focus before they even make it back home!

Oh, and did I mention we got a mid-afternoon wine tasting? We did! And it was very good!! (Thanks Adam!) 

So the key points I learned are this: 

Be consistent with your brand.

Curate your marketing efforts to reflect your message.

Be authentic.

And > use all the resources available to help you achieve this!

I realize that attending conferences are a big investment in time and money. But I also consider it important to take a “pause” now and then and take stock of where you are with your business and where you want to be. So I went to join almost 400 other attendees at the DBC in Atlanta. And it delivered! I only wished I hadn’t waited so long to attend!

There is a saying that goes: 

Surround Yourself with People 

Who have Dreams, Desire and Ambition; 

They’ll Help You Push For, and Realize Your Own. 

And that, in a nutshell, is the essence of DBC! 

Full disclosure here: I won a bottle of wine for guessing correctly where next year’s conference will be held. And the winning city? Los Angeles. I’ve already got my calendar marked for 2017! Can’t wait!!


Delighted to call these talented designers my friends! Be sure to visit their blogs to see how they enjoyed the DBC. Plus they have really great blogs! Laurel won a 2016 Hall of Fame award for Best Writing – an honor well deserved, I love reading her posts!

Carla Aston: 

Laurel Bern: 

Mitzi Beach: 

Amanda Gates: 

Linda Holt: 


Susie Feia is co-woner of Feia Construction, LLC is an award-winning design-build remodeling firm. Known for a commitment to excellence with creative designs, quality craftsmanship, and excellent client service.

Feia Construction will enhance your life with any type of renovation, new construction or interior design. They specialize in additions, whole house renovations, kitchens, bathrooms and lower levels.

Traditional Home, Ferguson Sponsor Sunday After Party at Design Bloggers Conference


Traditional Home, the National Media Sponsor of the Design Bloggers Conference, and Ferguson are teaming up to bring you the Sunday After Party at the Design Bloggers Conference.

FergusonBKL logoFerguson – Stunning kitchens. Spa-like baths. Beautiful lighting. Party-perfect patios. When you re-imagine your home, your entire life gets a redesign. Creating a space designed around the way you live – a space that perfectly fits your lifestyle – is possible and Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery can help make that dream a reality.

Be inspired
Step into a Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery and you’ll immediately be inspired by what you see – beautifully displayed lighting, appliances, and bath and kitchen products from today’s top brands. But their state-of-the-art showrooms take the experience even further and allow you to touch and feel the products in a welcoming, hands-on environment. From exquisitely designed bathroom displays with functional showerheads, to full kitchens with working appliances, you can explore a variety of design styles ranging from classical elegance to bold contemporary.

If you need more inspiration, visit their inspiration gallery at It is full of beautiful kitchen and bath images and can help you identify your design style whether traditional, transitional or contemporary.

Largest selection of products
Ferguson’s wide range of products lets you make multiple selections at a single showroom, which streamlines budgeting and makes the building process more efficient. Not only do they offer traditional plumbing products, but they also offer lighting and appliances. Many showrooms have a dedicated lighting specialist on staff that can assist you with customized lighting plans, product selection and budgeting. As well, Ferguson offers high-quality appliances from cooktops and ranges, to refrigerators and outdoor grills.

Personalized service
Ask customers what brings them back time and again and they’ll say it’s the people. Ferguson’s product experts have years of industry experience and are extremely knowledgeable about design trends, product selection and the building and remodeling process. Whether you’re renovating an outdated bathroom or designing your dream kitchen, they take time to listen to your ideas and work one-on-one with you to bring your vision to life.

Dependable delivery
After your product selections are made, it’s important to ensure that the right product is delivered during the right stage of the building or remodeling process. Ferguson’s local inventory combined with their strategically-placed distribution centers stock thousands of products by major manufacturers. This means that inventory is always available. If it’s not in-stock, their buying power and vendor relationships mean they can still get the product quickly.

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.

Pirch to Sponsor Tuesday Lunch at Design Bloggers Conference

Pirch Logo_CMYK_(R)PIRCH is a unique and innovative retail concept specializing in premium lifestyle products for the home.  The store enables visitors to shop in an entirely new way, by dreaming of, playing with, and choosing products that lead to better living.  Specifically configured for shoppers to “try before they buy,” the store features bath, shower and kitchen vignettes with running water, live ovens, ranges and stoves, as well as fully-functional outdoor kitchen products such as gas grills and under-counter refrigeration systems. In addition, the showroom includes a new in-store boutique, featuring specially-curated, limited edition goods designed to inspire joyful moments at home.

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.

Currey Sponsors Stage Furniture at Design Bloggers Conference

Ours is a people business. The essence of Currey & Company is not only the product for which it is known but also the very important people who help to create the product and carefully deliver it into the hands of those other important people, our customers, in a timely fashion. Our on-going program of process improvement speaks of our faith in the ability of the men and women who work at Currey & Company and their ability to contribute to the betterment of the company and its products. Our faith in them is demonstrated by the fact that we give all of our employees the opportunity to obtain a four-year college degree by paying for their tuition as well as bearing the expense for remedial courses and English programs for our non-English speakers. People are key, but product is also the lifeblood of the company and at Currey & Company we take pride in our original design work , meticulous craftsmanship and careful attention to all details of a product. The effort of our multi-step hand-finishing process manifests itself in the richness and depth of the final finish of many of our products. The appearance of these pieces speaks of the human hands that have touched them as well as of the design skills and craftsmanship that have created them. We have the willingness to do what many other manufacturers regard as too difficult or too time-consuming. We think it shows.

Chandeliers, wall sconces and table lamps form a significant part of the company’s offerings and these goods are characterized by the attention and detailing that goes into their manufacturing and finishing. With a workforce in Atlanta, Currey International in the Philippines, and China, the product line has grown to more than 1,000 items. Rugs, upholstery, furniture and accessories have been added over the past decade so that we can now offer a floor to ceiling shopping experience for our customers.

Currey & Company is represented by sales reps in the United States and Internationally with permanent showrooms in Atlanta, Dallas, High Point and New York. Currey also has an International Sales Office in Hong Kong.

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.

Refined Haystack Sponsors Design Bloggers Conference


Refined Haystack is a curated interiors network connecting the best in local interior design. Our platform offers luxury interior designers, sources, and other industry professionals enhanced opportunities for networking, brand awareness, and the exchange of fresh ideas and authentic recommendations. It is built to help unite, promote, and elevate local interiors communities while providing homeowners and design enthusiasts with knowledge and unique access to trusted design resources.

Acting as a marketplace and guide curated and driven by engagement from the design community, Refined Haystack makes it easy for you to find what you’re looking for when it comes to local interior design and decor.

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.

Greenhouse Fabrics Sponsors the Design Bloggers Conference

Greenhouse Fabrics Logo_14inFour generations of the Greenhouse family have now focused on the future of fabrics for all of our Greenhouse friends.

We strive daily to bring you an industry leading customer service, where you will always hear us Smile on the Phone while assisting you with all of your fabric needs. Speak with any of our highly trained Customer & Fabric Specialists at 866.755.5000 for answers to your questions and to explore ways we can help you to grow your business.

Our goal is to be fast, fun, friendly, and flexible while helping you find the Right Fabrics, in the Right Color, at the Right Price!

We feature an inventory of more than 10,000 Beautiful Fabrics on our industry leading website, which you can easily shop from your PC or any mobile device.

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.

The Design Network Sponsors the Design Bloggers Conference

Design Network Full LogoWhat is The Design Network? It’s simple really: we believe there should be one place you can go to find it all. We believe that style starts at home. The Design Network is your go-to resource for design inspiration, home improvement, expert advice and insight into the best products for your project. We’re a vibrant community and video network built on a shared passion for all things home.

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.

ADAC Sponsors the Monday Morning Break

ADAC is a community-focused, nationally-recognized leader in the world of interior design and home fashion, built over 50 years ago by renowned architect and developer John Portman. For a half-century it has served as the essential one-stop shopping resource for interior designers, architects, and builders.

The ADAC campus consists of 550,000 square feet with over 60 showrooms offering 1,200 of the industry’s finest product lines including furniture, fabric, rugs, lighting, accessories, floor and wall coverings, antiques, fine art and framing, kitchens, bath, tile and stone, and home theater products. Likewise, ADAC’s extensive services include custom designs such as framing, electronic systems, faux-finishing, and draperies.

In addition, signature industry presentations, celebrity and media events, educational programs and networking opportunities held throughout the year make ADAC truly a one-of-a-kind, design destination. To learn more, visit

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.

AE Outdoor Sponsors the Design Bloggers Conference

AE Outdoor Logo

What can we say? AE Outdoor feels like most of the outdoor furniture world is stuck in 1984. It’s about time someone shook it up! Bring on some color! Embrace modern design! AE Outdoor designs outdoor furniture for those who want to celebrate their outdoor space with friends and family and aren’t afraid to do it in style. We use only rust proof aluminum frames, the highest quality all-weather wickers, and the most durable Sunbrella fabrics. Don’t get us wrong, 1984 was a fine year… but how often do you get out pictures of yourself in your old parachute pants? Browse our outdoor furniture collections at

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.

High Point Market Sponsors Conference Online Proceedings

High Point Market_Logo_v1_300We are pleased to announce that The High Point Market Authority will sponsor this year’s conference online proceedings, making it possible for attendees to have a permanent record of the material covered at the conference. The High Point Market Authority,, is the official sponsor and organizer of the High Point Market in High Point, N.C. Featuring an extensive selection of exhibitors spanning every category, style, and price point, and attracting tens of thousands of visitors from more than 100 countries twice each year, the High Point Market is the driving force of the home furnishings industry. Find the High Point Market anywhere online, and follow on Twitter using the hashtag #hpmkt.

For more on sponsoring the Design Bloggers Conference, check out our sponsorship information.