Late to bed, early to rise, and mountains of cardboard boxes to unpack. That is generally our MO in the few days leading up to a MommyCon event. But that is what iced vanilla coffee and a good box cutter are for, right? I’m often asked what it’s like to be a part of #TeamMommyCon on event days, so I put together an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at our Atlanta event for our blog readers.
Being moms ourselves, the lack of sleep doesn’t phase us. MommyCon is our focus. When we converge on an event city, we’re fueled by adrenaline, the desire for community, and caffeine. Our team journeys from various locales, and we touch down collectively with a mission and a goal. With less than 24 hours before the Friday VIP sessions, we’re all hands on deck as we begin the venue transformation and set-up. Our team is small but mighty, so we call in reinforcements in the form of volunteers from our community. These incredible individuals come carrying babies on their backs and help us tackle gift bag assembly, event element set up, stocking inventory in the MommyCon Shoppe, and more.
Every Friday VIP day begins with a 7 a.m. team breakfast. I cherish these short few minutes, as I genuinely care for each of our team members. They have become my friends and road family when I am away from my own. After we’ve had our ceremonial meal, we’re on to prepping for exhibitors and sponsors to arrive for their set-up. With my role as Sales Director, I always enjoy when our partners arrive. These are companies I communicate heavily with via phone and email on a regular basis, and I welcome the opportunity to interact face-to-face. I pride myself on delivering a flawless event for our attendees and for our partners, so I am on hand to help execute any of their requests relating to booth set up, product display, and any fires that need to be put out.
One of my most cherished event responsibilities is leading the AfterDark VIP session Friday evening. Feminine empowerment is a true passion of mine, so the opportunity to advocate for women in discovering their value truly gives me joy. We also keep it lighthearted by serving margaritas, with salt in EZPZ snack mats, or wine with Silikids lids. When Xza and I conceptualized this VIP session, we wanted a no-holds-barred, intimate conversation around the glorious nature of being a woman. Once the session concludes, we’re back tying up loose ends before heading to the hotel for a quick dinner and a few hours of shut-eye. And just like that, it’s event day. My 4:30 a.m. hotel wake-up call tells me so. Dressed in our hot pink best, we’re up and ready to tackle all things Birth.Breastfeed.Babywear.
By 7 a.m., I’m usually half an iced coffee deep, and I’m very lucky if I’ve gotten to finish it. At 8:30 a.m., I enjoy touching base with our media team, answering behind-the-scenes event questions, and greeting our event day staff and speakers as they arrive. All the professionals who arrive — IBCLCs in the Evenflo Feeding Lounge, babywearing educators in the Ergobaby and Beco Babywearing Lounge, CPSTs in the gear area, and even relationship experts in Vagina Village — these are the point people for each of our event elements who are there to answer questions and tell you about the awesome products you can discover in the space. Before I know it, it’s go time. No matter how many events I’ve done, I always get nervous the week of the event, but by the time the doors open, I don’t have enough time to process even a single nervous feeling. Event weekend is an adrenaline rush, and I love every second of it. That being said, we’ve had technology hiccups — lines of attendees waiting to check in and no way to scan their tickets, speakers showing up late, boxes of gift bag contents that were sent to another state or completely disappear, temp staff not showing up, and even working microphones that suddenly become silent as a lamb when they are needed. As each sticky situation occurs, I take a deep breath, recenter myself, find a way to fix it, and put every ounce of myself into making each event the best MommyCon event I can.
Once registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. sessions begin, we’re stampeded by the most glorious view of mamas, daddies, babies in tow, and preggo bellies. I’ve never seen something so beautiful and awe-inspiring. There are so many natural-minded parents seeking education and community, just like Xza and I were when MommyCon first formed.
Throughout the rest of the day, I spend time introducing sessions, checking with event staff, troubleshooting exhibitor issues, educating in sessions I moderate, connecting with attendees, and prepping for the grande finale on gear + giveaways. You can normally find me somewhere near the side of the stage helping present prizes, and I love seeing the excitement and surprise on our winners’ faces.
I’ve probably oversimplified this portion, as there is a lot of work that goes into our day, but honestly, it doesn’t feel like work. I’m surrounded by friends — some I’ve known for years, others I’ve just met that day, and my best friend on the planet — and it feels like home to me. Our community is so embracing, loving, and inspiring that I am honored to be a part of it and facilitate this large meet up. For our events, it takes 2 days to fully set up and 2 hours to break down, but it’s worth every minute. I leave an event feeling re-energized for life with love and laughter. — ironic, as I am usually running on about 10 hours of sleep the whole weekend, but it’s totally worth it to me. I hope it’s worth it to you. We have nine events left for 2016, and I look forward to meeting so many of our first-time attendees alongside seeing familiar faces!
— Laney xoxo
Laney Kolker has been on the road with MommyCon for three years and is passionate about empowering women both inside and outside of motherhood. She is mom to three little girls, is a trained babywearing educator, and finds joy in travel, art, design, heirloom tomatoes, and making a difference.