I can barely see to type this morning having spent the weekend at the BritMums blogging conference in the heart of London – I’m shattered, it would appear that I am no longer capable of staying up past midnight without turning into a pumpkin!

This was the sixth blogging conference I have been to and my third time at BritMums, this year I was honoured to be attending as both a finalist in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards and as a speaker.

My Braintree Dress and the Bloggers & Brands Panel Debate

One of the points I wanted to make during the bloggers and brands debate was that we don’t have to passively sit and wait for brands we like to approach us. We can actively go out and seek to work with companies which we admire and want to bring to the attention of our readers and we are allowed to say ‘No thank you’ to brands which don’t fit our ethos or our blogs. With that in mind I approached a brand for the first time ever to ask them if they would dress me for the awards and my panel debate…and they said ‘Yes please’!

Braintree clothing make beautiful, practical, eco friendly and ethical clothing and I really wanted to have them on Thinly Spread. Here I am in my Braintree dress pontificating about the importance of bloggers and brands working together creatively, see how well the rest of the panel were paying attention? See how comfortable I am? I was amazed how much a dress and a pair of borrowed shoes did for my confidence!

Braintree clothing and Thinly Spread

and here I am paying attention in return (@schoolgatestyle did tweet at this point ‘Great brand session…tho slightly distracted by @thinlyspread’s fab shoes’…this has NEVER happened to me before, I don’t own these sort of shoes!)

Braintree Clothing and Thinly Spread on the Bloggers and Brands panel at BritMums Live 2013

On a serious note, I did feel that this debate didn’t really get off the ground, I would’ve liked to get my teeth into it a bit more but, with limited time and a packed agenda, it was inevitable that we would only really skim the surface of the relationship between bloggers and brands. I would like to have talked about honesty and transparency and I would REALLY like to have talked about big brands using bloggers to manipulate their presence on search engines but it was not to be on this occasion. I shall have to write that post here shortly instead!

The Brilliance in Blogging Awards

My new dress stood up to the rigours of a long day and I was still cool and comfortable when the evening’s celebrations began. I couldn’t help but encourage people to stroke the 100% organic cotton to see how soft it is – one or two thought it was silk – and I also showed off the 55% hemp 45% organic cotton throw which I had been sent to keep me warm once I’d left the heated confines of the conference room!

I spent time with one of my very favourite people before she leaves us in September for a new life in Tasmania. Ruth was a fellow finalist in the commentary section and, if you haven’t already read her blog then you absolutely must.

DorkyMum

I caught up with Anna, Emma and Liz and laughed, a lot

Brilliance in Blogging Awards

I didn’t win an award but losing to Team Honk in the Commentary section and Knackered Mother’s Wine Club in the Outstanding Category isn’t a bad way to go!

Brilliance in Blogging Awards

My cheesy grin in this photo is genuine – if a bit blurry!

Braintree Clothing

The Braintree dress which made me feel so fabulous is the Dakota May dress, it retails at £39.90, this is ‘floral ikat’ but it also comes in ‘weekend spot’. I was also sent the Banyan throw to wear with it, the throw retails at £39.90 and I can see it becoming a real staple in my wardrobe, I think I may need to invest in another colour to ring the changes! The clothes are really good quality at a good price and with a sound ethical background – this is eco fashion at its best!

I am still processing the rest of the conference in my head and I hope to write about the sessions and events of Saturday when my head is less jumbled and my emotions less raw. Suffice to say here that BritMums Live has come of age, it was a professional conference with a good balance of workshops, debates, discussions and speakers. The coming together of a blogging community in mourning for a lost friend and a special child was sensitively and thoughtfully handled.

I do worry that it is still a little overwhelming for people new to blogging but anything that big will inevitably leave some people left reeling and it was good to see the BritMums Butterflies attempting to scoop up people who were looking a bit shell shocked. I was delighted to speak on the Friday and again on the Saturday (‘Working with Charities’), I loved meeting up with old friends and new, I was pleased that the brands were less pushy and the Hub more relaxed – there was plenty of food and drinks which is always a bonus for me! I heartily congratulate the organisers and their team!

Disclosure: I was sent the two items of clothing as mentioned in this post. All words are my own.

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