How Conferences can Help You Turn Your Hobby into a Business

 


Do you currently make products by hand for family and friends? Have you ever wondered if you could turn your hobby into a business? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not only possible, but attending conferences can be a valuable resource to help make it happen.

By leveraging conferences, I’ve been able to turn my hobby in the soap and cosmetic industry into a business. In this post, I’ll be discussing how attending conferences aided me and providing advice on using them to manifest one’s hobby as a professional business.

What advantages come with attending conferences?

When I first started making soap and cosmetics as a hobby, I had no idea it could become a business. But as I began to share my creations on live streams, I started receiving requests to open an online store. That’s when I began to think, “could this be more than just a hobby?”

My interest in soap and cosmetics led me to start researching conferences that would allow me to learn more about the industry and trends. Attending conferences provided me with access to resources and information that helped me to turn my hobby into a business. I was able to meet other industry professionals and gain a better understanding of the industry as a result.

The term ‘conference’ has become a synonym for a number of different events, including trade shows, events specific to an industry, and networking events. Each type of conference offers a unique set of advantages, but all offer valuable opportunities for hobbyists who are looking to bring their passion to the world of business.

It has been a privilege for me to attend, speak at, and even exhibit at a number of conferences. There is one thing that has remained constant throughout all these experiences: my passion for connecting with others who share my enthusiasm in the same field. They have each been unique and valuable in their own way.

In this post, I’ll take you through my experiences as a speaker, attendee, and vendor at conferences, with some videos to illustrate the journey. With my story, I hope to motivate everyone – regardless of professional experience – to become more involved in conferences. Additionally, I would like for my story to inspire you to do this too.

Finding conferences to attend

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Attendee at a Conference

At the time I started attending soap and cosmetic conferences, I had just begun making soap and was just trying to break into the industry as a maker. I was interested in attending conferences because I wanted to learn about standards and regulations in the industry. I also wanted to learn about additional products which I could incorporate into my product line as well.

Clyde Yoshida and Zakia Ringgold at Soap Conference

I attended workshops, listened to keynote speakers, purchased a ton of supplies and ingredients directly from vendors and even got to connect with some of my industry faves. It was an incredible learning experience and it sparked a fire in me to become more involved in the community.

Presenting at Conferences

I began to get invited to speak at the conferences I had previously attended as an attendee after a few years. This was an opportunity for me to give back to the communities that had given me so much. It was a real surprise for me to be standing on stage in front of a large crowd, sharing my experiences and knowledge with them.

As nervous as I was, I received valuable feedback from attendees, and I was even approached by other conference organizers to speak at their events. It was an extremely rewarding experience, but also incredibly nerve-wracking. It is my belief that speaking at conferences not only helped me establish myself as an industry expert but also gave me a greater sense of confidence in my abilities.

Speaker Zakia Ringgold

Becoming a vendor or exhibitor can help your business grow.

It was this fact that drove me to take the next step in my business and become a vendor at conferences, which gave me the privilege of connecting with potential customers, showcasing my services, and even collaborating with other exhibitors to help my business grow.

In my first experience, I exhibited at a conference for the first time. I had a visually appealing display that featured high-quality images of my products, as well as books that attendees could purchase. I was a little nervous, but I was also eager to present my books, live streaming, and technology services. It was a great way for me to connect with potential customers and to get feedback on what they needed.

Overall, my journey in the handmade conference circuit has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I’ve met some amazing people, learned a lot, and even helped to grow my business. I encourage anyone in the industry to take the leap and get involved in conferences. You never know what opportunities may come your way.

Preparing for Conferences

In the beginning, I was a little apprehensive about going to a soap and cosmetic conference for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect or what to do in advance. However, with a little advance planning and research, I was able to make the best out of my experience.

Choosing the right conference is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Are you looking to expand your industry knowledge or are you looking to promote your products? Find a conference that matches your objectives. You should start preparing for the conference well in advance after you have selected it. In order to attend the conference successfully, it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of your business plan and goals.

Check out the speakers and topics covered in the conference. You need to make sure you make a plan for the sessions you want to attend, vendors you want to meet and, most importantly, how you are going to apply it to your business. You should also prepare your website and social media to make sure your new contacts will be able to connect with you easily. It is very important that you have a good first impression on your website and social media.

You will be able to get the most out of your conference experience by planning well in advance, and this will enable you to take your hobby to the next level, as well as enjoy your conference experience.

Making Connections at Conferences

It has been said that the greatest benefit of attending conferences is networking with other professionals in the industry. In the beginning, I wasn’t too excited about the idea of networking with people I didn’t know. I’m truly an introvert at heart. The moment I stepped into the conference center, I was immediately greeted by a warm and welcoming community of people who shared the same love of soap and cosmetics that I had.

They would discuss soap for hours on end and never get bored of talking about it. I truly was among my tribe of people.

In addition to fostering new business opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship opportunities at conferences, it is important that you have business cards on hand or a QR code that people can scan to get in touch with you. I have been able to develop rewarding professional and personal relationships with candle makers, soap makers, and everyone in between.

It is also worthwhile to not be afraid to talk to other vendors and attendees. You never know who you could meet and how it might have an impact on the future of your business, so make sure you ask questions, exchange ideas, and make contacts.

There are many opportunities to make valuable business connections as well as connect with others in the industry. Taking advantage of conferences gives you a chance to network with others in the industry and make valuable connections.

Learning and Growing

In addition to learning and growing as a business owner, attending conferences will also provide you with a great opportunity to network with other business owners, participate in workshops, and hear from keynote speakers who can share valuable information about industry trends, best practices, and new innovations.

I once attended a workshop that was dedicated to the latest trends in natural and organic ingredients and I was excited to learn about them. As I realized this, I was able to set my products apart from the rest of the market by incorporating these ingredients into them. As a result of the knowledge I gained from this, I adjusted my product line accordingly, which ultimately led to an increase in sales.

There is also something very inspirational and motivating about listening to keynote speakers. I have heard some truly inspirational stories from industry leaders over the years that have helped me to stay focused on my goals and see the big picture, which has kept me motivated to keep working towards them.

There is no doubt that hobbyists need to attend conferences in order to get to know others in their field as well as gain valuable resources.

Showcasing Your Products

As a vendor, you will have the opportunity to connect with potential customers and share your creations with a wider audience by exhibiting at conferences.

As a result of being an exhibitor at conferences, I’ve gained valuable insight into what products and services are lacking in the market, and I have been able to adjust my product line accordingly based on what I see.

If you are looking for an effective way to showcase your products and grow your business, attending conferences and exhibiting as a vendor can be a valuable strategy.

Conclusion & Look Back

The opportunity to attend conferences can be extremely beneficial for hobbyists who are trying to turn their passion into a business. There are a variety of resources and opportunities at conferences that will help you take your hobby to the next level, from networking and learning opportunities to showcasing your products and services.

I encourage anyone in the soap and cosmetic industry to consider attending conferences. The connections and knowledge you gain can be invaluable for your business. Remember to prepare well in advance, make connections, and take advantage of the learning opportunities. With the right mindset and preparation, you can turn your hobby into a successful business.

It’s been quite a journey revisiting my past conference experiences. From local meetups to regional gatherings and national conferences, these videos have been a great way to reflect on the valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’ve had the pleasure of attending conferences and producing my own soap conference, and I’ve connected with numerous other like-minded professionals. It’s interesting to look back and see how much I’ve grown and the kind of impact I’ve had on the larger community. It’s been a privilege to be a part of these important events, and I’m looking forward to hosting many more in the future.

First National Conference in 2016


Soap Supply Haul from Local Meetup


Another Soap Supply haul

Soap Making Books

2 Comments

  1. CME

    Phila women beautiful!! Following your journey since 2017. I remember you and Paige dancing to Amazon echo that is what caught my attention back then

    Reply
    • Zakia Ringgold

      Thank you for joining in on the ride and for being so supportive along the way.

      Reply

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