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There’s nothing like a 5-day weather forecast for highs in the 100s / lows in the 80s – plus humidity and the heat index – to strike terror in a Seattle girl.  Aiiieeee…those lows are higher than the highs we’ve had this summer so far!  What the hell do I pack?  Will I melt or combust??

I spent 5 wonderful days in Kansas City, MO and am still riding the high!  The high of a fabulous Silpada Designs National Conference…my first ever!  And first time visiting KC!

Silpada is hand-crafted .925 sterling silver jewelry – the highest grade of sterling silver.  There are nearly 33,000 representatives all over the USA, Canada and the UK!  I’m so proud to be one myself – it will be two years this November since I took the plunge!  I fell in love with the jewelry at a party a friend hosted nearly 7 years ago and am beyond impressed.  Everything from the quality of the product (nothing is plated and there is NO nickel in the jewelry), the unique designs, the lifetime warranty and the support provided by corporate offices…I hit the jackpot signing up!

And now I was off to KC to experience the high energy of National Conference for the first time with nearly 5000 fellow reps!  But first…quelles horreurs…what the hell to pack?  We had the agenda and suggested dress code for each day…most was business casual with one night a more formal night.  Sounds great, but how do you try to dress for that in blasting hot heat?  And when your wardrobe is, well, lacking a few ‘nicer’ items because most you can’t fit into anymore?  Thankfully I had great advice from my local team – we meet once a month and it’s so much fun!  They all said not to stress about it too much…just go with comfortable.

OK, that sounds good, but there was a teeny part of me that wanted to be impossibly chic and fresh – cute sundresses and sandals and all that.  So one night after work I headed to Nordstrom at Bellevue Square.  And I realized how long it’s been since I’ve gone CLOTHES shopping.  I spend my money on shoes, boots and handbags (and jewelry of course!).  My clothes are mostly J. Crew clearance, given I work in an uber-casual environment. I wanted something fresh with a little more pizzazz for this trip, but I had an awful time finding things I liked that fit me.  I learned right then and there that the larger you get in size, the fewer choices you have in clothes and you risk looking frumpy.  I would rather walk around naked than wear frumpy clothes!  Hell, when I’m 80 – Lord willing I live that long – I will NEVER be frumpy!  I even choked back tears in the dressing room a couple of times.  Maybe THIS was the in-your-face that I needed to vow to get back in shape and drop some poundage.

So I ended up with a couple of pairs of pants (one khaki, one black) some loose-fitting black leggings, a purple gingham checked shirt (which I didn’t bring to conference but is pretty cute), two layering tank tops – one in white, one in light khaki – a lightweight sweater which would be good for the plane ride and a couple of t-shirts.  I tried on countless sundresses that didn’t fit quite right, and while I found a cute maxi dress it would have needed a LOT of alterations (and hemming) which I didn’t have time for.  I went home $500 poorer and frustrated.  I STILL didn’t feel like I had the ‘right’ stuff I wanted to bring on this trip.  But this was reality and the body I have to dress today.

Once I got packed and on the plane, I stopped stressing about my clothes.  I knew there would be an opportunity to do a little shopping during the convention, so maybe I could find something there?  Turns out I didn’t have much time to shop, other than a quick ‘drive by’ through the booths they had (soooo cute). I grabbed a small wristlet for going out (no need to lug a purse around).

I was also a little nervous about traveling with a large amount of jewelry, because that’s not something I typically do.  I knew to pack it in my carry on (NOT in checked baggage – never never), but it still felt odd to me.  But, I trusted the advice of my fellow reps and purchased a cute ‘jewelry roll,’ which is a tri-fold soft cloth case with TONS of zippers and pockets for packing up jewelry.  It fits great in your carry on, they said!

Then there was the problem of the carry-on.  As in I COULD NOT FIND MY CARRY ON.  This was probably a day or two before I left…I swore it was on a closet shelf where it’s been for years.  It’s a cute, black nylon Nine West messenger style bag…and it’s GONE!  I even looked in my garage.  How could it be gone? I’d NEVER consciously decide to get rid of something like this!!

Well, thank goodness for a spare laptop bag!  My current consulting firm provides us each with a laptop bag…I use a larger Tumi briefcase for work that I’ve had for years because it has built-in padding for cradling my laptop.  I knew that smaller laptop bag would be PERFECT for a carry on…and yay, no need to pack a laptop in it for this trip!  It held my jewelry roll and catalogues great and was not too heavy or bulky!  Love it!

I also knew to bring an extra Ziploc bag for airport security.  Once I arrived at Sea-Tac I removed the jewelry I was wearing and placed it in a Ziploc bag and placed it in my purse.  That way I wouldn’t be “that girl” holding up security, having to remove jewelry right then and there in the walk-through screening.  This is a GREAT tip, by the way, for anyone who likes to wear a lot of bling!  [I was at the airport by 5am and the line for security snaked for what seemed like MILES.]  Once I got through security I simply put my jewelry (and shoes) back on and was good to go!

I had a two-hour layover in Denver…thankfully it whizzed by quickly.  When I arrived in KC I prayed my luggage would not get lost (whew, it didn’t) and checked in to wait for the shuttle to my hotel!  My roommate (and business sponsor) was already in KC and our texts were flying back and forth!

How wonderful to discover my shuttle-mates were all fellow Silpada reps!  Most of us were attending for the first time…THIS is what was so special and bonding about conference…it’s easy to spot a fellow rep in her fabulous jewelry…and just walk up and start talking with her! 

Thursday:  travel time to KC via Denver!  I was so excited to finally arrive…that 4:30am shuttle pickup at home was a distant memory and my adrenaline kicked in hard.  It was late afternoon when I arrived and after what seemed like eternity I finally got to the hotel, checked in and got back in a shuttle to the convention center.   There was a continuous flow of (free) shuttles every day for us to hop on to get to and from the convention center from our hotels.  So nice and convenient not having to rent a car or grab a cab every time!

I got registered, got my name tag and a beautiful sterling silver charm (check out the pic at the top of this post)!  It’s a gorgeous “15” design, as this year is the 15th anniversary of Silpada’s founding!  On the back it’s engraved with “keep the party going,” this year’s convention theme!  I actually wore it as a pendant, as it’s a bit large on a charm bracelet.

After what seemed like ages, I finally found L (my business sponsor) and a couple of others of our team in a large area that was set aside for supply shopping!  Calculators, post it notes, new yearly planners, pens, t-shirts…so much fun!  They also had a photo booth set up to get a headshot to include on your website.  I was sure I looked a wired & tired mess so I skipped that.

A few of us headed out to the Power & Light district to check out the scene and live music!  True confession…I’m not into country music but hey, when in Rome right?  The P&L district is full of shops, restaurants and bars and has a central, open area perfect for live music and dancing.  And it’s super easy to spot fellow Silpada reps out and about…we’re all decked out in our jewelry…and so happy to be doing what we do! 

My God it was hot that night…105 degrees (41 C) and a little humid.  Thankfully I’d worn one of my new tank tops under the sweater I wore on the plane.  Off goes the sweater and it ties around my shoulders…great music, friends and a couple cocktails and we were doing just fine.

Friday:  we grabbed a quick breakfast in the convention center (breakfast and lunch was provided each day…wonderful!) and headed into the main arena for opening general sessions.  Bill Rancic kicked us off as our keynote speaker…I just adore him and now love him even more!!  He spoke for about an hour with fantastic motivation and advice for us fellow entrepreneurs!

We then had the choice of 3 different training sessions.  What I liked about this was that each of the 3 repeated itself twice, and there was plenty of room in each area for seating.  No need to pre-register…we each had a booklet of which sessions were offered each day and sat down as a team to figure out which ones we each wanted to go to.  Some we did as a group and for others we chose to divide and conquer so we could share what we learned!  I also liked that we each had a pre-printed booklet of each sessions talking points, so even if we couldn’t attend everything we still had the scoop! 

THEN…a pizza party for dinner with our team – cute matching t-shirts too – and time for NEW JEWELRY PREVIEW!!  Oh my goodness what a moment this is!  Every year in July a new Silpada catalogue is unveiled…and lots of new jewelry too!  All 5000 of us packed into the convention center and were treated to a beautiful fashion show with models showing off the new jewels – gorgeous!  And by the time they were done we were whipped into a frenzy!

It’s a STAMPEDE of jewelry reps running to the jewels!  And this is unbelievable…they set up 30 huge tables, EACH with the entire new catalogue’s jewels displayed, all for us to touch and try on!!  That’s about 450 pieces of jewelry per table…this is truly THE biggest jewelry party in the WORLD!  This is one of the new bracelets and is absolutely incredible…and not too heavy!   It’s solid .925 sterling silver, handcrafted and is $199.  Want to find out more about this piece?  Please message me! 

What do you do after ooh’ing and ahhh’ing over all the new jewels?  Grab your packet of (free) new catalogues, your Sharpies or post-its, get a cocktail and have a seat on the convention room floor with your team. Lots of pages to pour over!! 

Saturday:  More training sessions and closing general sessions in the main arena.  I have so many notes to type up…my notepad is chock full of my chicken scratching! 

Was this the morning L and I spent FORTY MINUTES waiting in line for Starbucks?  I think it was.  Just agonizing.  Thankfully we’d allowed enough time but WOW that Starbucks near the convention center could kick it up a notch or two, especially with huge events like ours.  Although I noticed the pace was a tad slower in general from what I’m used to.  Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming to us…is this that famous midwestern hospitality?  Not that people in Seattle are rude, it’s just a different vibe and not as laid back.  In fact, my first night heading to the convention center I was the only one on the shuttle, and my shuttle driver even took a few extra minutes to drive around and show me some key points of interest in KC before dropping me off at the convention center!  Too funny…and nice. 

Saturday was awards night, and time to get a little more dressed up!  Here’s where I’m glad I didn’t pack a nice dress…I went with my new, loose black leggings, bling-y flat sandals and a sequined J. Crew tank top with a white tank layered under it (it’s a little low-cut).  By the time I met up with the rest of our team in the convention center, they already had a mini bar set up…big tumblers of vodka tonics!  I cracked up…are these award ceremonies THAT bad?  Everything’s been so amazing! 

When I found out that the awards would go on for THREE HOURS, I knew why we mixed a few tonics.  After about an hour we ditched and headed back to the Power and Light district for some dancing!

This time instead of a live country artist it was a DJ on main stage blasting 80s and 90s music.  I’m SO glad we decided to go dancing…earlier the talk was we’d go to karaoke (which I absolutely cannot stand either doing or listening to, heh).  We grabbed food at the Dubliner and headed up to one of the dance clubs.

There were easily 2 or 3 bachelor and bachelorette parties going on that night…love it!  And perfect for a bunch of 30-40 something bling-loving ladies to mix it up with them on the dance floor!  Awesome.

I was even sort of getting used to the hot weather.  Emphasis on sort of.  We ended up back outside where the DJ was cranking out music and dancing around on the pavement.  Somehow I ended up in the arms of a very handsome cowboy – and a great dancer too.  Man, how long has it been since I got twirled around like that?  Too funny.  My sweaty feet were a little slippery in my sandals but I did alright.

I also met a few more reps too…we exchanged business cards and hoped to meet up the next day for our tour of corporate offices!  I figured OK that sounds great, but with so many of us it’s hard to plan sometimes!

My roommate L headed back to the room early, as she had an insane shuttle pick up time…something like 3:00am.  At that point it’s not even worth going to sleep!  She was catching a standby flight home and had to get up early to start waiting.  The rest of us grabbed a cab later…poor cabbie got an earful of 3 sheets to the wind jewelry reps who needed to bust a move after being on a structured schedule for a few days! 

Somehow I slept well and woke up with no hangover.  Does the hot weather make me sweat out all that booze?  Ha. 

Sunday:  it was weird waking up that morning with L already long gone.  Many people were flying home that day, but for me there was still much to do…starting with a tour of Silpada’s world headquarters!

A short shuttle ride away is the town of Lenexa, KS.  We crowded the streets in KC, piling into shuttles as we did every morning.  When I finally got onto one…oops…it was already full!  I turned around and got in line for the next one.  Lo and behold I ran into ME, one of the reps I’d met out dancing the night before!  What are the chances?  It was totally meant to be…she and I hung out the entire time for the tour and just really hit it off! 

I’m so impressed with the corporate offices and nearby huge distribution center…overall the campus sits on 29.5 acres!  Everything is beautiful and immaculate.  I was also impressed to learn about the bar coding and order processing…they process 20,000 orders a day, with capacity for double that!  And the warehouse workers only work a day shift…there’s no swing or graveyard!  How’s that for quality of life!!  Wow.

The corporate tour was the last official event for conference…I was brimming with so much energy, excitement and empowerment!  I’m not alone in doing this business…I’ve got a huge network of Silpada sisters who are doing exactly what I’m doing (or trying to do) in growing my business!

Now I was on my own…had to figure out for myself what to do to keep entertained!  I had the rest of Sunday and a good chunk of Monday still in town!

I walked over to the Westin Hotel (there are a few skybridges linking the various hotels) and ended up at Brasserie.  An early dinner sounded good!  I chose chicken prepared with asparagus, crab, artichoke and tarragon.  Delicious!  I came back later to my hotel room, freshened up a bit and wandered back down to one of the restaurants to see if I knew anyone…or could spot any fellow reps in their jewelry who were still around! 

Amazingly, I ran into D.  D and I are a part of a huge, private Facebook group just for Silpada reps….there’s over 3700 of us in it and growing.  And she and I are Facebook friends too…and there she was!  I couldn’t believe it!! We ended up hanging out that entire evening, and I went with her upstairs to keep her company while she finished packing. 

I just love these types of days where you have zero idea what you’re going to do, and the most wonderful, random things happen!

Monday:  I grabbed a coffee and bagel and finished packing.  Checked out of the hotel and had them hold my suitcase and carry-on…I needed to do some shopping, and had a little time to kill as my flight didn’t leave till that afternoon.

So I grabbed a cab and headed for the Country Club Plaza!  WOW this place is stunning.  I’m so in awe of outdoor shopping destinations, for in Seattle they are not the most popular way to be set up for obvious reasons!  I’m glad I got there when I did, before it got too hot (but boy it was cookin’) and that I was there during a not so busy time (Monday morning).  Damn, I burned my fingers on the ATM buttons outside!  Youch.

I knew I needed to keep my last purchases small as my suitcase and carry-on were already packed full.  I ended up with some new MAC makeup and some wonderful green tea-scented solid perfume from L’Occitane.  I’ve never had solid perfume before and thought this was a great idea…it comes in a round tin just like lip balm…and no spilling or breakage in your purse!

And my flight home…was a non-stop on Alaska Airlines.  Would you believe we arrived a half hour early?  I guess the jet stream is so far north from where it normally is that we had nothing in our way as we flew west!  And my suitcase was one of the first ones handed off in baggage claim!  Hooray!  Off to the shuttle I went, excited to be home a little earlier than I planned.

Well, I guess it all evens out in the end.  Turns out our shuttle driver was doing his VERY FIRST RUN after his classroom training. He had a mentor riding shotgun with him.  It was awful.  It was like I was spying on someone taking their driver’s test and I felt dirty.  God, it was painful…the guy acted like he never had driven in his life and I’d put him around late 50s or so in age! 

I am SO inspired and energized about Silpada now more than ever!  I KNOW I’ve hit the jackpot representing this amazing product and cherish the friendships I’ve made at conference!!

If you’re interested in learning more about the jewelry or why I have “the best part-time job in the world” as a rep please message me!

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