What I learned from the We All Grow Summit

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This post is sponsored by New Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant

Part of one’s journey through life is in trying to figure out their place in it. We are always searching for a place to belong, a community, and space where we can let our hair down and be ourselves, and be accepted for it.

In blogging, this is no different. Not every blogger is the same, though our paths may often cross and we may be connected here or there. For many of us, our community is where we find our support, or wisdom, our courage, and our spirit.

I walked into the We All Grow Summit completely aware that I was more of an outsider than anything else. I think as a Latina I have always felt this way. There are so many elements of my cultural self that contradicts with how our culture, especially the women in our culture, are believed and often showcased to be.

I will confess that the first day felt overwhelming. Surrounded by beauty and fashion bloggers, all success stories in their own right, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t have stepped into a scenario further away from my natural self. And despite that sense of awkwardness I felt as we toured the beautiful YouTube Space LA, the energy and excitement from that afternoon would carry itself, and me, through the entire conference weekend.

When it comes down to it, that’s really what makes a conference successful and memorable. Not because it feels familiar or because you go into it like you would any room you’ve entered a million times before, but because despite it all, there are people there eager to share and teach you, listen to and support you. Smiles and hugs are readily available, not because they known you, but because they don’t…and want you to feel welcomed.

I was completely out of my element, albeit surrounded by friends at We All Grow and yet the level of support, affection, and encouragement I felt among the attendees and when I spoke as a panelist and as a Dove Storyteller, was equally overwhelming and made the most impactful impression.

Ana Flores is someone I admire greatly for her ability to bring together Latinas in a way that is positive, professional, and motivational. Her team at Latina Bloggers Connect did an amazing job in putting together a group of speakers and presenters that were informative, educational, and inspirational.

And the brands that were present understood the community they were catering to. As a travel blogger, I don’t have the opportunity to work with brands like Dove and wasn’t sure what that experience would be like. Of course, I must fully disclose that I was at the conference sponsored by Dove on behalf of Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant as a Dove Storyteller. Part of that sponsorship included being able to bring my bestie, Jessie, with me.GirlGoneTravel_LAMy bestie, Jessie and I playing tourists.

As the conference progressed, the generosity of this gesture became more and more apparent. It meant the world to me to have Jessie there to talk to at the beginning and end of each day. She gets me and understands the way in which I felt like a fish out of water, and though everyone – I mean absolutely everyone – was amazing, it was extra comforting to have someone close who I could just relax with. When I mentioned it to a member of the Dove PR team, she simply smiled and replied, “Yes. That’s exactly why we did it.” That’s incredibly insightful and thoughtful, and gives a deeper meaning to blogger/brand relationships and partnerships. And it is this level of attention to detail that has left me open to future possibilities with them.

GirlGoneTravel_LAThe level of attention to detail and consideration from my sponsors was greatly appreciated.

In talking about travel, I always try to encourage others to take on the world and new destinations, regardless of their fear and apprehensions. I always say that we can’t let the things that make us different from the people we meet, stand in the way of discovering all the things we could have in common.

I needed to remember this message as I entered the We All Grow Summit. When it comes to being Latina, among fellow Latinas, I am as rough around the edges as they come, certainly not the dream mujer your abuelita always wanted you to be. In many ways I took the Guide to Being The Proper Señora and deliberately broke every rule. And yet, I was embraced at We All Grow and shared many evenings of laughter, song (heck yeah, there was karaoke!), and tears of friendship.

So maybe there are things about Latinas, even as a Latina myself, that leave me feeling like I can’t relate, but then there are other things, the warmth and friendships, that make me proud of my heritage and remind me of the fact that maybe we aren’t so different after all.

Travel Highlights

Staying at The Line Hotel. Ask for a higher floor with a Hollywood view. Waking up every morning to this view fueled my adventurous soul with excitement, especially for those moments when I needed to do field research for an assignment I was on. This is a trendy, party hotel. Expect to be stopped by a velvet rope on Friday nights and required to show ID, even as a guest just to enter. Expect celebrity sightings and protective body guards. Expect a night or two, where someone might be hosting a party in their room that goes well into the morning hours. I hear this is “so LA” though. So, if you can get with it, you should be fine. Personally, I would forgive all those things again just for those killer views, that crazy comfortable bed, and that amazing pork belly dish served at the bar.

I enjoyed several cups of coffee in the gorgeous greenhouse-designed Commissary. This rooftop restaurant is beautiful and the service is top notch, as is the food. But the feeling of it as the early morning sunlight gleams through the glass is an experience all on its own. Other eateries are Pot, by acclaimed chef Roy Choi, and as witnessed one night, a Beyonce favorite.

girlgonetravel_LABreakfast view of the Commissary.

Visiting the Google offices in Venice Beach and learning about best practices and tips from YouTube experts who work there. That’s pretty priceless, if you ask me. It may often feel like I have a love/hate relationship with Google, but I can’t deny they have a pretty incredible work space and team. Including my brother, who I met up there while touring the offices!

Lastly, the YouTube Space LA wowed me. They have one here in NYC as well. Did you know they rent out filming and production space, as well as set studios and do training sessions? I am not a YouTube rockstar (you need a minimum of 10,000 followers to rent out their space), but if you are and want to bring your video skills to the next level, this is for you!

girlgonetravel_LA girlgonetravel_LA girlgonetravel_LA

Los Angeles in general was great to explore. I loved finding a hole in the wall Korean BBQ place in Koreatown where we stayed. It all complimented the whole experience so beautifully.

Thanks to everyone for all the smiles, all the stories, all the laughs, and all the lessons. What a beautiful community of Latinas you all make.

Thanks to Ana Flores and Latina Bloggers Connect for inviting me to speak and share among you and for always embracing me.

Many thanks to Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant for sponsoring me and my friend, being so supportive of my voice and my story, and being so respectful and supportive of our community, our dreams, and our journey.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant, which unlike gels, does not contain waxy or goopy residue. Sold at Mass, Food, and Drug retailers nationwide.

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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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