Being the new kid on the block has its advantages, but mostly comes with challenges. The Salt Lick Sisters is coming up on its four-month-mark, so we are still newbies in the western fashion industry. When Alix and I were invited to the Bodacious Babes of the West conference in Fort Worth about two months ago, we were overjoyed, honored, and then very, very nervous. Being this new and getting the recognition to be invited was extremely flattering; however, that guest list was intimidating. Ladies that have been doing this for years were going. Ladies that have more talent in their little fingers than I do in my whole body were going. Ladies that we looked up to, and followed for so long, were going. How were we going to be taken seriously? Thoughts of doubt and insecurity filled both of our heads before we finally talked it out, prayed it out, and decided to go.
After weeks of prep and texting one another pictures back and forth, we had our outfits and were en route to Cowtown. There was some difficulty and drama with early check in from the hotel (which set us up real well for the night), but we arrived to dinner that Friday evening nonetheless. We didn’t know exactly what to expect. We didn’t know exactly how to act. We didn’t know if we should go introduce ourselves to others or just stay put. We were trapped in a room of women that already had relationships with each other and we were the outsiders. We knew most of them from Instagram, but didn’t know them in person. For those of you that haven’t experienced this situation before, it’s VERY awkward. Some women came right up to us and gave us a warm hug, some made eye contact and gave a gentle smile, and some refused to even turn their faces in our direction. Thankfully, a few girls we had met previously came to sit with us, and we all instantly hit it off. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to shake the feeling of eyes on our backs or butterflies in our stomachs. We tried (unsuccessfully) to choke down the enchilada we split as we felt the minutes slug by before we got the chance to leave. Tired and defeated, we made it back to our hotel room. I could feel the disappointment from Alix and I know she felt mine as well. We said our prayers, gave one another a little pep talk and slept the night off.
The next day was an entirely new ball game. Cooperative hair and makeup, coffee, and felt hats were our secret recipes for bright attitudes that Saturday. We started with an ice-breaking mood board activity, where we were separated into groups and were able to let our creative juices flow. Obviously our team of sweet girls had the best board (not that I’m biased or anything). After the jitters shook off the more reserved girls, we had the pleasure of hearing a speech from Brianna Hall, who many of you know as the Bleacher Babe. Her beautiful words and kind soul were truly humbling; all of us were so blessed to have heard her speak. Then we went on to our lunch break, which was majorly taken up by a jam session in an SUV packed with crazy outfits and wild souls, blaring Marty Robbins and Miranda Lambert down the stock yards. We got a couple stares, to say the least. Fast forward to the afternoon, and we were back in the conference room, talking business and getting advice from Lorinda Graham-Van Newkirk and Allie Falcon. The amount of knowledge and experience oozing from that room was remarkable, and just being able to say that we shared a space with all of that talent was worth the whole trip! All in all, it was a full day of inspirational talks, group discussion, bonding, and learning. It was finally fun for us. We had shaken off that hard, reserved exterior and were able to let loose a little bit. The whole event was so well thought out, and the entire conference owes a huge appreciation to Kaylee Phillips of the Tin Wagon Boutique and Brooklyn McIntosh of Warbonnet Hat Works for coming up with the idea and executing it so well!
Then the evening rolled around…Alix and I were driving downtown to our dinner reservation to meet the rest of the group, admiring the buildings, still riding on our happiness, when we realized how difficult it is to maneuver a long-bed Chevy in a city. You can’t parallel park. You can’t swing the tight corners of parking lots. And you DEFINITELY can’t fit into a parking garage, as we discovered when Alix had to back out of one. Needless to say, we didn’t make dinner.
Instead of pouting about it and letting the setback bring us down, we decided to treat ourselves to a restaurant neither of us had been to, but had been scouting out for months. A dinner to ourselves was just what we needed after being surrounded by dozens of women that weekend. Alix and I reaffirmed each other, laughed, talked business, made fools out of ourselves, chatted about God, got laughed and pointed at, reflected on the roller coaster we had just experienced, and had the most wonderful time together.
The Bodacious Babes of the West Conference didn’t go as we had expected it to in many ways, but that was why it was so successful and an incredible experience. My impressions of women on both ends of the spectrum were shattered. Big players that I thought wouldn’t give us the time of day were tremendously kind and welcoming, and some….well, just weren’t. I’m not going to sit here and type fluff about how everything was sunshine and rainbows because the truth is that when you get that many women together for any reason, some will like you and some won’t. Some will fit your personality like a glove, and some won’t. Some will think you’re the coolest thing since sliced bread, and some will think you’re overdone and old news. If we learned one thing from that weekend, it’s that what the world thinks about you doesn’t matter, what Christ thinks of you and how God made you, does. You can control what you can control, and the rest is out of your hands. I thank the Lord daily that Alix and I had each other through that weekend and that we have each other in our lives. We promised each other from the start that we would stay true to who we are, and we thank Bodacious Babes of the West for solidifying that cornerstone. This conference was truly life-altering, and we’re already dreaming up what we can wear to the Bodacious Babes of the West Conference 2018.