The Dream Big Midwest Conference Returns To Chicago This Weekend!
Now in it’s 2nd year, the Dream Big Midwest Conference promises to be a liaison between the aspiring professional and the industry leader. It’s a productive space where resources are introduced to attendees. This Chicago-based conference provides education, it connects, and empowers women to DREAM BIG. But most of all, it celebrates.
Throughout the planning process, I’ve had the honor of having several conversations with founder Natasha Williams. During our talks, it was evident that her love for helping women WIN runs deep, with her love for the Midwest and Chicago coming in at a close 2nd.
Instead of feeding you information about the Dream Big Midwest Conference, we’re in for a special treat today. Keep reading as Natasha shares her reasons for producing this event, her goals for the 2018 conference, thoughts on expansion and much more.
What made you want to produce the Dream Big Midwest Conference?
I had numerous reasons to be honest. I wanted to help make the plus-size fashion industry more inclusive in the Midwest as well as help build self-confidence in women who may struggle to do so.
As I continued to develop this fashion conference my reasons grew deeper. Growing up, I was shy but always admired that confident woman and wondered how she made it look so easy. I work with a tremendous group of entrepreneurial women and noticed a commonality in them beyond fashion— self-confidence. Fashion helped me grow out of my comfort zone and become that confident woman.
With DREAM BIG, I hoped to reach out to women who may be challenged by insecurities and show them that the impossible happens outside of your comfort zone.
How have social media and industry connections added to the success of this event?
Social media definitely serves its advertising purposes of getting the word out. As a new entrepreneur, we all know our budgets are extremely limited and social media is like the free digital word-of-mouth marketing. It definitely helped us reach followers that we would not have otherwise gotten. Starting out, I don’t recall having many industry connections if any, but I reached out to those who did, such as Jessica Milagros, who also shared my vision in bringing the plus community together.
Without people like Jessica Milagros willing to share their resources with me, there would not be a DREAM BIG Midwest.
How many people attended last year’s event?
In 2017, we had about 200 people who attended the conference.
For those unable to attend the event in Chicago, do you plan on expanding?
I had never thought about doing this a second year in Chicago during the first year! LOL In all seriousness, the thought did occur to me to do a Midwest tour when we reach that demand, but it was only a thought, in which I’m always dreaming big. I try to take it one day at a time and let the Lord lead me. Then, you definitely want to be respectful of those who have paved the way doing events in your own Home town. But I can see new levels of marketing and technology that can bring about expansion if we decided to entertain the thought.
What type of feedback did you receive after last year’s event?
OMG, it was overwhelmingly beautiful! I’m that person that’s always nervous to hear any news whatsoever, but we received a wealth of great remarks and not just from attendees. It’s always hard to know how things are going because you can only be in one place at a time, so you’re always wondering how things are going in other areas, but we managed to survive! I heard all of our vendors were kindhearted and welcoming. The modeling agencies were very thrilled by it all—so much that they’re returning this year! They both stated that our conference was the best model scout they had ever attended because the women were so confident and ready! Then I even had moguls like Erica Watson and Gwen DeVoe who in my first time meeting her said “she had heard nothing but great things about the conference.” When Gwen DeVoe knows of your event and can speak life into you, Chile, you are on a great path! LOL
How will 2018 conference be different than the 2017 conference?
In a few ways. By the grace of God, we have grown quite a bit! For starters, we are extremely proud to say that we are a newly acquired 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization! Second, our venue is different because we outgrew the first one. Third, I am excited to announce that we are having our first DREAM BIG fashion show and it’s sponsored by Macy’s at the historic Macy’s on State Street! I’m telling you, trusting God and dreaming big simultaneously has its rewarding moments!
We’ve added some amazing new panels!
This year will feature an agency panel that includes modeling and talent agencies for women looking to get into acting. We have some of the top casting agencies on the panel. Another panel addition is our radio personalities featuring curvy ladies from top radio stations in Chicago and the U.S.! We always hear them promote everyone else but now we get to learn who they are!
What’s the most fulfilling aspect of producing this event?
That’s simple for me—helping others and making a positive difference. It’s something I’ve always had the heart to do.
What can attendees look forward to when attending the Dream Big Midwest conference?
Sings James Brown’s lyrics, “We’re gonna have a funky good time! We’re gonna take you hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigher!” LOL! Seriously, look forward to an amazing time of fun, knowledge, and networking.
There are so many opportunities to get involved in this community and we just want to make it easier for you.
There will be speakers and panels featuring agencies, models, bloggers, branding experts, fashion stylists, makeup artists, business owners, PR reps, actresses, authors, editors, national brands representatives, and just some of everybody for you to ask questions and take your vision to the next level.
Look forward to turning your dreams into fruition! (whispers) And there may be complimentary libations, but you didn’t hear that from me!
The Dream Big Midwest Conference is being held August 24th-25th in Chicago, Illinois. It is a 2-day event and tickets are still available at www.DreamBigMidwest.com. Receive a discount when you use the code “THRIVE.”