As much as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has become a study in the convergence of fashion, music, art and culture, count entrepreneurship in the mix now with Create & Cultivate’s pop-up conference in Palm Springs Saturday in partnership with Mini Cooper at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club.

The event’s first panel pulled in blogger Olivia Culpo; blogger and singer Jessi Malay; Not Your Standard’s Kayla Seah; Little Black Boots’ Jill Wallace; Styled Avenue’s Megan Anderson, and illustrator Cat Coquillette for a talk on their respective careers — how they did it and how they’ve parlayed that into other opportunities. 

The one-day conference included two panels and a pop-in market with brands such as BCBGeneration, Blossance, Dolce Vita, Lacroix and Society6. On-site beauty treatments from Nature’s Bounty, Olive & June and others helped fill out the day, which was free with registration. 

Like many in the blogging space, the panelists largely stumbled on the careers they now find themselves in, initially holding down multiple jobs before transitioning into creating content for their sites. 

“I started in 2012 and it was fully just a hobby. I was looking for a creative outlet,” Wallace said. “My boyfriend at the time wanted to pick up photography, so it was kind of like the perfect storm. I just love the whole idea of sharing what you love with this community of like-minded people.” 

Coquillette was in a similar boat. She was working at a design firm. After staring at a screen all day for work, the last thing she wanted to do was more of that after hours, so she turned to painting. 

“I realized there was an avenue for art that I never realized before,” Coquillette said. “I always considered fine art, you’re a poor artist….I realized you could monetize art in a way that you couldn’t before.” 

Culpo’s career trajectory seems almost linear, although there was hardly a plan in place for getting to where she’s at now: blogger, model, actress, designer and restaurateur. 

She admitted she used to dress up her little brother, in a nod to her interest in styling and fashion. That led into modeling and then her wins as Miss Rhode Island, Miss USA and Miss Universe. 

“It’s just telling a story and having fun,” Culpo said of creating content. “It really is art to me.” 

Many individuals who get into blogging are also multi-hyphenates in that, at least in the beginning, they are doing everything and well-versed across the skill sets necessary to create content that nabs an audience. 

“I found with blogging, you wear a lot of hats,” Wallace said. “You’re your own manager, your own stylist [and] your own p.r.”

The power that comes with steering the direction of their respective businesses has been attractive for many of those who have seen successes with their blogs. 

“[It’s] the autonomy,” Coquillette said. “I can make my own decisions. Coming from a world where I worked with clients, you get pigeonholed into something….I make my own calls.” 

“I had the same experience in music and it was really hard,” Malay said. “I would make a song and it would have to go through 10 different people.” 

Malay also pointed out that unlike the industry she came from — music — the world of content creation has largely cultivated a relatively chummy environment focused on empowerment and working together. 

“Supporting each other rather than being crabs in a bucket and bringing each other down,” Malay said. “This is a really new industry and I come from an industry that I watched rise and crumble. There were too many egos at the top and no one wanted to collaborate or support.” 

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