Monday, April 27, 2015
MommyCon 2015 Minneapolis | The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Last weekend I packed my six week old into the car and drove six hours to Minneapolis in order to attend MommyCon 2015. I went with tickets to two VIP events, and tentative schedule of sessions I wanted to attend, and a friend meeting me there. I was excited to see how MommyCon had changed and (hopefully) improved since attending MommyCon 2014 in San Francisco last year.
However, I was mostly just disappointed.
So now I present to you the good, the bad, and the ugly of MommyCon 2015 in Minneapolis. Hang on tight, I'm not going to be too gentle this time.
Let's start with the positive! I managed to get my hands on tickets to two VIP events: The Baby Guy NYC and The Leaky Boob. I'll get to Jamie's session in a bit (it doesn't belong in this section), but first want to talk about The Leaky Boob.
If you are a breastfeeding mother or plan to be one you NEED to find a way to be in a room, if even just for a little while, with the beautiful and amazing Jessica Weber-Martin.
I first met Jessica when I was halfway through my breastfeeding journey with Barrett at MommyCon 2014. I remember thinking she was a force and an inspiration. A year later I was getting the opportunity to meet her again while at the start of my breastfeeding journey with Calla.
I was not disappointed.
I learned more about her. Learned more about her struggles. Learned more about her family. Even learned something about myself... all in a short 20 minute speech. It was inspiring, once again.
Jessica tells it straight and doesn't sugar coat the potential challenges of breastfeeding. Hearing her speak makes my struggles seem OK. I'm not the only one experiencing them and there is a community involved here.
All in all I loved this VIP session.
Now, moving on to the actual MommyCon experience on Saturday. There are just a few things that fall into the "Good" category for me.
First is the Babywearing section where you can try on any carrier you'd have your eye on. I was wearing Calla in my Lillebaby and she was fast asleep so I didn't try any on, but my friend who came with me got to try on a ring sling and learn more about using one. It's a great resource to have and it was fun to visit and just feel the different carriers. I love my Lillebaby but I wanted to see if I could find a mesh/light weight carrier to use in the summer and I might be leaning toward an ErgoBaby Performance.
I also really enjoyed getting to see and interact with different car seats. We have a convertible for Bear that is great but it will be expired by the time Calla can use it, so I've been looking at all of our different options. It's really nice to be able to see the different brands in action since I live so far away from a store that sells car seats. I'm really leaning toward a Britax Clicktight but need to research it a bit more.
Finally, the swag bags. I enjoyed mine. It was definitely geared toward breastfeeding mothers so had I not been a currently breastfeeding mother I might have been disappointed. And, indeed, many were.
However, keep reading, because that damn swag bag shows up again under "ugly" and is my bitterest feeling toward MommyCon.
Here's where I stop being nice about the way MommyCon is run. Sorry, MommyCon.
Let's start with The Baby Guy NYC VIP session.
I don't really follow his blog or instagram or anything. I know him from a few posts that show up on my newsfeed on Facebook, and that's about it. I know he's a baby gear expert and the VIP session was described as an introduction to Jamie's favorite new baby items.
I was so excited to learn of new products that might help make my life easier.
There was just one problem with this: everyone else viewed Jamie as a bit of a celebrity.
At the beginning of the session he explained that these things usually just end up turning into a photo session and less of an informative session, so that's just what he was going to do. Chat with us and answer some questions then spend most of the time taking pictures.
Now, I don't remember how much I spent to attend this session, but I don't really feel I got my money worth. He seems like a really nice guy and most of the women there were over the moon to just be in the room with him, but I didn't really learn anything new. Though there were some nice products in his swag bag there really wasn't anything new and exciting. And I felt a little embarrassed/uncomfortable that one of the women was practically throwing herself at him. A married woman. And a gay man. Yeah... it was sad.
But for those who saw him and Angry Baby as a celebrity, they had a great time.
Moving on to the actual MommyCon and its schedule...
The day before I looked at the website at the schedule on the Minneapolis Event page. The friend I was meeting has a son Barrett's age so we both decided that the Potty training session at 1:15 PM was the session we really wanted to attend as it was the only one that really applied to both of us. We got there at about 12:30, got signed in, found the room and... SHOCKER! The schedule had completely changed! The session we wanted to go to was at 3:15 and nothing else was the same, either.
Later, on the Facebook group, several of us were upset over the unannounced schedule change. Rather than apologizing, the MommyCon crew (specifically Xza in this instance) came up with numerous excuses. They states that the schedule had changed about 30 days before the event. However, everyone saw what I saw on the website- the old schedule. Xza said the new schedule was posted on the blog, however as a convention goer I am going to look at the event page, not search for a 30 day old blog post that I didn't even know existed, to find the schedule of events.
So one of my complaints last year - that they needed a better website manager - is clearly still an issue.
In the end we ended up missing the Potty Training class because it was also being held in a ridiculously small room and by the time we got there at about 3:00 the room was packed with no room to sit and toddlers running everywhere. It seemed too uncomfortable in that room so we went and got lunch instead.
In the end I didn't go to any of the smaller break out sessions. The only thing I was able to attend was the car seat session in the main room.
I have two things that I wanted to put into the "ugly" category. One was probably the biggest issue I had with MommyCon last year and it's exactly the same this year.
I feel like MommyCon people don't do a lot of research into the cities they pick for their venues and don't give much consideration to their audience when selecting the venues.
We are mothers. We are encouraged to bring our children. We are discouraged in bringing strollers. And yes MommyCon SF and MommyCon MSP were both held in extremely dense downtown areas where parking is either too expensive or impossible, and driving can be stressful if you aren't familiar with the area.
Plus I expect to make purchases when I go to conventions. And sometimes large ones. I seriously considered buying a car seat at the actual convention. However, when I realized how far I'd have to haul it back to the place I found parking I quickly dismissed that idea. Which is a shame to the vendors who paid for space here to hear, I'm sure. And many other mothers felt the same.
So in the future, perhaps they could research a venue that is in an area that is more accessible to mothers. Has more affordable parking options (or free, preferably). And closer parking options. Not to mention a venue with rooms large enough for the crowds a session may draw. Maybe then I'd already have a new car seat and would have been able to go to the potty training session.
My final complaint has to do with something I really hate to complain about, but it really bothered me the response I got from Xza.
I attended MommyCon on a Media/blogger pass, which means I got to go for free. Which I am extremely grateful for (note: I did have to pay for the VIP sessions). So when I went to the swag bag section in order to get my bag and was told I couldn't get one because I had a media pass and had to buy a general admission pass to get one, I wasn't really too disappointed.
However, after the event I was on the Facebook page and learned that not only should my media pass have gotten me a general admission bag, but there was also a special bag for the media pass holders. I had been told I couldn't get the general admission bag and the lady at the bag station didn't even mention the media bag.
When I found this out I was really annoyed because it was just one more thing that shows how disorganized MommyCon is. When I complained on the Facebook page Xza pretty much implied that the error was on my end, not theirs. Though I'm not really sure what else I was supposed to do. None of the emails the media pass holders received mentioned a special bag, so I didn't know to ask for it. And when I showed my pass to the lady handing the bags out she didn't say a thing, either. So it doesn't upset me that I didn't get a bag of free stuff. What annoys me is the implication that it was my fault, which is absolutely ridiculous.
In conclusion, I was mostly disappointed with the MommyCon experience this year. I actually feel even more disappointed than I was last year, probably because I was expecting them to learn from their mistakes from last year and make the event better. But I'm guessing they make enough money that they don't care about the actual Mothers. I hope that's not really the case and MommyCon improves in future years, but I most likely won't be there to see it.
Unless I hear that things have really changed I will not be giving them any more of my money or wasting my time driving 6+ hours to attend their event.