How one man survived Alt Summit and lived to tell the tale

Dear Emily’s Readers,

A few weeks ago, I found out I was going to Alt Summit with Emily. For those of you who don’t know, Alt is a three-day conference in Salt Lake City for design and lifestyle bloggers. “Alt” is short for altitude, but it’s also code for “Alternative,” meaning there are a lot of hipsterbloggers in attendance. Salt Lake City is kind of a crazy place for a conference, especially considering that the airport closed the day we flew in because an airplane was, like, doing 360s all over the runway. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Also thankfully, I wasn’t on that flight. Because if I had, I would never fly again. (I’m already a nervous flyer.) Here I am at LAX, minutes before our bone-chilling flight:

The terrifying flight was worth it. Because our hotel was beautiful and old and filled with history. Like your mom. It looked like this:

The Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City

After settling into our room and playing with our hair and talking about our feelings for two hours, we were ready to party.

Alt had a million parties, one of which was based on the board game “Clue.” Everyone dressed in bright colors (i.e. Miss Peacock, Professor Plum, etc). The “Clue” party was the first party we went to, and the first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was that I was one of, like, 8 guys in attendance. Which was fun because ladies are more fun than men anyway. What I wasn’t anticipating was the everyone and their mom would be wearing crazy hats made out of flowers and chiffon. I had never heard of this before, but apparently these things are called fascinators. There was not a lady in the house without one. And they were all awesome. And terrifying. And awesome.

Of all the fascinators, this one fascinated me the most:

It was worn by the ubercute Brittany Watson Jepsen from The House That Lars Built. Here she is with Emmerz:

This cool cat dyed her hair to match the flower on her head. That’s dedication.

Oh hey look, another dude. The Man in the Yellow Hat.

Because sometimes a fascinator isn’t enough, this lady showed up in a full on peacock mask. (Sidenote: what’s up with peacocks? Like all the sudden in late 2010 we all got obsessed with them and now we can’t calm down.)

Speaking of birds, check out this luxurious giant swan that Land of Nod had shipped in for Alt.

Naturally, Emily and I had to play in it.

Emily spoke on a panel called “The Future of Design Online” with Heather Armstrong from Dooce.

The panel was moderated brilliantly by (GASP!) a dude, Maxwell Ryan from Apartment Therapy. He’s a super smart dude and it was fun to hear everything he had to say about creating a sucessful blog. Also, since he was one of like 1.47 straight guys there, the ladies were on him skanky dresses on Jennifer Lopez.

This lady was pretty awesome. You gotz to give props to anyone who can pull off an enormous Mad Hatter hat.

I wandered into a workshop that seemed pretty normal at first. Just a cute girl talking about bright colors whilst wearing flats with tights.

And then, like, out of nowhere a balloon fight broke out. Just imagine 200 pretty hipster girls throwing balloons at each other. It’s what I imagine Zooey Deschanel dreams about every night.

This is Anna Passadori, a fantastic girl we met who is a product designer for Land Of Nod. We met their whole team, including their CEO and they were all intimidatingly hip. It was weird, this brand that designs cute stuff for kids is run by totally awesome ladies that wear cutting edge fashion and oversized beads. They were all super nice and super pretty and I kind of want to be them when I grow up.

When you are one of very few men at a conference, it’s best to make new friends. For example, I made friends with more than one dirty martini.

This girl was totally adorable, and one of many fans that approached Emily at Alt. It was pretty fun to be surrounded by so many people that recognized Emily (and sometimes even me!) from HGTV. Lots of friendly comments and words of encouragement, which we don’t get every day as we sit in the office together plotting whose house we are going to decorate next or how we are going to find the best vintage pieces to sell on One Kings Lane.

Alt was kind a of a crazy blur. You meet so many people and spend so much time gabbing that when you get home you kind of want to curl into a ball and sit in silence. The conference is super informative and super fun, and also like entering into a “Twilight Zone” full of cute girls that all know tons about style and are all perfectly coiffed. I’m actually kind of impressed with myself that I didn’t magically transform into a woman after being surrounded by all that estrogen and feminine fashion. Next year, I’ll make sure to bring a fascinator. At Alt, you’re nothing if you don’t have a strange and mysterious object perched on your head.



Contributor Orlando Soria,







  1. Best post ever. You had me at "Like your mom."

  2. Kimberly

    Does this mean you didn't watch Will and Kate get married? We learned all about the fascinators from all the reporters that were at the royal wedding. I remember entertainment channels literally doing half hour specials just on the fascinators worn by guests in attendance. It was quite a spectacle!

  3. sue

    kudos… these big convention things intimidate me no end… & i'm a fascinator-loving {though not wearing} chick… can't imagine going to a conference where i was one of 5 gals and all the men were wearing gridiron helmets, or whatever men wear at conventions!

  4. ha ha ha! ok, best and most appropriate title. I've been wondering how and why guys come! Glad my fascinator "fascinated" you the most. But really, had no idea that they were going to be a "thing", you know? I just needed something fancy to dress up my little house dress. Loved meeting you guys!

  5. Rachel

    Orlando, you are delightful! Please don't ever change (into a woman, or anything else).
    Loved reading this!

  6. Cyd

    You had me laughing out loud, Orlando! This is so so true. It was lovely meeting you and Emily in Salt Lake! xoxo

  7. OMG looks like way too much fun! Def want to go next year! I love any excuse to bust out a fascinator.

  8. I never know whether to be intimidated by Alt or to laugh at it. Judging by the recap, both are in order! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I never know whether to be intimidated by Alt or to laugh at it. Judging by the recap, both are in order! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I never know whether to be intimidated by Alt or to laugh at it. Judging by the recap, both are in order! Thanks for sharing!

  11. I never know whether to be intimidated by Alt or to laugh at it. Judging by the recap, both are in order! Thanks for sharing!

  12. tess

    you and Emily are so cute and so funny, thanks for not hiding your light under a bushel

  13. "And then, like, out of nowhere a balloon fight broke out. Just imagine 200 pretty hipster girls throwing balloons at each other. It's what I imagine Zooey Deschanel dreams about every night."


    Thanks for this hilarious recap. Great to meet you and see Emily at Alt! I've got my eye all over now.

  14. heidikins

    The Grand America hotel is only 10 years old, it was built for the Salt Lake Olympics (2002)…

  15. Orlando, your writing cracks me up. "..beautiful and old and filled with history. Like your mom."


    I want to go to Alt Summit next year just to meet you and bask in your awesome. :)

  16. You had me at "Like Your Mom." Amazing. I've been curious about the ALT Summit, so it was great to hear your perspective!

  17. "Just imagine 200 pretty hipster girls throwing balloons at each other. It's what I imagine Zooey Deschanel dreams about every night."

    I love that line!

  18. Doris

    I love this post! Is it me or everyone look amazing, wow! (love your hair Emily)

  19. Patti

    This is my favorite Alt wrap up yet!! hahah : ))

  20. This is like the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me!! I have a major design crush on you and Emily! Let's wear swans and anchors forever and ever.

  21. Sunne

    I always enjoy your guest posts.

  22. Rachel S.

    Orlando, I just love you're writing! You crack me up! Plus it was so fun to hear about this from a male perspective.

  23. You made a "your mom" joke. I love you.
    This was my favorite Alt recap so far!

  24. Fabulous post Orlando! It was such a delight to meet you and Emily at ALT! Let me know if you two need a fascinator or even a mad hatter hat… they are my specialty! I would be honored to do something special just for you guys!

    PS Thanks for including me and my mad hatter hat in your very creative roundup!

  25. Orlando. You are hot. I am married and deeply in love so don't worry, but just had to put that out there in the universe. Also love the recap!

  26. another great post from O man. Loved your perspective. I'd love to go but not until girls can start to wear regular jeans again.

  27. I wish I had known about this event!! I live in slc! I would have killed to meet you Emily! You inspire me, and I soo look up to you. I am so very grateful for all of your tips, it truly has helped me a lot. I am also a blogger, I love organization and interior design. I am actually being featured in the Woman's Day Magazine for the month of February. Thanks for being you!


  28. Absolutely one of my favorite posts. The "twilight zone" part killed me. Hilarious!

  29. I'm impressed you made it through it all, and a little jealous, as Salt Lake City is my home town! Congrats and great post!

  30. Liz

    I really enjoyed this post. It made me crack up multiple times.

  31. ohhhh this was fun! AND you made friends with dirty martinis….Oh why didn't I find you all and swoon? So many swans so little time….

  32. Oh, this was hands down my most favorite Alt recap! I saw you guys numerous times but never worked up the courage to come over and say hello. :-\ Next year for sure!

  33. Anna

    Thanks so much for the kind words!! It was thrilling meeting you guys! Let's wear swans and anchors forever!

  34. Pingback: Instagramtimez | Hommemaker

  35. Im obliged for the blog article.Really thank you! Coo

Leave a Comment

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>