Eventually, if you want to take this blogging gig seriously, you feel you need to do something to concrete it. We can only hide behind our computers for so long, apparently.

A couple of months ago, I signed up for the South Africa Mom Blogs #jozimeetup. I did it on a whim. I did it without thinking too much about it and I am so glad I did.

Saturday dawned early! 04.30am. I live 3 hours drive away, which is nothing for us really, my husband is up in Jo’burg maybe once a week, sometimes twice. The kids and I go up at least once a month, sometimes more often. It always surprises me how some people see it as such a big deal but we take ‘get in the car and go’ as part of normal life. We were in the car and on the road by 06.20 leaving us a fair contingency time of 1 hour before the 10.00 start time. It rained the whole way – you can check out my instagram for the dramatic weather on the way there. I can honestly say Saturday 13 May was the first day of winter in South Africa. Check out my Instagram for a few cool weather pics from our journey from the Free State to Gauteng.

On arrival at The Regent hotel in Sandton (very posh), I was directed to the venue – Cafe Zing. A really stunning location for the event. I guess one of the good things about being a blogger is that you can hide behind your computer screen majority of the time. It is possible to be virtually anonymous unless you want to ‘go public’. Up ’till now I have mainly kept my face out of it, except for a few profile pics which are carefully chosen, and I have mainly kept my name out of it too. In fact a few bloggers I met recognised my blog name but commented that they had no idea what my real name actually is. It’s Carly.

As more people began to arrive I managed to meet a few of the bloggers who I would consider friends even though we have never met. Lovely ladies, all of whom were so welcoming, down to earth and friendly. They really helped to make me feel like I belonged there as much as everyone else.

We all received a packed goodie bag. Check out a few of the awesome giveaway products we received, everything from make-up to toothpaste, shampoo for the kids, a Tangle Teezer and other awesome gifts.

After a welcome by Heather from SA Mom Blogs, we moved on to the first guest speaker, Daddy Blogger Mike from www.MikeSaidWhat.co.za. I loved his presentation. So much of it spoke to me and the direction I want to go in. He spoke about how he travelled SA with his daughter almost completely sponsored by various brands and organisation. He also talked about how his brand also includes his daughter and it gave me a lot to think about in terms of how you can work with your children. It was certainly food for thought for me considering the strong privacy issues I have with regards to keeping my girl’s faces out of photos etc on my blog. He really gave me so much to think about.

The second presentation was from Prima Baby. I was super impressed with their very strong presentation, even though majority of their products are not applicable to my life since my daughters are older now. That said, I absolutely loved the Cosatto “No-Escape”car seat they demonstrated and presented. If I knew then, what I know now, the high price tag would certainly be worth it.

The third presentation and the speaker I was most keen to hear from was by Nicole Sparrow from the PR Company  Autograph PR. She gave us so much useful information with regards to working with PR companies: What do they want, what don’t they want; turn ons, and turn offs; what they expect, what we can expect. We also got the chance to ask a lot of questions and have a really good conversation with Nicole and the other PR representatives who were there about their general expectations and about building relationships within the industry.

The fourth presentation was by Prima Toys, the sister company of Prima Baby, obviously catering towards the older children. Their key-speaker, Veruska DÓnofrio, gave us a great perspective into where they are coming from and their aim of promoting the importance of ‘kids must play’. I was gutted to lose out on their prizes, and am just grateful that my girls don’t realise what I missed out on. I’d certainly have won “Mom Of The Year” if only I’d shouted my answer louder! Next time I know not to be such a ‘shrinking violet’!

The final presentation was by Jeanette from Whisky Of The Week who I was so glad to finally have met in person. She led a whisky tasting of Bains Whisky. I am one of those people who wish I loved whisky more, so I was very excited about this presentation. Jeanette led the tasting in such an awesome way that made us novices feel relaxed enough to enjoy the tasting! The whiskey itself smelled ‘beautiful’. I can’t describe it otherwise. The beautiful smell had hints of vanilla, cinnamon and banana. It really was the perfect end to an amazing morning.

Throughout the presentation, there were three ladies moving around from MatsiMela Home Spa, giving us all such relaxing hand massages. Heaven. Also included in our gift bags was a lovely Mother’s Day gift box from their Litchi and Rose range. It’s so beautiful. Thank you ladies.

The last part of the event was the competitions for prizes, and handing out the prizes for the raffle competitions. I am very grateful to have won a manicure/nail set from Dr Baumann – Das Institut. I will definitely need to book this asap as my hands are in dire need of some tlc.

Attending this event was definitely worth it for me. I learnt a lot. I met some awesome people. I will make every effort to attend the next one. Thank you so much to Heather from SA Mom Blogs who organised the whole event virtually single-handedly. You are amazing.

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