February 23, 2017 • PEOPLE, PLACES
On the Road: The Southern C Summit
Southerners are known for the gift of gab. We love nothing better than to park ourselves down with a glass of sweet tea and a girlfriend and swap tips on everything from recipes to fashion to work. Billed as “a virtual front porch for Southern creatives and entrepreneurs,” The Southern Coterie harnesses that sharing spirit. The online community is a networking hub for both up-and-comers and established names in industries like interior design, food, marketing, and social media.
Earlier this month (for the seventh time since 2013) the online meeting place moved off-line for an exciting three-day symposium. Held this year in Sea Island, GA, the multi-day conference known as The Southern C Summit featured some of the region’s top names in Southern business and branding. Here to fill us in on the highlights (and share some pics!) are Whitney Long and Cheri Leavy, founders of The Southern Coterie and The Southern C Summit.
The Southern Coterie aims to encourage what you call the South’s “entrepreneurial renaissance.” Can you elaborate?
Cheri Leavy: We are all more interested in consuming artisan and handcrafted products as opposed to buying “big box” or fast food. People want a story, and they want to know the creator or purveyor behind what they are buying. In the South, we’ve been honoring our heritage all along—the region is so filled with characters and locally rooted pride and talent—but now it’s nice to see the respect for our makers and doers extending far beyond our geographic boundaries.
Besides geography (and the name!), what makes The Southern C Summit uniquely Southern?
Whitney Long: Genuine Southern hospitality! Our attendees and presenters always tend to be so open, honest, transparent, and welcoming. I believe that we have perfected the art of mixing business with pleasure. We also recognize and embrace that cocktails and conversation lead to creative conversations—and we never underestimate the power of a social hour interspersed into programming!
Who are the attendees at The Southern C?
Cheri: Our attendees (91% female) are creative entrepreneurs and include folks behind emerging brands and seasoned business owners alike. They are influencers—online and in their communities. Some are career bloggers, but most have a blog for their business, no matter their industry. They are huge consumers of media, both social and traditional.
A few highlights of the Summit?
Whitney: Seeing so many alums come back Summit after Summit; it’s like a class reunion with hugs all around! But at the same time, I love meeting many—so many—new faces. The presenters are always a highlight, too. We put a considerable amount of time into finding the right mix from various niches and those we know will speak to the heart and minds of our attendees. (Find a list of presenters here.)
Cheri: Sea Island Resort provided such an inspiring backdrop for relationships to blossom this year. I loved when Gray Malin told me he restructured his presentation in his room after spending time with the attendees at a cocktail party. He wanted the attendees with their emerging brands to feel buoyed by how his entrepreneurial journey began and how his own hard work, struggles, and perseverance got him to where he is today. The attendees were so inspired by this transparency and humility.
Plans for the future?
So many of our attendees have shared the challenge of finding work/life balance that we were inspired to host our first Summit Retreat. Scheduled for Oct 1st through 4th at WaterColor Resort, it will be an intimate oceanside retreat focused on bettering your business and your personal wellness. Cheri and I battle this balance every day, so we are super excited about a retreat-style Summit too!