Attending Alt Summit for the first time : Essential Tips for Creative Entrepreneurs and Designers

For Designers


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It’s officially Alt Summit prep week! 

If you are attending Alt Summit for the first time and have been scouring the internet to help maximize Your First Alt Summit Experience- I’ve got ya!

And while I’m definitely excited to hop on a plane to 29 friggin’ degrees Celsius and wear open toed shoes and pants that don’t have fleece in them ( of the joys of Canadian Winter) – I’m more excited to kick off one of the most creatively fulfilling weeks of the year. 

Last year was my first time attending Alt and I gotta say- it was everything I’ve ever hoped it would be and then some more. 

I came back literally BUZZING and was definitely in a bit of a bubble of just….awe for a week or two after coming back home. 

This year, me and Elise are spending two days in LA before heading over to Palm Springs a day prior to the conference so we can just have a day to unravel by the pool and explore Palm Springs a bit before Alt begins on Sunday!

OK first thing- 

And also most important – I’m putting it right up here before we get into the details so you


1.Take the pressure off! 

I know this is probably an investment in your business and you’re trying to make the very most of it – and it is definitely an amazing space to network and bring in more clients, I’d love to remind you that this is ALSO an amazing opportunity to just be in a space with so many other creatives and business owners that are doing the thing.

I don’t know about you- but I’m always just in awe witnessing people do what they are so friggin good at. 

If business has ever felt like a lonely journey, Alt will make you feel a sense of community. Knowing that there are so many creative women literally- doing the thing and figuring it out step by step- just like you.

You’ll see a variety of ways to do the same thing and it will remind you of how your quirks, your unique experience and your way of doing things is exactly what your business needs!

One of the biggest wins I walked away with last year was – Just being in the energy of so many creatives and actually being able tot take the blinders off of the everyday things I do for work gave me a flood of new ideas and I came back feeling so inspired and excited about work again!

I always say running a creative business requires you to be both artist and entrepreneur so we have to remember to fill up our creative cup too! 🙂

OK.. now we can get into the more detail-y things you should know if this is your first time attending! 

2.Everyones friendly – so don’t worry about going solo 

LOTS of people come solo. If its your first year, it can feel like everyone already knows each other but  everyone is really friendly and my experience was that people genuinely make an attempt to make you feel included. 

You’ll see women from literally every walk of life here – all ages and all different kinds of businesses.  The outfits are bright, the people are chill and the level of talent you’re bumping shoulders (or butts) with is inspiring! There’s all levels of business owners right from ones justttt starting to dip their toes into entrepreneurship to some big names! 

If you’re an introvert, getting to one of the meetups ( which is a smaller group) or trying to connect with people on the Facebook group prior to going can make things feel a bit less intimidating. If you’re attending a session or workshop don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to the person on either side of you and say hi!  The Alt website has the schedule and list of meetups and their app allows you to see timings etc as well

If you need a moment to decompress or just have a bit of quiet time from all the socializing, here are a few areas around the saguaro that are good for that!

  • The lawn behind the pool ( they usually have hammocks and lounge chairs here or you can just sprawl out on the grass lol.)
  • The lobby area 
  • The area just outside the hotel entrance 
  • The long hallway on the upper level ( the air conditioning here is spot on lol)
  • Theres a little patio on the right hand side of the hotel in the parking lot area ( if you’re facing the entrance) that was pretty quiet but can get hot during the day because it isnt shaded.

My roomies goofing around in the Parking lot patio – LOL…

Which leads into….

3. Staying on site has it’s perks!

The Saguaro can be a bit pricey but we loved staying at the hotel last year because of how easy it was to pop in and out of our room during the day to grab a snack, just lay on the bed for a bit with the AC cranked up on HIGH or drop off stuff so we didn’t have to lug it around! 

We also had one night where a bunch of us got in the hot tub after the dance party and it was so good to just chat and talk shop and connect.  

There were plenty of people I know that had rented an Airbnb together or were staying at other hotels and met up in the evenings too so don’t worry about not staying at the Saguaro. Try and ask on the FB group if there are other attendees staying where you are so you can Uber-pool to and from Alt 🙂

4.Picking sessions you want to attend

Ok so ….. I’d actually recommend attending some workshops and demos that have NOTHING to do with what you offer.  I KNOW.  🤯

I know you’re probably trying to be hyper specific about what sessions you attend but hear me out for a second.

So often we’re in a pool of learning the same things that are specific to our industry that it can be hard to push the boundaries or truly dream up out-of-the box ideas or do something different. 

I attended a few sessions last year that gave me a TON of ideas for my own clients – The stop motion workshop by Tricia Zemp, iPad illustration by Lisa Bardot , my friend Elise’s Crown of Splendour workshop.

It’s also really therapeutic to actually create something with your hands and the conversations that happen during some of these workshops were some of my absolute favourite! I’ve already got my eye on some of the craft workshops this year 🙂

If you’re looking to plan out what you want to attend, the Alt App this year allows you to pick the sessions you want to attend each day so you know what time and where they’re at. THEN, I’d recommend marking the ones that you absolutely don’t want to miss.

Last year – I definately overestimated what I could attend and skipped a LOT of sessions to just chat with new friends ( BEST decision BTW). So know that it might be the same for you 🙂

5.Bring business cards 

There’s a business card wall you can pin your cards up to so other attendees can grab some. And TBH it doesn’t have to be a traditional business card. I gave out Notecard/prints last year and there were other attendees handing out stickers etc. in leiu of business cards too! A lot of the cards are so bold and quirky and its such prominent reminder that you’re in a space with other artists and creatives! 

6. Get a QR code with links to make it easy to connect 

I loved collecting business cards last year and will probably do that this year as well but I definitely want to have an easier way to connect with new friends I meet so am considering getting a QR code printed to pop into the back of my lanyard that links to a links page on my website or directly to my IG ( that’s where I hang out the most) I’ll update you on how that works! 

7. The Gifting Party

The gifting party on Day 1 evening is such a fun event! Basically All the gifting vendors set up in one of the areas and you get a ticket to punch as you get a gift from each vendor! Last year they had about 20 ish vendors and you can pick 3 gifts! 

There were such a range of vendors from Bags to planners to turmeric elixirs and colouring books to cool pool floats! 

I carried a backup to use at alt but after I snagged a bag from El Cholos kid last year at the gifting party I used it for the rest of the summit lol. Try and get there right after they open the gifting party as some vendors sell out.

8. The Dance Party

Alt does a themed party on one of the nights that is so much fun! Last year was Monochrome and they also had a little Photo Booth set up. The dance party was SO much fun! Everyone really lets loose and it was so much fun to mix and mingle and do little dance offs.

if you’re shy about dancing , don’t worry- the lights are down low so you can bust out even the most awkward of dance moves ( I’m speaking from experience here lol)

9.Take the opportunity to create a bit of content!

 Alt is a great spot to grab some b-roll for your reels or social content! There’s a lot of photographers that offer mini branding sessions that you can grab a spot at ( check the Facebook group) to get some amazing new branding photos. 

The hotel and Palm Springs as a whole is pretty picturesque and there are lots of art installations and backdrops that you can get some cute snaps/video snippets in front of. My first year I didn’t even intentionally capture any B roll and still managed to get quite a bit that I used for the rest of the year!

10.Get headshots!

To follow up that last point. Alt usually has a photographer that does headshots for attendees. Last year Justin Hackworth was mostly by the area by the pool that connects right to the main building. Look out for him ! 

Alt will also send off photo albums a few weeks after the conference via Flickr from all around the conference that you can pick from.

11.Leave room in your suitcase. 
( I’m carrying an extra duffel bag in case lol)

When I read a bunch of blogs before attending for the first time last year – literally everyone said- leave room in your suitcase. 

So I did, but not nearly enough. 🤪

Me last year : “How much stuff can I get anyway?!?!”
Me this year : “I’m gonna carry and extra duffel bag in my suitcase just in case….LOL”

I’m here to say it again- LEAVE LOTS of room in your suitcase!

For us Canadian girlies- we picked up a bunch of Trader Joes snacks as well as some target-y things so we needed room for those too lol. 

12.Meals and snackity snacks 

Breakfast and Lunch are included in the conference. I’d recommend carrying a few snacks in your bag though. Last year there was water and a delicious (tamarind?!) drink available throughout the day at the hotel lobby which is lovely.

Also- NGL the restaurants on site a a bit pricey so if you like to snack definitely carry something in your purse to munch on if you’re not staying at the hotel! We stocked up on some snacks from Trader Joes last year ( we were two little wide eyed Canadian girlies running through the aisles grabbing everything in site hahah) and popped them in the mini bar in our room.

For Dinner : We went out to close by restaurants to grab dinner each night with new friends. Some of my favourite conversations happened over dinner and icecream

One Last thing-

If you’re at Alt this year and see me, please come say hi!

I LOVE meeting internet friends in person and meeting people in general and miggggght just share my Trader Joes snacks with you if you ask nicely :p

I’m also offering FREE 20 minute website and Brand audits that you can snag a spot to here.

If you want to connect before hand I’m @ayeshasantosdesign on IG. 

Cant wait to see you next week friend!


Images by : My iphone + Nicole Breanne Photography

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Rest assured, we’re not here to play matchmaker with products that don’t jive with your style. Our recommendations are rooted in genuine enthusiasm for stuff I think is pretty darn awesome.



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