Something you, dear reader, need to know about me: I hate cliché, and I hate “just fluff.” Just Fluff is only good in two scenarios: 1) on a peanut butter sandwich, and 2) stuffed into a down comforter. Just Fluff has no place at a conference or workshop, and I promise to you that if you ever come learn from me? I’ll give you anything but Just Fluff.
Because Just Fluff pumps you full of the hot air of inspiration, which leaves you floating just long enough for you to return home, sit down at your computer, and realize “holy cow, there wasn’t actually anything from that conference that I can sit down and DO right now.” You guys know what I’m talking about; we’ve all heard that super inspirational talk about “follow your dreams! Go where your heart leads you!” Esoteric, vague ideals and catchy quotes that we cling to as gospel, because it makes you FEEL good when someone tells you “you can do anything you set your mind to.” But when all you get is Just Fluff, and there’s no peanut butter served with it to give you protein, something to stick to your ribs? That’s when we have a problem.
Because “follow your dreams” is all good and well until you realize that following your dreams requires direction, and no one’s even told you which road to start on! I-95 or I-81? Or should I start with 395 inside the Beltway? Inspiration is wonderfully necessary for any creative, but when you don’t have any sort of real-life application or direction, Just Fluff ends up leaving you emptier than before. Like when you devour a spoonful or three of marshmallow fluff, and 20 minutes later? You’re hungry again. But dip that spoon into the Peter Pan PB jar first and comBINE it with marshmallow fluff? Magic!
THIS is why I love Creative At Heart. Because it combines the peanut butter AND the marshmallow spread. You get the nitty gritty inspiration along with the broader, more esoteric topics- Krista’s talk on strengthening your SEO is followed by Katelyn’s presentation on how community matters. Bonnie’s talk on building a brand based on your Why takes place in the morning, and then that afternoon we heard from Jessica on finding your niche, complete with a three-page worksheet to walk you through the process. Alexandra gave some seriously amazing advice on conquering your inbox (which many of the attendees went home and implemented right away!), and Mary spoke on crafting an experience for your clients through gifting.
Peanut butter, then marshmallow spread. PB + marshmallow. Over and over.
This was my second time at Creative, and I left even MORE inspired than the first time! I love that this conference has become more than “just a conference”- it’s a movement. It’s bigger than Kat, the founder and #GIRLBOSS, it’s bigger than any of the speakers, it’s bigger than everyone in attendance. I’m so in love with being a part of this movement, because I know that movements result in change. And if last week was any indication, there’s going to be some beautiful change happening in the creative world over the next few years.
I had the honor of speaking at this most recent round of Creative, and guys, it was INCREDIBLE. Not because I got to stand up at the front of a room and command the undivided attention of nearly 100 creative small business owners, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was pretty cool. No, it was incredible because I could feel God using me, goofy, tulle skirt-clad me, to affect change in some of these women’s lives. There aren’t words to describe how it felt to be approached by Loren after my talk on vision, tears streaming down her face, and hearing that she finally understood what it was her business was missing. It felt good because I knew that it wasn’t about me- it was about sharing my heart with the hopes that OTHERS can go on to create more meaningful work, form more intimate relationships, and produce art and services that make a difference in the lives of their clients.
I could go on and on and on, but to sum things up, Creative is amazing. And if you’re a creative small business owner, you need to be there. Here are a few of my favorite highlights from #creativeatheartround2!
- Seeing those “aha!” moments dawn on everyone. And I mean everyone!
- Praying with Amanda, Kat & Emily after Day 1. Seriously, that was amazing.
- Having my Granny & Pawpaw in the room for my talk. I knew that even if everyone else thought my slot was a bore, my grandparents would be there cheering for me!
- …and seeing how quick the speakers and conference staff were to offer to serve my grandparents. Seriously, friends- you have no idea how much that blessed me!
- Sitting next to Mary during the pre-conference dinner, and then again at a post-conference dinner, and hearing how God’s been moving in her and Justin’s lives.
- Brainstorming sessions with Natalie Franke that left my head spinning in the absolute best way possible. There are SO many cool things coming to Abby Grace education, and I’m PUMPED!
- Sharing goals with Lauren of Elle & Co. This girl is on FIRE with her blog- she’s such a wealth of knowledge!
- Late Nigh Treat, and having the chance to connect one on one with attendees- I loved hearing what sort of things they’re up to, learning who they are and what their visions for business are!
- Sitting with Kelsey of Tart & Co. at lunch on Day 2, chatting over the DC wedding industry and how our brides are different than other areas in Virginia.
- Talking with Annmarie, Natalie, Mary and Ashley at dinner, everything from babies to Riesling to Jesus
- Cards Against Humanity at midnight with Andrew, J&M, and Jeremy + Ashley. So. much. inappropriate. laughter.
- Twinning on Day 1 with Anna Bowser, and then again on Day 2 with my adorable roomie Jessica!
- Having Mary lead me out of the room right before my talk to pray for me. Guys, this was probably one of the coolest part of the entire weekend. Mary, you’ll never know how much that meant to me!
This is my favorite photo from the weekend. It’s my Pawpaw jokingly chastising me for accidentally cussing during my presentation :).
*iPhone shots by… I can’t remember. I’m sorry. Professional photos above by Amanda Hedgepeth!*