You've GOT to attend this conference.
If you are anything like I am, you are a little bit overwhelmed by the idea of being a small business owner. Like... what?! Being a small business owner was never something that appealed to me, because business isn't fun or pretty, it's serious and boring.
But over the past few months, as I followed more #bossladies on Instagram, as I read their blogs, and as I started to take my passion for photography seriously, it kind of hit me. I am a small business owner. And boy, did that thought scare me big time! I had no clue how to approach this big dream of mine, and I was so afraid to start.
Then I found out about the Creative At Heart Conference. I saw pictures the incredible people I was following posted about how it changed their lives and their businesses, and I knew. I have to go there. I have to do that. And I have to start saving up money!
I somehow managed to snag one of the last seats, and with some financial support from my wonderful family, I was one of the lucky people who would change for the better after those two short days in Roanoke.
There is an overwhelming sense of community as soon as you walk into the gorgeous ballroom. Everyone attending is excited, friendly, and really hoping to be your friend. Everyone involved in organizing is sweet and encouraging. There was no awkward, "where am I going to sit, I don't know anyone" wandering around the room, because no matter where you sat, you were surrounded with new friends. You're given some insane goodie bags filled with pretty and practical goodies from other small business owners who were so generous to share their time and talents with all the attendees.
If you don't like pretty things, this might not be the conference for you. Every single detail was so sweetly chosen and displayed, it was just gorgeous! We were at the Hotel Roanoke, which is such a gorgeous venue, and these ladies sure knew how to make it look its best.
Even the lunches were beautifully styled (and of course, delicious). I mean, really, look at this room! And those cakes, oh my goodness! Sorby Sweets, you are the cake master.
The Speakers and Attendees
I have never been surrounded by so many of my role models at once. Katelyn James, Mary Marantz, Abby Grace, Jessica Clinch, Kat Schmoyer...oh the list could go on forever! These were women that I admired, that I envied, that I observed from afar and wished I could compare to someday.
These women that I admired through various Instagram filters and blog posts are now women I have met, hugged, and shared my dreams with. Women that have given me advice and support. Women that I know are on my side and want me to succeed. And that is a feeling you don't find very often.
And besides the beauties that rocked that podium, there were all the other people sitting in my shoes. Those of us trying to maintain their composure when Mary Marantz is in your panel group, when Amanda Hedgepeth compliments your smile, when Katelyn James joins you in a thumbs up at the photo booth after complimenting your polka dot pajamas. The girls and guys who have their own big hopes and dreams and went to C@H to learn ways to do better, to work smarter, and to do it all with grace. It is amazing what can be accomplished when you bring together so many beautiful minds to teach, learn, and grow together.
I do not want to give anything away, because I know if you've read this far, you're already thinking of ways to save up for Creative at Heart Round 3 (in Charleston, btw, which is super awesome). But you should know this: the lessons I learned were more than just the pretty words the speakers said. It isn't just a well rehearsed speech, or the information on the slides, or even the swag bags. It isn't just pulling some highly successful entrepreneurs together and having them share their tips to avoid failure.
It's about creating community. It's about allowing creatives a safe space to share their fears and doubts and reminding them that they are not alone. It's about providing practical knowledge that really works and can help take your dreams and make them a reality. It's about meeting like-minded people and encouraging each other to be the best. It's about ridding the creative industries of competition and bitterness.
If there's only one thing I learned at Creative at Heart, it's that no one succeeds alone. No one singlehandedly rises to the top. There's a team, a network, a community of people working together to accomplish incredible things. This community, this group of people who are creative at heart; these are the people that will change the industry, the lives of their clients, and eventually the world.
GO TO THIS CONFERENCE!
Sorry, I didn't mean to yell at you. But I'm kind of serious. You should really look into this wonderful experience. If you think it's right for you, GO! Open your heart and your mind to the immense amount of knowledge and inspiration you'll receive, and prepare to dive into a life where you can support yourself and your family doing what you love.
P.S. You can register for Creative at Heart Round 3 in Charleston this coming week! I really think you should do it.
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