If you are into homey/crafty/DIY-ey stuff at all, you’ve likely seen all the buzz happening around the blogiverse this weekend about how much OVERWHELMING fun we all had at The Haven Conference.
Y’all. I seriously don’t even know where to begin with this post.
This was my very first conference, ever, and boy, did I hit the jackpot! It was SO perfect for me. There were about 270 people in attendance, plus vendors, so it was small and intimate enough that I felt comfortable for the entire weekend. There was such a warm and welcoming vibe from everyone that it made you feel like the whole building was alive with energy and happiness. Or maybe that was just the broken HVAC unit paired with the hot Atlanta sun. Whewwweeeee… There is a reason they call it Hotlanta. Either way, I was positively GLOWING with excitement all weekend long. Don’t let my shining face in any of these photos fool you. That is my conference glow, not sweat puddling down my face. 🙂
All kidding aside, if a little heat was the worst of a first time conference’s troubles, then that’s pretty doggone good, right?!
I’m telling y’all, it was just THE greatest thing I’ve experienced in a very long time. I’m so thankful to everyone who worked so hard to make this weekend happen for all of us. I know these ladies worked their little patooties off so that we could all sit back, relax and enjoy our turn at being newbie conference goers. That means so much, so a big THANK YOU to everyone involved!
I arrived the first day to pick up Dusty from All Things G&D, Aimee from Project: Aimee and Terri from Crafty Workin Mommy at the airport. When we arrived at the hotel, the mini-butterflies were stirring, but then I saw people that I recognized immediately like Debbie at Refresh Restyle…:
And that’s all it took for everything to calm down quickly for me. Those ladies were so soothing and sweet that all the fear disappeared! We got checked in and found our room, then we channeled our inner Spring Breakers and smuggled in our cooler full of alcohol. Rhoda caught us as we were getting on the elevator and asked if we were partying yet. Soon, Rhoda. Soon. After getting settled I got a call from Debbie inviting us down to get checked in, grab our swag bags and join in the meet and greet in the lobby. It was so weird trying to place people’s faces that I recognize from one single head shot on their blog. And, as a side note, if you ever go to a conference please put your blog photo on your business card. It makes it so much easier to remember people! It is WAY hard to remember who everyone is when you get 50+ cards in a row. At the very least try to make a note about the people you meet so you have a mental nudge when you are sitting there racking your brain trying to remember who they were.
We got our swag bags and discovered that they were FULL of great loot. Among other things we got a Kreb drill kit, a new XL Purdy paint brush, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and a big roll of Frogtape! I also won a second pot of Annie Sloan chalk paint when I spun the wheel of fortune at their booth on the second day. I LOVED Janet of The Empty Nest at the ASCP booth. She made it so much fun and gave away a ton of paint. Thanks so much Janet and all the other great vendors. I truly appreciate all the goodies and plan to put them all to very good use soon.
There was a pre-conference cocktail party the first night sponsored by 3M and Oreck, We didn’t take a single photo of ourselves dressed up that night. Dangit, we were looking our BEST, too. I do have to say that it was super overwhelming to be at the party and not knowing many folks yet. I put my game face on, circled and mingled as best as I could and found a few familiar blog names. With about a hundred chatty women packed into a too-small room, I would have been very uncomfortable if I weren’t such an extrovert. It seriously was so loud I could barely hear anyone talk. I kept saying it reminded me of a henhouse. This is the only photo I have from that night:
That night is when I realized that bloggers are 1. extremely loud and 2. extremely beautiful. I was surrounded by gorgeous ladies everywhere I turned! After mingling for a while we headed back upstairs and got comfortable for the night. I had totally forgotten that we had told Erin at How to Nest For Less and Chelsea from Two Twenty One that they were invited to come back and drink with us. Bless their hearts, talk about a let down. They arrived and I had already taken off my bra and Dusty was taking off her makeup. We must have seemed like the boringest old ladies ever! Ha! Sorry for the Wah Wah Wahhhhhh kind of letdown, girls. I promise we got rowdier as the week went on, just not that night! At least I had cheese, right!? Here are those pretty girls!
Dusty and I stayed up until 2 am talking, of course, then had to get up at 6 am to get ready for 7 am breakfast. The keynote address from John and Sherry of Young House Love began at 8:30, and there was not a seat left open. Thanks goodness Debbie saved us seats! She is such a sweetheart! So, YHL is just as endearing and cute in person as they are on their blog. They worked that crowd with ease, giving a killer presentation, then fielding impromptu questions like all-stars. The fact that Sherry used the word “fart” approximately eight times in a two minute period made her even more endearing to me.
They were AWESOME. They were comfortable and funny and so great at engaging the audience. Like, really really wowing. When they finished everyone around me was buzzing in an “I liked them before but now I LOVE them!” kind of way.
Then the sessions began! I went to the “I Like Big Blogs” one first, but about 15 minutes in I decided to hop over to check out the beginning paint and stain class with Kate of Centsational Girl and Chris of JustaGirl (loved this girl!).
Here is my photo op with Kate!
There was also a Minwax rep talking about stain, which was very good info. I just thought I knew how to paint already, but I took three pages of notes in that class! I was a note taking maniac! It was so informative and they were very easy and soothing to listen to. I was glad I hopped over. I will try my best to hit some of the highlights that they shared in another post. Trust me when I say Kate knows her stuff!
Next came lunch, where a random chain of circumstance led me to sitting with Nester from Nesting Place and her friend Angela from Button Bird Designs. Dusty had saved me a seat a big table full of bloggers, but in the spirit of being inclusive I decided to go over and join a lady who was eating alone instead. I joined Deneen from Dreaming in Color and we enjoyed lunch. A few minutes later, I saw Nester and a friend wandering around looking for a place to eat. Deneen invited them to join us, and they did! I have to say that The Nester was so nice- very warm and personable and interested in what I had to say. Of all the people at the conference, she has been one of the ones who has had the most influence on my style since I moved into the new house.
I enjoyed my time with her so much that I wrote this long flowery love note on her facebook page, and I really meant every word. “It was really wonderful to have the opportunity to sit down and have a great conversation with you and Angela at lunch on Thursday. To discover what a truly genuine person you are inside and out was one of the highlights of the conference for me. It’s rare to discover someone so real and accessible and inspirational all in one completely beautiful person but you proved to me that it can be done! You’re a true gift to our home blogging community and I am so glad to have met you. Like I said, I’ve been a long time fan of yours, and now I’m an even BIGGER fan.”
I really meant that… I am not blowing sunshine up her ass here, because that’s not the way I roll.
And let me just say that it pays off to be inclusive! When I went to sit with the girl who was eating alone, I got to eat lunch with the Nester, and when I wrote on Nester’s facebook wall about how great it was to meet her, she friended me on facebook and within minutes pinned my Lazy Girl’s Guide to Painting Wall Stripes tutorial, and so far it’s gotten around 150 repins today so…
It pays to be open and welcoming at a blog conference! You never know who might be the next person to drive a ton of traffic your way! No hoarding of Google Juice or other mystical equations required. This is how you win friends and influence people, y’all. Just be kind to one another. It really isn’t that hard.
After that fun lunch I visited the vendor booths and took a few pics like this one:
I started out the next session in Miss Mustard Seed’s Advanced Painting class, where she gave out prizes for the best painting outfit. Congrats to Duane at Cottage in the Oaks for being braver than the rest of us and wearing her crotchless tie-dyed overalls for the win!!
I quickly realized the painting class was going to be very full, so I hopped over to the Blogging PR class with Rhoda from Southern Hospitality and a few girls from PR agencies.
That session made me realize just how powerful it is to be a blogger right now. Our voice and influence over buying purchases is a huge deal, and companies are scrambling to make us happy. I’m also EXTREMELY honored to be working with a prestigious brand like Mohawk Home. One of my tweets from the conference said: #Haven2012 PR Class in session now- “Once you get a brand into your environment never let them go. It can be a good relationship. ” So, let me say a huge thanks to my favorite brand, Mohawk Home for allowing me into their environment. I truly appreciate you guys allowing me to be a part of your team.
The next session was Photography and Photo Styling with Kevin and Layla of Shoot Fly Shoot and The Lettered Cottage. Check out the HUGE line that was waiting in the hallway for their session to begin!
But it’s bedtime, so I’m gonna leave y’all hanging right there and wrap this gigantic post up for now!
To Be Continued…