Ok, I think I started this post over and over again like five times… I’m not a very eloquent person so I always have trouble conveying just how amazing an experience is and it just never sounds quite right or good enough. So here goes, hopefully having a crap ton of pictures will help ;) This is a long one so bear with me…
About three weeks ago I attended Haven, a home and DIY blogger conference held in Atlanta Georgia every July, and I’ve honestly never experienced anything like it before in my life. I was just a brand new (well, newer?) blogger last year when I started seeing all the bloggers I idolized popping up with super fun posts and pictures while at this thing called “Haven”. I made a promise to myself that I would work really hard so I could attend this year and get the absolute best I could out of it. I had no idea though how much of an effect it would really have on me.
As an only child, I’m usually pretty independent but when it comes to traveling and going to functions by myself, I get so crazy nervous and almost always kick myself for committing to it and just wish I had stayed home. In the last year, I’ve gotten super lucky to meet a ton of awesome bloggers who have been invaluable friends in this virtual world, so we all made plans to room together at Haven and, although I still would have made myself go if I didn’t know anyone, I can’t tell you how much I thanked the good Lord I had friends to meet up with there! Even with that though, those usual thoughts were rampant in my head when the plane was landing in Atlanta and it finally hit me that “this is it… you’re not meeting anyone you really know, but it’s GO time, so suck it up!” Aaaaaack!!!!
But I did. I made it to baggage claim where I found these two shining faces and I knew everything would be alright, my roomie Leigh Anne from Houseologie and Carrie from Kenarry: Ideas for the Home. And in just a few hours it was time for the welcome party on the patio where we met the rest of our virtual BFFs, and our solid Haven crew was formed.
It takes me a long time to really “click” with someone, and usually I don’t, but the second I saw these ladies, it was as if we have been friends for like a decade. It’s been a really stressful summer and if ever I needed a little boost in confidence and some good friend time, it was then. These girls are hi.lar.ious, they still make me laugh almost every day :)
Bright and early at 7am on Friday morning and we were ready to get our Haven started. We were sent off by a deep-belly-laugh talk by Jon Acuff. I’ll be honest, I initially scoffed that this talk would be that good, and I’m sorry I did, because it’s one of the most inspirational and real presentations I’ve ever heard, and it totally set the tone for the rest of the weekend. (seriously, check him out at his website HERE, and his new book HERE*)
The first seminar/workshop we all wanted to do was the Ana White and Home Depot Do-It-Herself where we made a tray and got to play with all kinds of supplies and Ryobi tools for a couple hours, on top of meeting Ana White herself! What other conference do you get to use power tools and get chalk paint all over yourself??
We hopped around to all kinds of other talks the rest of the day, squeezed in some visits to the vendor booths, and then headed across the street from the hotel to a cute little restaurant and had some hilarious and productive discussions about everything under the sun. Then, on top of the swag bag we received at registration, we got back to our rooms that night and found these little orange nuggets full of even more swag! Which we promptly used to dispense the wine Tasha brought during our stay-up-until-2-am-gabbing-sessions that night and Saturday night :) #letsdothis
It was up and at ’em bright and early again on Saturday and we bounced around to more talks. Everything from decorating your home, to affiliate marketing, to branding, to how to use a Kreg jig. That’s our kind of topic mix! Every single topic for the sessions was awesome and it was so hard to choose which one to go to, there were definitely some sacrifices made. #thestruggleisreal
The Instagram talk by Liz Marie from Liz Marie Blog and Jen from Stylehouse Interiors was one of my favorites, and it was amazing to meet the adorable Liz in person. So.so.sweet!!! And I am gung-ho to step up my Instagram game, so if you follow me there, look for that :)
Another favorite of mine was the Ryobi workshop where Leigh Anne and I made a couple of K-cup holders using Ryobi’s amaaaazing new tools. Their AirStrike nail and staple guns and a sander that hadn’t even hit the market yet that weighed about as much as my notebook. My Christmas list was made in that workshop, if I can even wait until then.
The sponsor booths way exceeded my expectations and I was blown away at how easy it was to talk to all of them, and how eager they were to talk to us too. Geez man, I was so crazy nervous to go up to them, but they made it so easy and made me feel welcome instantly. I’ve already been chatting with a handful of them and am stoked to work with them on some projects in the near future!!
All those brands loaded us up man, loaded! After advice I’d read on previous Haven posts, I brought two suitcases nested together, thinking that my clothes would go in the big one on the way back, but nope! I used my bigass suitcase just for the swag, all 55 pounds of it! Seriously.
The closing talk Saturday night was by the undeniably inspirational, amazing, and adorable Mandi from Vintage Revivals. Her speech was so raw and real and she had everyone, including me, wiping away tears and laughing at the same time on many occasions throughout it. We got to get a sneak peek at her new little baby bump too, which she just announced with the cutest video on her blog.
We got all gussied up for the dance party Saturday night and had so much fun sippin’ on cocktails and relishing the last night around all of our inspiration bloggers. The whole weekend I felt like I was in Hollywood or something, just staring in disbelief that these bloggers exist in real life and they’re right in front of me! Heck, even conversating with me! They were all so sweet and I wanted to thank them so much for everything they do, so I seized the moment and went for it, and it was always met with friendliness. We even got the courage to go up to Mandi, and were greeted with big bear hugs <3 The bloggers that put this thing on (Rhoda, Beth, Chris, Sarah, Traci as well as Kristin), do such an awesome job, I have no idea how they do it all!
I left feeling a zillion feelings at once; sad to leave all these new friends I found, happy that I found my people, feeling inspired to grow T&H, feeling overwhelmed on how much I want to do here, and feeling thankful that I got to go. If you’re on the fence about attending Haven, or any other conference in your field, do it….just do it. Yes it’s scary, yes it’s intimidating, yes its awkward, but oh my gosh is it rewarding! You will make friends and you will make connections, really good ones!
Ok, this post in insanely long and if you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU! I absolutely cannot wait until next year and if you have any questions about Haven or any tips I forgot, or if you’ll be there, shoot me a comment!!
*Read posts from other attendees at the link up HERE*