I am finally recovering from my weekend in Atlanta at Haven Conference. Haven was exactly what I needed this year. Like spot on. If you don’t know what Haven is, it’s a conference for DIY bloggers, like myself, held every summer. As the title of this post implies, I attended Haven Conference for the first time last year. It was my first blogger conference. And it was pretty rough. (I wrote about it here and here) I met some great people last year and learned some valuable information, but there was a lot of Xanax involved and, unfortunately, the take home message was that chicks are bitches.
And while I’m sure chicks were still bitches this year, I managed to steer clear of all of it. Like completely.
I mentioned in my last post that I bought my Haven ticket 2 days before the event. I bought it from another blogger, Evey, from Evey’s Creations, who I met only once before at the World Market grand opening, which I wrote about here. Evey offered me a spot in her hotel room with two other women I’d never met. I figured, what the hell, and actually felt is was an answer to my recent need for more adventure in my life. And I do mean NEED.
Not sure if you know this about me, but I used to be a really independent bad ass who traveled around the world at a moment’s notice. Maybe one of these days I’ll tell you about all my adventures, like that time I flew to Tokyo direct for $300 round trip because a friend told me about some
scam program where you could fly as a “courier” for super cheap. Mind you I didn’t physically handle anything, but I wasn’t allowed to check a bag on the way there. Pretty sure such programs don’t exist in this post 9/11 world, but I’m damn glad I took advantage while I could.
Ok, I’ll tell you just a little… Tokyo was awesome. I went for two weeks because I had “nothing to do” for the 6 weeks between two ironman triathlons I had one fall. Oh those were the days. I was young and hot and in great shape. I ate sushi and green tea iced cream for the very first time in Japan. And I’m pretty sure that was the one and only time I had saki. I stayed at The Ritz Carlton with a friend I knew from the gym I work at in NYC. And when I got bored of that I called home to Jersey and had a friend hook me up with a friend who lived in Tokyo. So I stayed with him for the second week. Apparently most Americans in Tokyo are there on a business — which means they’re on an expense account — and they are more than happy to take a fellow American out every night. So yes, I ate sushi for the first time in Japan and I never paid for any of it. Anyway, I digress. Big time!
Just painting you a little picture about how my life as a mom for the past 14 years is a little less adventurous than my life before. It doesn’t help that I am the worst about taking time for myself, going on girls weekends, or having date nights or trips with my husband. The latter never happens.
So… A last minute trip to Atlanta to stay with 3 people I didn’t know and focus on a blog I’ve been too lazy, insecure, and confused to focus on, was just what this girl needed. I had an entirely different attitude than the year before. But looking back, one of the best parts of the weekend was that I didn’t have to take care of anyone else. I so rarely get to turn off my responsibility. It was great!!!
Pictured: Me, Lynn, Gloria and Evey
My roommates were awesome. Gloria, from Potentially Chic, fascinated me with tales of opening up a retail store and starting a successful design business. She had no prior experience in either an just went for it. I love that! I’m thinking I might have to take a trip down to Richmond to check out the shop in person. Evey is a Jersey girl who knew everyone at Haven and made me feel like I was with the life of the party. She did my hair and makeup for the Saturday night party which was awesome. Not so much because I care (at all) about hair and makeup but because it’s awesome to have someone look out for you like that. My good friend Melissa was always that person for me growing up. I didn’t realize I missed it so much. Lynn, from Fern Avenue, kept everything in check. She is a furniture makeover expert and I can’t wait to learn more from her.
Of course I also got to hang out with “my girls” from last year, but I didn’t manage to make it into this picture. Boo! Actually I managed to only take like 5 pictures all weekend. I suck!
Pictured: (left to right)
- Laura Jo | Wildwood Vale | Instagram | Facebook
- Rachel | Architecture of a Mom | Instagram | Facebook
- Sandy | Pink Tool Girl | Instagram | Facebook
- Kim | Hunt and Host | Instagram | Facebook
- Deb | Seeking Lavender Lane | Instagram | Facebook
- Jess (new this year, but already a friend) | Domicile 37 | Instagram | Facebook
- Jennifer | The Life of Jennifer Dawn | Instagram | Facebook
- Katie | Twin Stripe | Instagram | Facebook
- Melanie | Lost and Found Decor | Instagram | Facebook
But I managed to meet a whole slew of new peeps as well! My biggest goal this year was to meet more builders. Last year I did it all wrong and didn’t go to any of the “building” classes because I figured I didn’t need to waste my time with things I already knew how to do. The problem with that was that I didn’t meet any builders. Which was dumb. I vowed to change that this year. And guess what? You have to go to the building classes to get tools. Duh!
By far the best part of Haven this year was that they implemented mentor groups. I am so stoked that my mentor is Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl. Not only have I been a big fan of hers for a long time, but she’s an awesome and caring person who wants to continue the mentor gig way beyond Haven. I’m so excited! Oh and Brittany said she loved the YouTube video of me installing my shower pan. Awesome!
Our mentor group is filled with a ton of awesome building bloggers who I can’t wait to get to know better. I wish we had taken a group picture! These are the bloggers in my group and where you can find them on social media:
- Brittany | Pretty Handy Girl | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
- Hannah | We Lived Happily Ever After | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
- April | Uncookie Cutter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
- Scottie | Saved By Scottie | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
- Jennifer | Build Basic | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
- Jameson & Ramie | Rogue Engineer | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
- Mindi | My Love 2 Create | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
- Tamisha | Toolbox Divas | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
- Danielle | DIY Danielle | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
Ok, do you feel overwhelmed??? There are so many people to meet, it gets crazy!!
As far as the learning part… I went to 7 of the 8 sessions and learned something in each. I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be and that the opening speakers knew exactly what I needed to hear. They spoke about the need to change and try new things as their blogs grew. That it is important to be more than just a place for tips and information, you have to be a person. Let me tell you, my lovely readers, that it’s way harder for me to share about me than it is to share a project around my house. I know it may not seem that way because I can be a rambling open book at times, but trust me.
Let’s see, what else? I learned that my pictures still suck but that I can maybe remedy that somewhat with Lightroom. That I am not doing enough with any of my social media platforms. But for the record let me tell you that from Haven 2015-2016 my Facebook followers have gone from 2K to 19K+, Instagram from 100 to 750 and Pinterest from <2K to 4.7K. So there’s that. I’d really like to focus on my Instagram account this year. Oh and apparently I have 540 subscribers on YouTube, which I don’t ever check because the negativity gets me down.
But mainly I am going to focus on blogging more consistently. Like, let’s see, at least once a week. And, for the love of Pete, I am going to make it my mission to stop paying for all the materials I use. I’m going to stop being lazy and start asking companies to send me their products. I’ve never really had the balls before. Which I know is weird, because I can be really ballsy when it comes to other things. I’m just really not that pushy. But all that is going to change going forward. It would also be great if I made some real money from blogging so I could stop always looking for a “real job”.
Which brings me to the other aspect of a conference like Haven. On the one side you have classes for bloggers to attend and on the other side there are companies who are there to build relationships with bloggers that fit their brands. It is embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t reach out to a single brand after the conference last year. I don’t even know what to say about that. But it was funny because the Rockler Woodworking and Purebond Plywood people remembered me from the year before. Yes, I will reach out this year. Feel free to follow up in a week and see if I’ve really done it. In fact, I think Purebond should sponsor my trip to Haven next year. That would be nice. 😉
I stuck around for the closing ceremony, because it was given by John and Sherry of Young House Love. What?!? I hopped in my first Uber and made my way to the airport with my new scroll saw and my extra duffle full.
The Haven Conference swag was definitely awesome! It always cracks me up what my 7 and 8-year-old are drawn to. The calculator and Behr bears were the biggest hit! My favorite is kinda the Quikrete hat. Can’t wait to wear that one to Home Depot.
So to recap… I stink at taking pictures but I had an AWESOME time. I’m so glad I went! I am motivated to work on my blog and finish up a ton of projects around my house. So stay tuned!!