Oh my y’all the month of July is now long over and what a whirlwind it was. We kicked it off with a 4th of July BBQ with friends, days later I left for the Haven Conference in Charleston, South Carolina and then after returning home we went on a camping trip with my parents. Now I am not complaining because despite all the craziness it was fun, rewarding and relaxing to spend time with family and friends.
But today I want to focus on the Haven Conference as this was my first time attending. I had first heard about this conference last year via different Facebook groups and other bloggers I followed. For those of you wondering the Haven Conference is for designers and DIY’ers to learn from others through different sessions and meet and connect with brands. I was relatively new in my blogging journey last year and knew I wouldn’t be able to attend. But I was determined to make it work this year. After some long talks and discussions about cost Justin and I decided it would be a good experience and could possibly help this blog move forward. So back in April I pulled the trigger and bought my Haven ticket. I was also excited because I knew that my friend Anam from Delicious and DIY would be attending. She and I had met at another blogging conference last September and I was looking forward to seeing a familiar face!
I had no idea what to expect going into Haven. But I had read Christene from Keys to Inspiration recap of Haven last year and it just made me more excited to attend even though I was an anxious wreck inside.
This was my first time traveling away from the kids for 6 days and without Justin by my side. We had discussed him coming along but his job doesn’t give him much paid time off and he was going to be using that for our camping trip. And it worked out that my mother-in-law had some vacation time and she was more than happy to stay with the kids while Justin was at work.
But I was still so nervous and anxious to travel by myself. So I talked to my cousin, Laura who is currently job hunting and who loves to travel about coming with me. She was all for it and had she had never been to Charleston either.
Warning: This post is going to be a long one and more like a diary entry! And all these photos were taken with my iPhone because I didn’t bring my DSLR like I probably should have.
Arriving in Charleston
We arrived in Charleston late Wednesday and got ourselves settled. And let me say, man is it humid in the South! This Pacific NW girl had never traveled to the Southern USA and oh man is it like living in a sauna! It definetely took some adjusting. But the history and views was worth it. Registration for Haven opened up Thursday afternoon so we took advantage of our free morning to do some site seeing in downtown historic Charleston. Laura had a travel guide book so we went on a self-guided walking tour that was so informative. But after spending hours in the hot humid weather and stopping for lunch we were both ready to call it a day and headed back to the hotel.
After a nice cleansing shower, I nervously went down to registration, the introvert taking deep breaths as I stood in line. I received my name tag and the huge swag bag and then followed the line to add more to the swag bag! I was blown away by all the awesome products from the sponsor brands. After dropping my bag off in the room I found Anam and we caught up on our lives and then headed toward the newbie meet-up that was happening for all new Haven attendees. The newbie event was helpful in introducing me to new attendees and we played a couple quick icebreaker games. And Anam and I ran into Amanda from A Crafted Passion who we also met last year at the other blogging conference. We then all headed to the welcome event that was not a formal introduction but basically a chance to mingle with everyone poolside at the hotel and enjoy hor d’oeuvres. I was able to meet and exchange business cards with several new bloggers and connect and talk about our sites and lives. It felt good to be able to connect with others at a less formal event.
So about a week before the conference, we all were assigned a mentor group that we would meet with at Haven. These mentor groups were lead by bigger name bloggers and was a time for us attendees to connect with each other and ask questions. I had been assigned to Liz and Jose Galvan of Liz Marie Blog. It was very exciting because I read Liz’s blog regularly and receive her emails. But the first meet up was on Thursday night after the welcome party but I had already made plans to attend dinner with Jenny Melrose and others of us who belong to her membership site. So I missed the first mentor meet-up but had a great dinner connecting in a more intimate gathering. Here is a pic of all of us at dinner, it’s a grainy, late night pic but oh so fun!
Marilie-Organized Neatly, Rita-Harbour Breeze Home, Me, Jenny Melrose-Melrose Family Annie-DIY Decor Mom
The next morning I was up and ready to head down for breakfast and then it was time for kick-off and the opening keynote. Now let me say that before I had even headed to the conference I had been spying the daily schedule to see what sessions I wanted to attend and I had made a list of 3 goals I wanted to accomplish while at Haven. They were: talk to brands, meet new blogging friends, have fun! Those may seem like pretty simple goals but for this serious introvert who is putting herself outside of her comfort zone, this was a lot. So on day one, I attended the Rust-Oleum make and take, Building your Traffic by Capturing Hearts and Minds with Alisa Meredith and painting with Amy Howard at Home.
I loved the make and take events because I made decor that I could bring home and got to learn about new products. Here are my goodies from the make and takes:
Later that night after dinner they had a Friday Night-In which was basically a crafting and making hang out session with food and drinks. I used a Dremel Wood Etching tool for the first time and learned about what you need to take good flat lay photos with Aniko from Place of My Taste. And because of my photo, I took with my flatlay that evening I won a Jo-Ann’s cupcake decorating set as my prize! My wooden spoon etching and winning picture are below. I spent the other part of the night getting to know Elizabeth from OnGobblersKnob.
The last day of events again started with breakfast at 7 am and to be honest I was exhausted so I opted to stay in my room, eat some snacks that I had brought with me and drink some coffee and have some me time before the first session.
The sessions I attended were: Taking your Blog Fulltime with Ariel Garneau from PMQforTwo, DIY Decor with JoAnn, Secrets to Awesome Video with Trevor Debth from Show Me The Yummy and Facebook Live with Amanda Rettke from I Am Baker. These sessions were a lot more information packed than the ones I chose to do on the first day and I feel like I absorbed sooo much information! I know I am not quite at the level for taking my blog full-time or doing video at the level that Trevor and Jennifer do but it was great information to have and think about for the future.
There were two other separate meetings with our mentor groups on Friday and Saturday and I did make it both of those, although a little late since the sessions I was in had run over a little. But it was nice to talk about the different sessions with everyone in the group and then just bounce questions and advice off each other and Jose & Liz.
The closing keynote was the Shanty Sisters from Shanty2Chic and they made me feel encouraged to keep on this journey doing what I love and to keep learning and to say yes to every opportunity as long as it fits with your audience and who you are.
Haven was such a whirlwind two and a half days but it was wonderful. It was great to be with “my people” who get DIY, blogging and all the challenges that come along with it. We are all in unique and different places but are all on this blogging journey together. I feel I accomplished the goals that I set out accomplish and I am excited to go back to Haven someday. I don’t know if that will be next year but I plan to start saving for Atlanta!