Here’s the sunrise of the day that completely changed my life, y’all. So beautiful and serene, there was no way for me to know that I was going to have such a mindshift and the course of my life and business would be set for a while to come.
This year, the Creative Founders conference was at a beach house on the Pensacola coast. This allowed for something that no hotel could possibly offer. The serenity and comfort of home away from home. I spent so much time on the balcony just watching the waves and thinking about the life I want to cultivate. Where I am now, and what I see for my future. In time, the day’s events would lead me on my intended path, but as I listened to my music this particular morning and watched the sun rise, I stood on the edge of numerous paths to take.
After eating the Lord’s food aka Chick-Fil-A for breakfast, we met upstairs to talk about money. Now, I’m the first to tell you that I always have the best of intentions with money. I just haven’t made the best decisions.
Between Heather Jordan and Kristin, I’m much, much more comfortable with where I’m headed financially. (Thank you, GOD!) I’m finding that it’s only scary, if we don’t seek the answers we need! The fear of a financial advisor and accountant is not so scary anymore. (Thanks, Heather!) And I’m actually going to start paying myself a decent cut of what I make. I’m raising my hand with Kristin below as a promise to do so.
After the informative money section, some of us learned about social media styling with Ashley Cochrane. First of all, look at that styling bar below! I was so excited to jump in.
Ashley provided us with amazing tips and tricks for styling our products and how to find the best lighting to create photos that fit our aesthetic. As someone who lives in a fairly dark house (We face north!), I appreciated some of the techniques and advice we were given. Afterward, we were able to try what we learned with some of our own products!
This is one of the pictures I took, and I was so impressed with myself! (Tootin’ my own horn right here.) In learning about my voice on day two, I learned what color schemes I’m attracted to the most. I love light colors. Love them. I want that to be apparent in my branding and photos. This was a great place to start!
Below is a picture of Val…
I may or may not have fan-girled around Val. As the creator of the original chalkboard print, she’s had a hand in inspiring my hand lettering journey. Her talent is limitless, and her spirit is so warm and inviting. Seriously, if you can’t tell yet, our speakers were amazingly down-to-earth. Val taught us about storytelling in our brand, and this exercise literally brought me to tears. I’ve never been able to come up with an authentic brand story. I always found myself writing what I thought my audience wanted to hear. Struggling to find “keywords” that would help my audience identify with my brand. I had the most difficult time trying to identify with brides in a way that was genuine. I mean, I’m a single girl who is soaking in this time with only myself as a responsibility.
That stopped in that session. It was as if a dam broke and what I was truly feeling burst through in all of its glory. You may be thinking, “But didn’t you have all of those great ideas earlier in the conference? Wasn’t that confirmation enough?” That was all amazing, and it does support my decision to transition Ms. Peach Plus Designs from wedding calligraphy. But unless I can explain why I do what I do, I’m just making pretty things. My audience (YOU!) deserves more. You deserve a purpose-driven brand.
I shared my revelation with Kristin and Val after the session and told them that I knew in my heart that this conference, this time, this choice was the right one for me. It was all confirmed in that moment. Just to note, that my vision is blurry with tears as I type this. I am still in awe of that moment and take none of it for granted.
After my epiphany, I calmed down and focused on learning about craft shows from the queen herself, Amy Kinslow, of Southern Fried Design. Admittedly, I have always loved the idea of festivals and craft shows. I just didn’t know how to fit into that world. Now, I am so excited to jump into it next year with my new designs. (My notebook is bursting with ideas, y’all!)
Our next session was the first planning session with Kristin. While in April I was such an emotional wreck that I had to leave the room, I must say I handled this session with a lot more confidence and hope. A lot can change in a year… Shoot, a lot can change in six months! This time I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of my life. I knew who I wanted to be with. I knew the experiences I wanted to make happen. Hope and prayer can surely make things a lot clearer when you actually make time to listen to what God has to say. As we stood at the edge of the ocean, I could hear Tori singing,
I could also hear,
It was a perfect moment that blessed me immensely.
Our night was spent with laughter, tears, and making inside jokes. (The photo below will always bring me deep belly laughs.) If we had any doubts that this weekend brought us together, they were cast aside as we poured into each other over supper.
Kelli had the honor of sharing our surprise with Kristin. See, five other women made the decision that I made. SIX of us felt the call to return and take part in the SCF conference this fall. If that is not a testament to the power and impact of this experience, I don’t know what is. Kristin has managed to cultivate a sense of community and sisterhood that is not easily achieved.
We conspired with some of the other 2018 alumni to surprise her with a gift and cards of encouragement as navigates her role as owner of SCF. And her reaction was so worth it. I’m not even going into how much I love Kristin. She’s deserving of every single word of praise and love.
We each had the opportunity to tell our story, and it is amazing how some of our stories weave with one another. It’s also amazing how you can look at someone and not know what baggage they may be carrying. Kindness, love, and time a key y’all! It is okay to be vulnerable. It is okay to not have it all together. It is okay to be just you. Imperfectly perfect. You’re alright.
The next morning, still reeling from a very, very late night of fun and testimonies, we all put on our new Creative Founders shirts and headed to the beach to take photos. (I hadn’t watched the news or paid too much attention to social media since I arrived, so I had no clue that Hurricane Michael was brewing behind us!) Even so, we giggled and posed for the photos that would capture us all in this sweet moment of unity.
We then broke out into more photos. The photo below is of Kristin with the six ladies from the spring conference. It was such a blessing to share this experience with them! We all took that “next step” together and got more out of it than we dreamed.
When we returned, we changed and prepared for our headshots. (Mine is at the end of this post, and I’ll explain why it’s my fave headshot to date, later.) The last session of the conference was next and it included goal setting, tasks, and planning. Let’s be real, I needed this to make sure I didn’t overwhelm myself with the excitement of all that I’d just realized over the course of the conference. I made a very long list of all the things I wanted to accomplish before spreading them over the next 18 months.
The rest of day 4 was spent in individual sessions and collective chats in the living room, on the balcony, and on the beach. There was so much to unpack with one another about revelations that happened during the conference, excitement about what’s to come, and plans for the next few days. Many of us planned to get in some much needed rest!
Let’s talk about this headshot! This picture is so authentically me! My hair is natural and out. I’m rocking that natural face. (Thanks, Arbonne!) I’ve got on my FAVE denim jacket. (Grab a similar one here or here.) I’m casual and comfortable. Taking in everything that happened at the conference, I have to say it forced me to take a good look at myself and break down the barriers that I’d put up about a certain image, language, and brand. I stripped it all a way and dressed up as Amanda that day. (I had another, fancier, “on-brand” outfit planned.) I don’t need all of that to do what I do. I’m enough as is.
My experience at SCF was AH-MAZING, and I feel SO blessed to have had the opportunity to experience this again. When I arrived home, I had to take a step back and take it all in. As I left, I wanted to conquer the world, but the reality was I needed to balance some things first. Now, after a few weeks back, I can say that this time, I’m able to have more peace. My business is not dueling with my teaching career, and I’m a better teacher because of it.
I can’t say enough how much I loved my experience, how much I love my SCF community, and how much Kristin’s continuing support has meant to me. (I’m going to stop right there because I can feel the “woo-woo” setting in.) Thank you times a million, Kristin. I love you dearly.
To my SCF fam, I love you too much for words, and I can’t wait to see how you soar!
And to you, for making it to the end of this novel of a post, thank you for being a rockstar supporter, and I can’t wait to share this journey with you!
P.S. Below is the beautiful soul that captured our experience. You can find out more about her and her amazing work at www.ashleyvictoria.com.