Last weekend I attended my first ever blog conference, Haven, in Atlanta, GA. It was inspiring, eye opening and exhausting and I loved every second of it. I’ve been blogging for 2.5 years now (crazy!) and I’ve ever only met two bloggers in real life. Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog and Lauren from The Thinking Closet. It amazes me that I’ve been able to form such strong relationships with other bloggers when we’ve only ever “met” online. But when we did meet, it was like we’ve known each other ever since the beginning. I mean, I talk to them more than my husband and close friends & family so I guess it wasn’t that big of a surprise 😉 So I just wanted to share a little Haven recap and tell you about my experience at my first conference! (sorry in advance for the crappy iPhone pics)
I flew out of Pittsburgh and actually stayed the night at a friend’s so I didn’t have to drive there in the morning. It’s about an hour away from us and my flight was at 7AM. So it actually worked out perfectly and I got to see one of my good friend’s baby who is 4 months old. And I gave her some swag from The Little Cloth Co. of course :-p
Leigh Anne from Houseologie and I landed at about the same time. This pretty much sums up what happened when we first saw each other.
Then we grabbed a cab to the hotel and met up with Katie from Little House of Four, Emily from Table & Hearth and Bre from Average But Inspired. More jumping and hugging ensued. My roomies for the weekend were Katie and Leigh Anne and we had so much fun together.
The only thing planned for Thursday was check-in so we had the day to ourselves. We went to breakfast shortly after we got there, had some time by the pool, went to dinner and then hung out in the lobby for most of the evening meeting & chatting with all the other bloggers as they arrived.
Friday was the first real day of the conference. They had breakfast for us and all the brands and sponsors were set up and ready at their little booths. Each day there were different sessions you could attend. Some were informational and some were hands on. Friday morning they had an opening ceremony where Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, and Shaunna West from Perfectly Imperfect spoke. They were super sweet and funny and were the perfect intro into the weekend.
After that I took an informational class about Ad income which I’ll spare you the boring details of except for the total fangirl moment I had. Savannah from Classy Clutter and Mandi from Vintage Revivals walked in a few minutes late and sat down right next to me. I was freaking out inside but was trying to stay calm and not look like a freak ha. They were actually both super nice and I introduced myself after the class was over and chatted with them for a bit.
Then in the afternoon I took a hands on class with Ryobi.
We made these cute little chalkboard wall hook things.
This is me and my girl Katie from Little House of Four!
And from left to right, Katie, me, Leigh Anne and Emily!
After that we wandered around and chatted with some brands.
Then it was time to rest up for the Southern Shindig. This was just a little gathering they put together that included a pretty funny fashion show. Unfortunately I forgot to take pics!
We also got to find out who our mentors were. This was something new they did this year. They had about 20 or so big timers who got paired up with 10-12 bloggers and we met a few times throughout the weekend to chat more personally about things we were learning or struggles we were going through with our blogs. My mentor was Miss Mustard Seed which I was pretty stoked about. She was super sweet and had a lot of great knowledge to share.
Friday night a bunch of us ended up in Cassity from Remodelaholic‘s room just chatting blog and getting to know one another more. I was so exhausted but couldn’t miss out on the chance to brainstorm off some pretty amazing ladies.
Saturday morning we walked downstairs to this beauty.
Yes those are donuts. And they were amazing.
Saturday morning I took a class on growing your Instagram and then another one on working with brands. Both super helpful and got my head spinning with 1,000 things I wanted to do right away.
We had some down time for lunch and met up with our mentors again for a quick meeting. At this point, my head was ready to combust with all the nuggets of info I was taking in. I needed something relaxing to do that didn’t require a lot of thinking so Bre and I took a painting class with Danielle from Finding Silver Pennies and Rachel from Shades of Blue Interiors. It was just what I needed and I learned this awesome new technique that looks like concrete but it’s just different shades of grey paint. It’s awesome and I can’t wait to try it out on something soon!
After that I took a class on harnessing the power of social media. Super informative, but I’ll spare you all those details too 😉
Saturday night was the best. Ryobi hosted the “Saturday Soiree” for us which felt like a super elegant wedding reception.
Selfie sticks on the table led to some hilariously embarrassing photos, but I’ll be nice and only share this one.
Another long night but it was our last, so we had to make the best of it. I was definitely struggling a little bit on Sunday morning and we all decided to skip out on the first session. There wasn’t really a class we wanted to go to anyway so we didn’t feel too guilty. We just grabbed some breakfast and packed up our bags which was impossible with all the swag they gave us.
Pretty legit. Plus we picked up some more random stuff at a lot of the booths we visited.
Sunday morning I took a great photography class by Aniko from Place of My Taste. I’ve known her for a while and was so excited to finally meet her. Her class was awesome and she was hilarious.
Then we had lunch with our mentor groups again and to finish it off John and Sherry from Young House Love spoke.
They were super down to earth and talked about life after “quitting” their blog. They still have so much going on and I totally need to download their podcast. They’re fun to listen to and are really relatable which I love.
After some sad goodbyes we were all off on our separate ways.
Another friend of mine lives outside of Atlanta, and she had her baby boy, Benny, a week after I had Eloise. I was missing my girl so much, it was nice to be able to squeeze her little guy and get some baby lovin’ in. She picked me up from the hotel and took me to this awesome little indoor/outdoor flea market, shopping & restaurant area. I could have dropped some serious cash there. It was the cutest place ever. If you live in the Atlanta area you need to go – Ponce City Market. And I stumbled across these two little signs that summed up the weekend perfectly.
I got home around 11:30pm on Sunday night, snuck into the nursery and gave Eloise a bunch of kisses and then passed out. I was creatively, emotionally and physically drained but I’m so glad I went out of my comfort zone and went to Haven.
I’ve got a long list of things I want to tackle for the blog and I’m really trying to space things out and make a plan to implement them all so I don’t go crazy trying to do it all at once. It was amazing being in rooms filled with bloggers who are going through the exact same things as you. No one else understands the behind the scenes stuff that goes into our blogs and just being around people who don’t give you a weird look when they ask what you do and you tell them you’re a blogger, made me feel at home.