Creative at Heart Conference

MY WHY

The smallest title for probably the most meaningful blog post I've ever written. 

Welcome back to the blog friends. It's been a while hasn't it? I've taken some time away from this little space and it was MUCH needed. I felt like I was just blogging to blog a couple of months ago and I didn't have a clear vision of where I wanted my little corner of the internet to go. I fell in love with writing here last year, but a path was needed (as well as a carefully curated blog calendar) and guys, I'm back for good. We're kicking off all new blog posts today with an important one. If you follow me over on IG, you'll know I was at Creative at Heart Round 4 in Maryland last weekend and I always leave that conference on a high filled with motivation and a positive outlook on this little business. There was just something about round 4 that made it such a special experience for me. Every CAH does that, but this one just had that boom about it.

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Image by Andrea Pesce Photography.

This post I'm about to write stems from Tiffany Farley's speech from this past weekend and all the way back to Bonnie's speech last November in Charleston at CAH round 3. It's about building a business and brand around your why. Basically we all want our businesses to be profitable because there are bills to be paid y'all. But that's not your why. It's not my why and it really shouldn't be anyone's reason for wanting to start their own business. 

So what is my why? Well, it's something I've never shared before ever to anyone really. Chris is my reason for starting creating centerpieces on our kitchen island, but why did I turn it into an actual business? Why do I love to invest in each couple of mine and be a part of the biggest day of their lives? For starters, I never thought I would get married. I was always a relationship girl (6 year high school sweetheart, 4 year relationship before Chris) but I never thought I would be the one in the white dress with every detail perfect, and having a grand sparkler exit of most girl's dreams. I know it sound silly, but I really did think that that was for other girls, not me. See, I didn't have the greatest childhood. I won't go into too much detail as much of it is too personal for me to share here, but growing up was difficult for me. I was the girl who after years of a terrible home experience started high school and basically lived with friends because I didn't want to go home. I was the girl who was parent-less at graduations because they didn't feel like coming. I was the girl that couldn't have opinions at home because they were always wrong. I was the girl who tried to hold her head up high while her home life was crumbling. Family was not a word I associated with happiness or safety. It was a burden and something I just had to deal with. My extended family is all overseas, so I didn't have an aunt or uncle or grandmother to turn to. I just had me and some rather wonderful friends who will forever be special to me. They got me through. I knew what was happening in their houses was normal and I remember thinking at about age 15 that maybe one day I would have a functioning home life like them. Maybe. Then, 10 years later I met Chris. Life as I knew it changed. And with him came this great big family that treated me as one of their own. I had a mother for the first time that I could just call and say hello and ask advice for. (Hi Kathy!) And for the first time marriage seemed like it might be in the cards for me. And it was. On September 20th, 2014 I made Chris my forever. I actually got my happy ending and the word family became the happiest of words and the most important thing in the world to me. (insert dancing lady emoji here) 

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So my why comes from my past. Creating beautiful florals for a bride and her family is a way for me to celebrate something that I never thought I would have. I put a little bit of my heart into every bouquet because as I'm making it, I'm thinking to myself. This is the last thing a bride will hold on to before becoming a wife. And as Mary Marantz would say, THAT MATTERS. There not just roses or peonies or dahlias, they are little parts of a girl who uses this business to celebrate how far she has come in life and gets to love on others because of what she went through. And that little girl inside from 20 years ago is beaming inside of her. My favorite part of a wedding day? Walking into a bridal suite with the most stunning of brides surrounded by her family and friends and I get to hand over her bouquet. Something that has been curated just for her and her story. They are not just flowers, and each wedding is not just another wedding to check off on my calendar. Each one is so meaningful to me.

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And now you know why. 

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Warmly,

Michelle 

CREATIVE AT HEART ROUND 3 RECAP

Well I'm back in Richmond from a whirlwind 5 days in Charleston, South Carolina! I loved every moment of my time down in the low country attending the Creative at Heart Conference and I have been so eager to share this recap post with you! 

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But let's back up a little bit shall we? I was first introduced to CAH on Instagram a little over a year ago and it looked like just the thing my little brand new business needed. I immediately registered and attended their very first conference last January in Staunton, Virginia. You can read my recap of that one here. There are not enough words to describe what Creative does for me personally and my business. I was honored to be able to do some florals for their round 2 conference in Roanoke, Virginia and it's safe to say Creative at Heart will always have a special place in my heart and the #1 thing I think of when thinking of what contributes to continuously growing my business. 

So when round 3 popped up and it was in Charleston with a few new and exciting speakers, I of course wanted in! Annmarie Swift flew into Richmond early on Friday and after breakfast at Cracker Barrel (her first time!) we were off to Charleston! Wheee! Friday night was spent at dinner with the Creative at Heart staff and volunteers and then ice cream at Jeni's...uhhmazing y'all. A must go when you're there. I also dropped my iPhone in the toilet Friday night...not my finest moment so I was without a phone there for a little while. SO annoying, but also quite freeing. Sometimes I wish my business didn't rely so much on access to my phone...but that's a topic for a whole other blog post. Thank goodness for rooming with Annmarie on Friday at a Hampton Inn to keep me entertained. Side note- Everytime I'm with Annmarie, I about pee my pants from laughter, the girl is hilarious and I'm so thankful for her.

 Saturday morning was spent doing a little exploring and getting a new phone. Also, the Apple Store on King St had the friendliest and most helpful associates who had me in and out with a new phone in hand in less than 30 minutes. A seriously wonderful experience! I then met up with the CAH girls for a yummy lunch on the water and proceeded to have the best pulled pork sandwich of my life! Gosh the South knows how to do food! We also did some exploring in downtown Charleston for the afternoon. I have been to Charleston before, but really got to take in the beauty of this little city. The simple architecture, the pastel buildings, and again THE FOOD. 

I checked into my room at the Francis Marion Hotel later in the day, which by the way has a Starbies in the lobby...genius and quite handy for my time there haha. My roommates arrived about an hour later and then the conference really kicked into high gear. I always love rooming with people I don't know during a conference. A huge part of attending is to meet new people to network with and being roomies with new girls is such a great way to do that. My roommates included a photographer named Heather, a wedding planner named Stephanie (who comes to Charleston quite often and knew all the best restaurants, so high fives for her!) and Kelsey, another planner from Virginia! I also got to spend quality time with Alyssa from Lovely and Bubbly events from Maryland. We have worked together a couple of times and it was so nice to get to know her a bit more. Love her! 

Sunday morning we awoke bright and early and after grabbing Starbies, we found our seats for day 1 of the conference. It was such an inspiring day listening to all the speakers including Bonnie, Molly, and Kat. That night we had dinner down the street at a restaurant called Rawbit and if I'm being honest we went here both Saturday and Sunday nights. It's seriously THAT GOOD! I had the best chicken and waffles of my life and delicious cocktails with new friends. One of my trip high lights for sure! After dinner on day 1 was the traditional CAH pajama party which gives you a chance to really talk to everyone and get to know them. Day 2 was spent listening to Annamarie, Krista, Mary, Shay, and Katelyn among others. My favorite was Shay. Shay spoke about finding your niche, why it's important, and how to do so. So eye opening for me and something I'm looking forward to really thinking about for One Sweet Day in May. 

Monday night was spent taking a hair styling class by the incredible Kate Bryan of The Small Things Blog. Y'all, this was such a exciting night. Annmarie Swift photographed Kate's classes for her and it was a little less nerve-wracking to have her there with me. Alyssa from Parris Chic Boutique also attended the class and afterwards Annmarie and I went out to dinner with Kate and  Alyssa! Gahh! Such an inspiring dinner! I have been following Kate for years and here she was sitting right across from me! WHAT. We talked business, blogging, husbands, and life and I didn't want it to end. I loved every second. Don't you love when the people you've followed for years are exactly who you thought they were in person. That's Kate and Alyssa. (and Annmarie of course!) The best night. 

So here I am back home and totally on a conference high with tangible tools and inspiring words to go with me into 2016. Thank you so much to Kat for bringing to life a conference for all creatives. And to Emily, Ashley, Laura, and Ally who worked tirelessly so everything unfolded seamlessly. Those girls worked their butts off guys. 

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If you are looking to invest in your business with a conference, please look into Creative at Heart! They have announced their 2016 tour and I couldn't be more of an advocate for what they are doing. It is inspiring beyond words to be surrounded by like minded women who can relate to everything you are going through. Being a creative small business owner is hard and lonely. Creative at Heart has given me my tribe and I am forever grateful. 

Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm catching up on a lot of work today...emails, design proposals, and December events. Later I'm off for a date night with Chris and so so looking forward to an upcoming weekend of no plans, Hooray! 

Love,

Michelle