A few weeks back, we were planning our family vacation and the conversation went something like this:
Me: “If we go to Colorado on August 1st, the airfare is less expensive and the flight schedule is fantastic.”
Simon: “Ok. Are you sure you want to go somewhere again so close to Stationery Academy?”
Me (naive & happy to jetset): “OF COURSE!”
Shoot me now, People of the Internet. I’m home from Stationery Academy and I am exhausted. But it’s a happy exhausted. Kind of like that euphoric moment after you’ve had a baby and you’re all, “Look at what we made!”
So what happened at this year’s Stationery Academy? In short, how to figure out your brand and how to run your business. Oh, and a fantastic setting – did I mention it was at the beach? Twenty-two creative women met together to engage with one another over the love of being entrepreneurs. It was such a fun mishmash of personalities and people. I feel like I left with 22 new besties, not to mention the wealth (overload?) of information and new sources. Needless to say, new product ideas are whirring in my head like bees around a hive.
Listening to Natalie & Whitney over the course of the weekend made me think also that I wish I’d had all the info we talked about seven years ago when I was getting started. It was an intensive branding workshop for the first day – almost like a total therapy session. There might not have been blood – but there was definitely sweat and tears. Let’s face it – it’s HARD to figure out our identities sometimes. But it’s so important to figure that out. What’s my identity – what’s my brand? What’s the reason behind my brand? Why do I do what I do? I’m going to talk a little bit more this week about the whys of my business. I think you’ll really enjoy the insight onto it.
My part of the Stationery Academy was chatting with our group about running a successful Etsy shop as well as managing social media. The social media talk wasn’t terribly different from the roundtable discussion I moderated for EngageOKC a few months back. The difference was that I tailored it more for the creative entrepreneur, as well as discussing how-tos on blogging. The overarching theme of what we talked about this weekend is creating a support system for yourself as a creative, but also learning how to connect and engage with your customer/readership.
Let me tell you – I have never seen such crazy awesome branded swag in my life. Our sponsors were astonishingly generous. Um, Lilly Pulitzer frames & tote bags? Sure! Monogrammed trays & water bottles? Of course! Buckets full of snacks & Stationery Academy-branded goods? I could go on and on!
And of course, I even got in a tiny bit of downtime on the beach Sunday morning before I flew out. It was the perfect way to wrap it all up, bobbing in the ocean with my hair floating around me, tiny silver fish darting along the bottom of the gulf floor. I feel restored. You know, restored to go home, do 18,234 loads of laundry, repack and hit the road again.
Big huge thanks to Whitney English Kolb and Natalie Chang for having me as a speaker. As we sat in the Stationery Academy Graduation Dinner on Saturday night, I thought to myself how never in a million years would I have expected to be in a place like this, having the opportunity to share with other creative women. I remember how lonely and unsure I was as a freelancer, and especially as a new mom, wondering how/when/where my career was going to go anywhere. I needed community and support. I needed help. Part of my passion for encouraging other creatives in their business stems from those early years when I felt so lonely and isolated, especially after leaving the creative community of college art school. So again, thank you, Whitney & Natalie! I relished every last moment of the entire experience!