10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015

You guys!!!  I had the most epically awesome time at Haven Conference this past weekend!!  I have so much juicy goodness to share with you, and more pictures than will fit in one blog post, so I thought it might be more efficient to make a list (y’all know I love my lists!) of 10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015.  Let’s do this!

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving Grace

1. Awesome roomies!!

Amy from One Artsy Mama & I were roomies again!  We were roomies two years ago at another blog conference, and had so much fun together that we did it again for Haven!  It was so great to have a buddy who we already knew so we could spend time together and be silly without worrying about anybody thinking we were weird or anything like that.  Because we are weird…but in the best way possible.

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceIf you need proof of our silly weirdness, you simply must take some time to watch the Periscope video we did Saturday night from our hotel bathroom (it was the best light in the room!).  We could totally take our show on the road!

2. There are no big fish, only a big pond.

Haven was full of amazing DIY bloggers from all over the country, and quite a few of them were bloggers who inspired me to start blogging more than five years ago!  While it might be a little intimidating to meet someone who is “bigger” than you in terms of followers or whatever, bloggers are just super sweet people in general.

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceI got to hug Erin from Sunny Side Up, y’all!  I have been following her blog for more than 7 years!!!!  She is one of the main reasons why I started blogging in the first place, so imagine my surprise when she came strolling into my session on Saturday morning.  AAAHHH!!!  I kind of freaked out a little – and I didn’t hesitate to tell her so!  She inspired me, yet here she sat, in my room, learning from me!  Crazy sauce.

Some of the other fabulous bloggers I finally got to meet in person:

– Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl (super duper sweet, and she bought me a cookie, so we’re totally BFFs now)
– Chelsea from Making Home Base (all preggos and cute!)
– Abby from Just a Girl And Her Blog (she joined Amy from One Artsy Mama for a ride in my Jeep from the airport)
– April from House by Hoff (and she’s even cuter in person than on her blog if that’s even possible)

And tons of others.  It was amazing!!

3. SWAG-a-licious-ness

And yes, that’s a word.

Y’all, we got so much free stuff!  We picked up a HUGE bag of goodies from all the sponsors when we arrived Thursday to check in.  Then Friday we received yet another HUGE bag of goodies, this time from Home Depot.  And, as we walked around to each vendor booth, some of them gave us even more free stuff!

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceMy fave goodies:

– My Ryobi work light that we were given during the Ryobi make-and-take class
– My Chatbooks Instagram photo book
– My selfie stick from Moen – even though Marley totally stole it already
– An Amy Howard paint brush & 4 samples of chalk paint

4. New skillz y’all

Because Haven is a conference geared towards DIY bloggers, there were plenty of opportunities for hands-on make-and-takes.  Amy and I both participated in a Ryobi make-and-take in which we got to play with their Airstrike nail gun & staple gun, and a brand spankin’ new handheld sander that’s not even on the market yet!  We built K-cup dispensers and I officially want all the things.

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceAmy and I are kind of bad*ss now.

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving Grace

5. Brand connections

One of the cool things about blog conferences like Haven is the chance to speak directly to brand representatives.  I was able to connect with the people who actually work directly with bloggers from brands like Ryobi, Kirkland’s, Yogabed, DecoArt, Moen, Kreg, Home Depot, Behr, Everything But The House, and dozens more.

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceI took advantage of some of the times when most other bloggers were in sessions and spent my time talking to brands instead.  I was able to let my personality show, pitch my ideas, and get to know them a little bit better.  It made me more memorable to them and they were able to focus on my ideas, rather than try to greet 50 bloggers at one time.

I’m excited about the partnerships that began at Haven and I know I’ll have some amazing things to show you in the coming months!

6. Overcoming fear

Haven was the very first time in my entire life that I have stood in front of a group to teach anything, and it was epic!  I led two sessions on the subject of email marketing for bloggers – both Friday and Saturday morning.  The first session went well, but I was crazy nervous and realized I talked too fast, stumbled through some of my notes, and felt my hands shaking almost the entire time.

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceI’m not sure if people were just being nice or if they genuinely couldn’t notice, but I noticed.  I was thankful to have another opportunity to do it again the next day.  Saturday’s session was truly awesome – I was so comfortable, even though the number of people attending more than doubled from Day 1.  I showed my personality and had people laughing, I didn’t talk too fast at all, and it was just like “buttah”.  Smooth all the way through.

I received excellent feedback from those in attendance, and have made some really amazing business connections.  It’s amazing what happens when we step outside of our comfort zones and overcome our fears!

7. Pictures really do speak 1000 words.

I have no idea how many silly pictures Amy & I took during our three days at Haven Conference.  I look back in my phone at all of them and it makes my heart so happy!  The brands loved us because we weren’t afraid to get silly and embarrass ourselves, and we had an absolute blast acting like idiots!

Wanna sample?  Of course you do:

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving Grace

8. Aim for comfort first, style second.

Ok, this is funny in hindsight:  I planned my outfits and needed a pair of black pants.  I already had a pair of white pants that I love dearly from Old Navy, so I stopped in on Wednesday to pick up the exact same pants in black.  I knew they’d be perfect – I already owned the exact pants in another color.  I grabbed the same pant style in the same size.  I didn’t wear them until Saturday, and guess what?  They were WAY too tight – and I had to stand in front of about 100 bloggers and speak for an hour and half with a safety pin holding my pants together at the waist.  (Should have stuck with the jeans…)

Blog Conference Fashion with JORD watches | Sweet Tea & Saving GraceYep.  It happened.  In the future, I will make extra sure that I try on everything, even stuff I already own, and make sure it’s first comfortable, then stylish.

Also, the shoes I bought last week to wear all weekend?  Yea, they hurt like hell.  I only wore them to speak then changed into flats.

Hey, at least I looked good, right?

9. Mini fridges save lives.

That might be just a bit overly dramatic, but still.  I’m addicted to sweet tea, as you probably know by now.  I picked up a gallon of Chick-fil-a sweet tea on my way to the airport Thursday, and drank it all weekend.  I don’t drink coffee, but instead drink a huge glass of sweet tea every morning.

It went with me to each of my sessions and was a great visual aide when discussing the importance of brand consistency.

Also, mini fridges are necessary when you have dinner at The Cheesecake Factory and bring 3 slices back to your room.  THREE.  Amy & I munched on them while watching Bridesmaids Thursday night, then again while watching Anchorman Saturday night.

10 Takeaways from Haven Conference 2015  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceMake sure your room has a mini fridge for life-saving things such as gallons of sweet tea & three slices of cheesecake.  Learn from your elders children.  This is important stuff.

10. Don’t take yourself (or anyone else) too seriously.

Haven Conference was a nice reminder that, behind the styled blog photos and staged head shots, we’re all real people.  We like to have fun and be silly, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask dozens of questions and pick each other’s brains, and messes are meant to be made.

True story:  Before I started speaking for my Saturday session, I opened up the Lightsaber app on my iPhone and demonstrated how to use it.  I’m not kidding.  And there may or may not have been multiple bloggers asking me afterwards to show them which app it was so they could download it, too.

Bloggers – we’re a crazy bunch.

Thank you to the cool people who put the Haven Conference together and allowed this crazy sweet-tea-drinkin’, “y’all”-sayin’, loud mouth blogger to speak in sessions!  Thank you to the amazing sponsors for the SWAG and for being blogger-friendly.  And to my sweet Awesome Twin, Amy, I love you to pieces, even if you are a butthole.  And 4. Because it just feels right.  😉

Did you attend Haven?  I want to hear your takeaways so leave a comment below!

MEET KIRSTEN

I'm Kirsten & I'm happy you're here! Sweet Tea & Saving Grace provides a space for women to enjoy encouragement and practical tips for living a more intentional and fulfilling life through Bible study, efficient use of time and space in their home, and finding joy in the simple things in life. Enjoy your time here & be blessed!
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