I was SOOOOO excited to go to the Haven conference this year!! My mom bought me a ticket as an early birthday present and she went with me. I have so much to tell you, I think the easiest way will be to break it down by day.
We flew into Atlanta around lunch time. (There were even four other Pennsylvania bloggers who were going to Haven on the same flight!) At the airport mom and I were looking for a cab and a nice man in a suit asked if we needed help. We told him we needed a taxi and it turned out that he was a limo driver waiting on a passenger whose flight had been delayed. He offered to drive us to the hotel in his stretch town car for the same price as a taxi ride. The trip was off to a good start!
Thursday night was registration. We were given our swag bags and then there was a cocktail party. It was so cool to meet people in person who I had been following for years! I talked to Mandi from Vintage Revivals and Miss Mustard Seed herself for a little while. Mandi really liked my Stitch Fix dress and Marian signed my book. They were both super nice and Marian even suggested we go shopping when she found out how close we live to each other.
Mom and I grabbed dinner at the hotel restaurant and then it was bedtime.
Friday there was a welcome and key note speech by Ana White. This was THE main reason I wanted to go to Haven. I have been following Ana for her entire career. I think I was one of her first 1,000 followers. She has been such an inspiration and empowering force in my life. She showed me that girls can use power tools and taught me how to build my own furniture! That’s pretty awesome. Can you tell I was excited that morning?
I went to a prayer meeting in the morning with some of the other bloggers and we were a little late for the opening. Ana spoke about focusing on your content and believing in yourself. She suggested ignoring SEO because if your stuff is the best people will find it, regardless of how many hash tags you use or linky parties you join. She spoke about her journey from being a young working mom waitressing with her baby on her back to where she is now, with millions of followers all over the world. So many people wanted to see her speak that it was standing room only.
After Ana’s keynote, we went to our first class. I chose Let’s Case This Joint with Sandra from Sawdust Girl, Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl, and Traci from Beneath My Heart. It was so fun! It was very hands-on and they taught us how to use a miter saw and we worked together to install door casing, floorboards, a farmhouse paneling treatment, and crown molding. Brittany and Sandra did most of the instruction and they were so patient and encouraging! We even made templates for each kind of angle you may need to cut for crown molding. It was the first time I ever understood it. Using the templates was MUCH easier than the upside-down and backwards way I have helped Eddie do before.
We took a break for lunch, then I went right back to the same room and did another hands-on workshop with the representatives from Kreg and Ryobi. They showed us how to use the Kreg Jig and the Ryobi tools and answered all of our questions. I appreciated that I never felt like they were talking down to me.
In the meantime, my mom was sitting in other sessions about building relationships with brands and getting published in magazines. She is not a blogger or a DIYer, but I was glad to have her there because there were a lot of times I wished I could be two places at once. I was happy we could split up and she was taking great notes for me.
The last session I did was advanced advertising with Rhoda from Southern Hospitality, Becky from Infarrantyly Creative, and Cassity from Remodelaholic. I have been following Becky and Cassity for years. They have each featured projects for me before, but this was the first time I ever met them in person and I was blown away by how SMART and business-savvy those ladies are. They shared in detail about ways to earn money from your blog and the different ways that work for each of them.
Friday night there was a cocktail hour at the hotel, followed by a dinner and dance party across the street.
We were fed very well all weekend. We didn’t stay super long, but I heard it got WILD later in the evening!
I had a hard time sleeping that night, so I tried to use my extra awake time wisely. Ana White had been very hard to find in the sea of people and I was determined to meet her no matter what since we may never be in the same place ever again. I tweeted poor Ana in the middle of the night and I also sent her a Facebook message that I really wanted to meet her before we left. She may or may not now think that I am a creepy stalker, but I did get to meet her first thing in the morning and I got my copy of her book signed!
I went to the photography with Kristen Duke session in the morning. I was super excited to meet Kristen as well. I love her work and it was amazing to be able to get practical tips from her. I also went to the Social Media session that afternoon.
My final session was with Whitney and Ashley, the sisters behind Shanty 2 Chic. They built a behind-the-door spice rack and managed to get it done during the class while being hilarious and answering our questions. These girls need their own tv show. They are super talented, not to mention gorgeous, and they are two of the sweetest people you will ever meet. Would you believe that between the two of them they have eight kids?!
The closing and wrap-up got everyone emotional. There was a video of several bloggers who got to work with GMC and Habitat for Humanity last year to decorate a home as a surprise for a deserving family, then a very moving speech about using our social media influence to “do good on a grand scale.” I already have a project in mind. Stay tuned.
Friday night my mom took me to dinner at Ruth’s Chris, which was across the street from our hotel.
As soon as we got back from dinner I crashed. We had a lot of fun, but it was exhausting!
Sunday was a full day of travel. We headed to the airport (and learned we were on the same flight as Doreen, again!) in the morning and our flight left around noon. We had several bags full of swag to check. The Haven sponsors were VERY generous! We flew into Baltimore, stopped for lunch, and then I got in the car and drove back to Pennsylvania. I didn’t get home until just before dinner.
I had an amazing time! Even if you are not a blogger, Haven was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it!
Ryobi tweeted me that I won $300 worth of their tools through a contest they were having at Haven. How awesome is that??!!! I can’t wait to use them on some projects for the new house!