I’m fresh off the island where Lisa Jacobs hosted her first annual retreat for creatives, dubbed the Movers & Makers Summit. Not only did I get a chance to look at Carte Blanche in a fresh light, I met amazing women–women who had won the Project Runway of knitting… women who create beautiful art… women who are so talented, they are getting noticed by big box stores. While still riding the high of the weekend, I thought I’d give a review of the retreat for those of you who are considering signing up in future years. Or, maybe you decided not to come and you’re wondering what you missed. Here was our itinerary, designed by Bonnie Christine:
As my Uber dropped me off at the Comfort Suites where everyone else was staying, I kind of limped in like a sad dog. After all, I had missed all the networking + social opportunities to engage with the group the night before. My energy immediately picked up when I started talking with the girls in the group. And one of them was pregnant, so of course I was excited to talk with her. An articulate, attractive guy rounded us up a few minutes before 9, and I couldn’t believe how well-organized this thing already was. I’ve never had a cab driver who was so professional and caring! (Cab guy turned out to be April’s husband, an attorney! They find me everywhere…) April’s husband, Chris, pulled up to the huge house and we all ran in like a bunch of brides at a sample sale. The place was beautiful, it looked like it belonged in a Diane Keaton movie with all the dramatic white elements and the waves right outside. Maxie, Bonnie Christine’s mom, had set up a breakfast arrangement that was nothing short of first class. It took everything I had to maintain my composure– I struggled not to writhe around on the floor after finally living my dream of living in a Pottery Barn ad. Outrageous behavioral urges aside, I’m going to cover what each presenter talked about, what I took away from them, and how I’m making their words actionable in my life now or in the near future.
Lisa kicked off the morning with a speech that kicked-ass, took names and got my butt into high gear. The theme of her speech was “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” From my notes, three highlights of her speech were as follows:
• 95% of entrepreneurs fail to accomplish what they want to do, and that 95% won’t even look at what needs to change in their life.
• When you reach a goal, don’t forget to set new ones.
• Put workday task complaints on paper so they are actionable.
Lisa’s talk covered everything from the stages of entrepreneurial development (novice, amateur and professional) and talked about why people get stuck in certain stages, and more importantly, how to rise above the pitfalls of development to pro and stay there.
What I’m Implementing at Carte Blanche as a Result of Lisa’s Talk:
This year, I’ll be publishing my first book as a result of Lisa’s question “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?” The book is about helping yoga instructors after they achieve certification. I’ll cover the ins-and-outs of marketing yourself, developing your brand and selling your service. I’m in development with a graphic artist who is designing the cover, and the book will be available for pre-sale as soon as the cover is nailed down.
Bonnie Christine: There’s Room for You
Bonnie is the 21st century version of Martha Stewart. Actually, that’s not even fair. She’s better than Martha Stewart. She is everything I aspire to be- a do-it-all-yourselfer-mom with an eye for incredible beauty. Officially, she is a surface pattern designer (you know those beautiful backgrounds on computers, bags, shower curtains and wallpaper?… it’s that.) She also runs Going Home to Roost, a blog that makes me a better, happier person and contains so much cute you just might cry. Bonnie opened up about how she got started working for herself, gave us some quick design tips and finished us off with a bit of excellent business advice. So what did we learn? Here’s the big three:
• Bonnie spent 6 months creating 100+ patterns before she had a collection that she was proud of, and felt represented her style.
•Story, story, story! Stories are so important when you’re building your business. Whether it’s meta-storytelling (think your ‘About’ page) or micro-stories, like the ones Bonnie creates for each of her fabric collections. For example, her “Hello, Bear” fabric collection, named after her son Bear, has an adorable story to tell the tale of the fabrics she created for little boy’s clothing.
• Do it every day. Do one thing that grows your business every single day. For Bonnie, in the early days, it meant taking an Illustrator class every single day as she learned her craft. Even though she wasn’t selling anything yet, she was still doing something every day that got her to where she is today.
What I’m Implementing at Carte Blanche as a Result of Bonnie’s Talk:
Really, it’s a lifestyle shift. Bonnie doesn’t know it, but she gave me permission to have beautiful things in my life just for the sake of having beautiful things. This means I put my food in a bowl before I eat it in order to appreciate the way I’m about to nourish my body. It means I take time and care and put it into whatever I’m doing. Instead of having 20+ windows open on my computer while texting and listening to music, I open a new window and clear the work space around me. I stop surfing the internet to text a friend back.
Before I met Bonnie, I didn’t know so much was possible from one person. I mean, she made her own Christmas wrapping paper and gift tags. She makes her son things just for the fun of it. She has plants around her workspace and it doesn’t look like a jungle. Her level of functioning elevates me and motivates me to craft, to learn and to play, all activities I am neglecting now because I thought those were things ‘other’ people did, people with more time on their hands.
Kerry Burki: Self-Care for Creatives
Kerry is a fellow yoga teacher who also runs the blog Handmade Success, a blog dedicated to supporting creatives in everything from business problems to self-care. In fact, the latter is what she taught us our first day in Charleston in between four conscious business design exercises. Here’s my top three from Kerry:
• It’s okay to give yourself a back rub in the middle of the day. In fact, it’s encouraged.
• Finding the tasks that you enjoy in your business are just as important as finding the tasks you dislike about running your business. Regardless of your feelings towards a task, make a task work for you.
• Break goals down, then break them down some more, then some more, then more and more and more. Then complete those itsy bitsy goals, because they’ll get you back to that big goal.
What I’m Implementing at Carte Blanche as a Result of Kerry’s Talk:
Kerry had some really cute printables she passed out to everyone and went through with us in between bouts of self-love and massage. Not only will I be putting the (very personal) information I wrote down on the printables to good use, I will also be more conscious of the way I am treating myself and my business throughout each day.
April Bowles-Olin: Creating Your Own Success
What’s stronger than espresso? April, of Blacksburg Belle. It’s clear to see why this girl is an internet celeb. Sure she’s got personality, presence and charisma, but what really stood out to me during April’s talk is her incredible knack for business. She’s put her foot down in ways that I didn’t think you could when you’re the little guy just starting out. April’s talk was not about boundaries, but more than anything else, this is what I got from it. Why? Read on:
• April has set an incredible standard for her business to deliver to her clients and refuses to budge. She shared the story of teaching her first Creative Live course. When she arrived in California, the manuals she created for the course had been printed in black and white. She had spent time and consideration crafting the manuals in color, and wanted her students to experience them in color because that’s what they expected from her. At this early stage in a budding career and coming to a big venue, I don’t know that I would have had the courage to do what she did because I would be so glassy-eyed at the opportunity to teach on such a large platform. But the manuals were re-printed and all went well. As April told this story, I had a lightbulb moment… “I can do this to! I want to set boundaries like this!” So that’s what I’m doing.
• Which leads me into the second thing I learned from April. I’m not even sure she talked about this explicitly, but it was very clear from her talk that you don’t get anything without asking for it. April clearly has some guts and a killer dose of confidence. She pitched and had published 18 guest blog posts in one month. She’s launched course after course with great success. You don’t get ahead without asking others for help, asking others to believe in you, asking others to trust in you when you sell them a product.
• Saying yes means saying no. These are April’s exact words during her talk. My whole life, I’ve perpetually over committed myself to say yes (ahem…boundaries again!) and by doing so, I’ve spent a lot of time being resentful as I poured over a job I wasn’t interested in, relationships that weren’t helping me reach my highest potential and tasks that were better left for others. When you say yes to taking on anything- a task, a job, a volunteer opportunity, a business event- you are saying no to lots of other things you could be doing during that time period.
What I’m Implementing at Carte Blanche as a Result of April’s Talk:
I’m developing boundaries. Boundaries for myself, for others, and my business. I won’t settle for anything that doesn’t bring my clients what I want them to have, and I won’t sacrifice my time on things that don’t propel the business or myself forward in a positive direction.
Paige French: Photography for Your Small Business
From the moment you see Paige it is clear she is an artist. Her photography is indeed sold as art as of a few months ago. She has an ethereal look, right down to her hair and clothing. Paige gave us the last talk of the weekend, graciously delving out tips and tricks of photography. Here’s the big three:
• To take good photography, you must become familiar with the ‘exposure triangle.’
• Find your own style. This may mean abstaining from Instagram and Pinterest for awhile.
• It’s never too late or too hard to start doing your own thing. A mere six years ago, Paige started shooting professionally. She is self-taught and came to the career accidentally. Prior to becoming a photographer, Paige designed and created clothing sold on Etsy. She needed to take great photos of the clothing in order to sell it. So, she picked up a camera and started to learn. A necessity became a passion and a passion became her career. If you enjoy doing something, just start doing it! Paige wasn’t taking pictures professionally or even full-time when she started. She didn’t go to any classes, get any certifications and didn’t wait for others to tell her how great her work was. She got in there, got dirty and developed a style that helps her shoot for top retailers and publications today.
What I’m Implementing at Carte Blanche as a Result of Paige’s Talk:
Actually, I’ll be implementing two things: (1) I loved Paige’s camera. I would love to learn how to shoot on a camera like that and take really cute photos for this blog and beyond. I’ll be taking more photos and posting them everywhere- here, instagram, everywhere. (2) I’ll consider hiring a stylist for future professional photo shoots.
Words on a blog cannot convey the energy and enthusiasm an event like this brings into your life. If you are on the fence about going to one of Lisa’s events, her Luminaries club or anything else she does, this is my testimonial that she has an eye for what works. Even though this was Year 1 for her M&M Summit, everything was pulled off without a hitch- I never would have known Lisa’s never done anything like this before. I wish her and all the ladies attending and teaching at the summit great success because everyone there deserves it. If you have any questions or comments about what transpired at the M&M Summit, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.…Read More