Our 2016 Creative Founders Conference just ended, and we loved every minute of it!

 

We’ve put together a two part blog post for you to learn more about the experience.  Below is Part 1.  To see Part 2, go here!

2016 Creative Founders Conference Pensacola

 

Every time we put together a conference, it is always very exciting. There are so many preparations that it always feels like there is a shortage of time with a lot of stress and preparation happening up to the last minute we open the meeting room doors to our attendees. Our single goal is to take care of people, so when they are with us to learn about how to run their creative business better, they don’t need to think about a thing and all they need to do is absorb the information and develop close relationships with each other. This year, it was no different, and like every time before it, all that work is so worth it. There is nothing like seeing people get an a-ha moment and bring their businesses to the next level.

“Every second of the Conference was planned and executed perfectly. As a result, everyone there got to completely *live* design and creativity. As a creative founder, sometimes life just gets in the way of design. But at the Creative Founders Conference, there were no roadblocks to just letting your creativity seep out of every pore. No laundry, no chores, no dirty dishes to wash – just fellowship, education, and support. And the best part was being surrounded by 25 other women entrepreneurs who felt the exact same way.” Amy Braswell, PaperFinch Design

Our conference this year (our ninth session!) was held in Pensacola, Florida from March 6-9th at the Lee House, an historic inn on the bay. It’s the perfect size, with 9 suites, and an open lobby that has cozy chairs and many places to allow our attendees to bond and really get to know each other.
“No stone was left unturned, and no detail was left unconsidered. I have never been in such a thoughtful, caring community. I also loved the feel of the inn and the opportunity to commune in such a cozy space. The setting of the Lee House was absolutely perfect.” Alex Estes, Prairie Letter Shop

 

2016 Creative Founders Conference in Pensacola

 

“Aside from the learning experience, the physical experience of rooming at The Lee House was monumental. I’m a homebody, so to be in an environment that feels like a home and not a hotel made the biggest difference in my overall mood. There was a kitchen, not a vending machine. I had a porch off my room. We had control over the air-conditioning thermostat. Those things may not seem worthy, but it really downplayed any anxiety I may have had about being away.” Hope Johnson, The little Blue Chair
On the first day, there is always a lot of nervousness from our attendees. They are nervous about meeting new people and wondering if the time and expense was worth it. All that anxiousness is erased very quickly, as many find that they are in a place with other people who ‘get it’ and what being a create business owner is like, that they get the time to work on their businesses rather than in it, and they realize that they will leave with a better understanding of their business and plans to take it where they want it to be.

 

2016 Creative Founders Conference in Pensacola

 

This year, Cara McGrady of One Swell Studio opened up our sessions and presented the topic about “Your Core”. Our attendees were able to dig deep and define their core values and realize their biggest fears. Knowing their core values in business helps them to provide balance and stability and helps to guide their business decisions. It’s also important to do the core work because it is the why behind doing what they do and sets the foundation for their business. Once those were written down, they were able to move on and write down some actionable goals. Good stuff!
“I looked into many different conferences and the reason this one stood out for me was because it wasn’t a random assortment of topics but a perfect outline covering every important aspect of your business. I loved the idea that we were going to go through and make a plan while we were AT the conference and we did! I didn’t want to come home with a huge to-do list to figure out on my own and I didn’t.” Lisa Funk, Hand Lettered Design

 

2016 Creative Founders Conference in Pensacola

 

After the “Your Core” session, our Founder Jennifer Faught, presented on “Your Client”. In this session, our attendees are asked to dig deep again to really define their client, from what clothes they wear to what kinds of touchpoints they have with them, and how it can be optimized for the best possible experience. Understanding what to do about “multiple ideal client” scenarios and learning how to talk to each of your target audiences lays the groundwork for marketing your products.
“I will look back on in thirty years and say, “That was one of my favorite times.” Being surrounded by women who understand me, and support me, and encourage me isn’t something that happens here on a daily basis.  Taking a few days to reinvest in myself and my business was invaluable. I can’t express that enough. My husband and my kids were perfectly fine while I was in Florida. It’s important to me that they see me doing and trying and dreaming. I’m a mom & a wife– absolutely. But I’m so much more than that too. This conference (this session specifically) helped me reconnect with that notion.” Cara McGrady, One Swell Studio (conference speaker)

 

2016 Creative Founders Conference in Pensacola

 

That first night we had a cocktail reception and dinner with so many lovely hand-lettered details sponsored by Creative Founders conference alum, Maghon Taylor of All She Wrote Notes. It was held in the courtyard of the Lee House and the cafe lights strung above the courtyard, the great food, and the wonderful discussions made for a magical night. The night was extended as many got comfortable in their PJ’s and had porch chats with our speakers and other attendees. This extra time together is so important because it is where friendships and collaborations are born.
“The women that attended and spoke have forever changed my heart and life for the better. My family can tell a difference in my demeanor and passion for what I do since returning. everything was thoughtfully carried out, attended to and prayed over and that is evident in each detail. My story is now my platform and reason why I do what I do. Creative Founders is to thank for any success I continue to have and I will be forever grateful!” Emily Witcher, Ruff Draft Papers

 

2016 Creative Founders Conference in Pensacola

 

The next day, we started with Valerie McKeehan, of Lily and Val, presenting our “Your Brand” session. This session goes in depth, helping our attendees to define their business brand, what it is and isn’t and helping to develop and uncover their authentic style. Val is a great person to present this as she has a very distinct brand and unique style and was able to help our attendees define theirs. Building an authentic brand and knowing it’s style (and keeping to it) helps to build trust and credibility as well as differentiates one business from the next. And as in every module, goals are set and plans are made to achieve those goals.
“I was blown away with how much I learned in that short amount of time, not only for my business but also for myself. I was encouraged to “dig deep” which has always been difficult. I walked away with so many connections to new vendors, and the knowledge to know how to use them to my advantage. I’ve learned more about my own self and how I can apply those discoveries to my own creative business.” Cairre Wiley, Elle Design Studio

 

2016 Creative Founders Conference in Pensacola

 

Day two also included breakout sessions with our speakers which included Developing Work/Life Balance with Cathy Olson, Surprise and Delight: Implementing Meaningful Touch Points with your Clients & Customers with Cara McGrady, Social Media Mastery with Olivia Omega, and Wholesale 101 & Creating Cohesive Collections with Jennifer Faught.
The afternoon ended with a straightforward talk in the Your Money session where Cathy Olson lead us through a keynote about mindset and money blocks and an invaluable spreadsheet that Jennifer created to help you understand your business (without any math!) in a way that you can understand without a CPA.
“What I loved about the Creative Founders Conference is that it really puts everything into perspective. I came with an idea for my business that I honestly thought was so far fetched and an impossible feat. After 3 days of talking with all the girls and the speakers and having one on ones, getting resources, and mapping out a plan, it made me realize that my idea and dream is not so unattainable and crazy after all. I walked away with a notepad full of new ideas and new resources that I had never heard about before. It amazed me how eager these girls (who had never met me before this conference) were to help and lend out all the information and resources they had. It really is such an incredibly amazing community to be a part of!” Vanessa Herbert, V Calligraphy

 

2016 Creative Founders Conference in Pensacola

 

At this point of the conference we’ve flown through so much information that we’re all ready for some relaxation and dinner. As our founder, Jennifer Faught, says, “It’s like drinking from a fire hose!”. After a yummy local dinner off-site and a good night’s sleep, we’re all ready to start day 3. We’ll recap the rest of day 2 and begin day 3 next, which is when we round out the conference with marketing and goal setting sessions and breakouts, our lovely graduation dinner and one-on-one coaching sessions.

 

If you think this conference is right for you, learn more about it here to sign up to be notified when tickets are available and to receive some free resources in your inbox.

All photos by Florida and destination photographer, Ashley Victoria Photography