Written by Carly Vanta
Photographed by Angie L. Photography
Recently I decided to try something new to help me navigate this unique blogging world. What some of you might not know is that I didn’t intentionally quit my “day job” to start a blog. The only way I can describe it is that blogging found me. With the amount of travel I had done last year, and the endless list of things still to try, I wanted a place to showcase my pictures, writing and adventures without bogging down social media with my posts. A friend from my news producing days has been successful blogging in Houston and offered me some tips at the beginning, but outside of that, I’ve felt pretty alone. I’ve struggled to determine if this is my (time consuming) hobby or my career path? I know what I WANT. And that’s to do this full time. I’m so passionate about it and thoroughly intrigued by the amazing women who have found their place in this world. One of those women is Deborah Stachelski of Austin. She’s a travel and design writer, specializing in luxury hotels, for the Huffington Post and the founder and editor of Society Letters. Basically my dream job! I discovered her through an Instagram hashtag and started following her. She posted about The Creative Counsel Conference, being held at the beautiful Barr Mansion in Austin, and it sounded so fun! Even if I walked away with one new tool it would be worth it for me. So I signed up and counted down the days.
Sarah, the witty founder of Chalk Full of Love, was the hostest with the mostest and organized the day full of workshops and speakers. This was the first year for the conference. Those in attendance were a mixed group of bloggers, letterers, Etsy shop owners, photographers and dreamers. Sarah’s goal was to help each and every one of us grow our business. It was a great group of girls to network with and I was in awe of their unique talents!
We began the day with a delicious breakfast and mingling. It was almost all too pretty to eat! The deviled eggs were just about the most delicious I’ve ever had in my life!
After breakfast it was time to start our intense day. What better way to clear our minds than to learn how to make pretty floral centerpieces? Meredith from Bristol Lane, a floral design studio based in Austin, led the workshop. I was intimidated at first but this was one of my favorite parts of the day! I realized quickly how relaxing and easy it was to make these mini centerpieces. Anyone can do it from home with a pot, soaked sponge, floral scissors, greenery and 2-3 different kinds of flowers. I’ll definitely be making them for my house and my Instagram feed! Ladies in San Antonio, Meredith mentioned that she’d like to get into the San Antonio market. I would HIGHLY recommend hiring her for weddings or events. She does really beautiful work that has been featured on Martha Stewart Weddings and Southern Weddings to name a few! It was fun to see how different each girl’s arrangement looked when we were done.
Next, we moved inside to the Barr Mansion Ballroom. Can I just say WOW! If I had known about this place back in 2007, my wedding definitely would have been here. To make it even more stunning, we each had our own personalized set-up and swag including a Chalk Full of Love mug, Lily & Val Cocktail Calendar, Sable & Gray art print, May Designs notebook & marble hand lettered nameplate and Parris Chic Boutique tote bag.
I’m a big fan of the next speaker, Stephanie from Olive & Tate. Right off the bat she was warm, engaging, funny and made me feel welcomed. She’s a successful blogger who came all the way from South Carolina to give us her Instagram secrets and tips! I’m not going to give away the goods, but I will say I’ve already used so much of her advice. Being a fellow lifestyle blogger, I could really relate to her, and she went out of her way to guide me. I hope we keep in touch in the future, and I will for sure be following her antics! Click here to read about her recent one room challenge which is a jaw dropper!
It was already time for lunch and what a feast it was! Barr Mansion prides itself on their on-site kitchen producing ‘farm to table’ menus. This venue pursues the full life food cycle from growing the food, producing the food, serving the food and returning the leftover food into compost and back to the soil. We had turkey and carrots, amongst other items, that were absolutely delicious! My mouth is watering just thinking about that lunch.
Once we were full we jumped right back into it, with a lesson on DLSR Photography Basics from Angie, with Angie L. Photography. All of the pictures provided in this blog post were shot by Angie, who is so good at what she does! Look at how cute she is!
So far in my 5 months of blogging I’ve either used my iPhone camera and edited each and every picture on my own, or a photographer has shot images for me. What I’ve realized is, I HAVE to get comfortable with a big girl camera, and start using it instead of the phone. There is just such a difference in the quality of photos. Angie was a really good teacher for a beginner. She gave just enough information that I know which camera and lens to buy, and how to use the basic functions. I can’t wait to learn more as I’ve always had a passion for photos and the memories that come along with them.
Here are some head shots that Angie graciously shot for us to use!
Next came the very important topic of Basic Business Finances. We heard again from Meredith with Bristol Lane, on how to set a budget, create a sales goal, and give ourselves a paycheck!
Another exciting part of the day was learning Modern Calligraphy with Samantha from the wedding stationery boutique Wondrous Whimsy.
I remember my mom enrolling me in a calligraphy class as a child, and I’ve always appreciated the art, but this was still really new for me! Samantha has created her own letters and we used them as a guide. She came around and taught us where and how to apply pressure which made a big difference in appearance. We were each given all of the tools and ink to keep, so I’m sure I’ll be practicing at home! Samantha also gave a lesson in Illustrator on how to digitize your calligraphy, which was a first for me. A lot of the girls at the conference seemed to be pros in lettering and calligraphy. In conjunction with this lesson, Sarah with Chalk Full of Love, gave a presentation on Photoshop. She showed us how to make graphics to use for our websites.
It was time to stretch our legs and get some fresh air! We headed outside to hear from Deb, of Society Letters, about creating a business that transcends the trends. I was most looking forward to this! Deborah is very real and relatable. She touched on many subjects including staying true to yourself, finding your why and day to day practices to build a real life business. It was also refreshing to hear that she went down many career avenues before she got where she is today. She tried, she failed and she moved on. I can relate so much to that!
We moved back inside to set up our future action plans with Alexandra from Heart Love Always, in a section called #GoalSetPlanDo. Alexandra, a blogger and small business owner from New England, was a very inspiring speaker who taught us the smart approach to goal setting. This helped me a lot as I’ve always been a planner and organizer. However, she introduced new tools that I have definitely started to implement, both in my personal and professional life. I also liked her motto that there is nothing magical about January 1st! Today is a great day to start setting goals for yourself.
Finally, the day was coming to a close, and we were able to enjoy one more delicious meal. As we ate pizza and sipped on wine in the lovely lounge set up by Bell Wether Design, we heard once more from Sarah. She touched on Instagram again and how she grew her business from 0-40k followers in less than a year. I was all ears for that! The wheels started turning and to this day they still are. Hopefully I can find my place in this big internet world. Stay tuned!
Living with soul,
I’ll leave you with a few pictures of my own from the day!