This weekend., I had the pleasure of attending the last Texas Style Council conference in Austin, TX. The conference is a, "A weekend away for female bloggers and business owners to rekindle their creative fires." I found out about this conference via one of the girl's I met during The Hundred Event I attended last summer. You can read more about that event here.
Indiana, the host, emailed us all and invited us to come to the last conference to be held by them as she no longer lives in Austin, but has moved to Atlanta and wanted to go for one more last hurrah! While it was typically held in a hotel, they decided to take it to camp this year. It was held at a historical girl scout camp site in Spicewood, TX. Not too far outside of Austin city limits. As a native camper, (I can say that right? Especially since my honeymoon consisted of three nights of tent camping. Yep, this is a true story.) I was totally being open-minded about this event as they were trying to stress it was to be non-fussy, but I was also nervous about it. I mean, camping to me is relaxing, but with a side of dirty and anything goes sort of thing. I'm usually with my hubby and his family and it's all good to have dirty hair. However, this event was taking place with women only and we would be getting close with classes, and even closer in our sleeping arrangements being in small rooms and bunk beds. Plus, pictures would be taken constantly! So I had a hard time trying to understand HOW laid back of a vibe it would be. I was also nervous to meet new people or worse, not able to connect to anyone at all. Instead, the vibe was laid back, anything goes, with a hint of luxury via gifts and food, mixed with a bit of girl-sass. I mean, we're a bunch of girls in the woods without our husbands and boyfriends around, how are we not going to complain a little about lizards, rain, mud, and some hard bed mattresses? However, we all made it through and it seemed all those little things didn't really mean much after a few hours.
I arrived Friday afternoon and the first person I saw was Christie, from KiKiMac! I was so excited to finally see her again. We met at The Hundred and since then have stayed connected via instagram and our blogs. She has a wonderful and gorgeous blog, please do check it out. One day, she and I will have to hit up some spa's and enjoy some hot teas.
Later, we had dinner and mixer. It was fun exchanging business cards. I didn't have any at my first conference, so I felt really legit this time around. I got a lot of "oh, I saw these, you stamped it, right? Too cute!" I had posted them before I left on instagram and tagged the event's hashtag, #TxSC15. I ordered them from Minted and wanted them to be simple and clean. I then added the "hello" and camera stamp on the back. I am so happy with how these turned out. Later, at dinner I realized they had the same color combo on the menu and felt right at home! We had a craft night after dinner and while I don't have many pictures of that event, trust yours truly was crafting it up!
My random roomies in our "glamping" cabins were Julia from In the Afternoon. Julia is in Austin and a mother of the cutest little boy and shares her story on her blog. She also does freelance writing which I knew nothing about until she gave me the inside scoop. She was so nice and real, I loved her. I can totally see myself hanging out with her again in the future. My next roomie was a season TxSC veteran, Cathy from Austin Slave to Fashion. She's an Austin girl as well. This girl is down right as real as they come and funny. We were able to chat it up several times on Saturday and immediately were connected. She's a fashion blogger and has a ton of cute ideas for those of us who are not a size double zero! and is not afraid to flaunt it. Therefore, when she complimented me on my wardrobe choices, I felt pretty awesome considering I don't think of myself as "fashionable." I usually go with what fits. :)
Later, I met the incredible Meg from Belle & Union. She's the shop owner, "boss lady" as she refers to it and is incredibly talented. She's located in College Station and runs her online shop from home that includes letterpress cards and home goods. She makes all her own art AND all her products are made in the USA! How cool is that? I love her style and her products, I will for sure be boasting about her to anyone I know, but mostly I just love her. She was so nice and has so much confidence. I admired her and her work. You'll see below her business card and a little card she gave me just cause. At the end, she was going to leave the bag she painted out for someone else to take. When I realized she wasn't taking it home, I asked if I could have it. She laughed, and said of course. I was so proud! Call me fan girl.
I met so many other women who I will later link up to once I've been able to read their cards and check out their sites. I can only imagine I will be as obsessed and cheer them on as well.
Saturday started early with a photography discussion with my favorite girl, Shay, from Love, The Nelsons. We originally met at The Hundred where I went up to her and gushed about how much I admire her and her work. I felt almost stalkerish, but she took it all in and gave me a huge hug because she's so sweet. Her class started at 7am, while it was pouring rain and very dark. Not really ideal for photo sessions, but whatever. It was also held in a building away from the one I was staying it, so rain boots and my umbrella were my best friends. It was a good class, and I'll touch on that more in the next post. Afterwards, I met Jess Lively during a conversation I was having with Shay after her class. Jess totally took me by surprise and impressed me with how she was able to turn these in a positive light and be so motivating. I assumed she was just another attendee finding her way, only to find out she was a keynote speaker! Made so much more sense.
Later I attended a "SHIFT" session where, "SHIFT // Liz, Delightfully Tacky and Megan, Greetings from Texas. What happens when blogging becomes a slog? Or when you've tried all the formulas for internet success and they're just not panning out like you had hoped they would? Liz and Megan talk frankly about shifting so you're not stuck in a rut or being a part of the rat race anymore." Both Liz and Megan were so great and so open. Megan appealed to me more with her direct and sarcastic, but not rude personality. I didn't know who she was before that day, and now I want to know everything about her. She will definitely be in the next post!
Squarespace, the host of my blog, was a large host that weekend. I was so excited to know they would have drop in sessions to learn more about the site and all it's cool features. I met Sasha from Outlaw Creative. She was absolutely beautiful and so nice. I hope I get to work with her in the future for some blog help. I attended another session of 3 women who were small business owners and had became friends at another TxSC conference. How fun! They were genuine about their struggles and how they overcame them and things they are working through now. We attended an evening jamboree where several women went all out with their "girl scout" costumes. I was very impressed. Especially those with their brownie vests! I have one, but I doubt that thing will fit over my arm! lol! Sunday, we had a nice brunch and a said our thank you's and farewell's.
At the end, our last activity before we left camp was a bit nerve racking for me, as we had to walk in between two parallel lines of girls with our eye closed and covered. Relying on them to guide you through the "tunnel" while each person whispers something empowering in your ear, even if you have never met the person. I was nervous at first, but after hearing inspiring words that they felt described me, it was so invigorating and refreshing. What a way to end a weekend of sisterhood, with trust & encouragement.
The conference had a lot of local speakers, which really surprised me. We have so many incredibly talented & courageous women here in Texas, how have I not heard of them before?!? I've been missing out. However, some came in all the way from Canada and all were very impressive. I will be posting soon on some of the most influential woman I met during this event based on our personal discussions or what I heard during the breakout sessions. I was blown away with their honesty, up front attitude on how to approach situations, taking the bull by the horns and going for it, with intention! To allow ourselves to just be, and when you see another women needing help, you do what you can to help her out. It was also nice to know some of these women were around my age and probably have, or are facing some of the challenges we all naturally go through in life. Questions we ask ourselves, "am I enough," "will people be interested in what I have to say," "who am I," "what makes me, me?" I firmly believe women tend to get better at understanding themselves as they get older, being ok with letting things go, especially those things we allowed to consume us when we were younger. Ensuring she will only allow positive people in her life and not worry about the bullshit drama we women love, but hate when it includes us personally. I think it's our duty as we get older to pass on what we learned to those that are younger or might even be older, but hasn't yet reached that point of contentment with a particular subject/area of their life. Even if the person doesn't change at that moment, words and interactions stay with them and eventually they may take what they heard/saw and help them grow. That's what I felt coming from these women I met at the conference. While we are all here to learn about blogging, social media, what has worked for successful bloggers and business owners, we are all just trying to find our voice and learn from other women. Interacting with such an incredible group of women who "get" this blogging world, and even better understand the struggles women face everyday outside of blogging, is just refreshing. It's nice to know you're not the "only one" who struggles with these things. It's also good to see women empowering other women and just being plain nice! No room for negativity or being fake. With that said, this was my second conference and it was double the attendee size. I knew going in I would not have time to meet everyone and if I did meet many, I wouldn't have time to invest the amount of time Iwould like to in each and every blog/site like I want, but will try. Some women you meet, you'll just instantly attach to, and others, you'll find your relationship will blossom later. It's how things roll, and that's ok!
Overall, it was amazing and I would do it all over again. I think my next steps will be to work on my photography business and look for some workshops specifically for photographers and styling. If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them! I have ideas on how I want to expand and what I want to venture into specifically, but baby steps. I do at the end of the day have a full time job that I love. Which is why this creative outlet is so hard for me, but needed. I struggle with loving numbers and my corporate job, but also love the idea of using my creative outlet to it's full potential, and is what I feel I should work on. There's something inside of me that's trying to speak volumes, but I'm nervous about it for many different reasons. We shall see where the road takes me. Wish me luck!
And now, I leave you with pictures!