I can't believe I have a third Stationery Academy under my belt. (You can read about my second experience, here.) It was held in Phoenix, Arizona and I was thrilled when Jennifer Faught (SA President) asked me to return as a speaker. I wouldn't be where I'm at today without attending SA (August 2013, Dallas) and the relationships I've made along the way because of this amazing conference.
All photos are by Stephanie Studer of Life Created. She is one talented lady!
Day one is always so exciting. It's so fun to hug the necks of old friends and meet so many new, yet familiar, faces. All seven of us speakers made a tunnel at the door and greeted each guest. Everyone came in to find their seats and they were overwhelmed by the swag. Every time I've attended the swag has been amazing but I have to say, I think Phoenix 2015 took the cake. The sponsors were amazing and so generous.
Day one is also when we share our fears. It can be so intimidating to share your biggest, darkest fears with people you barely know, but I think this is part of the special sauce that makes Stationery Academy stand out among so many creative conferences out there. Bonds are formed almost immediately when you realize that someone else, someone you may have even had on a pedestal, shares the same fears as you. You quickly realize we're all in this together and you've just gained 24 best friends who you can lean on and who will cheer you on throughout this entrepreneurship journey.
After the sessions wrapped for day one, everyone went up to their rooms for a quick second to freshen up and then it was off to the cocktail reception. This is always fun because generally you're pretty tired from traveling in the morning (I left for the airport at 3:30 AM) and all of the hard work that happens on day one. It's nice to kick back and get to know everyone a little bit better. I brought some Cheers Y'all koozies for all of the ladies and I just love these photos Stephanie captured!
Day two I held two breakout sessions - one on hand lettering and the other on online shops. I love the photos captured of Cara of One Swell Studio (seriously the sweetest and prettiest person, ever!) and Erin of Strawberry Mommycakes (Erin has an awesome blog and has since shared a How to Create Amazing Hand Lettered Art post!) during the hand lettering breakout. Thank you so much to Paper & Ink Arts for donating the supplies! Also, why oh why do I make the most awful facial expressions while teaching? Ha! Sorry y'all!
We also took some group photos and that's always a lot of fun. The one outside we were practically in the middle of the road. Luckily it wasn't that busy, but hey - anything for the perfect shot! ;) We had dinner at the Arrogant Butcher and it was delicious! I was late getting down to the lobby so I missed everyone walking together. I wasn't exactly sure where I was going but luckily there was a Pedicab outside the hotel who knew the way! It was such a fun ride even if it was only a couple of blocks. Sadly, Stephanie did not capture my arrival! ;)
Day three I held a breakout session on social media and how to use the free platforms to market your business. We also had a session on marketing and all the speakers were on the panel. Below I am modeling my awesome Everyday I'm Sparklin' tote from my roommate and Thimblepress owner, Kristen Ley! It's part of her collaboration with Glitter Guide!
And to wrap up the already amazing experience, the last evening there is a graduation dinner. We drink champagne and celebrate how far we've already come and how far our businesses will go because of the SA experience. Everyone goes around the room and shares their biggest takeaway from the last few days. There are lots of laughs and tears and the whole thing just gives you all the heart eyes.
I absolutely love this picture of Jennifer and I. We have been friends for a little over five years now (we met at the first ever Amber Housley Inspired - now known as Inspired Retreat.) and to say I'm thankful for her friendship and mentorship is an understatement. She is amazing and what she is doing for other entrepreneurs is incredible. So much work goes into each event and she really takes it to the next level. During one of the sessions Jennifer made the comment, "Just because it's pink doesn't mean it's stupid". That couldn't be more true. A lot of conferences out there ARE all fluff. With Stationery Academy you get education, action steps, community AND all the fluff. It truly is a one of a kind experience.
If you have been on the fence about attending, I cannot recommend it enough! If you have any questions at all I'm more than happy to answer them! Following your dreams can be scary but I promise, if you step out off the ledge you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner. I took my business full-time two and a half years ago and it has been one of the biggest challenges yet greatest blessings in my life.
If you feel like an in-person conference would be too much, with travel expense and time away from home, I highly suggest checking out SA's new online course, Creative's Academy. It's the EXACT same content covered at the in-person conferences but, in a 7-week online format. Plus, you have access to weekly expert coaches (I'll be popping in, yay!), tons of bonuses, the private student community, Q&A calls, and so much more. Jennifer (I want to be her when I "grow up") will be with you every step of the way.
If you are ready to take your business to the next level, I urge you to invest in yourself and REGISTER. You won't regret it. If you decide this course is right for you, use code "WINNIEJEAN" for $450 off your registration and as a BONUS, if you register by this Friday (September 4th), you will get a free 30 minute phone consultation (email consults can be arranged as well) with me. Anything is up for grabs - questions about Creative's Academy, my biz, social media strategy, running an online shop, product development, hand lettering, you name it! Full disclosure: This is an affiliate link but I truly believe in this content with my whole heart and I would never share anything with y'all that I wouldn't try or haven't tried myself! All opinions are my own.