I returned home from Haven both inspired and tired. Instead of a typical recap post telling you what I did for the last few days, I want to share with you some of what I learned. There is a local radio show here, where the hosts dub anything brilliant they say a “Gem of Genius”. I am stealing that term, because I feel like every other sentence spoken to me at Haven was a gem of genius.
I started writing this on the plane headed home, because I didn’t want to forget anything. I went 72 hours without charging my laptop. It is the longest I have ever gone, since I discovered blogs, without reading my favorite blogs. Seriously, no blog reading for over 72 hours. Instead, I was hanging out with a whole bunch of amazing bloggers one on one and sometimes one on a-whole-gaggle-of-women! The Haven Conference was an amazing few days.
The biggest question I would have asked anyone before attending myself is “would you go again?” My answer is yes! I literally went through every emotion in the those 72 hours, from excited to overwhelmed, from happy to sad. What that tells me is I had a profound experience. I was moved and changed in some ways I can’t even describe. Raw emotion was oozing out of me…including some ugly crying.
After the ugly crying ceased, I pulled myself together and sent this selfie to my hubby to see if I look presentable enough to leave my room.
Before I share some gems of genius, you probably want to know why I was crying at a supposed-to-be-fun event. Well, first of all, I had a ton of fun! But, I was also overwhelmed the first day. And, at first I had no idea why. Then I realized it was me. For the past 12 years of my life I have been in environments that were male-dominated (an engineering university, active duty military, IT, and even in my home). I was always in the 20% minority and comfortable in that. Y’all (picked that up from all my new southern friends), I have never been around so many women! Maybe it was all the estrogen that made me cry. But really, I was just experiencing something I have never experienced before. First conference jitters, lots of women, being away from my family, and a topic I was really passionate about just brought out raw emotion. And, I think that is okay. The other 99% of the time I was excited, nervous, laughing, taking fake showers with new buds, and learning, learning, learning.
I learned so many great things at the conference from the attendees, the speakers, and the sponsors. Today I want to share gems of genius from the amazing line up of speakers at the conference. Tomorrow I will be back with even more gems of genius that I took away from the sponsors.
Throughout the list I will sprinkle in photos of some of the fabulous bloggers I met. I will include their name and blog link below each photo. Please go visit them, because they are all amazing!
Top 10 Gems of Genius I Learned at Haven
These gems of genius barely scrape the surface of what I learned at Haven, but these are the decorating, blogging, and business tips that I will carry with me.
1. I am not a Pinterest user, Pinterest uses me
This fantastic perspective was shared by Ana White in her keynote speech. For bloggers, the statement is very true. We are the ones making content for Pinterest. We all know how easily it is to fall down the rabbit-hole and get lost in all forms of social media. For us content-creators, it is important to stay focused on delivering great content.
Hanging out with Diane, from In My Own Style, in the Ballard Designs Living Room
2. Be good at one thing, good enough at everything else
This was another gem of genius from Ana White. This is applicable far beyond the blog world. We are all human and none of us can be perfect at everything. It is important to focus on the one thing we are good at, and be comfortable being just good enough at everything else. The example Ana used was photography for bloggers, explaining you want good pictures but the pursuit of getting them should not get in the way of what you are actually good at.
My fellow color lover, Megan, from Two Live Colorfully. I can’t get enough of this girl or her blog.
3. Good photographs are well-lit
(and look nothing like the photographs in this post taken in ballrooms with no natural light!)
It was so amazing to meet Kristen, from Kristen Duke Photography, whose blog I have faithfully read for years.
The first class I took at the conference was photography taught by the amazing Kristen Duke. She shared some incredible, duh-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that tips on how to find the light in your home. We all know natural light is best for quality photography, but when photographing in our homes that is easier said than done. The first tip I loved was on white balance. I have always heard to leave it on auto unless you notice it looks wrong, then try the other settings. For interiors, Kristen recommended the shade setting. She said that setting is for shooting in natural light in the shade, which is basically what shooting in your house is. My other favorite tip was to take your project to the light. Stage your photograph just inside the front door, with the door open you get an abundance of natural light ( just pick right time of day where sunlight is indirect). On that same note, for larger projects she photographs them in her garage. With the garage door open, the garage is a large shaded area with lots of natural light ( again indirect light is best).
4. Good organization starts with getting frustrated , then coming up with a solution
I don’t have an organizing bone in my body, and instead constantly beg Jen to come organize my house. But, I thought I should do what I preach and learn how to do it myself. Jen and Chris were amazing! My favorite takeaways from their class were:
- It’s okay to train your kids to be organized (the jury is still out on how to train your husband). Chris shared that when faced with kids leaving backpacks and shoes anywhere in the house but the mudroom, she sacrificed good looks for training. She used frog tape on the floor to make a do not cross line with a sign nearby that send do not cross this line unless you do x,y,z. She left it down for a month and afterward they still don’t cross the now imaginary line without putting their stuff away. Genius…I already used a strip of the new Frog Tape Shape tape I received at the conference to make a do not cross line. This tape makes it so cute though, I kind of want to keep it there forever.
- I have seen Jen’s house and it really is as organized as you see on her blog. I have asked her before, as countless others have, do your kids really keep their Legos so organized? And, yes they do. The secret is, when coming up with how to store them, Jen asked her boys what system they thought would work best. She was sure the best way to go would be to sort by type, but the boys insisted sorting by color. They were right and they keep it organized the way it works best for them. So if something is not working, try something else and be sure to involve the people who will use the system you’re putting in place.
This girl, Jen from I Heart Organizing, was the only person I knew in real life before the conference. At home our schedules only align every couple of months to get together, so spending a few days with her was a big treat!
5. Be a proud business woman
I was beyond inspired when Cassity, from Remodelaholic, stood up to introduce herself and shared that she started her blog as a business from Day 1. She was confident and proud. It seems taboo to talk about blogging as a business sometimes, or at least confessing you started out your blog with the intent of making money. I have never understood why, because entrepreneurs start businesses to make money. Blogging is no different. Bloggers are entrepreneurs.
Beckie, from Infarrantly Creative, sat next to me at lunch the first day. Within 5 minutes I knew I want to be like her when I grow up. She is absolutely brilliant! I felt like I got a bonus class at lunch.
6. Go fewer, go bigger
The lovely Emily A. Clark opened the styling class with the most common design mistakes and how to address them. The one that stuck with me was about accessory overload…using too many accessories that aren’t big enough. Accessories are one place where bigger is better!
Allison, from House of Hepworths, is sweeter than all the peaches in Georgia. I’ve read her blog probably the longest of anyone I met at the conference. I was so excited to meet her!
7. Cover the floor and work the levels
Kristen, from the Hunted Interior, showed us how to style a console table. She likened it to a good dance routine, where you cover the floor and work the levels. That means mixing horizontal and vertical pieces, as well as varying the height of the accessories within a vignette.
8. Taking risks in design is a process
The super fun trio of Mandi, from Vintage Revivals, Ashley, from The Handmade Home, and Lindsay, from Makely School for Girls, taught a class on designing out of the box. They are all advanced risk-takers in their homes now, but they all started somewhere. Growing comfortable with taking risks in your home is a process and we all start at the beginning. At first we copy, from magazines and catalogs. Then, we start to branch out and do our own projects, but stick with popular trends. Eventually, we start taking risks, which comes with a lot of failures. If we keep pushing forward, we eventually produce amazing and original work. Personally, I am somewhere between branching out and taking risks. I still play it pretty safe, but I am growing!
Ashley, from The Handmade Home, was just as darling in person as she is on her blog.
9. Do Good On a Grand Scale
It was such a treat to hear from Bob Johnson from Habitat for Humanity. He was the closing speaker managing to move a room of 250 women, and some men, to tears. He challenged us all to do good on a grand scale. He reminded us that sometimes we can do more good with our influence, than our skill alone.
Haven was incredible! I know I made many lasting friendships in a few short days. Before I go, I want to give a huge shout out to the Teal & Lime readers I met at the conference; Don’t Disturb This Groove, Two Live Colorfully, Deepest Ocean Blue, Homemade Ocean, and The Turquoise Home. They were following Teal & Lime before they met me at the conference and will hopefully continue after (although I am not sure after that selfie and ugly crying confession).