April 27, 2016

Rob and I took our first vacation in five years, and we went...

To a business conference.

I know, I know, but hear me out. We didn't just go to some stuffy business conference where you have to be always "on," and try not to fall asleep during seminars.

We went to Craftcation.

Say it with me now: "Craft" "cation."

It's a handmade business owner's conference, and yes, you bet your ass I dragged my husband with me. It was five days of sheer awesomeness in Ventura, California, and I did my best not to have a rigid mindset when I walked in the first day.

I did have a color-coded schedule for Rob and me, but c'mon! I had to Type-A somethinghere.

Oh, and I also made a bunch of clothes, including this dress:

Yes, it's a Frida Kahlo-inspired border print fabric, and I may or may not have had this dress cut out for the good of two years. Babies ruin everything.

So. The conference.

It was AMAZING!! The day before we flew down, I watched a Periscope from Nicole (one of the two powerhouses behind Dear Handmade Life, which brings you Patchwork Show, Dear Handmade Life Podcast, Craftcation, and a plethora of other amazing things), and one thing that was mentioned by someone was that once you walk into the conference, there's a transformation that happens and you become immersed in the supportive environment of fellow makers and entrepreneurs. 

She was dead on. Not only was everyone incredibly friendly and helpful, but every single person was supportive of one another's endeavors. No, we weren't braiding each other's hair and singing in a drum circle, but there was a sense of solidarity in our efforts in business. It was being accepting of hearing others' ideas regarding your business, it was actively listening to the amazing things others do in their business, it was sitting down and having a drink and commiserating about working in solitude for most of our time.

This amazing Swedish strawberry lime cider helped to break the ice from time to time.

You know when you start a new job, that first day leaves you with your brain super full of new information?

Multiply that by a gazillion*, and you've got Craftcation. In the best way.

*Shush, you! Math was never my strong suit, anyway.

Craftcation offers a mix of business and craft classes and seminars. Being a Craftcation Virgin, I opted for mostly business classes. I did take a String Quilting class from the amazing Susan Beal (but neglected to take photos). Rob took a lot of business classes, and I tried to send him to classes where his background would be better suited (he has a degree in Advertising, yet is an accidental banker). But he also took some pretty awesome craft classes, including oyster shucking and a DIY-LED Light workshop.

Yes, he made a Death-Star light for our son in the LED Light workshop. :)

We got to tour the Patagonia campus, where we learned the company has phased out using petroleum for their wetsuits. The things the company is doing to combat climate change is seriously impressive. Plus they're empowering other companies (even if they're a competitor) to do the same.

Patagonia

I also dropped some serious cash at Superbuzzy, a local fabric store, where I spotted some out-of-print and rare Japanese fabrics (being a former Fabric Buyer for Fabric Depot gives you an eye for out-of-print fabric, and that's a skill that will never go away).

And the people. ALL the people! I met so many new people and tried my best to remember everyone's name.

I failed. But people were pretty forgiving for my terrible short-term memory.

Nicole and Delilah are the driving forces of the conference, and they were so incredibly helpful and approachable! Even if they were running through their massive to-do list in their minds, you could never tell- they were calm, cool, and collected. But mostly cool. Do people say cool anymore? I never get out. But I was in sheer awe at the amount of things they do and everything they accomplish.

I attempted to have non-awkward conversations with people, which probably were super awkward, as I am a one-woman show in my business plus have two very young children at home. If people were singing along to the biggest pop hit of the year, I may have had a blank look on my face. But talking about toy unboxing videos on YouTube? I'm (unfortunately) your girl. Thanks, kids!

One of my favorite panels was on self-care. That's where I met Meighan O'Toole and Lisa Anderson Shaffer. Rosalie Gale was part of the panel, but I already know her and her super rad shower art (she and Kari Chapin actually encouraged me to go to Craftcation!). 

Self Care Panel with Meighan O'Toole, Lisa Anderson Shaffer, and Rosalie Gale sitting on a stage

I finally got to meet Caitlin Bacher, who is hilarious and has no qualms about being successful on Instagram. I'm so glad I got to have a moment to sit with her and other Bossy Biz Ladies over some cocktails.

Caitlin Bacher and Holly Marsh

Emily McDowell was the keynote speaker, and I was thrilled I got to chat with her for a moment after dinner. We talked sales reps (we now have the same rep in the Pacific NW!), success, and silly pic selfies ("Life is too short for angles," she said).

Other people who made a serious impact on my experience isLela Barker, Adrienne Wiley, and Isaac Watson. I can totally blame Isaac for enabling my husband to reward our oldest son by buying him the Millennium Falcon Lego set. It was totally for The Boy and not my husband, right?

Right...

As I was gathering images from Craftcation, I realized I didn't take as many photos as I'd liked. But then I realized that those are the best moments; when you're so occupied connecting with people and enjoying the experience that you totally forget to post it on Instagram. Craftcation was definitely one of those moments. 

I left the conference with so many actionablethings I could do for my business; some I could implement right away! Other business updates will take a while, but they should be in motion long before the next Craftcation (and you know I'll be there next year!). 

Oh, yeah, and we managed to catch the Portland Timbers playing the LA Galaxy before we flew home with friends and family. We tied. It was still a blast.

Timbers Away match in LA

 

BIG BIG BIG thanks to my mom, who flew in from Spokane and watched our boys for FIVE days. The boys were great for her, which was an absolute relief. I think she may have even enjoyed herself, even if we didn't supply her with enough bourbon.

My mom and my oldest kiddo

 

I'm so glad my husband went along for the ride. He is my sounding board and we bounce ideas off one another all the time. He's also the one to push me out of my comfort zone in order for my business to grow. Plus he makes me laugh every day, works incredibly hard, and is an amazing father. 

Rob and Holly Marsh

But next time we go on vacation, I think the two of us are going to go to Hawaii. By ourselves! 

See you next year, Craftcation! xoxo


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