des moines, iowa and beyond

workflow & systems strategist

Here's to the Creatives: My Creative @ Heart Recap

Business, For Creatives

It was my first creative conference. My heart was racing, my brain was on overdrive and I could not wait to get to Virginia. Friends, my expectations were blown out of the water and after two weeks, I am still struggling to find adequate words.

This talker still hasn’t found a way to convey everything to AJP or my family. In fact, this post has been pieced together the past few weeks and it is likely the most comprehensive collective of my thoughts since I got home. It was such an amazing experience and the overarching theme was “Compassion over Competition”. That was the mantra of the conference and one that we recited together as a group to close out the weekend. Those three, precious and simple words encompass so much for me.

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These two darlings (Laura and Amy) checked in all of the fantastic attendees and I must say they looked awfully fabulous doing so! Then, we all gathered for a yummy breakfast and kicked off one of my most life changing experiences to date. Creative at Heart was actually happening and I was so ready to soak it all in. Little did I know what was ahead…


On day one, we heard about serving others and connecting through our blogs (Katelyn James), being social on social media and becoming real life friends (Natalie Franke), how to interpret and use mystical SEO (Krista Jones) and the true heart of branding (Lauren Hooker).

Lunch was so beautifully designed and executed. I mean, really! The conversations had and relationships that were growing filled my heart and made me feel like I was one of them. “Them” being the creative business owners making things happen. “Them” being these women whom I have looked up to. Silly as it sounds, they are like celebrities to  me and I was actually talking to them and taking photos with them and eating cupcakes with them. What, is this real life?! Yes, Jenn, it is! AH!!


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Kat and Taylor worked so incredibly hard to put this together for all of us and the surprises they tucked in to create memories for us were incredible! After a wonderful meal of chips and salsa/guac/queso with fabulous company and big dreamers, we returned to the Stonewall Jackson hotel to a pajama party complete with amazing sweets, coffee and oodles of girl time. We had a lot of fun in the photo booth and because I need another mug (wink wink) , the adorable ones Kat and Taylor got us were my favorite! Not to mention, Miss Hope and I were pj twins! Being goofy and having heart to hearts with my darling roomies (Amy, Michelle & Anna) was so wonderful and I know we will be friends for many years to come!


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Also, can we please all take a moment to love this beautiful paper flower wall created by Camberly at Sweet Pear Paper!? The talent of these amazing women is just insanity. I have never been amongst so many kind-hearted, like-minded and encouraging people at once in all my life. The feeling is unreal, friends. Also, I never want to forget how we laughed and ‘flew’ with pink wings from upstairs down to the ballroom with Monday’s swag bags. Taylor, Amy, Bonnie, Laura and I in the elevator trying to take a photo of our beautiful new accessories- priceless! (ps, someone please send me a copy of those photos!) Curling up on the beautiful pink couch from Paisley & Jade was just the icing on the cake, laughing and chatting about life and business.

Then on day two, Rachel Brenke gave us genuine and practical tips about the brass tacks and legalities of owning  a small business, we got financial advice from Michael Alsop, then we danced it out and shook it off after an encouraging session with Alexandra Beauregard (Heart Love Always), and learned a lot about work life balance from sweet Bonnie Bakhtiari. Last, but not least, the fantabulous Kat of Dear Sweetheart Events opened her heart and taught us about “Hard Work and Fairy Dust”. There was not a dry eye in the house and so many of us echoed her journey.


{print by Restored 316 Designs}

As I listened to so many amazing speakers talk to us about topics that are near and dear to their hearts, I really started getting introspective and began asking myself so many questions. While I’m still pondering and answering many of them, the resounding echo in my heart has been to pour into people. To intentionally curate each interaction with my sweet brides and grooms, vendors, friends, family, everyone I come into contact with. We were given so many tools and insights for how to do that and I’m still creating an action plan. Aside from the practical pieces, my heart nearly exploded from all of the love, support, encouragement and overall powerful truths that we experienced together.


@Laura- I adore our squishy face photo & you!


{Rachel Tenny}

As small business owners, the journey can feel somewhat isolating and you can feel like you are the only one with your particular struggles. Occasionally, your thoughts tell you that a friend in a different specialization in the industry cannot possibly understand your planner issues or challenges. That the calligrapher or graphic designer has an easier time with certain areas. Friends, that is so off. We all have big dreams, want to do our best and make a living that supports our LIFE, all while doing what we have been called to do in our heart of hearts. Really, that is all we need to have in common. Each of us has a set of amazing strengths and skills to share with each other and our clients; our own perspective to offer the world; our own personalities and goals to work on. However, we are stronger together and can learn so many things from each other. That is what this conference is all about. Again, “Compassion over Competition.”


{print by Paper & Honey}

There is no doubt that I was led to this group of creatives for reasons that I probably still won’t understand for years to come. If you are in a similar season or feel like you need a refresh or encouragement or just have an inkling of a business or path you are beginning, please consider going to this beautiful conference. I promise you, you will not ever regret it.

You are in luck, sweet lovelies, because round two is happening March 29 & 30 in Roanoake!! Registration opens at midnight on 1/23 for a 24 hour early bird special!!! Head to the website for more information and to read up on all of the wonderful speakers and panelists for this session. Friends, seriously, I cannot recommend the conference enough. It has!!

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With all of my love and gratitude to the open hearts and open arms I was met with and the incredible new friends I have gained, I cannot wait to start sharing what I learned with my darling couples!!

xoxo, Jenn

p.s. all photos are from iPhones (to my knowledge), but head to the gallery to see more details captured by the fabulous conference photographers!

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