As a part of my creative journey, I’m searching out ways of surrounding myself with creative women.
Back in June, Becky Higgins, one of the scrapbook superstars I follow on Facebook blogged that she was going to be a keynote speaker at The Creative Connection. So, I followed the link, checked it out, and decided to go. I signed up, made my travel and hotel arrangements months before taking the on-line class that has so inspired me.
While taking Kelly Rae Robert’s class, “Taking Flight,” I discovered that 2 of my fellow flyers were going, as well, we made arrangements to get together while we were there.
I’m having a hard time labeling The Creative Connection, the “meeting” I went to this past week. It wasn’t quite a “retreat” in that we didn’t go off into the woods and meditate, but “conference” doesn’t do it justice. It was 3 days of learning, connecting, examining, crafting, sharing, and growing. We ate good food, drank a little wine, laughed and cried. It was at once, illuminating and confusing, energizing, and dare I say it “life changing.”
Today I’ll focus on the “what” of the event, and in the next day or two I’ll go into the emotional aspects, and how it effected me.
We met at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St.Paul MN. My room was on the 16th floor, overlooking the Mississippi River, and I was blown away from the beginning. When I pulled open the curtains, I literally gasped, and ran immediately for my camera!
Jo Packam, Editor of “Where Women Create” and “Where Women Cook” and her team, brought together a powerful group of women to speak, participate in panels, and teach. They were artists, and bloggers, published authors, photographers. Some were young, some older, all at different stages of their careers. They shared stories of how they got to where they are, the challenges they overcame, and what they learned along the way. All were incredibly open, candid, giving and loving. They were up on the stage, but they also mingled with us…signed their books, taught classes on their “craft,” ate with us, treated us as colleagues.
Me, Kelly Rae Roberts and Linda
I am thrilled that Kelly Rae Roberts, Becky Higgins, Traci Bautista, Melody Ross, and Tim Holtz at least held my business card in their hands for a few minutes (they may have gone immediately into the trash, but hey, they HAD them!) And I worked up the courage to hand them to them. Me. A total newbie chicken. That is HUGE.
This year, a new part of the event was the participation of “BlogHer” a network of roughly 2500 women (and a few men who cater to women’s issues) who blog. In their panels on the first day, they discussed the importance of having a blog, gave us tips on increasing our audience, using social networking to launch and support our business, and how to make a living from our blogs. We learned about Search Engine Optimization and the platforms available to us, and they urged us to expand from just Facebook and Twitter to adding Pinterest to Tumblr, as well.
On day two “classes” began, or you could listen to more panels, instead, and participate in Q & As. Since I had never been before, and had just finished Kelly Rae Robert’s on-line biz class, I opted to take classes so I could get a little better idea of where I wanted to go creatively. There were a wide variety to chose from, ranging from altered journals, sewing, mixed media, to knitting and jewelry-making.
My Necklace Project
Linda’s Art Journal Project (with Brave Girl Melody Ross)
Day 3 the “artsy/craftsy classes continued, and added what they called “Mary Jane’s Farm” classes – making cheese, living vegan, baking bread and cupcakes, putting on parties, and more. There was something for everyone.
Each day there was also at least one meal together, sometimes more, during we were treated to speakers giving keynote addresses, got lovely gifts at our place-settings, and had the opportunity to win raffle prizes.
Provocraft provided 50, yeah 50, of their large Expression Cricut machines, and Simplicity gave away a number of sewing machines and accessories. Alas, this was not my lucky trip, but one of my new gal pals won a cricut! It was pretty exciting even vicariously!
Oh, and the food was quite nice for hotel fare. They offered both vegetarian and gluten free options, lovely salads with divine dressings, and the desserts were yummo! We did not go hungry, and didn’t have to supplement much.
Throughout the days there was a time for “pitch/slams” which enabled a select few to “pitch” their ideas for products and books to the industry leaders (Demdaco and Hallmark to name two of them.) In order to participate you had to fill out a fairly short questionnaire and pay $100.00. This year there were slots that went unfilled, but who knows what that wil look like in the future. Later I spoke to two gals who participated and they found them very valuable. One said she didn’t feel like her presentation was terribly professional, but they were very kind and made lots of suggestions on how to improve, and even suggested that there was possibly a book to be put together from the information. She came away very excited about the possibilities.
There was also a “marketplace” where vendors (including Kris Lanae-Binsfeld, who got a licensing deal with Demdaco based on her participation last year!) set up their wares. It was fairly expensive to participate ($500 for a small booth which only had about 700 sets of eyes to see it) but, it was good exposure, and the presence of Demdaco, Hallmark and some publishers, including Somerset is of some value. I picked up a few cute little treasures (including one of Kris’ necklaces, which I LOVE!) and a book that has me rethinking the direction I’m going to take (more on that later!)
Kris w/ her 1st customer of the day
At one point Jo Packham suggested that they may not do the event next year. It seemed like there was something emotional going on behind the scenes to which we were not privy (if anyone gets the skinny on that out there in the blogosphere, please let me know!) By the end of the show she said that she had received some”interesting offers” and that perhaps it might happen again. To a person, everyone I talked to was distraught at the possibility of it not happening. I was prepared to leave a deposit on the spot to assure my place. If it happens, and unless life intervenes in some unforeseeable way to keep me from it, I will be there!
So, that’s an overview of the “what.” I will be back, hopefully tomorrow with my perceptions of the greater, even more valuable emotional reaction to the event.
I’ve saved their materials, and lots of notes, so if you have more specific questions about the event, I’ll be happy to share. Either post your questions in the comments or feel free to e-mail me (my address is toward the top of the sidebar) and I’ll get back to you within the day!