Last week, Team Lasertron–me and Emma, Shannon, Alice, and my parents–drove up to St. Paul, Minnesota for The Creative Connection Event. I taught two classes–Alice’s Monogrammed Prize Ribbon and the Signature Felt Flower Headband. I loved the event. I told organizer Jo Packham that I was a little surprised by how much I really cared about the people I met, the experiences I had, the knowledge I was able to take from all of the amazing speakers. As I continued to meet passionate people, feel the energy and enthusiasm buzzing in each room, and see my girls Emma and Shannon learning and taking everything in with such focus and consideration, it sank in that The Creative Connection Event is one conference that I will never, ever miss.
10. Celebrating Mena Trott’s birthday
Made friends with Mena Trott of Sew Weekly (and, worth noting, one of the founders of Six Apart which created Typepad and Moveable Type), Gretchen Hirsch from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing who was at TCC as an ambassador for BurdaStyle, and Carol Cho from BurdaStyle, and went out for drinks for Mena’s birthday. Shannon got super bonus points for producing birthday candles and a lighter from her purse, which we stuck into the dipping sauce that came with our sweet potato fries. I think Omaha will be meeting Mena very soon as well…
Gertie and Mena? I have a total girl crush. BFFs in my mind.
9. Eating at Senor Wong
Funny name, right? Emma, Shannon, Mena and I went out on the last day of TCCE and had the creepiest, most awful waiter and it almost ruined our night. When another waiter came up to refill our drinks, we asked him if we could switch and have him be our waiter, and he was completely professional about it and never made us feel bad for asking. At the end of the meal–and we loved the food, the service, the drinks, it was all fantastic–he knelt down and politely asked, “What was it about your last waiter that made you uncomfortable? Because I am the restaurant owner and I just would like to know so I can take the proper steps.” Wow! A class act. He really made it right. And after we left, he chased us down the street with the sunglasses that Shannon forgot on the table. Above and beyond. Senor Wong in St. Paul. Go there.
8. The incredible swag
It’s okay to like the freebies, right? TCCE had amazing gift bags for each attendee. The bags themselves are beautiful–soft dark brown canvas with inspiring words and quotes screened on the side in red. Some of the stuff I walked away with included several bags of coffee from Starbucks, scissors from Fiskars, an Anna Griffin journal, a beautiful handmade necklace from The Vintage Pearl, several books and magazines given to us before they were available for purchase, tons of fabric from Kaari Meng for MODA and Riley Blake Designs.Â Chocolate, charms, gift cards, pins, glitter, adhesives, scrapbooking things and journaling things and painting things. It was pretty sweet. I have to say.
7. Introducing Alice to my ladiez
Alice came to the Marketplace each night and had breakfast with me on the last day. I have to give my dad all the credit for taking care of her during the week of TCCE. They went to the zoo, went out for pancakes, went up and down the escalator for an hour and read The Big Hungry Bear 2,000 times. He kept Alice happy and when she ventured down to see me at the conference, I got to introduce everyone to my smiley little girl.
6. Selling my favorite tweed posie pin to Holly Becker from Decor8
There is one pin we have had in our inventory for just over a year. Nobody has bought it from our website, nobody buys it when we go to little craft fairs, but it is really my favorite. I suggested that we may just lower the price, and Emma firmly said “No, the right customer will come along and pay what it is worth.” She was right, and that customer was Holly Becker of Decor8. It was right before we began packing up our booth, too–such great timing, and she was kind enough to pose for a picture with us.
5. Teaching at my first creative conference
I was actually really, really nervous to teach our classes. We were originally teaching four sessions, which later were combined together into two on Friday. I had contemplated teaching a test class at CAMP before the conference, just to practice, but I didn’t make time for it and just went in cold and I think it turned out really well. There was seriously nobody who attended one of my classes who I didn’t want to be there. Who weren’t positive and helpful and just cool. I’ve taken classes before and you know, sometimes there is that negative nancy–someone spoiling the fun with a bad attitude. At The Creative Connection Event, there were no crafting divas to be found. Just friendship, encouragement, and creativity. All we had in the classrooms (which were just pool-side hotel rooms, and pretty awesome!) was lamp light, so we did the best we could with the lighting for these pictures!
4. Meeting some heavyweight industry contacts and influencers in my field…and being brave!
When I am shy about talking to a heavy-hitter in my field about myself and my career, I just tell myself that if I mess it up at least I will never have to see them again. By the way, that’s never true–you will always run into people again and they might remember a bad first impression–but I just tell myself that they won’t and it does help me calm down! I tell myself that I’m worth knowing, interesting, and fun, and just go forth to hopefully not embarrass myself. I loved talking to the ladies from BlogHer. I loved BurdaStyle and Cricut, who did a little interview with me and gave me a flower hairpin in my favorite colors! I met Helen, the Craft Project Coordinator for Blumenthal Lansing–they are the company that makes all the buttons. I met publishers from Sterling and Lark who asked me about doing a book. So much happened. So much is going to happen!
3. Connecting with old friends, readers, and past customers
…and making new friends too! The participants in my classes were all so positive and funny and friendly–I would be so happy to each and every one of them again. I was so excited to meet and connect with some great authors at the autograph party where they all signed my copies of their books. Brigid, thank you for taking my class. Maike, thank you for the sweet CD and letter. Julie, thanks for being one of my biggest supporters from years ago. Jenny and Aaron, I can’t wait to visit!
2. Feeling some validation after a long few months
“You’re in the right place.” “You do have balance.” “To light the night sky, you have to throw yourself into the fire. ” I don’t know which speakers said these things. I scrawled them on the back of an envelope.
1. Time to bond with my team
Last week was nothing but Team Lasertron Time. We spent two days driving up. Talked the whole time. A full day in IKEA. I rented a U-Haul to drive back all the stuff we bought there. We stayed up late working on our projects and kits and special presents and products for our Marketplace table. I asked a lot of them and they gave me everything.
I am not the best boss in the world. When you become such good friends with people you pay to help you, it becomes so easy to cross boundaries and blur the line between the professional and personal aspects of your relationship. But I try really hard and I try to improve all the time–that’s really my whole life mission, to be my best self every day and I do that by learning and seeing how my actions affect others. Emma and Shannon are rock stars. They came with me, participated fully, each day, all day–I mean 6am to 2am–to “do Princess Lasertron” and not only connect with hundreds of new friends, but actively work to help our business. They took diligent notes at each keynote event. They took pictures. They exuded energy and grace and friendliness all day. They returned to me during breaks with business cards, toting company representatives from boutiques, manufacturers, publishers, eager to make introductions. Did I ever retreat to the hotel room and hide? Yes. And while I was doing that I’m sure Emma was talking about our work to to a gaggle of ladies surrounding her by the Starbucks coffee bar and Shannon was standing on her feet in our booth hawking notebook covers and kits. They are fantastic. I need them.
If you didn’t make it to The Creative Connection Event this year, keep your eye out for next year’s ticket sales. It is well worth the price because the value is exponentially higher than the ticket cost. The speakers, panels, and classes will leave you so enriched with information and inspiration that will be enough to last the full year until next year’s event. It’s an experience. It will change you. And you will never forget it.
make it pretty