Workshops & Conferences

Creative workshops and conferences can be a large expense, especially once you add on travel and hotels, but I definitely think it's something every small business should try and budget for. As of this moment, I don't have any plans to attend one this year and I'm hoping to change that. I am exhibiting at the National Stationery Show in May so that will take up most of my time and resources but I'm hoping that in the 3Q I'll be able to take a timeout for myself and business. 

Below are some of the conferences I've attended or hope to attend in the future. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these or if you have another workshop on your radar! I'm always looking for new events to expand my circle and continue my education within my industry! I'm not being paid or sponsored by any of these so I'm hoping we can start an honest discussion, because let's face it, when you're a small business, it can be hard to bite the bullet!

Amber Housley Inspired

Now, Inspired the Retreat: “I created Inspired because I have a huge passion for sharing knowledge, tools and healthy doses of encouragement to my fellow creative artists and business women. Bringing together over 30-like minded creative women for a 4-day experience with actionable education, inspiring content, all in an intimate, one-of-a-kind retreat setting lights my heart on fire!" 

I attended the very first AH Inspired and it was the first creative workshop I had every been to. It was the first time I had been surrounded by so many other women who were just like me. I met some of my dearest friends in the industry that day and I'm so grateful for the experience. Amber has made many changes to the experience now but you can read my recap (of the first time I attended!) and my top 5 reasons I think everyone should attend.

The only con I can come up with isn't even relevant anymore because the structure has completely changed, but I had wished the event had been longer. I wanted more time to get to know the speakers and fellow attendees. With the changes Amber has made, it seems there is plenty of time to create connections!

Stationery Academy

"Stationery Academy is a retreat-like, two and a half day conference designed to re-focus and re-energize your business goals within a community of like-minded creatives and open hearts. This all-inclusive experience will help you find clarity in the dreams you have and guidance from our experts and your peers. We limit enrollment to just 20 attendees, twice per year. In addition to the valuable knowledge and curriculum, and being able to get answers from the best in the industry, you also receive access to a private forum of your graduating class with an endless support throughout the year, a fabulous bag of swag and some delightful surprises along the way."

I attended this conference in August of 2013 and was thrilled to be asked to come back as a speaker in February of 2014. You can read my recap of that experience here. This conference is where I really found my tribe and for the first time since beginning this "creative entrepreneurship" journey, I felt like I was on the right track. I left with new vendors to work with, a list of action steps to take and 20+ friends to lean on for support and cheer on myself. I can't recommend this experience enough!

Again, I don't have much negative to say, but with Stat Acad, if the location is not near you airfare can be pretty pricey. They did just launch the beta version of Creatives Academy though so you can get the content from the comfort of your own home and at your own pace!

Alt! Summit

"The founders of Alt Summit come from a blogging family. Understanding that bloggers and creatives needed the connections a live event would offer, an idea was hatched. A live event to discuss what is new, what is working, what is not and what is next. Combining the talents of sisters Sara Urquhart and Gabrielle Blair, Alt has grown to be the premier business conference for pioneering and rookie bloggers and creatives in this space."

This is a conference I've never been to but I do stalk the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and always wish I had attended! I've never considered myself a blogger so It never felt like the right investment for me and my business but as my business continues to grow I'm realizing that as a shop owner, I also have to be a lifestyle guru. This is definitely one I hope to attend in the future!

Tradeshow Bootcamp

"Launched in the spring of 2011 by Katie Hunt of Kelp Designs, Tradeshow Bootcamp offers webinar and in-person workshops to help small businesses prepare for the wholesale market and large scale tradeshows. We cover everything from booth logistics, product development, creating sales tools such as catalogs, order forms and line sheets, working with sales reps, feedback from retailers and the media as well as general business courses throughout the year."

I haven't attended but I've heard nothing but amazing things about this workshop and it's on my list as well! The lineup of speakers they have is enough to make me want to sign up! Because I'm hoping to expand the wholesale side of my business I think this would be a great one to attend!

If anyone has any specific questions about Stationery Academy or the Inspired Retreat, I'd be happy to answer them! I'd also love to hear about your experiences!

What workshops have you been to and is there one you have your eye on?

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  • Thank you for this list! I attend Tradeshow Bootcamp webinar and it was wonderful. Each course was full of knowledge and I enjoyed listening to the speakers share their insights, tips and also cautionary tales. It was really beneficial to me and my future plans for wholesale. Definitely sign up if you can :)

  • Kathy – How exciting! That’s definitely one I want to experience! I’m excited for you to dabble in wholesale! I think your products will do great! :)

    Stephanie Creekmur
  • Jen – Yes, definitely check out Creatives Academy! While an in person experience would be ideal I truly believe this is the next best thing. They are only taking a limited number of attendees and this will help keep it intimate and easier to connect with other attendees in the online forums provided! I hope you’re able to attend a conference soon! Maybe one will come close to your city – that always makes it a little easier! :)

    Stephanie Creekmur
  • I haven’t been to any conferences – though I want to! – because cost and time prevents me from going. With two young kids (my youngest is five months old!) it’s hard to go far away, and it’s pretty expensive to take the whole family with me. I wish something was local.. I’ll have to check out the online Creative Academy, but as fun as it sounds it isn’t quite the same as a face to face experience!

  • You know I love Stationery Academy! I am taking a break from traveling to creative conferences or workshops this year, but I am registered for Tradeshow Bootcamp Spring 2015 Webinar! Excited to begin to dabble in to the wholesale side of business.

    Kathy Sanders

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