Haven Conference Recap + A story of new friendships

By now you may have seen all of the fun photos from Haven this year and you might be wondering…what in the world is Haven?  Well, one year ago this month I was wondering exactly the same thing.  I was still kind of a newbie even to Instagram and had no clue what in the world Haven was but knew that the photos I was seeing plastered all over Instagram looked like such a wonderful time.  And at the time, I would have never even dreamed that not only would I have the opportunity to attend this year but that by now I would have my very own design blog where I get to share about something I have a passion for along with my experiences, tips, and tricks of the trade.  That said, I wanted to share what I feel were some of the funnest and most important moments of Haven with you, along with a tidbit of my {short} blogging journey in hopes that it will help you if you are seeking to start your very own carrier in blogging some day.  And to answer that burning question you might still have of “What is Haven?”, (according to the Haven Conference website (found here), Haven is a DIY & decorating professional blogging conference which takes place each year in Atlanta, GA. The conference brings approx. 400 pro-bloggers together with over 100 sponsor representatives for a 3 day event and sessions focus on improving skills in blogging, decorating, home improvement, photography, writing, social media, brand relationships, and more. The conference began in 2012 and each year attracts the most notable DIY & Home bloggers in the blogosphere (sourced 8/15/16).

To start my recap this first image is of an incredible board of the United States we all added our business cards to represent our state.  I think just about every state was represented at the conference which I thought was absolutely amazing that people would come from so far to attend!  I think this is a true testament to this wonderful conference and what it has to offer design & DIY bloggers.

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Now that you know what Haven is, let me tell you a little about my time there and about the most important part of this conference journey with you (I’ll try to make this as short as I can but it might be hard!).  The actual conference itself was great and there was so much to learn through attending instructional classes each day.  There was a class for everything from photography, to home improvement & DIY, to mastering social media, to affiliate marketing and more.  There were so many great classes that it was hard to decide which ones to go to but in the end really all of them were great.  Of course I don’t know what classes will be offered in the years to come but if you are looking to attend in the future and if blogging is already your career, or if you are looking to make a carrier out of blogging some day, some of my favorites were the class on Basic SEO by Brook Ulrich, Advanced Photography by Aniko Levai, and Ad Income by Andy Marzka.  But honestly (and getting down to the brass tacks of things here), the connections I made while there and the time spent with my already established blogging buddies was the absolute best part.  We all know that we went there to learn and to soak up as much information as we could about blogging as a career but, for this post I want to share those fun, fabulous, and memorable moments with you that more than anything make this blogging journey so worth while!  It was such a blessing to spend time with these ladies and the help, instruction, support and friendship I gleaned from them was the most valuable of all and my heart couldn’t be more full after this experience!!

I really can’t even tell you how strange it is to meet someone in person that you’ve known only on line for probably about a year by now.  When you finally meet that person and you already have that strong connection (like we all do through design) it’s just as if you have known them your whole life.  I had already met in person Shauna of The House of Silver Lining, Erin of The Sunny Side Up Blog, and Brittany of Addison’s Wonderland  earlier in the year when we all met at Shauna’s beautiful Florida beach cottage for a girls trip (you can see more of that time here if you missed it).  Being reunited with these ladies was such a joy but then getting to meet everyone else in our little group that I hadn’t met yet made this trip all the more perfect!!

Our gracious living, talented friend Kelley (Kelleynan.com) prepared the most darling gifts for us since Kelley lives in the host city of Haven, Atalanta, GA. .  And as I promised Kelley, my Anthro coaster has been used every night on my nightstand since I’ve been back home and I absolutely adore it.  What a sweet reminder of her and of our time together at Haven this year!  In Kelley’s carefully crafted gift bundles to us there was also a notepad with our business name on it (mine was printed with my name in my signature color I might add;) along with these yummy peach candies that were the icing on the cake!  Thank you for being such a gracious host and friend, Kelley and I can’t wait until we all can visit you again in your beautiful city (or any city for that matter!)!!

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This was our first night together.  We had so much fun at dinner getting to know each other better…it was the perfect evening!

1 (5)Left to right: Jennifer of Decor Gold Designs | Kris of Driven by Decor | Me | Haneen of Haneen’s Haven | Brittany of Addison’s Wonderland | Randi of Randi Garrett Design | Tamara of Citrine Living | Kelley of Kelly Nan | Erin of Sunny Side Up | Shauna of The House of Silver Lining

Getting back to the conference…here is one of our first photos together during the day.  We snuck outside to grab this quick photo to as a memory of our first day there (which never turns out to be quick I might add…I’m sure you can relate;).

Haven blogging conference recap

Below is a class that some of us attended the first day on Entertaining Tips to your Table with Mathew Mead which was sponsored by Wagner. We all have spent literally hours (if not days and weeks if you add up all of the time spent) texting, talking on the phone, helping one another, learning from each other, planning hashtag contests, planning blog hops, etc so seeing these ladies in person and getting to hang out for 3 days was so. much. fun., and surreal!!!

Blogging Conference Recap Haven

The 2nd night there several of us had a blast going out to dinner and taking a quick trip to Anthropology.  We headed out to a local chain but had to wait about 30 min for a table so of course we headed to Anthro close by while we waited…can you blame us?  We actually went there before and after dinner and had so much fun!  After Anthro and while waiting for our taxi back to the hotel we also took a fun photo in front of this colorful, striped wall which was a blast!

Haven Conference Recap Trip to Anthropology

While at Anthropology I hadn’t planned on making a purchase but the second I saw this fringed keychain I knew it would be the perfect keepsake of my time at Haven and every time I look at it now it reminds me of not only this fun night out, but also of the entire weekend with some fabulous ladies that I’m sure I will forever call my dear friends!  I love the piece that says “where to next” because I think it’s fair to say that those of us with creative minds are always thinking about what project is up next in our sometimes crazy design minds.



Now on to the night of the big Saturday Soiree sponsored by Ryobi where we got to dress up and spend the evening meeting, greeting, socializing, eating, drinking, and chatting the night away!!  Before we went to the soiree though, we had a serious photo sesh!  This was quite possibly one of the funnest times of the whole weekend.  We each (for the most part) got a photo of each other together and then of course some group shots ensued!Haven Recap Photo Session before dinner

One of the shots that I hold near and dear to my heart is of me and my insta bestie and roomie, Shauna!  Shauna (The House of Silver Lining ) was my first real “friend” on Instagram and we have spent countless hours talking, texting, and helping each other figure out this Instagram and blogging thing…although she has mostly helped me since she started her blog many months prior to mine and because I think she’s got it all pretty well nailed down.  She has been an incredible wealth of knowledge to me and I’m so thankful for that, in addition to her friendship!!  Love her to pieces and will cherish this photo for years and years to come!!

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The only person that was sadly missing in the previous photos was Jennifer but thankfully we were able to meet up with her and get this fabulous group shot before we headed off for the night!  Another favorite that deserves a frame for sure!!

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And another favorite photo moment of our pre-soiree photo sesh was this shot when Jennifer, Shauna, myself, and Randi noticed we were twinning for the night with our fringed and leopard shoes.  Such a fun moment!!

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This is once we finally made it to the soiree and some of us had the opportunity to walk the Ryobi red carpet!!

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While there I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit with one of the founders of Haven, Rhoda of Southern Hospitality Blog.  Rhoda has worked tirelessly over the years to put this amazing event together for bloggers and is a true pioneer and inspiration in the business!  She recently featured my home for her Featured Friday segment (here) of which I was so humbled and beyond grateful for!!  Thank you again, Rhoda!

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It was a wonderful evening filled with meeting and chatting with new friends and sharing ideas.  Getting to know so many new people that I’ve followed on Instagram and read their blogs for inspiration was surreal and I enjoyed every moment of it!!  A couple of new friends I met for the first time this weekend that I just adored were Emily of Eleven Gables & Samantha of Simply Organized (both far right, top photo below).  A couple of other sweet friends I’ve done giveaways & hashtag with that I had the pleasure of meeting as well were Rebekah of A Blissful Nest (bottom photo – middle) & Elaine of House of Hargrove (bottom photo second to last on right).Haven Recap Soiree

And then more group shots ensued.  Absolutely love this one so much!!!  Seemed like Shauna and Erin always got stuck kneeling in front and ending up with shakey legs just so we could get the perfect shot every time:).

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And here are some other fun and memorable moments from that night and our weekend at Haven…Love them all!!  The one bottom left of me, Tamara of Citrine Living and Kelly of Kelley Nan holds such a special memory for me because we had some time together that evening chatting about things other than blogging that are important to us all.  It was great getting to see another side of them which made me love them even more!

Haven Recap Selfies

After we all went back to the hotel that night we had one of the funnest nights yet.  We simply sat around in our PJ’s without computers or phones going off and just talked for hours.  It may not look like we were having much fun in this photo because we were all listening intently but we were!  Randi had asked us all to share about how we met our husbands and it was such a memorable conversation to hear all of the different stories.  A cherished time for sure!!

Haven recap girl talk

The last day was a time of finishing up our classes, having a final lunch together, and saying some sad good byes.  It would be conservative to say that emotions were flowing and tears were being shed as we got ready to depart from the weekend.  I’ve said it before but getting to meet and spend time with these inspiring ladies was beyond amazing.  They always keep me motivated and feeling inspired with my blog and I’ll be forever grateful for these friendships.  I’ve gleaned more from them in this blogging world than any Youtube video or article on line could teach me about blogging, WordPress and/or photography…that’s for sure!!  A true testament that finding your tribe and sticking with them in this crazy blogging world pays off in many ways but mostly through the very special friendships you stand to gain from it!

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Below is another photo of someone that is near and dear to me and one that I will cherish indefinitely!  Jennifer of Decor Gold Designs has been such a great friend and has always been so willing to help me with anything from photography (have you seen her amazing photos?) to WordPress widgets to anything else blog related you can think of. She’s been my rock on several occasions and I’m so thankful for her friendship and will surely cherish this photo of our first time together for years to come!!  P.S. Please don’t mind the humidity hair on my end…it was so thick in Atlanta you could barely cut it with a knife!  Ugh!!

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Some final thoughts on blogging…I don’t feel completely equipped to talk about my blogging journey yet because I only just started 6 months ago but I highly recommend Haven conference if you are just starting out and/or if you are an old pro and have never been.  The classes for the most part were invaluable and since design blogging is something that can completely suck the life out of you (because it can be so time consuming), it was beyond invaluable to learn how a passion for design and/or sharing about design can become your business and hence help to supplement your family income (or maybe even become your main income some day).  Even though it’s overwhelming you will come home with a ton of knowledge about how to take beautiful & inspiring photos, how to write blog posts with good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that google can find your posts on the web when someone googles a subject, and about monetizing your blog so that you can turn it into a viable business if you so desire.  I have to confess that my opinion of blogging wasn’t favorable prior to my launch into this world and I thought of it as a self centered, self absorbed activity (and certainly not as a business) and boy do I now have to eat those thoughts and words!! I have found that blogging can become a rewarding career and if you can find that balance (like I am trying to do now) I think it is a great way to work from home all the while getting to do the thing that you have a passion for, in addition to being home with your children if that’s your goal.

If you are considering Haven conference next time around and/or if you are considering a career in blogging, I hope this post was helpful!  Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below and thanks as always for stopping by ZDesign At Home this week.  Hope to see you back next time!

Xoxo, Bree


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  1. Bree, this was absolutely perfect, my dear friend. And just the memory I needed this morning. You are so incredibly special and talented and I am blessed to have you in my life. I love you so! Xoxo

    1. Kelley!! I’m so incredibly thankful to have you as well as my blogging buddy and friend. Your treats for us to greet us to Atlanta were beyond special and I appreciate you more than you know. Love you to pieces and can’t wait to see you again soon, I hope!!! Xoxo

  2. HI, Bree, so glad you ladies were there and got to meet up with your tribe. I know how that is and have made so many special friendships over the years I’ve been blogging. We love doing Haven and hope to see you all there again next year!! xoxo

    1. Rhoda, Thank you so much for stopping by to check out my recap! It was such a pleasure to get to meet you in person and to get to know you better. We all had so much fun and learned so much and I’m just truly thankful for the experience. Hope to see you again next year 🙂

    1. I loved experiencing it with you as well and getting to know you better Haneen! Hope we can all do this together again soon;)

  3. Love this so much Bree! What a wonderful weekend we had together. I especially love the pictures from the casual hotel night. Such a memorable evening. xoxo

    1. Jen! It truly was a wonderful weekend but most of all I’m glad I got to share part of it with you! Your friendship has been such a blessing to me and I appreciate you and all that you have done for me since we started the journey together!! Can’t wait to see you again and hopefully sooner rather than later!! 🙂

  4. Bree, you have me doing an ugly cry with your sweet words! You know you are one of the BIGGEST blessings from God through this whole Instagram/blogging journey! I so cherish our friendship and wish we could just be neighbors! So pack your bags and move to Colorado…K??! Love you to the moon and back!

    1. Shauna! I hope you know I love you to the moon and back too! I had the best time being your rooming at Haven but most of all I truly feel blessed daily by your friendship…don’t know what I would have done on the journey without you and I am so thankful for that. Love you to pieces and I can’t wait until we get to visit again:)

  5. Sounds like so much fun! I’ve been wondering what Haven is exactly, so I love that you described it in so much detail. And I’m dying over that fringed keychain! So adorable:)

    1. Hi Sidney! So glad this post was helpful to you and thanks for stopping by! And yes, that keychain is my new love 😉

  6. I can’t thank you enough for writing this. You and all of these women are so inspirational to me! I just decided to fire up my blog a few months ago after nearly 5 years of not touching it (due to a busy photography business). There are days where I question what I’m doing but deep down I know this is the journey I’m supposed to be one. Reading that just a year ago you, like me, had never even heard of Haven and were beginning your journey… Well, it just gives me so much hope and it gives me something to hold onto on the days I struggle with doubt. Thank you so much for sharing Bree and I sure hope I will have the honor of meeting you in person one day! ?

    1. CC!! I’m completely smitten with your IG feed and appreciate this compliment from you more than you know!! I know you’ll do great at this blogging thing (and yes, blogging is a ton of work!) and you’ll have others smitten by your beautiful work in no time, jut like I am!! Thanks for stopping in and for commenting. Have a wonderful day:)

  7. Awe girl this is PERFECT!! Reading your post was like being there with y’all once again. It was so perfect and so fun and I miss you so much! So proud for all you’ve accomplished since launching your blog. You’re simply amazing my friend!!! XOXO

  8. What a fun re-cap Bree! I absolutely loved it! I felt like I was living our trip all over again! Such a great informative post about Haven too. So many great pictures and I feel so grateful for our time together at the beach cottage and at Haven. I knew I loved you so much before I met you.. but our time together sealed the deal. 😉 xo

    1. Erin! I feel the exact same way and now I can’t wait to see you again…we need to plan something soon!!! Love you my friend and here’s to next time! Many hugs coming your way…love ya friend:) Xoxo

  9. Awe!!!! Such a pleasure meeting you and I can’t wait to see you again and follow along on your blog journey. You’re doing great so far!

    xx from San Francisco!
    Sam 🙂

    1. Thank you Sam! I enjoyed getting to meet and hang out with you as well and look forward to seeing you again next time!! Love your blog as well:)

  10. Bree, I LOVE your recap and looking at all these pictures again makes me want to cry! What an incredible experience it was and I am so very thankful to call you my friend! I will cherish this weekend and our time together forever! You’ve made such an impact on me, my friend, and I thank you for that! xoxo

    1. Tamara, Thank you so much for stopping by to check out my recap! I can’t even tell you how much I enjoyed getting to know you and now I’m so thrilled that I can call you my real life friend. Until next time and I can’t wait!!! Xoxo

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