In our industry, it’s so easy to “fake it ‘til you make it”. Those little squares can tell whatever story you want them to … yet there’s so much more actually going on behind the scenes.
Here at Creative at Heart, we do our best to “keep it real”. Our hope is to not only give you the practical & strategic tools you need to take your business to the next level, but also share a behind the scenes look at what it’s really like to run a small business. I (Kat) thought today’s post would be a fun way to do just that!!
Whether you’ve attended C@H before, said “hi” on instagram a time or two or you’ve just stumbled upon our online space, I think you may find a few of these things surprising! 🙂
1. I didn’t plan the first Creative at Heart single-handedly.
It was August of 2014 when I first began to dream about Creative at Heart. I’m a “verbal processor” so almost as soon as the idea was forming in my head, I was spitting it back out to two of my business friends – Taylor & Lauren. Lauren jumped on board to design our brand & very first website; and Taylor became my right-hand-girl for all the planning & prep! There is no way I could have done it without her, and to this day I’m so grateful for all she did!!
2. Creative at Heart was going to be the tagline, not the name.
It took over a month to decide on a name for Creative at Heart. I actually began emailing educators for Round 1 before I had a name!! At first, Creative at Heart was going to be: A Dear Sweetheart Events Workshop: For the Creative at Heart. (My first company was Dear Sweetheart Events). However the more I processed (and talked it through with Taylor & Lauren), the more I knew that “Creative at Heart” truly embodied the mission of the experience & I’m so thankful it became the name, not the tagline!!
2. I planned the first 2 conferences while working a full-time job and running my wedding planning business!
Creative at Heart was hosted 5 months after conception; and just 2 months after Round 1, we hosted Round 2. During that time, I had over 20 wedding planning couples and a 9-5 on my plate … oh, and did I mention I was only in my 2nd year of marriage?! I was in a constant state of hustle… yet there wasn’t anywhere or anything else I’d rather do! Our tiny townhouse was filled with boxes of swag, stacked right alongside wedding DIY projects!! I looked back at that season and think “what in the world was I thinking?!” but I learned so much about discipline, time management and what really matters.
4. At Round 3, 2 of our speakers had the stomach flu!
Round 3 was hosted in Charleston, SC and while some may think it would be one of our most fun due to that amazing city, it was actually the most stressful conferences to date!! From a host’s perspective, I was running around dealing with a venue dilemma and AV glitches … and on top of all that, 2 of our keynote speakers came down with the stomach flu & were both puking just minutes before walking on stage!! Talk about a crazy behind the scenes experience!!!
5. My husband, Matt, and I drove from Virginia to Colorado for Round 5!
By Round 5, Matt and I had invested in quite a few conference supplies, therefore flying to conferences was out of the question. When we decided to host a conference further west, we intentionally planned it over the summer since being a teacher meant he’d have a more flexible schedule. We took an entire week to drive across the country, stopping whenever & wherever we wanted! I wasn’t sure the planner in me could handle it, but there was so much freedom in having no reservation & no real “plans”! Our only must-do was food – we didn’t eat at one chain restaurant the entire trip, stopping only at local joints Matt had researched ahead of time. To this day, it’s a trip I’ll never forget!!
6. At Round 6, I was experiencing a miscarriage.
The day before I left for Round 6, we were told there was no heartbeat with our second pregnancy. I look back at that entire conference and I know in my heart the Lord orchestrated every single thing. Very few people knew what was going on, yet every hug, every conversation, and every moment was just what I needed and when I needed it. Creative at Heart has always been so close to my heart, and the Lord showed me just how close through that entire experience.
7. Within 6 hours of Round 7 beginning, we’d gone through over 200 bottles of water!
Round 7 was held last year in August in North Carolina. While it wasn’t terribly warm, it was definitely August in the south! Just a few hours into the conference beginning, we realized we were down to just one case of water, which meant our group of 135 had already gone through 200 bottles of water! We had to make an emergency trip to Costco on the first day!! (It wasn’t our 7th conference or anything… ha!)
8. The C@H Team you now see didn’t officially form until 2017!
Over the past 8 conference, our team has transitioned quite a bit. After Round 2, I asked 3 amazing women to assist me with the conference prep & the coordination the weekend of – Emily, Laura & Ally worked with me for Rounds 3-5 and gosh, we had such an amazing experience! I’m so grateful for all they gave to C@H!!! After Round 6, Matt took on a larger role and Emily transitioned to the Conference Administrator position.
9. Matt and I never planned to run this conference together.
We never thought we’d be a “husband-and-wife-team”… it just sort of happened! I own & operate three brands – Dear Sweetheart Events, Creative at Heart Conference & Kat Schmoyer. Over the years, as the brands continued to grow, we started to see that there was a need for more help. After talking with a few friends & mentors who are husband & wife teams, we began to see how possible it could be for us! Rather than hiring additional employees, I could hire HIM and we could have the freedom & flexibility of doing what we love – together!! In June 2017 Matt left his full-time teaching job, and we honestly can’t imagine going back!
10. My mom helps with food + catering at the conference!
My mom attended Round 4 because she was jumping into the world of photography (I’ve never been so proud!). Fast forward to Round 7 … Round 7 was our first conference not held at a hotel – which meant we needed to bring more staff with us to make the days run smoother. I immediately asked my mom if she’d come because I knew (a) she’d love it and (b) she’s such a hard worker & so passionate about what we’re doing. For all you Round 8 attendees, you’ll be seeing her this year, too! Let’s just say we like to keep things in the family! 🙂
11. I’ve lost my voice at every single round!!
No matter how much I try not too, I just can’t seem to help it! By the last day at every single conference, I’m hoarse and having to whisper! I’ll drink hot tea and try to save it as much as I can, but it never fails … I just talk too much & stay up too late, I think! It’s well worth it, though, and I’m already planning on it happening in November! 🙂
12. Creative at Heart is only 4 years old.
This one tends to surprise a lot of people! Because we’re hosting Round 8 this year, you’d think we’ve been hosting conferences for 8 years! But Round 1 was held in January of 2015!! We hosted 3 conferences in 2015, 3 conferences in 2016 and starting last year we began offering 1 conference per year. It’s been an unbelievable 4 years and while there have been so many changes as we’ve grown & shifted, the heart of what we do is still the same & I can’t wait to see where it takes us!