Creative at Heart Conference- Denver, CO
I watched out the window as the scenery filled with unfamiliar homes, buildings, and faces. “I hope you enjoy your visit” my driver said as the car came to a stop. I opened the car door and stepped out onto the curb. I felt the heat of desert air hit me and I looked up at the doors ahead of me. My stomach was filled with knots and fear, but at the same time my heart was filled with hope. I smiled. I smiled because I had made it.
I had made it to the Creative at Heart Conference.
A couple weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Creative at Heart Conference in Denver, Colorado. For those who are unfamiliar, Creative at Heart is “a two day conference where creatives from all industries come together to learn how to improve their businesses, be inspired from influential speakers, and leave with an encouraging community and new friendships.”
Today I am going to share all about my trip in Denver, all the conference details, and finally my thoughts on the conference and tips for anyone thinking about attending ANY conference.
I arrived in Denver around noon on Saturday and headed straight for the hotel where the conference was being held.
Where we stayed during our time in Denver & where the conference was held was at the Warwick Denver Hotel.
Not long after I had arrived two other attendees approached me. Nevica and Ashley asked me to join them for lunch. It was during our lunch that I had the most amazing burger and was able to learn the ways of two Creative at Heart experts. Nevica and Ashley were conference alumni and were helping me by sharing their advice to make the most of the conference.
After we grabbed a bite to eat we headed back to the hotel where we met with a handful of other attendees. Up on the rooftop pool of the hotel we made our introductions and enjoyed the summer sun of Denver.
We all chatted until check-in. As soon as our rooms were ready we headed upstairs to settle into our homes for the weekend.
*This is a view from our hotel room balcony I took with my iPhone.
I shared a room with two other amazing women, Clara and Amanda. Clara is an aspiring wedding planner and Amanda is an online shop owner. Not long after all three of us made it to our room, Amanda and I joined two attendees, Kinsey & Jen, for an afternoon snack. The four of us headed back to the same place I had the burger and this time I was able to snap a picture of my delicious salad with a side of truffle Parmesan fries.
As the evening rolled around and we were all back into our rooms Clara, Amanda, and I spent all night talking. Between dinner at the hotel’s restaurant and chatting up in our room, it had felt like we had been friends for years. It was amazing to share our hopes and anticipation for the days ahead and our stories of how we ended up in this moment.
Day one was already off to a good start.
Day 2 The first day of Creative at Heart
Day one of the conference was filled with so many mixed emotions from anxiety and nerves, the excitement of meeting someone for the first, and a heart filled with laughter and inspiration.
We all wore name tags and placed stickers that represented our careers on them.
The moment you walked into the conference room there were swag bags and goodies on the table waiting for you.
There was also a tote bag hanging on your chair filled with even more gifts for you to take home.
Each attendee also received a key chain.
*Photo Credit: Bulloss Photography & Alicia Lacey Photography
After a day full of speakers and our brains buzzing with new ideas we all made our way back to our rooms to get ready to meet for dinner.
We attended as a large group dinner at Avanti’s. The most notable feature about Avanti’s is that the building is comprised of shipping containers that house each individual restaurant and customers can enjoy a variety of food in a cafeteria style. My favorite part of our dinner was when a part of my chair snapped and I almost fell to the ground. (Only realizing now that I should have taken a picture of this monumental event for you all to witness). After pulling myself together from hysteric laughter we headed up to the rooftop part of the restaurant to enjoy some nice Denver views.
After dinner we headed to the hotel to change into our PJ’s and head up to the top floor of the hotel for the Creative at Heart’s late night treat.
It was here that magic was in the air.
During this late night pajama party I was able to connect with another attendee and now friend, Amanda. Amanda is a life coach and we spent over an hour talking. We grabbed our cupcakes, cozied up on some chairs, and let ourselves enjoy each other’s company. Friendships are a funny thing, some times you can just tell right away that you were meant to meet someone and Amanda was that person for me. We talked, we laughed, we bonded, we got tired.
I ended my time at the late night treat by snagging some goodies from the Creative at Heart Pop up shop, snapping some photos in the photo booth, and heading on up to our room.
This t-shirt along with a tumbler and note pad were a few things I got at the pop up shop. The mug below was a treat for us attendees we received at the late night treat. (Mug design by Prairie Letter Shop)
If you ever want to know what it is like to be with someone who is undeniably dorky and clumsy just spend one day with me. I decided to take a shower before bed. Unbeknownst to me what I thought would be a refreshing shower would instead nearly give me a heart attack! I cluelessly stepped into the shower only to be shocked by the scalding hot water. I reached for the temperature nob, trying to stay out of the stream of hot water. I took one step forward and slipped. My hands flailed looking for anything to grasp onto as I landed on the bathroom floor, one foot still in the tub and the whole shower curtain had been pulled down on top of me. As I laid there for a moment feeling rather pitiful I thought to myself “I am not even surprised.” I started laughing at myself which then lead to even more laughter.
& that my dear readers is a day in the life of Marnie Jayne.
Conference Day 2
I am happy to report that there was no chair breaking or shower falling in day two of the Creative at Heart conference. There were however, all kinds of feels today. The second day of the conference was definitely the day where everyone connected on a much deeper level.
To our happy surprise, there was a second round of goodies waiting for us on our tables.
During lunch, we had complimentary headshots taken and then a group photo of everyone attending the conference.
The lunch tables were decorated elegantly with beautiful florals.
At the end of the day, everyone said his or her goodbyes.
& just like that, the conference was over.
However, my story is far from over. That evening the remaining attendees who decided to stay one more night gathered together for one last dinner. It was here at this amazing Italian restaurant that the magic continued.
It was here at this dinner that I had one of many moments throughout this trip that I felt truly blessed to have been there. As I sat back in my chair and I looked to my left where two incredibly influential entrepreneurial women sat and then I looked to my right to see two more prominent women who own their businesses and yet we all sat as one. What normally would seem like four speakers and several attendees was just a table of friends bonding over our creativities, hobbies, families, and struggles. This dinner surrounded me with a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time… belonging.
Now before I go on to share my final day in Denver I wanted to share my thoughts on some of my favorite moments during the conference.
Conference Thoughts & The Speakers
There were 17 speakers. The speeches at this conference are different in many ways. For one, they apply to all types of creative industries. They apply to individuals behind the business, not just the business itself. That is what makes them so empowering. It is we, the individuals, who are behind the businesses after all and that is what these speakers reminded us.
There were 13 speeches given and each speech presented brought a different story, knowledge, and influence. So I am not going to cover every speech, but I will share some highlights.
Amy & Jordan Demos: A wedding photographer couple that shared an amazing talk on storytelling. Personally, you know a really great speech when you don’t have to write anything down. Most people think it’s the opposite, if it’s full of knowledge and inspiration you would be writing things down like crazy right? No. For me a great speech is one that captivates you. The kind that just makes you lose yourself in that moment. Listening to Amy & Jordan’s speech I didn’t need to write anything down because I was able to embrace it and let it all sink in, you can ask me today and I still remember everything they said. The biggest take away: become a storyteller.
Katelyn James: Is also a wedding photographer. Her speech was on Micro Changes, Macro Results. What made Katelyn’s speech so powerful was how vulnerable she got. If anyone knows anything about running any kind of business in today’s world, vulnerability is the new game changer. The reason vulnerability is so important is because of how RARE it is. No one is willing to be open and share and be vulnerable and rightfully so. I don’t blame anyone, but when you do dive deep and share it…it becomes empowering, it becomes inspiring, it becomes a light that shines bright. Katelyn got vulnerable and it made every single one of us connect with her. We felt her pain and we can leave trusting her that she understands OUR pain. She created connection, community. She made us all feel understood and in that moment that is what we all needed, so for that moment she took away our fears, our worries, and made us feel like everything was OKAY.
Every speech at this conference had its own touching point. Believe me you didn’t walk away with nothing from any speech because every speaker has their own story to share, their own experiences to bring to the conference. That is where the learning comes from.
The Last Moments of Creative at Heart
At the end of the conference, when 5’oclock came around and Kat gave the goodbye speech everyone sat for a moment still taking everything in. Then the moment was over and we all thought, “What do we do now?”
I know my thoughts were “Crap! This is it, Marnie, you better get off your butt and build up the courage to go talk to the speakers you’ve been wanting to. It is now or literally probably NEVER.”
So I did.
I chatted with my panelists. First was Nevica, who taught me to believe in myself. When I first met her and she asked me what do I do, I told her I am trying to be a blogger. She looked right at me and said, “You are a blogger.” Nevica is a business strategist (coach) & is actually going to be speaking at the Inspired Retreat, if you get a chance to go and hear her speak, DO IT.
Next was Andra & Kelly from With Grace & Gold. They do branding & web design and hopefully in the near future will be a part of creating my new blog. If I had to narrow it down to one biggest take away it would be this: hire them when you get home immediately. Seriously.
Which leads me to Krista. Krista Jones is a film-wedding photographer with her husband, Davey, and a co-founder of The Rising Tide Society. Krista and I had the shortest chat, however; left me with the most impact. Krista is incredibly sweet and radiant. Thanks to Krista I am so excited to announce that my blog will be getting a complete makeover. Krista helped me realize what I really needed right now and how I can start taking myself as a blogger more seriously. She opened a new door for me and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
Sometimes it isn’t about big moments, but it is about a few small bits that makeup pieces to a puzzle. That is definitely how I would sum up my most influential moments at Creative at Heart Conference. Small chats with different panelists/speakers, small take-a-ways, that lead me closer to clarity and my dreams.
***I’m sure this sounds like I am just talking up random people to you, but it’s not. I am sharing these amazing people and my experience with them because I feel that they are worth sharing, these people are worth sharing with the world. They had an amazing impact on me and if I can share that with my readers then I am going to.
Last, but DEFINITELY not least I had one on one time with Amy & Jordan Demos. You know how some people just have that ability to make you feel as if you are the only person in the room because when they talk to you, they give you their undivided attention… that’s Amy & Jordan. It is amazing how they make you feel instantly special the second they start talking to you. When Amy spoke you could tell that the only thing that mattered to her right in that moment was talking to YOU. As for Jordan, every break between speeches we got he went around and sat next to different attendees and talked to them. He went out of his way to interact with us and made sure no one felt left out. If I ever did not know what happiness looked like, I do now after meeting them. I typically don’t share photos of myself especially if they’re grainy iPhone pictures, but I think this photo represents just how much positivity these two radiate. They literally bear hug you and your life is complete.
And that wraps up my Creative at Heart Conference Recap. My Denver trip, though, is still far from over.
Tuesday came around, my last and final day in Denver, and I only had half a day to get anything left done. Let’s just say I made the most of it all right. I woke up Tuesday morning with the determination to have breakfast at Snooze.
Why Snooze you ask? Before I even signed up to attend this conference one of the founders, Laura, had mentioned on one of their webinars that if you ever make it to Denver you have to go to SNOOOOZE. Leading up to the conference people were posting on Facebook where is there a must have place to go while one is in Denver and Laura commented SNOOOZEEEE. Also on Instagram it was asked again, where is there a must be spot in Denver, and sure enough Laura commented SSSNNNOOOZZZEEE.
So I realized I HAVE TO TRY THIS SNOOZEE PLACE, IT IS KILLING ME.
So I did.
It was AMAZING. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE me some fun, yummy, places to eat with very decadent choices on the menu. Snooze was definitely my kind of place.
I got the Drunk’n Monkey French Toast. Let’s just say it included rum toffee sauce and a bruléed banana.
After Breakfast, we headed to the Capital.
Next we walked around downtown Denver.
Downtown Denver has a lot of fun and stunning street art and sculptures.
Finally, we headed back to the hotel to check out and head to Union Station.
As we stepped out onto the curb to head inside, the last little bit of disasters finally made its debut. The handle to wheel my suitcase broke. Have you ever seen Princess Diaries when Mia’s parking break well breaks off? That was the same look on my face as I held this giant handle in my hand. So what do I do? I shove it in my suitcase and grab a strap on the side of my suitcase and started pulling.
Union Station was just as beautiful as the pictures. It is however really crowded at least when we went, so I would definitely say it is more of a snap pictures and go kind of place.
We did get to Union Station early to have enough time to explore a little, take some pictures, and of course grab some ice cream from Milkbox Creamery.
I got one scoop of honey almond and one scoop of butterscotch per recommendation of the girl behind the counter. If you ever get a chance to go and they have these flavors try this combination. No don’t try what you think you should and don’t try to make your own combination; you have to get the honey almond and butterscotch.
Finally I hopped on a train to the airport, hopped on a plane to Portland, and finally hopped in a car to head home.
And that concludes my trip to Denver.
I would like to conclude this post with a few tips for anyone who is considering attending any kind of conference.
- Give yourself grace. If this is your first time ever attending a conference don’t expect to do EVERYTHING and meet every one. You will be nervous and it will be hard to get out of your comfort zone. You won’t know what to expect and sometimes you will have to just go with the flow to learn how the conference works. That is OKAY. Give yourself grace to just be a fly on the wall. Everyone always puts so much pressure on putting yourself out there and getting out of your comfort zone when it isn’t necessary. You will naturally do things out of your comfort zone during your time at a conference; heck even just signing up and attending is out of your comfort zone. It’ s your first time and it is perfectly normal to just see how things go.
- It is better to make deep connections with just a few other attendees than it is to meet all 100 attendees and not be able to remember their names or jobs an hour later. I can’t remember who also said this at the Creative at Heart Conference, I think it was Kat, but this statement is so true. People some times jump into conferences hoping to meet every single person there. It’s good to meet new people, but it is even better to leave with friendships. When someone is talking to you, get to know him or her. There may be so much chaos going on in the background, but do your best to focus on them, listen, and let them know they have your undivided attention. Try your best to really get to know the few people you do come into contact with. It will make a longer lasting impression and it will allow you to leave the conference with a feeling of fulfillment.
- Don’t be on your phone. People say this a million times and I feel like people really brush it off. Believe me, I GET IT. The social media addiction is real. You have loved ones at home. You don’t want to look like you’re just sitting there alone. Whatever. This conference is what you make it, so make it happen without your phone. If you really are that tempted to use it, put it in airplane mode or off. Wear a watch if you need to check the time. Being off your phone shows a huge impression at least on me it will. Nothing makes me appreciate you more if you can handle a day without your phone. For two reasons: you appreciate the company around you and being present and enjoying the time you have here matters to you.
If you are interested in attending a conference and need some more guidance you can check out Nevica’s video here or send me an email on my contact form.
Thank you all so much for joining me as I remember a wondrous weekend in Denver at the Creative at Heart Conference. I hope you all enjoyed tagging along with me on this journey and if you do consider attending Creative at Heart I highly recommend it. The Creative at Heart conference is definitely an experience worth investing in and you will leave with memories and growth that become a part of who you are. If you have any questions about attending you can comment down below or check out their website here.