Stop me if you’ve heard this one…the allegory of the long spoons, by Rabbi Haim of Romshishok. It’s a parable that shows the difference between heaven and hell by means of people who are forced to eat with long spoons. In hell, the people are unable to lift food to their own mouths with the use of the long flatware and are left starving. In heaven, the people feed one another across the table and are wholeheartedly fed. The story encourages people to be kind to each other, to help one another succeed, to thrive…
On February 28th, nearly 100 of the most inspiring women gathered for the inaugural Thrive conference hosted by Houstonians, Whitney and Bree. I may be speaking prematurely as sequential conferences have not been announced; however, I can safely assume from all the positive feedback trending in social media, we can expect more from these amazing women. Whitney and Bree successfully brought a panel of knowledgeable women and aspiring bloggers together for one purpose— to create a place where bloggers could come and be inspired, motivated, and learn how to make their blog Thrive! Mission accomplished.
I arrived at approximately 8:30am into the Hyatt Place banquet room that was transformed into a shabby, chic, creative sphere by Laurie and Jessica, the voice behind Ruthie and Rose. I was first made aware about the conference from Laurie, a San Antonio transplant. I had been following their blog for quite some time and contemplating the creation of my own blog. Instinctively, this conference ignited a fire! I’m so glad I decided to attend because I learned so much in those eight hours. Heck, I learned so much in the first five minutes of finding my seat. No really, as soon as I sat down, a speaker (unbeknownst to me) came to talk to my table (only two of us at the time).
Kristyn Merkley, came to introduce herself to me and Wendy (my new bloggie friend I met at the conference). Kristyn made us feel like we had known her for years as we asked question, after question about blogging. She happily answered with thoughtful and experienced answers. Just a preview of what was next to come.
1. “There is room for everyone in this world to be successful.” -Ashley Lemieux, The Shine Project
As a philanthropist myself, I was beyond impressed with Ashley’s words of wisdom. She challenged us to find purpose within ourselves, to never lose sight of what we want, and what to do when we’ve fallen to the bottom (because we will fail, what matters is what we do when we’re at the bottom that defines us). From her website, “The Shine Scholarship Project is a non-profit that was created by TSP to put our beliefs in action. Its mission is to improve the lives of at-risk teens through service, education, and family involvement. We do service projects with inner city students every other week to teach them the leadership skills that are necessary for them to succeed. The money we raise goes to sending these leaders to college, so they can give back to society. You can read more about how to get involved HERE.
2. “Invest in yourself.” -Audra Kurtz, The Kurtz Corner
Imagine what you could do in the world if you just invested in yourself. Audra invested in herself; after 4 years in retail, she quit her job, became a work-at-home-mom, and Youtube sensation! Her top video has over 3.5 million views! She showed us the “milk and the meat” of it all, and most importantly how to monetize our blogs using Youtube!
3. “You are building something from the ground up, that’s something to be super proud of.” -Caroline Harper Knapp, House of Harper
As a new blogger, it was great to hear how Caroline built her brand—the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned along the way. Had I heard her speak before purchasing a domain, I would have thought twice before doing it. I’ll be able to work around it, but you can bet I’ll be taking some of her advice in creating something that I’ll be super proud of.
4. “Don’t be something you’re not. Be relatable and authentic- people will be drawn to you.” -Ashley Lastovica, Fancy Ashley
Jenny sat next to me at our table. She flew in from Oklahoma to see her friend “Fancy Ashley” speak. I overheard someone ask, “you know Fancy Ashley?” I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to hear her speak (and to see what she looked liked). In a colorful Trina Turk millan skirt and chambray top paired with nude heels, Fancy Ashley took the stage with beauty and grace— a relatable, authentic woman I was instantly drawn to. She gave us a peek into her life, while cautioned us on what to say to keep readers coming back, and what not to say to maintain our family’s’ privacy.
5. “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessfulpeople are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?” Meg Owen, Meg On the Go; Megan Silianoff, Greetings from Texas; Sarah Skaggs, Pretty Providence
The trio gave a first-hand experience on working with a brand from both, consumer and brand prospective. They gave us a number or resources on how to monetize, told us which brands we should reach out to (and stay away from), and how to get the most bang for our blog. The ladies of the panel took questions from attendees and answered questions on media-kits to informing us how to get product for free.
6. “Grow. Thrive. Bloom.” -Kristyn Merkley, Lil’ Luna
I fancy myself an organized person; I make to-do lists and create excel sheets daily—I’m a mere amateur when compared to the green-thumbed Kristyn Merkley. She blogs on recipes, DIY projects, home décor and more, she’s even been featured in Parenting Magazine and Better Homes and Garden. Kristyn currently partners with eight brands, it’s no wonder she needs all those spreadsheets! I’m so grateful she showed us how to get the most out Google drive and showed us how to create an efficient editorial and social media calendar.
7. “What? You’ve never used a tampon for steam in your food photography?” -Rachel Matthews, A Southern Fairytale
Rachel is the epitome of a Southern Fairytale! She instantly warms your heart with her sheer presence. Her spirit brightens a room, her smile is inviting, and her words gave me chills. She leaves you hanging on her every word, so much so, when her presentation is over and done, I found myself chatting with the leading lady herself. I felt like a groupie who snuck behind the stage at a Dixie Chicks concert (even more excited when she replied to my tweets and comments on Insta)! She led the food photography session—two of my favorite things. I was able to use the skills she taught us and improve my food photography photos in a matter of minutes.
8. “It’s not about your pictures, it’s about the story you have to tell.” -Meg Cady Scholz, Everyday Meg
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this session, it was the only split session where attendees had to chose between fashion and food (pure torture!). From what I hear, it was a great session. From the spectacular photos of the event, I hope someone took good notes.
These ladies have inspired me in so many ways. A heaven on earth, if you will. Follow my blog, as I will dissect each session and delve a little deeper in the days to come. Also, coming soon, If I could teach the ladies at Thrive one thing, it would be ________. Stay tuned!
Photo credit: Meg Cady Scholz