Last year’s Haven was fantastic, but this year was I daresay, twice as good. Maybe 3 times as good! The Haven team really knocked it out of the park this time and we couldn’t be happier. If you had told me 2 years ago when I sat and dreamed about pulling a conference like this together that we would be so successful 2 years down the road, I wouldn’t have even believed it. This conference was needed among the DIY/home blogger niche and from the response this year from new bloggers, it was a hit. All I saw the entire 2 days was smiling faces and happy people. And that makes me happy!
We had a wonderful assortment of sponsors this year and I think all of them were happy too. It’s so fun to bring a group this size together, all talking about home improvement and making their homes better. Along with the blogging classes too, there was so much to absorb and take in. I did get go hop around to classes this year to sit in on the speakers and hear a bit of the topics myself and I learned a bunch from the SEO class. None of us know it all, that is for sure!
There’s definitely something fun about staying in a swanky hotel and living it up for a few days. The Haven team crashed in the Presidential suite on the 22nd floor of the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead and boy, was that a treat. This 2 bedroom suite was about 2500 s.f. according to the facts online and 4 of us were in this suite with the other 2 team members just next door in another luxurious suite as well. Our suite became party central for all our friends at night and we didn’t get to bed before 1 or 1:30 every single night. You can imagine how it would be to meet up with your friends you don’t get to see that often and catch up after hours. There just weren’t enough hours in the days to do it all. But, we tried. We really tried!
This large bathroom, with huge walk-in closet was nice to have.
Check out the jetted tub which was so swanky, but we didn’t even have time for a soak. The rain shower was certainly a treat though.
The huge master suite that Kristin and I shared.
We even did a few little personalization to each attendee’s TV in the rooms with Haven welcome.
The view overlooking Buckhead and towards downtown in Atlanta.
I just love our Haven team. We are 6 now and I appreciate their willingness to work hard for Haven’s sake. Beth, Chris and me on the front row and Traci and Sarah behind us. We all work together to pull off something of this magnitude. My right hand girl, Kristin, also in Atlanta, isn’t in this pic, but we really couldn’t do it without her. She’s has the brains with her event planning skills and working with the hotel and sponsors to get everything set up just right. She makes Haven look great!
We started Haven with a fun cocktail party on Thursday evening, hosted by Homes.com and ForRent.com. They are super sponsors of ours and have supported us in this endeavor for 2 years in a row.
The Grand Hyatt has a beautiful terrace with Japanese garden up about 3 floors with a beautiful view of the Buckhead skyline and we lucked out with gorgeous weather that evening. It wasn’t even stifling hot as it normally is in August.
There are 2 terraces across from each other and the garden connects them. Such a beautiful setting for an outdoor party.
We got a few decorations together in preparation for all the attendees coming in that evening.
Then they all arrived to cocktails, appetizers and lots of talking and chatting it up. It was so fun to hear the buzz of excitement in the air.
Haven is a very exciting conference and you can literally feel the energy when everyone arrives.
Chris, Sarah and Katie.
Everywhere I looked there were smiling faces and lots of chattering. You can imagine how much talking was going on with almost 350 women in attendance. A handful of men find their way to Haven too, with a few husbands tagging along with their wives.
Me, Chris, Sarah and Linsdsay.
Cassity, Gina, Shauna, Wendy and Marian. These girls are all good blog friends of mine.
We had The Home Depot once again as our top sponsor and we’re so happy they are on board with us here in Atlanta.
I missed taking pics of many of the sponsor booths, but here are a few. Southern Accents in Cullman, AL brought their rustic stuff over for their booth space and it was a big hit among our attendees.
Homeright was also there.
Kreg Tools is another sponsor back for the second year.
These ladies had awesome swag bag products, Online Fabric Store.
Purebond was back again.
Royal Design Studio was rocking it once again.
The Ryobi booth was very popular and they threw a fantastic party for attendees and gave out tons of free products.
Simpson Strong Tie was represented.
3M had several of their brands represented and also gave out lots of freebies.
Cottonelle took over the bathrooms with their products.
Duluth Trading Company had some wonderful shirts to hand out to all. That was fun!
FrogTape (one of my personal faves) had plenty to share too.
This year, GMC stepped in as a big sponsor too and even brought in one of their fab SUV’s right into the show. They do some awesome things with Habitat and sent bloggers out on the longest yardsale again this year. Fun stuff!
Haven was hopping this year and we couldn’t be more thrilled!
We got things set up for the opening session and it was a sight to behold, this huge ballroom filled with wonderful sponsors.
We had Ana White as our keynote speaker this year and she was fantastic and so inspiring.
It was fun to see this place fill up with smiling faces. I didn’t get to take pics during the opening session, but imagine these seats all filled up.
We also had Mocha My Day back for coffee service. It was so nice to have coffee going all day long. We all needed the extra energy.
This year, I was able to pop in a few classes and see what all was going on. We had several hands on DIY classes as well as lots of blogging classes too. Something for everyone! This is Sandra, doing her thing with power tools.
This class got to try out some awesome products by Ryobi for hands on DIY.
Southern Accents brought in a fun chalkboard and everyone signed their names.
One of our other big sponsors, who were so much fun was Ballard Designs. They supplied our gift bags this year and sponsored our living room. They brought in all their beautiful furniture and had it set up as a living room setting, where all could lounge and relax. That was such a treat!
Such a beautiful setting too.
Complete with fresh flowers.
It took a team to get everything set up after the opening session and we all pitched in to get things going.
Ballards also sponsored a bookcase challenge both days, with 3 teams competing for Ballard bucks. It was so fun to watch and I was a team leader on both days.
They had lots of fun Ballard Designs accessories to choose from.
And each team had about 15 minutes to complete their bookcases.
This was my team the first day and they ended up winning their challenge. It was really pretty.
And this is my team on Day #2. I don’t have all their names, but they were fun to watch.
My friend, Lisa Mowry, was there speaking on behalf of working with magazines.
I’m not going to name all of these bloggers, but they are all dear friends of mine. We have so much fun getting together in the same city and we stayed up way too late chatting into the night.
These ladies were chatting with one of my dear friends, Vicki (on the right) who came to help us out by volunteering.
It’s funny, but me, Vicki and another attendee, Barbara, all graduated from Sprayberry High School together and I hate to even say the year. Ughhh, it was a long time ago!
These ladies were all smiling and enjoying Haven too. So sorry not to get all the names straight on here, but it was a busy time.
Rustoleum, another of our fab sponsors, hosted a wonderful cocktail party the 2nd night. It was so pretty!
The ever-funny Sherry from Young House Love had a little fun with the cheese burgers.
That’s about all the pics I got, but wow, was it ever a fabulous conference. We loved planning it and we loved how it all turned out. I’m so, so grateful to have the opportunity to start this event and to keep it going for another year or so. We really feel that it’s a super thing to do for the home/DIY community of bloggers and that it is needed and useful and that’s why we are doing it. To bring together all of these wonderful bloggers and fabulous brands together is a magical thing.
Everyone wins! When I look back 2 years ago when I came back to Atlanta not knowing what my future held, I can’t help but feel so incredibly grateful for where I am today. Taking an idea like this and making it happen with the Haven team is so rewarding and I couldn’t be happier.
We can’t wait for Haven 2014 next year!! If you want to read more recaps of Haven, check out our Haven link up page on the website.
This song by Laura Story is such a good reminder to me that sometimes blessings come after the rain and that’s the case with my story as well. Every time I listen to it, it makes me tear up.