Haven Conference 2016 Recap!

Five years ago, the Haven Conference was born.   When I think back to where I was 5 years ago, it’s nothing short of a miracle that all of this came together when we stepped out in blind faith and started a DIY/Home decor blogging conference from scratch. I think I’ve said it before, but it truly was a God thing.  It was scary, but we felt such a passion for doing it and so it happened the first time that summer of 2012 and now 2016 is our 5th year of Haven.  I say it every year, but this is really true.  This year was the BEST ever!  We are working closely as a team and things have just come together in wonderful ways over the last 5 years, making this year a culmination of lots of hard work and planning.  Each year has introduced a better focus and this year we added 2 more new things:  Mentors and Cutting Edge classes for our advanced seasoned bloggers.

From the feedback we have gotten, everyone loved the Mentor idea and we think it was a great idea to implement at Haven.  We hand-picked 22 seasoned bloggers and divided up all the attendees into these groups so that they could chat and ask questions and not feel so new and alone.  We, as mentors were there to encourage and share our stories of blogging to hopefully inspire and give the new and not so new bloggers information that they may not have gotten before.  Blogging is not for the faint of heart.  It’s not a one size fits all career.  All bloggers that I know who have been doing this for a long, long time have different paths and different stories. We are all unique in our journey and that’s what makes blogging so personal and such a passion for me.  I have loved being part of Haven, from pulling the original team together to continuing to be a part of this conference with the other 3 team members this year in 2016.

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Our wonderful Haven team!  Me, Chris, Kristin (our fab events planner) and Traci.

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We had a photographer come in this year and finally got a decent group photo.  It’s been such a privilege to work alongside these ladies to plan Haven.


There is so much that goes into planning a conference and it truly starts months before the actual date arrives.  We spend hours planning and chatting about what and how we want to do things every year and every year, we try to change things up a bit and make it better.  We arrive at the hotel a day early to meet as a team and take care of last minute wrapping and gifts for our mentors and speakers.  This is our 3rd year at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead and they do a wonderful job for us.


We truly enjoy hosting and getting this conference together and it’s so fun to see the smiling faces that arrive in Atlanta to attend Haven.  The excitement in the air is a real thing!

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In our hotel suite, we are putting together our final ideas and touches.

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Wrapping speaker and mentor gifts.  A huge shout out to Nashville Wraps (and my reader, Buffie) for always sending us beautiful packages and wraps that make Haven look good.  If you need packaging and wraps and ribbons, they are the BEST!

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Kristin coordinates with all the sponsors and vendors and has our swag shipped to the hotel for the filling of the bags.  Swag bags are a big deal every year and we love to surprise our Haven Mavens with stuffed bags of goodies.  Our sponsors never disappoint and send some great things!  This year was an assembly line of swag stuffing that took about 4 hours.  It’s hard work behind the scenes, but we did have some wonderful volunteers who came to help us.

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You can’t imagine how 500 stuffed bags will look, but here’s a glimpse at them.  We had tool bags this year, provided by our Platinum sponsor, The Home Depot.  They have been with us since year one and we are so grateful for their support and sponsorship.

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Opening day, we always have a keynote speaker and this year we chose bloggers.  It’s so fun to see everyone come in for the keynote to hear inspiration right from the first day.

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These ladies have been blogging a long time too and are long time friends of mine.  It’s been such a pleasure watching them grow and expand their businesses and I’m so proud of them and all that they’ve accomplished.  Shaunna and Marian are the best, that is why we asked them to share and their morning chat was so inspirational and great to hear.  It was all about getting back to being real and authentic in blogland.  Things have been changing over the last few years and getting back to why we started blogging is so important. That’s something that I try to never lose sight of.  I still love blogging for the sharing with my readers and don’t ever want my blog to turn into just an infomercial or a slick magazine.  I can only be ME and I’m so grateful that you all allow me to continue to do that and that’s why I share so much of my personal life with y’all.

This kicked off the Haven Conference and the next 2 days were a whirlwind of exciting and busy classes and parties.

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Jaime from That’s My Letter made this incredible wooden map of the US, for Haven attendees to put their business cards on.  It was such a hit and we were all just amazed that she made this from scratch and managed to get it here and hang it up.  It was beautiful! Bloggers come from all over the US, as well as Canada.  Next year, we will have a spot for the Canadian bloggers to add cards as well.  That one slipped by us.

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We have such a wonderful array of sponsors and vendors at Haven and this is just a part of them that I managed to snap pictures of.

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Schlage hosted our breakfast one morning and created a really cute donut wall.

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We can always count on Ryobi to bring in all their power tools to share with and teach our attendees. They have been such a great sponsor for us and their tools are perfect for women.

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This year, my friends from Glamour Farms joined us and did a fashion show on Friday night, which was a big hit. We all loved it!

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Blanco was with us this year too for the first time.  I have one of their sinks and can’t say enough good things about it.  It’s a granite composite sink and I would buy one all over again.  I told these ladies that I love their sinks.

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Quikrete did some amazing things with their concrete products.

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And I can’t say enough good things about our top Platinum sponsor, The Home Depot. They truly have believed in Haven and have been with us for all 5 years.  We couldn’t do it without the support and attendance of our sponsors and vendors and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. They are the best and contribute so much to the conference in classes and booths.

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I’m working with Shaw Floors personally on my blog this year as a brand ambassador and will be sharing some new flooring ideas this year and next.  I’ve been so happy to be working with Shaw for the last few years and they also have been at Haven all 5 years. They are a great Georgia company!

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Home Decorators Collection is owned by Home Depot and they’ve been with us for a couple of years now, bringing in their beautiful furniture and vignettes to share around the hotel.  It sure makes for cozy seating and beauty all around.

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Rustoleum is a long time sponsor of Haven too and we love them.

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We had a photographer take pics for us this time, Kris with Flaunt Photography and she captured some great shots for us.  She also did head shots for attendees this year, which was fun.

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As I mentioned, we also added Mentors to Haven this year and it was so fun to introduce these ladies and have them meet their groups.  We think it was a big hit this year!

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My mentor group the first night.  All of us on the Haven team served as mentors too (except Kristin, our events planner).  It was so nice to talk to these ladies and get to know them more.

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Another fun thing we did this year was to give the Mentors gifts and Traci collected favorite sayings and had a great jewelry guy do them for our Mentors.  I chose my favorite Life verse, Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Isn’t this the cutest?   Vintage Stamp Jewels generously donated these bracelets to us and we so appreciate that!

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A glimpse at some of the sessions at Haven.  We had some great classes this year from photography to photo styling, painting, watercolor, design, and more.  Not to mention all the great blog business classes that Haven offers.

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Water color class with Lucy at Craftberry Bush was a big hit as well.

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Amy Howard was with us again this year doing a paint class with her wonderful products.

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Home Decorators showcased so many of their beautiful furniture items.

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The hotel does a great job with our food and beverage service and this was a peek at dessert for lunch one day. Treat!

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Captured in the fashion show for Glamour Farms, this is the blue top I’ve shared before.  Love those girls, they made it so much fun for us.

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Group shot of all the girls in the fashion show, front row 4 ladies from Glamour Farms. We loved having them with us this year!  They dressed up and paraded around with funny outfits on.

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Recognize these 3 guys?  We have plenty of men representing at Haven too and were happy to have John (Young House Love), Jeremy (Bower Power), and Andy with AdThrive with us, all speaking in some capacity.  There are plenty of men now in the DIY sector of blogging and we love having them there.
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Ryobi and several other sponsors hosted a really fun party on Saturday night of Haven. It gave everyone a chance to dress up a bit and have some fun on the dance floor.  These girls are all long time friends and 2 of them you’ll remember from our previous 4 years of the Haven team. We so appreciate all of their help in making Haven happen from that first year.
(left to right:  Kim (Sand and Sisal), Chris (Just A Girl), Beth (Home Stories A to Z) and on the Haven team for 4 years, Sarah (Thrifty Decor Chick) also on the Haven team for 4 years, Me and Traci. 

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The current Haven team:  Chris, me, Kristin, and Traci, all dressed up for the party.

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Saturday night soiree hosted by Ryobi, Behr, PureBond, Rustoleum, 3M and Crates and Pallet.

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It was a very fun event with lots of talking and laughter, food and drinks.  We thank our hosts for the party!

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Our closing speakers this year were John and Sherry, from Young House Love. If you’ve been reading blogs for any time at all, you will know this powerhouse married couple.  They started their blog, just like the rest of us back then started, for fun and sharing. It grew to be the biggest DIY blog out there and they were so successful.  After starting a family, and growing so big, there was a case of burnout and trying to figure out where they wanted to go after blogging full time.  They did the unthinkable almost 2 years ago and quit blogging.  It was such a shocker, but I’m so happy they have found their balance and still have a place in the blogging community. Everyone loved hearing from them. They are still blogging when they want to and also doing other creative endeavors that all happened because of their blog.  So their story was really inspiring to hear!

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It was such a pleasure to have them with us at Haven this year.  That’s a wrap on another great Haven Conference and we couldn’t be happier with how it went.  I’m so, so grateful that God allowed me to get this conference off the ground when plans were being talked about in 2011, right after I moved back here.  It was something that many of my blog friends had talked about all the way back to 2009, but the year I moved back to Atlanta was the year that things took off for me and my blog and Haven was started.  God has truly blessed me beyond what I could ever imagine and I’m still so grateful for those blessings!

Someone asked if my sweetheart, Mark, came to the conference.  Yes, he did!!  He came on Saturday for lunch and I showed him all around the conference and he was very impressed with what we had accomplished.  I introduced him to a sponsor that I’m working with and he got to listen in on that conversation.  He has been hearing me talk about Haven since January and now understands what it’s about.  He loves power tools too, so was all about checking those out!  My sister and brother-in-law almost always drop by Haven and they came this year on Friday and brought Parker with them. They were keeping her for the week.  They had lunch and walked around and they enjoy seeing what is going on.  I know they are proud of how this has evolved.  My parents came last year for the first time, along with my niece, Lauren. I wanted the whole family to see it in action and they loved it!

Thanks to all of YOU for being such encouragers over the last 5 years, that is so appreciated as well!  If you want to check out lots of recaps of Haven, we have a linkup party going on Haven Conference site. I always enjoy reading those from those who attended Haven.

I’ve got LOTS to share from my beach trip after Haven to Apalachicola and St. George Island, so I’ll be putting all those posts together to share soon. It was such a nice relaxing time after Haven for me at the beach!

- Rhoda


  1. Jamie Szalabawka says:

    Haven looks fun! Love a lot of the sponsors – Home Depot, Behr Paints, Rustoleum, Glamour Farms and love the bracelets that were made. Very interesting.

  2. Thanks for the shout out! Nashville Wraps is always honored to be a part of this incredible event. We love all the inspiration Haven attendees and bloggers bring to the online world. Wishing you continued success!!

  3. Whew, what a great time. I was excited to see Crates and Pallet. I’ve seen their products used for storing fabrics. As I am a quilter, I went immediately to their web site and found some crates that I’d never seen before that would be ideal for my purposes.

  4. It looks like another fabulous Haven–Job well done!. Hopefully one of these days I will be able to attend but until then, thanks for sharing all of the highlights! It’s a huge undertaking and based on blog posts and blogger comments you ladies rocked it once again. Congratulations!

  5. Rhoda,
    I’m not a blogger, or do any DIY projects, but I’m a faithful reader who loves to make home our own “Haven.”! I love the Haven recap. Kudos to you and your team for branching out, taking a huge risk and following your dreams and passion to create this amazing venue.

    I had a random question… Was your sweetie, Mark, able to attend and see you in action? Thriving in your element? I am sure he would get a kick out of seeing you in the “zone” and be amazed at what you’ve created. Was any of your sweet family also able to attend? I know readers and followers would be thrilled at the thought of seeing them.

    I would imagine anyone seeing this event come together in person would be SO proud of you!!!
    We are so proud of you.

    These are definitely the years that the Lord has redeemed and restored. Soooo happy for you. You deserve all the goodness coming your way.

    • Hi, Paula, thank you so much for those sweet words!! Means the world to me. Yes, Mark came down on Saturday for lunch and I showed him all around the sponsor booths and he was very proud and impressed with it all. He’s been hearing me talk about Haven since January and finally got to see what it’s all about. I was so happy to have him there and he definitely got to see me in the zone. My sister and BIL came on Friday with Parker and had lunch and walked around. They love it too and are very happy with how it’s all turned out.

      I will go back and add this in my post too. I loved sharing this with my family & sweetheart!

  6. Very impressive! We have a business that participates in one of the largest Trade Shows annually so I see first hand all of the work that goes into something like this. I am very impressed that you and a few of your bloggers friends were able to start something so large. It looks first rate & first class!

  7. Thanks for sharing, enjoyed looking at your pictures. By the way, I love your hair the way you’re wearing it now.

  8. Rhoda, thanks so much for sharing all that Haven is about! I almost registered for this year, but then I didn’t! I am definitely planning on coming next year! I can see how much you put into making Haven so successful…so I know your vacation was much needed! Will be looking forward to reading all about it! Happy Tuesday, Pam @ Everyday Living

  9. Would you tell us who you chose as mentors this year? I am sure we follow some of their blogs.

  10. I don’t have a blog but I want to come! Looks like a well-planned amazing time!

  11. Thank you Rhoda for your sweet comments on the map project. I’m overwhelmed with the response and so, so happy it all came together as we envisioned. Pressure is on for next year, I’m thinking bigger and better!

    • That map project took my breath away. How do you top that? But….I look forward to see what you create for next year. You all got this!

    • Jaime, we were blown away by your map!! It totally exceeded expectations and we are so happy you gave of your time to do this. I can’t imagine topping it, but let’s add Canada next year, don’t want to hurt feelings!

  12. What a fabulous recap!….Oh wish I was there this year…but see you at the next Haven!

  13. Congrats on a successful conference.

  14. Rhoda, You look fabulous in the fashion show and on the dress up last night pics. All of you did such a wonderful job it sounds like. I’ve always wanted to attend Haven. Maybe next year.
    I’ve known you since your Birmingham days and admired all you do. You have the gift of making people feel at ease and comfortable. Glad you had a good rest at the beach. We go to St. George Island each year and love it.

    • HI, Bonnie, thank you so much! I’m so glad to have so many readers who started reading my blog when I was in Birmingham. I would love for you to get to Haven one year, I think you would love it. We are so proud of how it’s turned out.

  15. This is such a good recap, Rhoda, you captured everything about Haven! Thank you and the team for all of your vision and hard work, your dreams became a reality in a big way! Thank you that we all get to benefil from your effort! I loved being in your mentor group and so enjoyed finally meeting you in person. So glad to be staying in touch and looking forward to seeing you next month!

  16. Rhoda, I’m so proud of you!

    I’ve only been able to attend Haven one year. The date almost never works for me–it always seems to conflict with our family vacation. But of course that’s no reflection on Haven; it’s just the way the calendar works out for me, and I know that you could never find a time that works for everyone. But may I say that it’s by far the best blog conference I’ve ever attended, even though I only made it in person just that once?

    I remember when the conference was just a gleam in y’all’s eyes. And you were right: a conference for home and garden bloggers was a great idea! I’m so glad that you’ve been able to go on with it even though not all the original team members are still part of the team. You, Traci, Chris, and Kristen have obviously been able to keep things going in grand style. I know you all work very, very hard to produce a fantastic conference that’s great for everyone involved–attendees, speakers, and sponsors. I hope it’s also great for you!

    Bless you as you continue to let your light shine. Love you!

    • Thank you, Richella, you have been such a dear friend! Hope you do get to come back to Haven another time.Loved having you there. xoxo

  17. fellow atlantan coming to haven for the first time this year, this post has me even more excited. I love the mentor program already 🙂


  1. […] at Home and so many others that have been so loyal to HAVEN.  Please see Rhoda’s post here: http://southernhospitalityblog.com/haven-conference-2016-recap/ As she was very diligent to snap a shot of our Fab […]

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