Haven High!

I’m tired, y’all!

Careful what you wish for, it just might come true.  My friends and I talked last year at Blissdom about the possibility of doing a home/DIY conference, something that was more suited to our niche group.  We had gleaned good info from the other blog conferences that we had been to, but it just seemed that we needed a more narrow focus.  Home/design/DIY bloggers are just in a different category than other bloggers and this niche group has literally exploded in the last couple of years.

It was time.

Time for a brand new conference to be born.  So, one year ago, I pulled together a team of friends and fellow well-known bloggers and the Haven team was born.  We put together a plan of action and after countless Skype calls, planning sessions, Twitter chats, and ticket sales, we were on our way.  We were nervous.  Would the tickets sell out?  Would we get enough sponsors to cover our costs?  Would anyone show up?  And all of that was on my shoulders for the financial burden of caring for the money.

It almost seemed as if June 2012 would never get here.  But, get here it did.

With a bang!

It blew my mind the amount of preparation that went into doing a conference and I couldn’t have done it without my whole team in place.  I met a dear friend, Kristin, here in Atlanta who was my events planner and she took the ball and ran with it, as we secured a hotel venue, started planning menus and logistics for our classroom spaces, as well as planning sessions on Skype with our entire team.  The last month before the conference was a blur, as boxes of swag started arriving at Kristin’s house and the reality of Haven became real true life.

It was really happening!  260 (mostly) women would be showing up in a few short days and we had to be ready.  It was touch and go for awhile, wondering if our banners would be finished in time or if our print schedules would make it to the hotel by opening day.  I’m happy to say, we pulled it off and made it happen and nothing majorly went wrong.


Since you’ll be reading a lot of recaps from the attendees perspective, let me show you a bit of what went on behind the scenes at Haven.  Boxes began arriving at Kristin’s house from our awesome Haven sponsors.  These would all need to be unpacked and loaded into our swag bags, nicely donated by Mailchimp (thanks, Mailchimp!).


Kristin’s sweet mom came to help us on swag bag stuffng day, the weekend before Haven. Her living room and dining room were completely filled with all things Haven.


Our cute swag bags from Mailchimp. We loved how they turned out and they were perfect for our conference brand.


This is just a small portion of the 300 bags that were filled and transported to the hotel.

Haven swag bags

Here they are at the hotel, waiting for registration to begin and for all the attendees to pick up their bags.  We had some great swag bags and that’s a huge shout-out to all of our sponsors.

All Haven Team

My wonderful Haven team: Kate, Sarah, Beth, me, Traci, Chris and MarianKristi, our Haven website designer, had already left to return home.

I could not have done all of this without these girls. It was a wonderful year of planning and to see it all come to fruition was so exhilarating and special and it goes to show you, if you dream big enough, BIG dreams do come true.

Haven team 2

Me and part of my team at registration.  Jaime on the right was a really nice volunteer who wanted to come and help.

team setting up

We were all giddy with excitement as the name badges were all spread out by the alphabet and last names.


Kristin and I had not had time to start working on the pretty lanterns that we wanted to hang from the ceiling, so the team (and a few others) pitched in to help.  I borrowed this pic from Traci.

Hot off the Press!  If you’d like to get your own Haven Maven t-shirt, we have some for sale here at my friend, Debbie’s online shop, Miss Lucy’s Monograms.  Order now before they run out, we only have a few!

Haven lanterns

We did manage to get them up just in time with help from the hotel guys. Home Depot was our Platinum sponsor!

Haven schedules

The Haven schedules arrived just in time to hand out and we were so proud of how they turned out.  With some last minute help from the genius creative, Reni from Bliss and Tell, she came up with a pretty cover for us and we loved it.  Thank you, Reni!

Haven banners

That cover graphics was transferred to our beautiful Haven banners which hung up front during the conference.

Haven sponsors

Haven sponsors:  Big thanks to all of them, we could not have done it without you ALL!  They really went all out for our swag bags too and all of our Haven Mavens were so excited to get their bags.


Wednesday evening, we kicked off a welcome party sponsored by Oreck and Frogtape.  These ladies did an amazing job and everyone was chatting it up and mingling.


My right-hand girl, Kristin, handed out drink tickets.  I couldn’t have put this together without her. She and I were the Atlanta team, collaborating on everything at the hotel and the complete conference set up with all the sponsors.  You can thank Kristin for how well it all came together, she is a pro at events planning.

Haven stage

Our Haven stage.  Our wonderful sponsor, Shaw Floors/HGTV Home also sponsored a coffee house/living room for us and I totally didn’t get enough pics of it all. I’m hoping that all the attendees took a lot more pics than I did of the amazing set up of the coffee house.  It was great!  That coffee kept me going all 2 days, I was drinking Mochas like crazy to keep  my energy up.


The stage with our sponsors logos playing.


Early Thursday a.m., our keynote speakers, the fabulous John and Sherry with Young House Love, kicked off Haven with a big bang and the room was packed and mesmerized as they  recounted their blogging journey and how they got to bloggy stardom.  They are so hilarious and real and we all loved their sense of humor and candor.


It was a packed house, listening to every word that John and Sherry shared.


Sherry and John.  They brought their baby daughter, Clara as well as Burger, the dog.  It was so fun to see them all come waltzing in the hotel late on Wednesday, just like any normal little family.

John Sherry Rhoda

I grabbed a quick pic with the Young House Love family, since I knew that everyone would be clamoring to meet them. Thanks, John and Sherry for driving down to Atlanta and sharing with us.  Y’all kicked off the very first Haven in a memorable way!

my Shaw HGTV room

I’ll share a few highlights from our sponsor booths.  Shaw Floors and HGTV Home were well represented in a beautiful booth, complete with rugs, flooring and lots of great information on this company.  See that room behind me?  That’s mine and Lindsay’s room that we completed in the design competition last year in High Point, NC.  I might have squealed really big when I saw that HUGE poster up in the Shaw booth!


Annie Sloan chalk paint was well represented and this booth saw lots of action as attendees spun the wheel to win prizes.  Annie Sloan gave out a ton of great prizes all during the conference.  Do you think that was exciting for all the Haven Mavens?  You can bet it was!  They were all trying to figure out how to get their paint home on the planes.


Ryobi was there showing off their tools.


Purdy was well represented too and handed out lots of paint brushes, at least one per attendee.  Love me a Purdy paint brush!

Bondo was there showing off their products and how you can use them for home improvement.


The MirrorMate folks had a really nice booth set up too. I’m a big fan of their mirror framing products.

Royal Stencils

Royal Design Studio was also very busy with hands-on demos going on.


Love their products too!


Oreck was there showing off their vacuums to everyone.

Oreck interviews

And they were doing a fun interactive video session with attendees.


Cutter covered the summer with their repellant products.

Fish foam

Nathan with Fish Foam showed off his wonderful window cleaning products.


The Homes.com girls were there having lots of fun with attendees in their booth as well.

Kreg tools

The guys from Kreg tools gave all attendees a mini-jig in the swag bags and those were hot items.  Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps was checking them out.

TRunk show

These ladies had a fun trunk show going with lots of fun jewelry and clothing.

Susie Rhoda

(Susie Harris and me)

Haven was amazing. I got to see old friends and make plenty of new ones.  I was so exhausted at the end of our 2 and 1/2 days, but it was so worth it.  We were so giddy with relief and happiness that Haven was such a success.  It really was like there was a buzz going on all over the hotel, with energy and excitement the entire time that Haven was happening.  It was so exciting to watch and be a part of.  I’m honored to be leading this group and we do hope that there will be another Haven next year.

If you had told me 5 years ago that all of this would be happening to ME, I would have never believed it.  God has been a part of this Haven conference too and He put it all together as only he can do.

I’m grateful and honored to be the leader of this fine group of women.  It’s been an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see what next year holds for all of us.

For now, I’m on a Haven high for a few more days.

You can click over to the Haven Flickr page for TONS of pics, you’ll feel like you were there!

OK, you Haven Mavens!  Time to link up your Haven recap posts right here.  I can’t wait to go and read them all and see the fun you had.

(Flood stain winners are announced here!)

- Rhoda


  1. […] P.S. There is a flickr Haven group here if you want to see more pics and Rhoda has a link up party for all the Haven recaps here. […]

  2. […] read more recaps of the conference click on over Rhoda’s blog – Southern Hospitality where she has a link up of recap […]

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