My Biggest Takeaways from Creative at Heart Conference Round 7

A few weeks ago, I hopped on a flight up to Raleigh for Creative at Heart Conference Round 7, and let me just tell ya, if you've ever been on the fence about attending a conference, well hop on over to the other side where the grass is greener and book a ticket. (I realize I totally mixed up my sayings here, but just roll with it.) It's 100% worth it in every way! 

Even before being a creative business owner, I have always wanted to attend Creative at Heart. And since this was my very first "official" year going full-time, it seemed like the perfect time to say YES! 

Creative at Heart Conference Round 7 | Cami Monet

Best. Decision. Ever. Y'all I am not kidding when I say I have a notebook CHOCK-FULL of words of wisdom from ladies who "get it" and a whole new tribe of women who I can turn to with my biggest questions in life and business. Honestly, there's just so much to say that I don't even know where to begin, but when it comes right down to it, Creative at Heart inspired me to remember the WHY behind my business and to let go of the hustle. (Yes, saying that still ensues slight panic.)

How cute is that notebook from Rachel Allene??

How cute is that notebook from Rachel Allene??

OBSESSED is an understatement. This perfect illustration was done by my friend Caitlin of Happy Tines!

OBSESSED is an understatement. This perfect illustration was done by my friend Caitlin of Happy Tines!

Action Tip: Give yourself a few more "out of the office" days when you get back to start implementing all the new strategies and life lessons you scribbled in your notebook. I wasn't able to dive right in to working ON my business because I had to get back to working IN my business the second I got home. (Ah, wedding deadlines.) Basically, plan ahead for the overwhelm, fried-brain syndrome and inspiration overload.

And of course you know it's going to be a fantabuluos conference when it all kicks off with THE Lara Casey. I think every woman in the room burst into tears. I consider myself a Stonewall Jackson, and I'll be the first to admit, I lost it. That gal can speak some truths and hit ya deep, y'all. She asked us where we wanted to be when we were 80. Simple question right? But oh-so-telling. I knew right away that I wouldn't be worrying about the size of my email list or chasing after that coveted 'k' beside my Instagram follower count. I'd want to be drinking hot coffee on the front porch right next to my sweet husband and not having to be anywhere. No deadlines, no meetings, no hustle, no stress. Just watching the trees grow. (And maybe there's a grandkid or 7 running around eating homemade cookies because I'm also now a whiz at baking.) And you know what it takes to get there? Not worrying about which hashtags to use, I'll tell you that much. What is the true source of inspiration in your life? Aim your arrow at that. 

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Creative at Heart Friends

We listen to everyone else's dreams instead of following our own path. Cultivated dreams last longer than you.

And when I think about aiming my arrow, it looks a lot like making my faith the foundation of my business and serving others well. It looks like carrying on my dad's legacy and loving on my family and friends. It looks like bringing a little joy to someone's day with something as simple as a watercolor bunny. 

Y'all I know I love a lady in stripes. So fun meeting Katelyn James!

Y'all I know I love a lady in stripes. So fun meeting Katelyn James!

Katelyn James spoke on the importance of micro changes for macro results. (Equally obsessed with her and her gracious demeanor!) I totally geek out over client experience, and I do everything I can to foster true relationships with each and every client! Southern manners are something I hold near and dear, and Katelyn perfectly explained how to translate those over into your business. I personally send a little client gift to each and every bride I design wedding stationery for, and I have lots of fun surprises throughout the process that I hope makes things easy as pie and memorable too! I also love easing the stress of the big day by sending a photoshoot-ready suite to their planner and photographer to have on wedding day so my fabulous brides don't have to worry about a thing! 

But anwyho, enough about me. Here's the nitty-gritty of what I got out of her keynote.

You can slow down, and it's going to be okay. No really, it is. 

Slowing down is hard for me. I'm a workaholic by nature, and I will sit in this old wooden office chair (lovingly, yet uncomfortably reupholstered by my Paw Paw) from sunup till sundown listening to podcasts on 2X the speed, cranking out orders and whipping up paintings. 

I stress myself out. I put deadlines on things that don't even need them. I sit with my laptop on the couch while catching up on our favorite shows (Walking Dead fans, holla at ya girl) to "get ahead" for tomorrow. 

Action Tip: Get a comfy office chair. And then get out of it at 5:00 p.m.

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I invest all this time in my business, but what about my marriage? Yikes. I'll spend money to be at a conference, but will I spend money to have a counselor pour into our marriage? I learned that being intentional with my time, my priorities and my gifts can turn my world around. Little changes = big results. 

Shanna Skidmore also inspired me to be happy with the enough. I couldn't wait to meet her right away because I was blown-away (and incredibly jealous) that she is taking a year off social media.  (I think that one counts as a macro change, y'all. Also still very confused on how she markets her business. Do you tape flyers around your neighborhood or take an ad out in the newspaper or what??!! But I digress.) She asked us to write down where we want to be one year from now. Here's what I wrote word-for-word.

"One year from now it will be August 9, 2018. I'll be 28 years old. I'd like to live in an airy white farmhouse with a garden in the back. (One that I actually tend to!) I'd love to have a studio filled with natural light and a place for everything. I want to sit on our deck every night and watch the sunset with Alex, phone-free. I want my relationship with God to be stronger than ever and to pray out loud more. I want to launch an online watercolor course and create some courses or even a watercolor retreat with my dad. I'd like to snowboard more, take last-minute weekend getaways and bake cookies for the post office."

So minus the snowboarding, how much more money do those things really cost? It's funny, we always want more, but the things we truly desire don't necessarily cost a dime. 

If you don't set your enough, you'll skip right past it.

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Right now, I'm about to hit my one-year mark of being an artist full-time, and I can't wait to start making these tweaks for year two. It's easy to chase the hustle (and it's a good thing too), but it's hard to be content with the enough.

And that's right where I want to be.

I'm saying yes to holding tight to my why, and I'm embracing the freedom that comes with focusing on gratitude instead of growth. I'm saying yes to saying no. I'm saying yes to stability, purpose, contentment and harmony. (I know that sounds like a bunch of nice words I picked out of a hat, but they're super intentional!) I'm saying yes to turning down the noise. I'm saying yes to giving myself grace in case I completely screw it all up.

And I'm saying THANK YOU to everyone who is helping me get there by sharing your stories and being major encouragers!

Creative at Heart Conference | Cami Monet | Photo Booth

So here's to the creatives and all the fabulous girls (and guys) I met at Creative at Heart who have shaped my perspective as business owner, a wife and a friend. You the real MVP! 

Creative at Heart ladies

P.S. I have about 638 more takeaways/revelations I need to share, but this is turning into a straight-up novel, so stay tuned for a separate post.

P.P.S. The beautiful photos are from the incredible Holly Felts who captured every detail!

Printed Mint Interview: My Biz Secrets and How I Got Started as a Watercolor Artist

Y'all I was SUPER DUPER excited when Printed Mint reached out to me to be a part of their #girlboss interview series! I feel like I can actually buy one of those cheesy Girl Boss coffee mugs now. (Except maybe not because my cabinets already look like the Starbucks stockroom.) I can be a total Chatty Cathy when it comes to talking about running a business and getting started in this industry, so get comfy and grab your reading glasses. I LOVE sharing all the tips and tricks I've learned in my first year as a business owner, and I'm always all ears when it comes to hearing new advice, so let me know your best #skillz in the comments! Let's dive in, shall we?

Cami Monet | Printed Mint | Girl Boss Interview Series

Your business is booming-- and for good reason! What are your Top 3 time management hacks for creating, shipping + all of the good customer relation tactics?

  1. Use multiple systems for organization. My brain has 463 tabs open at all times, so I need #alltheways to stay organized. I use Dubsado for almost every facet every business; it’s been a game changer for me in streamlining my workflows, design proofing process and lead captures. I love how everything I create through Dubsado is branded beautifully, and how easy it is for my clients and I to share ideas and collaborate on their custom artwork. Anything that makes communication with my client easier is a win in my book. This saves me SO MUCH TIME on the nitty-gritty details so I can get back to paper and paint. (Psst...use code camimonet for 20% off!) I’m also a big fan of my Day Designer, Trello and scribbled to-do lists on paper scraps. It’s a bit of a chaotic mess, but it works for me.

  2. Make shipping as easy as possible. I was terrified of shipping in the first few months of business (What if it breaks? What if I didn’t buy enough postage? Why is the line always SO LONG at the post office?!), but investing in Shipstation and implementing drop-shipping fixed all my shipping woes. I print all my labels through Shipstation on my Dymo LabelWriter right smack dab on an actual label, which let me tell ya, is wayyyy better than the paper and packing tape label I used to use! It sends my customers an email with their tracking info and an email when it’s delivered. (Oh yeah, I’m fancy.) Basically, it makes me look way more legit than I actually am, and it saves me time and money. Who doesn’t love that? And then of course, making the decision to drop-ship all my mugs through Printed Mint has saved me a huge headache of shipping fragile items. Plus the packaging is so cute and right on brand for me! I love it!

  3. Stay on task and schedule your priorities. If I’m working on a project with a serious deadline, I swear that’s always the time when I get a new idea for a product or collection I want to launch. I think a lot of creative entrepreneurs can have this same “what’s next?!” problem, but I’ve learned that jumping around from project to project sucks up all my time. Now I use flexible block scheduling for my day, and I write down three main tasks that I need to get done.(Yep, just three!) I’ve also noticed that my projects will stretch to fill the amount of time I give them, so having a dedicated time block helps me knock out my tasks faster and more effectively. Instead of saying, “Oh, I’ll do that this afternoon;” I tell myself, “Girl, you’ve got from 1:00 to 2:00 to make this happen.” And bam, I turn into a productivity ninja. I’m also a big fan of setting time aside for what I need to do and time for what I want to do, so I can still have room for the non-client creating that’s just for me!

Your Instagram is seriously #gridgoals. What supplies do you recommend an artist should acquire to create similar photographs? Ex: Your lovely overhead shots!

All you need is an iPhone and good lighting. (Seriously!) I have two fab spots in my house that get the best light, so I always take my snapshots there during the day. (No overhead lights for me.) Soft, diffused light is best so you don’t harsh shadows! I use a white foam board to reflect light, and I have a quiver of backgrounds I like to use. Nothing fancy — think wooden vinyl backgrounds, sheets, or just a white canvas! I’m often in crazy positions and rolling all over the floor styling, adjusting and trying to get a good shot. (My husband thinks I’m nuts.) I love adding in fun little details to my shots too. Paintbrushes, paints, wax seals, ribbon, fresh florals and antique trinkets are my go-tos for styling accessories. Keep an eye out for interesting props at thrift stores! I love finding treasures that seem to have their own story, and styling them with my artwork flat lays. They can add so much personality to your shots and reinforce your brand and the feeling you want to evoke. Oh, and every photo I take is edited right in the Instagram app for consistency. I up the brightness like crazy, tweak the temperature and touch up the sharpness to get a bright and airy, yet crisp image.

Where do you gain inspiration for your designs? They all feel so personal.

I gather inspiration from pretty much everywhere! I get ideas from bits and pieces of conversations with my friends and husband and little moments in my life that I want to celebrate. (Like my morning cup of coffee.) Lately, vintage china and architecture have also been influencing me. And of course, I’m incredibly inspired by nature. As soon as I see a beautiful flower or I’m in the mountains, I’m ready to whip out my paint brush.

Read the rest of the FULL interview (and my number one piece of advice for business owners starting out) here