In October, I attended The School of Styling in Chapel Hill and it was honestly one of the best experiences! Attending the workshop put me out of my comfort zone as it was one of the first times I have traveled alone (aside from going to school or for work) or rented a car to drive myself in a new place. I was proud of myself! :) I did not know any of the other women attending the workshop and I was actually the only attendee from the West Coast! I am a complete introvert and I was intimidated about meeting so many amazing, beautiful and talented women, but I am SO glad I went and am excited to share about the experience here with you. Scroll down for a long post of gorgeous pictures taken by Ally & Bobby Photography (including some of me in action!), tidbits of what I learned, and some of my reflections.
I arrived in Chapel Hill on Tuesday around noon and made my way (in a rented SVU – I almost got a minivan, which would have been a disaster) to the venue after I checked in to my Airbnb. First of all, I fell in love with Chapel Hill – it is such a beautiful town and I felt like simply being there brought out my inner southern belle. I enjoyed my morning runs through the foresty neighborhood and did not want to leave at the end of three days even in the face of Hurricane Matthew. Yes… I even looked on Zillow to see if there were any homes for sale (and can I say how much more affordable they are than in the Bay Area?!).
The workshop itself was held at the prettiest venue – The Parlour at Mann’s Chapel. The venue was SO beautifully decorated with vintage furniture from Paisley & Jade as well as chairs from Cottage Luxe. We were also greeted with pretty welcome baskets made by Memento & Muse filled with so many goodies! I am pretty sure I was oohing and aahing over everything for all 3 days :)
The first afternoon was spent chatting with the other attendees and speakers, an introduction to the workshop and our first hands on session led by Kaitlin, the founder of TSOS! I went to TSOS with a desire to focus on the creative and styling sessions because I honestly didn’t feel like I was very good at this part of my creative businesses (both for Events by Tiffie as well as Atheria Jewelry, where I am the creative director). I left TSOS much more confident about my styling abilities through encouragement from the other women, the opportunity to see my style come to life, and also learning many tricks of the trade through hands on sessions.
The first assignment was flat lay styling, which was a fun challenge and even though it seemed difficult at first, I left it having learned more than I thought I could! I chose one of Sage Paper Co.‘s invitation suites that had a bold floral envelope liner and styled it along with vintage stamps from Verde Studio and silk ribbon from Adorn Co. The critique group that followed was so insightful as I was able to learn from the other ladies’ style and I have already started to implement many of the things I learned when styling photos for Atheria Jewelry!
In the evening, we walked outside to a beautiful courtyard and enjoyed small bites from Southern Comfort Catering, wine and “speed networking” which allowed us to learn about each other through small ice breaker questions (like “what celebrity would you want to meet?”). I was surprised how quickly I started to form friendships with the other women and it felt like the day passed by in a flash!
Day Two started off with a most wonderful surprise – a coffee truck!! Caffe Bellezza serves the most wonderful coffee and I had THE best pumpkin spice latte of my life! They use fresh pumpkin and spices and NO sugar – simply amazing. Even though we have a wealth of coffee shops here in the Bay Area, I wish Caffee Bellezza would come here!
Day Two was full of informative sessions. As an attorney by trade and tax practitioner by day, I thought the “business” sessions would be more of a review. While they were a bit more familiar, I walked away with so much information! I was motivated to dream bigger and plan more specifically to reach my goals after a goal setting session with Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company. As an attorney, I was blown away by how Christina Scalera was able to speak about contracts in such an understandable terms and apply it to creative business owners in practical ways (and it was such a good reminder to me about the importance of contracts even though I work with them on a daily basis!).
Then, we learned how to create centerpieces with Kaylyn Hewitt of True Vine Studios. I love flowers, but centerpieces are intimidating! We were provided with a gorgeous selection of florals (which were in amazing totes from Greige Design with name tags by Alyssa Thiel of PCB Home). While the Cafe au Lait dahlias were gorgeous and the popular choice in most of the arrangements, I decided to opt for garden roses & rannuculus (my favorites)! I loved how every arrangement looked so different and reflected the style of each lady.
After lunch, my brain tried to keep up to absorb even more information as we learned about managing finances with Dominique Broadway (super helpful even for someone who is in finance!), social media with Kaitlin, and building strategic partnerships with Kelly Hovis. One theme throughout the day was consistency – it was such a clear reminder for myself that consistency is key to develop your business goals, delivering a clear proposition value to clients, and growing your business.
The day ended with another hands on session led by Stephanie Scholl of Stephanie Scholl Events who guided us in tabletop styling. Again, I was nervous about my styling abilities, but with some time, I styled gorgeous gold china pieces from Southern Vintage Table, details from Paisley & Jade including an assortment of candles, a gorgeous silk ribbon from Adorn Co., and my floral arrangement as the centerpiece. I also threw in my scarf (from Morning Lavender) as a runner because the linens I had chosen were very neutral and I needed a little pop of color! The day ended with Goodnight Gifts (HOW CUTE!) including a gorgeous robe from Plum Pretty Sugar. But really, my day ended a couple of hours later after grabbing drinks and bites with some of the other ladies and getting to know each other better.
Day Three came by TOO quickly! I could not believe that the school was about to end after only a few days – the hardest part was knowing that I would go all the way back to the West Coast without all of my new friends nearby. Thank God for social media and technology to allow us to stay connected! The morning started with a gorgeous mimosa bar (with yummy bubbly from One Hope Charleston), hair & make up and headshots. And of course, we were spoiled again with another gorgeous gift – a Simplified Planner by Emily Ley!
The sessions on this last day continued to be full of little nuggets of great advice – I learned how to create a strong brand from Lauren Hooker (again, consistency is key!), investment and money tips from Dominique Broadway, modern calligraphy with Alyssa Thiel (which was so much fun and I was better than I thought I would be!), and targeting your niche client base with Morgan Montgomery of Paisley & Jade.
Dinner that night was bittersweet. It was simply beautiful – the tablescape designed by Stephanie Scholl (with help from Cottage Luxe, True Vine Studios, and PCB Home) was straight out of a movie. I loved the market lighting, seersucker napkins, marble chargers and escort cads, the pretty plates… it was all PERFECT! We were also surprised with a build your own jewelry bar from Kendra Scott! Dinner was filled with delicious food, the prettiest sweets from The Cupcake Shoppe in Raleigh, wonderful conversation and fun moments like hiding from the rain :) It was the perfect ending to the perfect 3 days.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend and that my husband was supportive of letting me invest in myself this way. It was not an inexpensive experience, but considering what I got out of it, it was a steal! What I learned, the friendships, and the experience was worth every penny. Thank you to all the amazing ladies who made this happen – your hard work planning the workshop was felt in every single detail. And to all my new friends – I am looking forward to seeing you all soon in your cities or here in California! In the meantime, I am inspired by all of the things I see you doing via social media and can’t wait to see what else you create!
If I could go back in time, I would have pursued a college degree or full time career that was more artistic (it is unfortunate that I thought of myself as not artistic as a child because I could not draw or paint). Because I was not formally trained in a creative field, I am grateful for opportunities like The School of Styling that is a crash course in all things creative and beautiful. I left inspired, refreshed and more focused on my next steps for my creative businesses. And best of all, I have a group of friends who will continue to inspire me and to keep me accountable to the goals I set during those 3 days! I highly recommend that any of you who are in a creative business (or thinking of starting one) to attend The School of Styling in the future!