This time last week I was sitting in the middle of a vineyard, under a large tent, at a gorgeous pine harvest table, amongst 300 entrepreneurial women. I never thought I would feel so passionate about attending a conference like The Atelier Collective, but here I am a week later and still reminiscing over how beautifully curated and inspiring every single moment was.
Rewind to 2016. I met co-founder Angela Osbourne in Niagara-on-the-lake after a group of us had booked her to teach a private yoga class in a tiny Airbnb at one of my best friend’s bachelorette. I connected with Angela after the weekend to interview her for The Omm Life because I loved how much of a boss babe she was. Since then I’ve stayed in touch with her over Instagram and when I found out her and Taryn were launching The Atelier Collective – a highly curated, reimagined business conference and lifestyle event for the tenacious entrepreneur and ambitious career woman in the pursuit of greatness – I followed along anticipating the release of their tickets.
Okay…back to the day of the conference! My day began waking up in my extremely comfy bed at The White Oaks. I got ready, packed my purse and was driven with a group of other ladies to the Ravine Vineyard where The Atelier Collective was.
Check-in was a breeze. I had my ticket scanned, received my conference badge and then strolled around the venue taking in all that was set up. The details were perfection. I then got my tea from the vintage airstream coffee vendor and found a spot at one of the many harvest tables in the tent. It didn’t feel like I was at a conference…it felt like I was at a wedding!
Sound Mind, Sound Body, Sound Business
Before the first panel started, Saje Wellness provided us with a breathing exercise to get us in an energizing mindset to prepare for the day. It was invigorating! We were then introduced to the fist panel ‘Sound Mind, Sound Body, Sound Business’, featuring Eva Redpath, Tori Wesszer (aka Fraiche Nutrition) and Karen Menez (Director of Communications at Asics Canada). They were also known as the 4:30 a.m. panel because all three women dished out that they start their days at the crack of dawn in order to squeeze in their own ‘me time’. The discussion really revolved around the idea of ‘me time’ and the importance of taking time for yourself in order to put your best foot forward. Eva explained that she sets non-negotiable time for herself every day in order to fill her jug…because you can’t pour from an empty jug. Tori shared her no-excuse mindset for waking up early. She said if she prepares her early morning the night before, like setting aside her workout clothes and getting her tea organized so that she just has to pour the hot water in her mug, she’s more motivated to jump out of bed. Karen explained that in order for herself to set aside ‘me time’ she delegates and outsources. She realizes she can’t do it all. So, in order to make her life easier, she asks for help where she needs it – whether that be hiring someone or asking help from friends and family.
Grit is the New Hustle
The second panel was made up of Ashlee Froese and Nancy Osborne and was about stepping outside of your comfort zone and owning your power – also known as “Grit is the New Hustle”. Nancy first shared some synonyms for ‘grit’, including spirit, guts and courage. These words really resonated with me and I realized that hustle isn’t such a positive word (it’s synonymous with pressure, nag, prod and force).
A few takeaways I got out of this panel were that grit is what it takes to make it. You need to have the determination to go through the ups and downs of your business. It’s not always easy but if you have the perseverance and passion, you’re going to get through. They talked about the whole idea of collaboration over cooperation – in that, in order to own your power, you can’t just sit back and cooperate or nod your head yes…you have to put your own ideas forward and collaborate with whatever you’re working on. Another large takeaway from this panel was that fear is not always bad. They discussed that you should embrace fear….and that if you aren’t doing something that scares you a bit, you’re not evolving.
Leverage Media into Money
After a morning full of awesome conversation hosted by Josie Dye (the host of the event), we were served a delicious farm to table to table lunch and listened to a panel sponsored by the BDC – which helps businesses with finance solutions. After we filled our bellies, we were then introduced to the next panel: “Leveraging Media into Money” in order to strategize, execute, influence and monetize. Allie Hughes, Gloria Roheim-McRae and Lauren McPhillips took the stage.
These ladies kicked off a very insightful. One of the key takeaways I got out of it was to get people engaged in a process before selling something. It includes, building your following, sharing free information and building a relationship with your audience before selling them on anything.
The Value of Your Brand Story
The fifth panel was “Creating, Connecting, Converting: The Value of Your Brand Story”, featuring Chanèle McFarlane, Lexi Miles (Founder of Waxon) and Christal Agostino. All three ladies are brand building powerhouses so it was super inspiring to hear their personal stories and their wise advice. Christal explained that she is always striving to be better in her business and that she’s always thinking about her next move. She said that with every step, you should stand back and look at how it impacts you in your success to move towards a goal. If there are certain steps you’re taking that are keeping you in a stationary position, it might be time to reconsider what you’re doing so that you can make a change to further succeed. Lexi talked about leveraging your ‘best self’ and that ensuring whatever you’re doing for work is something you feel passionate about…because we spend more time at work than we do at home.
Okay – if you’ve got this far in reading my recap…don’t stop, because next we listened to the ladies of The June Motel (April and Sarah). I had met the two ladies the evening before at a cocktail reception in the hotel, and listening to a bit of their story then had got me super excited to hear the rest of it at the conference. They shared their story of how they left careers they weren’t feeling super fulfilled in to start The June. They shared before and after photos of the Motel and told some stories to the theme of “failing forward” – which is one of their mantras in running their business. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. They then went on to share their six tips, or “secret sauce”, to success:
- Just because you haven’t done it before doesn’t mean you can’t do it – just figure things out on the fly.
- Surround yourself with the smartest people…because you aren’t the smartest at everything.
- Find yourself a business partner.
- Listen to your gut and stay true to your vision.
- Lead with a marketing mindset. Does your business have shareable aspects? Is it something people can interact with? Put money towards marketing.
- Do less and do it well.
One other point I took from their panel was that it’s okay to choose YOU first and your business second. I think that sometimes people look at their business as their first priority, but at the end of the day, it’s really yourself you should be making a priority.
It was then break time…but not the typical conference break. It was a wine tasting in the vineyard. We sipped on three different Ravine Vineyard wines (the rosé was my favourite) and Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers created a signature drink for us to also try. It was so amazing!
After an hour of sipping vino and socializing under the sun, we sat down to listen to the last panel: Team Jilly – Mackenzie Dempsey, Mindy Crawford, Shay Merritt and Tori Wesszer. I was super excited to listen and learn from all the panelists at The Atelier, but it was the news that Team Jilly was going to be at the conference that pushed me make my final decision to attend. I am a huge fan of Jillian Harris’ lifestyle brand and a true follower of her blog (I even watched her season of The Bachelorette). I love all the work her and her team put behind the brand and hearing from the JH marketing team was something I was excited to learn from – since marketing and social media are what make up my business, Bloomm Agency.
The team of amazing ladies began their conversation with advice about creating a brand. Mackenzie advised to ignore trends and just figure out what you’re drawn to. Mindy explained that you don’t have to know what you’re doing…you can just go with the flow and document your failures. Shay spoke about challenging yourself every day in order to further grow your brand. The girls talked about Instagram, Facebook, tools they use, partnerships and a whole lot more, but a few of the key takeaways I got from their panel were their wise words of encouragement and wisdom…which I scribbled down as I listened:
Mackenzie: Once you find your path and confidence, you see a shift in how you view other people. Be patient with yourself. Your talent is only as good as the work you put into it. Work you ass off to master it.
Mindy: Comparison is the thief of joy. Find inspiration. Build each other up and support one another. Keep you end goal in sight. Create a vision board and spend a few minutes every morning looking at it.
Shay: Focus on quality over quantity and bring the human face into your brand. Be consistent and remember to challenge yourself.
Tori: Don’t look at social media and think everyone has it together…because I promise you, everyone has their stuff.
*Sigh – it truly was a one-of-a-kind experience. We all gave a standing ovation to Angela, Taryn and the whole crew who pulled together the day. As we left the tent, we were handed a bouquet of flowers from Flowerly and a beautiful swag bag full of local goodies. I got back into the shuttle (which was a Lincoln Navigator) and headed back to The White Oaks, where I enjoyed dinner with a table of like-minded ladies – connections I am so grateful have met.
Who’s with me in counting down the days until the next Atelier Collective event?