All professional photos in this post are from the talented David Keith! There’s so many! And I’m so thankful they had a professional photographer following us around all day. It was great to relax and enjoy the event knowing that someone was capturing it for you!
As I’m typing this, today marks two years since I started this blog! I find it ironic that I’m celebrating with a post recapping my trip to the Better Homes & Gardens Style Maker event! This has been on my bucket list since I started this journey. Can I say “journey” without you thinking of The Bachelor? Really though, this invite-only opportunity always seemed a bit intangible; something for the bloggers who’ve “made it.” When I started, I had no idea where this was going, but I knew I loved what I was doing- FINALLY. When you’re a stay-at-home mom with an art degree, there’s a sense of restlessness that comes with not knowing what to do with creative energy. One day, I randomly decided to start a public Instagram page to document what I was doing around the house, and somehow it naturally led to creating a blog. It felt nice to have a place to actually write about what was going on in the photos I was posting; to share the thought process behind it all. I had no idea (just very high hopes) that it would lead me to such incredible opportunities. Do brands actually pay me to use the artistic side of my brain to create content for them? Um, YES. And it’s amazing. A bit of an escape from my crazy life as a mom of four. And they range from 4 to 14 years old, folks. So that means I’m dealing with anything from wiping butts to teenage hormones. I will take this escape, thank you very much!
So, let’s rewind a few months back, when I’m sitting in a parking lot, waiting for my oldest to leave a store she popped in to, and I decided to check my email on my phone. She came back to the car to find me laughing hysterically. I tend to laugh and squeal uncontrollably when I get overjoyed and overwhelmed simultaneously. (Case in point- when I went skydiving years ago, I laughed the entire way down) Anyway, there was an email from Better Homes & Gardens, with the invitation I’d been coveting. I could not contain myself. A trip to New York City with fellow creatives and a chance to network with friends and editors and stylists and ARTISTS in a super swanky hotel in Brooklyn? Count me in!
The event was last week and I’m still floating. It was everything I thought it would be. We had friends over last night to watch the UofM/State game, and every time someone asked, “How was New York?” I just sighed with a stupid grin on my face, and then went about making fun of myself for stalking Stephen Orr, Editor-in-Chief of BHG, for a photo.
I had no shame.
So, let me start from the beginning. I flew in Wednesday morning, and met my roomie, Chelsea from Two Twenty One at the airport because we landed at the same time. We took a mega long uber ride to our hotel in Brooklyn, which was fine by me because it gave us a chance to catch up. If you don’t follow Chelsea, you should. Her blog is anything from recipes to crafts, and more importantly, she’s smart and funny, which is my favorite kind of human.
Me and Chelsea
Can we talk about our hotel for a minute? It was One Hotel, steps away from the Brooklyn bridge. I could do a separate post on the details of this place alone. Every inch floored me. It was green/eco-friendly, and totally on point in the style department. Super modern, with lots of wood and concrete details, but warmed up with live plants everywhere, and gorgeous textures.
But nothing topped THE VIEW!
That’s not a fake poster, people. That’s a BHG wall decal on the window, and this is what we stared at all day. Here’s a night time look…
It’s just enough to make you feel like you’re living Carrie Bradshaw’s life, if only for two days, right? Just couldn’t get enough!
So, we checked in and then met Charlotte from At Charlotte’s House, and Sarah from Life On Virginia Street on the rooftop of the hotel. We had lunch, soaked in the views, and headed into the city. We roamed Washington Square Park, walked uptown to Union Square and explored the ABC Carpet & Home store. Guys, this place was like Anthropologie and West Elm had a baby who was on crack. That makes sense, right? If it doesn’t, then just know I’m attempting to say it was all things glorious. So much inspiration. Not just in the store, but walking to it. I just LOVE big cities, NYC specifically. I don’t think there’s anything that gets my wheels turning more than traveling. There’s something about leaving your every day surroundings and immersing yourself in something new to make ideas flow. Everywhere I turned it was like exercise for my eyeballs. My favorite kind of exercise;)
After ABC, we got some drinks next door, roamed a farmers’ market, and popped in to Dylan’s Candy Shop to pick up some treats to bring home to the kiddos. Speaking of kiddos, we acted like some in this photo booth!
That night, I met up with some of my closest blogging friends for dinner at Colonie in Brooklyn.
I was obsessed with this ensemble. I paid for overnight shipping (it arrived the day before I left), and the skirt was way too tight, but I wore it anyway. Lol No time to order another size! Learn from me, folks. Just order two sizes at once and return the one that doesn’t fit! I walked like a penguin all night. #worthit #mamaneedstofeelsexysometimes
I was running on about an hour sleep the night before my flight, so I crashed hard after dinner and woke up ready and SO excited for the day of the event on Thursday. Folks, it was all the things. Started with breakfast and chatting, chatting, chatting- with friends, new and old. Not only was it so great to see people I’ve met and connected with before, from events like the Haven conference in Atlanta (you can read about that HERE and HERE), or my trip to NYC earlier this year with Home Goods (you can read about that HERE), but to meet so many more that I’ve admired from afar was just awesome.
Me and my color-loving soul sister, Brittany (Addison’s Wonderland)
Me and Jen (House of Wood) How amazing is her hair??
Find this dress HERE.
Me and Charlotte. Can’t get enough of this one! And she started a podcast! Check out North South Makers.
Clearly, they didn’t feed us very well;)
After eating, we spent the day just soaking in all that is Better Homes & Gardens. When I was in college, my dream job was always to work for a magazine, so to listen to the behind-the-scenes making of one was just so cool. Have you checked out a current issue of BHG? This isn’t your grandma’s BHG, folks. They’ve rebranded and I love every bit of it. And their tag line is “Life In Color.” If that doesn’t say “Haneen,” I don’t know what does;)
There were five sessions for bloggers to attend. In the first, we heard from Stephen Orr, Editor in Chief, Oma Blaise Ford, Executive Editor, and Nancy Hopkins, Food Editor. They told us how they create a “story” in each article and photograph. I loved listening to the process!
My friend Erin has the best laugh! Stunning in green!
The second session we heard from Grant Schneider, Author and Founder of Fox Meadow Consulting. This man was so entertaining and so informative. He spoke about branding and finding your voice. Inspiring and funny. I found myself laughing the loudest, probably because he kept referencing the sarcastic joys of raising teenagers, and my friends, I love when someone uses sarcasm when referencing parenthood. Sarcasm gets me through, folks. Sarcasm gets me through. I kind of wanted to leave being his best friend, but alas, he doesn’t know who I am. Lol
In session three, we heard from Senior Food Stylist for BHG, Greg Luna, and Design Director for BHG, Stephanie Hunter. They chatted about what goes into the making of a great photograph. As someone who went to school for photography, I got such a kick out of this. And then came the fun part. At the center of each of the tables was a basket full of supplies to make avocado toast, and they gave us the job of styling it for a photo. You all know I’m horrible in the kitchen, but this was such childlike fun!
Loved this slide because it reminded me of my mom! She makes the BEST bundt cakes!
Here I am straining my neck trying to take an overhead shot. #shortgirlprobs
In Session 4, we heard from Lee Mayer, CEO and Co-Founder of the online interior design destination that is Havenly, and Kylee Trunck, Senior Staff Designer. They spoke about design trends. Such young women who are already lady bosses. I was impressed!
Session Five was hands-on and so fun! Dayna Isom, Etsy Trend Expert, spoke about what’s hot in the market, and then, the ever-so-joyous Brandi Harper of PurlBKnit taught us how to finger knit! If you don’t know who this is, please look her up. She was such a delight! I laughed and cried listening to her!
What came next was my fave of all faves… the cocktail party! We had an hour to change. Let me tell you, I loved my pink daytime dress. Icing on the cake was that acrylic necklace from Anthro. I’d link it for you, but I can’t find it online. Normally $80 and I found it for $15! Such a steal! That dress was a tight little number though, so I was excited to change into this “fit and flare” shape come evening.
Apparently I was having no fun at all in that pic:)
Me and Emily (Eleven Gables)
Me and Chelsea
Me and Rebekah from A Blissful Nest
Me and Kelley
Tam, Kris, Brittany, Erin, Julia, Bree, and Oma Blaise Ford from BHG
Bree, Brittany, Erin, Kelley, Jen, Tam, and Kris
Me and Brittany 🙂
Let me tell you, this was as much fun as it looked! Also, somehow cocktails from hipster bartenders taste better….
And nothing beats a group of bloggers trying to perfect a boomerang…
How do I wrap this up? I guess I just want to encourage you all to dive head first into what makes your heart smile. Truly, I mean it. Sounds corny, but I really love what I do, and just “going for it” has led to a point in my life where “content” is an understatement. It’s worth trying whatever it is that keeps you up at night. For me, I’ve always been one to lie awake, rearranging furniture in my head. Weird, but true. I’m that person that needs to spend my time making things beautiful. My kind of beautiful. Not everyone loves my style, and that’s ok! That’s the whole point! Do what you love, love what you do. Connect with like-minded individuals. Find your tribe. I’m so proud to call the women in this post my real-life friends. They make me better, they make me laugh, and they challenge and inspire me daily. I think that’s so important in this field!
A huge THANK YOU to the Better Homes & Gardens team for inviting me to join you this year, and for all of the work that went into making this such a fabulous day/evening. I left fulfilled!
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