In 2020, the unimaginable happened.
I remember the first time I heard about COVID-19 … it was early March in a vox message with my biz bestie.
I actually laughed out loud at the thought of a VIRUS causing a PANDEMIC.
See, I don’t watch the news, and I’m not on Facebook much anymore… the “news” I hear comes from seeing friends post on IG and whatever my husband decides to tell me. I was blissfully unaware of all that was happening in regards to COVID-19 until WHAM, it hit our world as we know it.
When the shut-downs began, we were already moving forward with Round 10 2020 plans.
Our tenth anniversary conference was supposed to take place in June 2020 yet as you know it did not happen the way we thought.
My spring went a little like this:
March 2020 – shut-downs begin + communicating with current attendees / speakers about our status due to COVID (at this point, we were still moving forward with a conference & researching COVID precautions!)
April 2020 (beginning) – I was preparing to have a baby + go on maternity leave, while still heavily stalking COVID information!
April 2020 (end) – I had a baby, yay! Mae Avonlea arrived & I became a girl mama & mom of two two & under!
May 2020 – We decided to postpone our June 2020 conference to October 2020
…a few days later – We cancelled Round 10 completely for 2020
When we cancelled Round 10 2020, we completely cancelled. We did not want to set a new 2021 date due to the unknowns of the pandemic, and we felt uncomfortable keeping partial attendee payments when we knew so many were struggling due to their own biz changes in 2020. We refunded all of our attendees in full and cancelled all educator + vendor contracts.
I also had to let my team go … which was yet another layer to this really hard, unprecedented situation.
As you can imagine, I had a lot of emotions around cancelling… then add to it the trials of postpartum life on top of balancing being a new mom to two AND having to let my team go … well, May 2020 was just really, really hard.
Carrying on with business as usual, while having to make EXTREME business pivots and not take my planned maternity leave is an experience I hope I never re-live. (And I hope none of you do, either!)
But I learned a lot in the process. I was forced to get scrappy and re-define what I love (and don’t love) about small biz life. I was forced to pivot HARD and launch new offers so that I could provide financially for my family. I had to pull up my biz boot straps, get creative with how I wanted to serve my audience and pray every day it was enough to persevere.
I purposely didn’t share a lot about my thoughts around cancelling this year because, well, I didn’t really know what TO share.
I was heartbroken. Devastated. Planning & hosting Creative at Heart Conference is my favorite thing about running my own business. I love every part of it – and I have since our first round in 2015! Having to unwillingly give it up – when I fought tooth & nail to have it – was a lot to process. It still is.
Matt and I knew that come Q4 of 2020, we’d jump into planning a NEW Round 10 for 2021… and now here we are.
It’s November 2020 and I’ve been dusting off my conference hat & begin the process of planning our 2021 experience…. Hesitantly. Nervously. Anxiously.
See, I’d be lying if I wrote this blog post filled with butterflies & unicorns & extra exclamation points. Am I excited to re-plan our tenth anniversary conference? Yes. I am. But I’m a ball of nerves too.
What if I do all of this planning & we are forced to cancel again?
What if our attendees are too nervous to travel & no one registers?
What if, because we had to take a year off, we’ve become irrelevant in the industry?
What if I allow myself to dream and create… only to have it taken away again?
^^ a few of the fears that circle around in my head. I’m hesitantly beginning to do my favorite thing again, because I just don’t know what’s up ahead.
Yet if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we’re stronger & scrappier than we think.
We can keep going, even when we don’t know what’s up ahead.
As business owners, it’s not always going to be butterflies & unicorns & extra exclamation points. There are going to be really, really hard seasons. And at some point in our biz carriers, we’ll be forced to make devastating decisions & get innovative & creative with what we DO have.
2020 showed us that we can – and will – weather storms. But the storm isn’t the end, and it’s our perseverance & persistence DURING the storm that let’s the rainbow shine through.
If 2020 has been as hard for you as it’s been for you, I hope you’ll remember that. We’re in this together, friend. And we’ll keep pushing on together, too!
So practically speaking let’s talk about Round 10 – – what’s my first move? How do I begin planning again?
Currently, I’m working on 4 specific parts of our conference:
For the past 2 conferences we’ve used the same wonderful space! We love it. The physical layout is perfect for our needs & the staff is incredible!! There are a lot of pros to using it again in 2021, however I feel the pull to do some digging & research a few other locations before signing a contract. I might come up short, but I’m going to do my due diligence & go on a venue hunt before officially deciding!
This will come once I narrow down a Venue! When we asked in our Alumni Facebook Group, the popular time of year is for Summer 2021 so that’s Plan A. However due to COVID, I’m not ruling out a Fall 2021 event either! I want to keep options open as I talk with venues.
We’re officially accepting Speakers Applications for our 2021 event (yay!) and I can’t wait to sit down with Christmas music this holiday season and review them! I’m purposely freeing my schedule of client work + launches for the next 3 months so I can focus on creating an educator lineup that exemplifies all our brand stands for & serves our tenth anniversary conference well!
I don’t just mean the color palette (though clearly you can expect pink). I’m talking about a heartfelt Theme for our messaging + educators.
Beginning with Round 7, I began to prayerfully consider a “theme” prior to the conference. Typically this process takes a few weeks as I brainstorm ideas, verbally process with Matt and friends, and prayerfully consider practical implications for a theme (i.e. what specific educators or educator sessions we would want to have in regards to the theme). The 2020 Round 10 was supposed to center around Legacy, and while I love what I had in store for that theme I feel an urge to sit in it a bit & consider other ideas, too. 2020 has just been so MUCH and I feel drawn to a clean slate. I’ll keep you posted with what I land on! 🙂
As I continue to plan our 2021 conference, I’ll pop in here with an update on how things are going. Just think of this as my conference-host-journal! I’m excited to keep you in the loop as all the plans come together, how I prep for COVID precautions and all that “new” I have in store for our 2021 event!!
If you have a specific conference planning question OR a question about Round 10 specifically, please comment below! Happy to help!
Until next time!
Interested in attending Round 10? Get on the waitlist here!