There are so many opportunities I have been blessed with on my path to the things I want to accomplish professionally. One of the most influential ones was being able to attend The Creative Connection Event this year in St. Paul, MN, from September 15th – 17th.

The Creative Connection Event 2011

Myself, Tamara Stopinski, and Nancy Wiley at The Creative Connection Event

I went with two of my best friends, who are also fabulous artists who create amazing work. These artists are Nancy Wiley, renown illustrator, sculptor and doll artist, and Tamara Stopinksi, jewelry designer and co-owner of Talulah’s Fancy & Friends gift shop in Honeoye Falls. Please check out their sites! These women have each created a sustainable, successful business by pursuing their talent and craft. They will inspire you, I guarantee it.

The Creative Connection Event

We ate meals and listened to keynotes while we gathered in the gorgeous ballroom at the Crowne Plaza, St. Paul, MN

The three of us traveled to the conference together. To put it mildly, we were simply blown away by the sub-culture created from this event. Not only were we surrounded by people JUST LIKE US in varying stages of success and accomplishment in their careers, but the atmosphere was so welcoming, not at all threatening or intimidating.

The Creative Connection Event

Panel discussion amongst amazing women! From L to R: Moderator Nancy Soriano, Karen Walrond, Melody Ross, Janine Vangool, Kelly Rae Roberts, Leigh Standley and Susan Branch.

Links to learn more about the women pictured above:
Karen Walrond
Melody Ross
Janine Vangool 
Kelly Rae Roberts
Leigh Standley
Susan Branch

The thing that really resonated with me is that there were women in attendance who had accomplished many things that would be considered “top” on one’s list of “how one might measure success”.

  • Authoring a book
  • hosting your own TV show
  • designing your own fabric line
  • reaching 60,000+ readers on your blog
  • publishing your own magazine
  • having your art featured in retail stores around the world
  • doing what you LOVE. Every day.

And yet, for some women in attendance, the “top” of their list might read more like:

  • START making a living with your art or craft
  • be able to quit your office/day job
  • create art you can be proud of
  • pay some bills, support yourself
  • carve out some studio space in the spare bedroom/closet/basement
  • do what you LOVE. Every day.

I kid you not when I say that both ends of the spectrum were represented, and everything in between. I was impressed by the way in which we moved freely amongst each other talking, asking questions, learning from one another, stopping for photos, and definitely a lot of laughing – and crying – together.

I was visualizing a hill, spanning both wide and high. And we were all there, with a hand outstretched for those climbing after us, and next to us, and also a hand outstretched for those who were farther up the hill, for help and a stronger footing. The whole place seemed to be vibrating with admiration, and gratitude, and hope.

{And of course, on this hill, we are all in our yoga pants and ponytails
and have the “I’ll shower AFTER my deadline” look. LOL!}

There were so many panel discussions that I kind of lost track of what I had attended! If you go to their web site, there is gobs of info on all the different tracks and the amazing panelists. But luckily I kept my sturdy little journal that my friend Julie had given me this summer. Here’s what my notes looked like most of the time!

The Creative Connection Event

Never was without my trusty journal, caffeine, and plenty of new cards from networking.

Never before have I received more REAL, HONEST and absolutely invaluable practical advice and knowledge in one place. I truly feel as though this conference has saved me months of research and given me an edge to accomplish my artistic, professional, and personal goals.

Jo Packham, the co-founder of the event, and creator and editor-in-chief of Where Women Create magazine, (among others!) said it best when she addressed all of us early on at the conference. She said (I’m paraphrasing!) “If you do not walk away from this weekend having made a connection with someone in our industry who can help you succeed, and directly get you to where you want to be, it is no one’s fault but your own. That person, that editor, that publisher, that manufacturer, is here in this room. Your job is to keep shaking hands until you find that person.” We are all so blessed that Jo and her partner Nancy Soriano dreamed up this amazing event and MADE IT HAPPEN for us. I truly believe that Jo loves each and every one of us, and wants success for us.

The Creative Connection Event

An unbelievable adventure!