I can’t believe it was just last month that I was surrounded by 13 incredible, like-minded women as we dove into our 2017 Illume Retreat! Not only was this year’s retreat special because of the women we welcomed into our curriculum, but this was the first year that I brought the retreat to my hometown of Waco and to the b is for bonnie studio. There aren’t quite words to describe how exhilarating, humbling, and special it is to open up your home to creatives from all over the country as we gather together to dive into the vulnerable, powerful experience that is Illume.
Over the next few days, I hope to give you a little peek into what it was like to walk through this experience with these amazing women and my fantastic speakers, all in the comfort of my own home! Thanks to our incredible photographer, Shalyn Nelson, we get to relive every moment through the most gorgeous photos that kind of make me want to cry happy tears whenever I see them. So won’t you join me as we take a look back at this incredibly encouraging, humbling, and life-changing experience?
Before meeting at my home studio, the attendees checked into their lodging at the beautiful Harp House. They found waiting for them inside their bedrooms the most thoughtful custom-made welcome boxes from Teak & Twine! It was such a joy to be able to partner with Torrance, the creative force behind Teak & Twine, to create a sweet surprise that could help set the tone for the rest of the retreat.
On our first day together, we kicked things off with an intimate meet and greet session complete with gorgeous lounge pieces from Birch + Brass, delicious wines from OneHope, and incredible appetizers from MILO Local Provisions. I wanted to create an atmosphere where we could instantly begin to build community, get to know one another, and celebrate the start of the retreat together.
After a little mixing and mingling, I guided us through a group discussion about setting expectations and defining what success truly looks like at the Illume Retreat. I intentionally chose to bring the retreat to Waco, and to my home studio, because I could not imagine a better place to invite our attendees to walk through this curriculum with us than from the comfort of my own home. This curriculum is a vulnerable process, and I believed that in order to best invite these brave women to be vulnerable with themselves and each other, I first needed to be vulnerable and open with them.
Over the first few hours of being together as a group, we laughed, we cried, we explored what was working and what wasn’t. We chose to dive into this experience headfirst, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this group of women who traveled to Waco and allowed us, as a little tribe, to pour into them.
After our first session wrapped up, we walked out of my studio and into our backyard which Kat and I transformed into the perfect backdrop for an al fresco dinner under string lights and the big Texas sky. With gorgeous florals by Lovely Leaves and Flower & Ink Designs, our Birch + Brass farm tables truly popped!
As we kicked off our welcome dinner, we feasted on locally sourced ingredients expertly prepared by Corey McEntyre of MILO. Together, we soaked up great conversation shared over great food, and as the sun set and the stars came out I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly grateful to be sharing this experience with this tenacious group of women in my very own backyard. This special evening together was just the beginning of a transformative few days that I will treasure forever.
Curious about what Illume 2017 alums are saying about their experience? My sweet friend and right-hand gal throughout this entire experience, Kat Schmoyer, shared her thoughts on our Waco experience. Here’s what she had to say: “This was the very first retreat I have been to in my career where I truly felt like I could be present. My auto-responder was up & all pressing client work was complete. That sense of relief, y’all, was amazing. I found freedom in knowing that I could actually take time to pour INTO my business & help my sweet friend along the way.
I had intimate conversations on life, Jesus & business, talked finances & budget with brilliant minds, set goals for the remainder of 2017 & was challenged my industry peers to keep pushin’ on. If you’re looking for an experience that CARES, with women who sit down beside you on a living room couch & meet you right where you are, Illume is for you.”
Be sure to check back over the next few days for recaps of Days Two and Three! I can’t wait to share the rest of this heartfelt experience with you.