Last week, I hosted a retreat that I never thought I’d be hosting. When I decided a few years ago that I wanted to pursue being an educator and hosting workshops, I knew that I wanted the experience to far surpass the workshop itself. I wanted to build a community of women, photographers and business owners that loved EACH OTHER just as well as they loved their clients. I also wanted to ensure I had a way to continue serving them and helping their businesses grow even long after the workshop ended. So, the Hope Taylor Alumni group was born! All past workshop attendees (and mentoring alumni!) were added to a massive Facebook group that has been growing and growing for the last three years.
When I was on my way to a movie date with Drew last year, an idea popped into mind. This group had been growing and building relationships for YEARS…what if I offered a place for these women to come together in real life? And build relationships face to face? Drew loved the idea, and I spent our entire date night scrolling through Charleston Airbnbs. The next day, I locked in a house for 12 people and opened up registration for the retreat! But, to my surprise (because I had no idea if seats would even SELL!), EVERY spot in the house was gone within 30 minutes. WHAT! So, I cancelled the request for the house and booked a house that slept 22! I re-opened registration and almost every single seat flew off the shelves in the next hour. I was blown away and thanking God for his goodness for weeks following.
I spent months planning every last detail of this retreat, but my heart wasn’t prepared for all of the amazing relationships and conversations that would happen in that little Charleston house. We laughed, we cried, we prayed and lifelong friendships were made. We also ate a whole lot of southern food and probably each gained at least 5 pounds – but I don’t think anyone was complaining 🙂
We kicked off the retreat with a welcome dinner at Poogan’s Porch on Monday night before a full day on Tuesday! We woke up early and chatted all about breaking into the education industry before heading off to Lost Dog Cafe and Folly Beach for a full day of sun and relaxation. Then, we headed back, got glammed up and went out for Poogan’s Smokehouse and Jeni’s Ice Cream (the BEST!) Tuesday night had to be my favorite night – with teary-eyed, late night conversations lasting all the way until 2am. I just love these girls.
Wednesday was another bright and early morning full of learning all about email marketing – then we headed out to explore downtown Charleston! Rainbow Row, the Battery, the Market, King Street Shopping – you name it, we did it! We had an amazing group lunch at the Oyster House and then headed to Magnolia Plantation for a head shot swap. I’ve never seen more beautiful Spanish moss in my life!
On Wednesday night, I had a surprise in store for the girls – but they didn’t know it! Blakey from Blakely Made surprised all 20 attendees with a painting workshop – complete with Monza pizza + King Street Cookies! AH! We learned all about how she paints her beautiful masterpieces, and we all got to paint our own! Such a fun night of bonding and laughs. We all woke up on Thursday morning with teary eyes as we said goodbye – and I can’t wait until the next time I get to spend a week with these beautiful ladies!
I have to say one big thank you to Along Came a Box for the AMAZING custom gift boxes, Wildflour Bakery for a delicious breakfast each morning + to Drew for dropping everything last minute to drive to Charleston and help me with the retreat. I don’t know what I’d do without him.
And, if you’ve made it this far…I have an announcement for you!!! If you have been wanting to attend a Hope Taylor Workshop – registration is now LIVE for the LAST workshop of 2017! The workshop is being hosted on August 14th and 15th in Richmond, VA and, because registration already went live to my mailing list, seats are already over halfway gone! If you want to become a part of the Hope Taylor Alumni community and attend the popular two-day workshop, click HERE for more information or HERE to snag your seat! The early bird rate is only available for a limited time!
Enjoy some of my favorites from our retreat (and a ton of behind-the-scenes goodness!)
These gift boxes were BEAUTIFUL! So grateful for Kristen at Along Came a Box – she nailed it!
The food at Poogan’s Porch is TO-DIE-FOR!
Teaching day one!
Head shot swap at Magnolia Plantation!
Just look at these beautiful ladies!!!
Time to PAINT! Blakey was absolutely incredible and I even had the opportunity to purchase one of her prints for my office – this was SUCH a fun night!
I love these ladies with my whole heart.
And some iPhone behind-the-scenes! Here was our beautiful house for the week:
Hope Taylor Brides that became workshop alumni…love these girls!
And some favorites I snagged from the #htpalumniretreat on Instagram!
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