They’re two strong women that built their own businesses. They decided to give back by starting The Bloom Workshop. A two day event designed to foster creativity and education in the blogging and photography realm.
How did you two find one another, and how did you know you’d like to work together?
Back when blogging was in its hey-day around 2010, we “knew” of one another through our blogs. When moving to Northern California, the day before Easter, Michaela reached out and invited us to church and dinner with her and her family. We became fast friends and spent a lot of time doing fun, creative things. I was just beginning to dabble in photography. A few months after our California stint, my husband and I moved back to Michigan, our hometown.
Fast forward to 2013, we toyed with the idea of creating a workshop on what we learned on our own creative business journeys. By this time, we had both started our own businesses– I am a wedding photographer and Michaela an interior designer. We both had already been fielding many reader questions about how we started in business. We saw a huge need for a workshop so we began dreaming up what that might look like!
Working together made sense for us since we were friends and had similar business sensibilities. Each brought our own strengths to the table. Most of the time, we did a great job balancing the workload and taking the lead. If you’re looking to partner with a friend in business, be honest communicators; if the communication and passion from both people remain, you’ll be successful!
Where did you get the idea for The Bloom Workshop?
The idea for Bloom was really organic. We’ve both had learned a lot by running successful business of our own. We really loved the idea of being able to save someone from the troubles we encountered. Teaching how to utilize their unique talents and gifts correctly in order to sustain a thriving business.
What is The Bloom Workshop?
The Bloom Workshop is a workshop that hosts events ranging from a half day workshop to a full two-day retreat. During these events we teach creatives of all kinds; experienced business owners to women who have yet to decide what kind of business they want to run.
Our focus is on teaching how blogging and social media can work for you to help run a successful business. We also teach photography and design sessions with a mix of fun hands-on activities like calligraphy, floral design and styled photo shoots.
Our mission is to help fuel women’s creative passions, establish authentic community, and equip women with the tools they need to succeed in their business. We believe we were created to create.
What were the first few things you did to bring the idea to life?
Our first step was creating our content. We are very proud of being one of the first workshops to talk through the basics of business. Creating an experience where attendees can go home from our workshop and utilize tools they learned the very same day.
We usually sit down and review our curriculum once or twice a year to stay up to date with changing algorithms and latest technologies. Our curriculum is put into a powerpoint and we create our workshop schedule by thinking about what WE would want to experience, then think about the holes in the workshops we did see being offered. Creating a really well-rounded experience for our guests!
At the time Bloom started, there were only one or two workshops that we really knew of, so we were really thankful to start ahead of the curve. This gave us creative freedom to dream up exactly what we wanted to do, without having to worry about “copying” other workshops.
How long did it take from when you first had the idea to when you launched your first workshop?
We started talking about the idea of The Bloom Workshop in the end of 2013 and our first workshop was June 2014. We thought it would be our only workshop.
You each run your own businesses as well. How do you balance time between The Bloom Workshop and your business?
Effective flexibility! What this means for us is taking initiative to prioritize our personal and combined responsibilities with the business. With our lives being so busy (I’m a mom and Michaela is newly married, on top of our personal businesses) it is important that there aren’t these rigid hours/rules we feel like we have to follow.
An example of this is weekends are largely filled with weddings and family time, so I am often working at 8pm or later. Michaela takes care of most design client meetings during the week so she might work on a Saturday at a coffee shop. We have to remain flexible to accommodate our lives, and for us as long as we are remaining efficient and getting things done it’s what works for us.
Another piece of this is that we look at the year ahead in the winter and plan our workshops and travel schedules together. On months we are away in a new city teaching, I choose to not take as many personal photo clients, etc. It’s all about being realistic with our time and keeping a healthy balance so we don’t burn out!
The biggest thing that has helped us practically is to implement an editorial calendar. Each month we sit down and plan out the entire month together in a Google Doc (our favorite business tool!) We write down who is posting on social media on what days, what content we will actually be posting, plan out our blog post topics and who is in charge of writing them, etc. This helps us work at our pace, knowing our deadlines. As long as our tasks are done on time, we’re good!
What’s been most surprising about the experience?
I think for me it has been surprising at how much work and care goes into each event. Every time we do the large, two day event I almost can’t imagine gearing up and doing another one! However, as soon as we meet each attendee, I leave with such excitement for the next one! So for me it’s been a surprise at how much we personally invest and how rewarding it is every single time. – Ashley
I would have to agree with Ashley! I’m not surprised any more after 3 years of doing this, but in the beginning I was always surprised at how much MY creative tank was filled by the end of the workshop. Here were are, supposed to be the ones teaching and inspiring, and yet we always leave equally inspired. We always learn something! – Michaela
What was your biggest learning from the first workshop?
This is silly, but figuring out how to budget for a group of women over the course of two days! I personally am a big eater and in the beginning we always ordered SO MUCH food. We hardly went through any of it!
On a more serious note, a big learning lesson has been in attendee feedback about how to make sessions more efficient and accessible. It’s a process we keep perfecting with each event to ensure that everyone gets the maximum learning possible, without feeling overwhelmed.
What sets The Bloom Workshop apart from the others?
I think some recent feedback we got from an attendee answers this questions best! She said, “The amazing women I met at Bloom Bash Seattle I’m still friends with today, which is my favorite part.
From your event I also gained my first dreamy client and she’s now a great friend of mine who has helped me propel my business forward in really significant ways.
I was scared to death to attend. Didn’t know anyone and didn’t know what to expect. Still working full-time at my day job, I felt like a fraud for attending and almost didn’t go because I was so intimidated. But everyone made me feel welcome. You gals and your expert panel/speakers were so kind and giving of their time and energy and there was no “celebrity” status happening, everyone was open and welcoming and it meant so much to me. There are so many creative events that don’t create this environment, and this was one of the most impactful aspects of your event for me.”
How do you see The Bloom Workshop growing over time? Do you expect to expand to other formats or cities?
We are always thinking of new ways to reinvent the workshop experience. These past two years, we’ve offered half day events that are skill-based, so almost anyone can attend. We love that since we have connections with amazing teachers and vendors, we can bring fun days to different cities. People can learn the art of hosting events, creating florals or watercolor painting cookies. For the large scale events, we will continue to travel to different cities. Updating our curriculum constantly and adding special touches that make experiencing Bloom so unique.
Is there any ultimate hope or dream you have for The Bloom Workshop that you can share?
We just love teaching so much, and we both foresee continuing that in whatever forum that may mean. We’ve toyed with the idea of offering webinars in the future to reach a larger audience. Being able to reach women who may not always be able to travel to where we are. And a BIG time dream would be able to work with Magnolia Market in any capacity, really 😉
What are you most excited for in the next 12-24 months?
I am excited to be welcoming my third son this winter! I am also really excited about my 2018 brides and the direction my personal photography business has been going in! – Ashley
I’m really excited to spend Christmas with my family in California this year. Since my husband and I live in Michigan, it’s not every year that we get back there on Christmas! I’m also really excited about a few client design projects in the works. I have 3 new build clients right now, which is always my favorite. I get to walk them through the entire design process! – Michaela
What would you say to someone who’s trying to get started and hasn’t left their full time job yet?
We would recommend to anyone who is considering leaving their full time/corporate job for something creative to spend a lot of time preparing. Learning to launch that business in the strongest way possible. Start strong with a professionally designed website. Really put thought into your WHY behind your WHAT, your mission statement, and get your taxes in order early!
We’d also say after a lot of preparation, go for it! As scary as it can be to leave a secure income, a successful business you are passionate about can be so rewarding. There’s something about doing what you love and using the gifts you were uniquely wired with to serve others. Finally, we would caution those in this position of starting their own business against romanticizing working for themselves. It’s just like any job, it comes with its pros and cons and unique set of challenges!
Affectionately known to her friends as Millennial Martha for her love of DIY and decorating, Jen can’t help but pour her heart + soul into everything she touches. She’s loved to entertain since acquiring a table and chairs, and giving gifts is one of her favorite hobbies. Jen is the creator of Girl Meets Party. Her dream is to share her passions with the world in hopes to inspire others by making the seemingly unattainable attainable.