We recently traveled to Austin, Texas for our 3-day Branding Workshop! It was our first time taking our workshop to the city, but we had an amazing time! Our workshops are designed to teach you the skills needed to elevate your online presence, whether it be for business purposes or building your personal brand! Through hands-on learning and collaborative discussions, you’ll leave our workshop with the skills you need to grow your social media following, craft a good photo, monetize your blog, and more!
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to attend one of our workshops, wonder no longer! We did a Q&A with a few of our incredible Austin workshop attendees– Pei Sim, Jackie Smith, and Elizabeth Swail! Follow along as they give you an inside look at what it’s like to be a student at one of our workshops:
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do!
Pei: I’m Pei and I’m the owner of a brick + mortar shop and studio here in Austin, Texas! The Paper + Craft Pantry is a combination of two of my favorite things: stationery and workshops! We work with over 50 independent stationery designers from all across the nation and even abroad to feature their paper goods. Our workshops and classes are all led by fellow small business owners who are truly pros at what they do.
We put our community first and host weekly Open Studio hours that is our version of co-working. We partner up with various local non-profits to benefit per quarter as we accept donations at these weekly co-working sessions. We also host a ton of complimentary events like markets and pop-ups in addition to a monthly book club and pen pal party. Our latest community initiative, Small Business School #IRL, is a quarterly round-table panel where we invite in panelists to speak about small business related topics!
Jackie: Hi! I’m Jackie Smith, personal stylist and founder of Styled by Jackie Smith. I work with everyday women to help them understand their personal style, build a wardrobe that makes sense for their lifestyle. I’m also apart of the Stylist team for Mac & Mia, a cool new children’s clothing service, where I get to style children! So fun!
Elizabeth: My husband and I own and operate two different restaurant concepts in downtown Austin. My main focus there is to manage various operational aspects of the businesses as well as take care of all the marketing and PR. While doing this, I became obsessed (to put it lightly) with that process and honed in on a really unique and specific mix of marketing and PR services that inspire customers to actually walk through our doors, create brand loyalty, and make the community we operate in a better place to live.
Seeing how well this mix of strategies worked for our restaurant spurred me to begin thinking about how I would love to be able to take that knowledge expertise to other restaurants in Austin. Around the same time I was considering this, my mom passed away. The loss was deep. But I wanted her life lessons to have a legacy and that galvanized me to pursue my dream and to believe that I truly had something very special to offer other small business owners. Plus, I have three daughters that need to see their mom being a girlboss!
The Paper + Craft Pantry– where our workshop was held!
What did you expect before attending the workshop? What were you most excited to learn?
Pei: I knew the whole event would be extremely well curated and well put-together, just by knowing how Bloguettes operates as a business and brand. I was most excited to learn about how to expand our current knowledge on blogging to grow our audience outside of Austin. And as a small business owner with a supportive team, I still feel it’s really important for me to be able to be self-reliant with other programs like Photoshop and Lightroom even if it may not be my forte!
Jackie: Before the workshop I had read lots of helpful blog posts on the Bloguettes website site and watched a few webinars so I was excited to gain more knowledge to help with my business.
Elizabeth: Honestly, I thought the majority of the workshop, with the exception of Photoshop, would be reiterative of things I already knew. I was wrong – more on that later. That revealed, I was most excited to add to my overall skillset, as well as learn how to leverage Photoshop to better tell brands’ stories and to learn more about blogging in general.
What was your first impression when you arrived?
Pei: It was amazing seeing our studio and shop transformed with the amazing furnishings and beautiful florals!
Jackie: I was impressed with how nice and welcoming the entire Bloguettes team was. I loved how the Paper and Craft Pantry was transformed into such a chic little place to learn!
Elizabeth: My first impression was that the Bloguettes team was organized and had great attention to detail. You could see very quickly that this wasn’t their first workshop and that they were, not only TOTALLY LOVELY, but also professional and truly experts in their field. They were thoughtful about creating an inspirational (and Instagrammable!) ambiance and about supporting and featuring local vendors. Bonus: they provided amazing materials (printable notes, pads, photoshop guide, etc.) and other adorable gifts.
Tell us a little bit about the learning experience. What was it like to be a student?
Pei: The days were split into really clear sections of what we would be learning, so that made it easy to mentally prepare. Also, the breaks in between were really nice to allow students to mingle and network as well as to digest the information we just learned.
Jackie: The learning experience was great. Sakura and Lorena encouraged us to ask questions throughout their presentations, so it was truly a learning workshop rather than a conference.
Elizabeth: Being a student at the Bloguettes workshop was inspiring at minimum. I say at a minimum because it was more than just being inspired. It felt as if I were being equipped and armed with actionable, executable items that I could put in place right away.
Inspiration is everywhere, but often fizzles quickly. Walking away with concrete action item to carry out the things I wanted to do was way more valuable than just being inspired.
There was a great deal of information and I only wish the workshop could have been longer. While it was a lot, I never felt overwhelmed or like it was rushed. I also loved being in class with other women with different strengths and expertise.
What was your view of branding before the workshop? Did it change when the workshop was over?
Pei: I thought this workshop weekend was going to be full of information only applicable to bloggers. But in reality SO many people besides bloggers could and would benefit from the workshop- I learned a lot and made so many notes of things to look into and action for the business! It really clicked when Lorena and Sakura shared about treating your business as a person and personifying it into decisions you make for your business. It also was another lightbulb moment for me to work on elevating our business into an actual brand!
Jackie: Yes it did! Honestly, before the workshop I thought of branding as the visual aspect only. The color palettes used by a business, its logo, etc. But Sakura and Lorena taught us that it evolves so much more. It’s really about the experience you provide to your clients.
Elizabeth: Having possibly the world’s most thorough branding team for our restaurant, Forthright, I knew how imperative branding was going into the workshop, but I learned to have my own critical eye for the nuances that were making brands stand out – or not stand out. It felt as though my eye for those things was trained for what to look for and that I could actually even create my own branded materials.
What was your favorite part of the entire experience?
Pei: The team that was here to support for the weekend were incredible- super, super sweet girls! And Lorena and Sakura were incredibly kind, knowledgable and great at sharing so much information with the class. It was really inspiring to be around so many women go-getters, especially two powerhouses like L + S!
Jackie: It’s so hard to choose because I enjoyed the entire workshop!
Elizabeth: My favorite part of the workshop was the overall transparency of the instructors. There was no promise that you would be an expert in every aspect of branding, but they empower you to know where to invest your time and energy and how to consider if you should pay someone else to do to fill in the gaps – and exactly what you need to ask them if you do. I felt it was an honest look at all the effort, detail, thought and energy that goes into creating a great brand.
What are your top 3 takeaways from the workshop?
Pei's 3 Takeaways
Pinterest isn’t just for mindless pinning- Being able to create content on “free” platforms to grow and boost our business. 🙂
Photoshop + Lightroom 101- I now feel really empowered to take on more with these two programs and no longer feel intimidated!
Content calendar/creation- Creating a really clear and functional editorial calendar that our team can use!
Jackie's 3 Takeaways
You can’t be everything to everyone. Choose your niche within your industry and excel at it!
As a entrepreneur, it’s great to have a basic understanding of all aspects that are necessary to run your business. If you choose to hire help with things such as marketing, branding, etc. having a basic understanding will help you communicate your vision and expectation with the freelancers or companies that hire.
Take the time to use tools to analyze data that will help you understand your target market and how to reach and communicate with them.
Elizabeth's 3 Takeaways
I loved learning how to name files and title blogs for SEO as well as look up the best keywords for your content via Google.
How to use the app Planoly as a tool for brand consistency (Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I’m a Planoly addict!) I have been planning out two or three weeks at a time using the app since the workshop. It has saved me a lot of time and has made the work I’m doing better and more consistent.
I learned how to approach branding in general. Especially, through asking myself specific questions, deciding what content to post, and through blogging.
Would you recommend the Bloguettes 3-Day Workshop to a friend?
Elizabeth: Um, 100% – in fact, I already have!
How were the other attendees at the workshop? Were you able to connect with them?
Pei: Everyone was so great and fun to be around! It was kind of nice to sit by different people each day since not everyone stayed for the whole weekend! I really think this workshop weekend would have been SO beneficial for other small business owners who may not have realized the workshop applied to them!
Jackie: The attendees were all so nice. By day 3 we were exchanging contact info with plans to stay in touch and support one another!
Elizabeth: It was a great mix of attendees with diverse backgrounds and at different stages with their own brands. I really enjoyed getting to know the ladies at my table and others as we mingled during lunch. I was a bit surprised that so many women came from all over the state. Because of that, I connected with only a few people locally, but I have a more supportive virtual group of ladies to interact with and we are still supporting each other through social media engagement. I feel like I could reach out to any of them at any time.
How will what you learned benefit you in the future?
Pei: SO MANY THINGS! We’ve already started implementing things I learned last weekend and it’s on our next team meeting agenda to discuss and action a lot of items on my list of things I learned. 🙂
Jackie: I’ve already began to incorporate many of the things I learned in to my business. Topics and tools discussed in the workshop have helped me to become more focused in my business, gain a better understanding of my target market, understand and use digital strategies to reach and benefit them.
Elizabeth: What I’ve learned has made me a more deliberate, knowledgeable and fervent brand crusader! I know how to execute my craft more thoughtfully and with rich purpose. I also know what to ask my clients to be sure I am intimately familiar with their unique story and how to carry out my services with informed homage to their brand’s core identity.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Pei: Thank you so much for allowing The P+CP (and me) to be a part of y’alls weekend- I absolutely love what you gals are doing with Bloguettes and would love to find opportunities to work together again soon!
Jackie: Thank you to the Bloguettes team for such a great experience. Before I attended the workshop I found an extensive amount of resources on your blog and the workshop was the icing on the cake! Your willingness to share your knowledge is invaluable and I thank you for helping me grow my business!
Elizabeth: Love the Bloguettes team and if you’re on the fence, just do it!
Want to attend a Bloguettes 3-Day Branding Workshop? Check out our schedule of upcoming workshops. We’d love to see you there!