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Go WILD, Y'all

I'm writing this post with a serious case of the Mondays as I'm recovering from Go Wild this past week. Go Wild is the annual conference run by the Wild for Planners group and it is so much fun! This year's conference was in Nashville and while there is was announced that 2018 will be in Austin, TX. In addition to bringing planner enthusiasts together this event also presents the opportunity to hear from great speakers, meet planner  / planner goodies suppliers and the part that people to notice the most - awesome swag.  
 
I first found out about the group last year when some planner girls I followed posted on instagram about the conference. To an outsider it looks like oh fun, planner girls gathering and getting tons of swag - I want to go! But the reality is it's so much for than that and to be perfectly honest if you're only interested in the swag you'd be better off staying home and going on a shopping spree. Since everyone wants to know the most though what it costs and what you get I will go over that information in this post at the end.

Disclaimer: I am using pics of swag for most of my photos. 1. the lighting wasn't good for non professional photos and I was too far away to get quality pictures of the speakers. 2. All of the items provided were done so at the generosity of the sponsoring companies so I do want to be sure to show appreciation for their gifts.

 
 
 This year's conference kicked off Thursday night at the hotel with check-in and a "Happy Hour" hosted by The Happy Planner. KrissyAnne Designs (KAD) sponsored the check in swag and we each received a tote bag, hand sanitizer, t shirt, water bottle and stickers.
 
When I first heard happy planner happy hour I thought we'd all go to one of the hotel bars with our planners and they would put out stickers and washi and it would just be a planning session - not even close! Stephanie Fleming and her team rented out and entire piano bar in downtown Nashville and we had it to ourselves for the evening - such fun! While we were out having fun they also arranged for some swag fairies to leave a planner on our beds - I am in love with the one I received and am very seriously considering making it my primary planner this June.

 
Friday morning started bright and early at 8am but some girls lined up much earlier as the night before various shop sponsors had decorated tables and filled them with swag. I got down in line around 7:45am and was able to walk right up to a table beautifully decorated by Pink Popsicle Studio and Blue Scooter Press. I was immediately attracted to this table because they had a beauty theme. It was also important to me to sit at a table for a new to me shop so when I saw the table names were not somewhere I previously shopped I knew this was the spot for me.



 After welcoming remarks the first speaker we heard from was Mica May of May Designs - their primary product is the may book which is a personalized notebook / traveler's notebook insert. I'm just now getting into TNs and have never purchased any of their products so I didn't think I would be that interested in this talk but I really enjoyed hearing Mica's story of her path to creating her business and how it has changed and grown over time, at the end of her talk Mica had the swag fairies bring each attendee our own may book.

 
 Next up was the Llamas Love Letting Workshop with Cindy Guentert-Baldo. I've already taken a calligraphy class and the worksheets are very similar but I feel like Cindy is a much funnier and organized teacher and I could totally see a first timer catching on quickly because she is really easy to follow.

After this session Michael's sponsored pastries, coffee and drinks in the lobby for a break and the swag fairies delivered Design Pandemonium packets to our seats. During the breaks Michaels has a crafting lounge set up with their planner products on display, a candy bar and make and take washi coasters - it was a lot of fun!


 
 
 
After the break we heard from the Mix and Match Mama Shay Shull. Shay is a blogger and cookbook author and also a mom to four. Since she's a "mom blogger" I really didn't think I would be very interested in this chat but again I found myself drawn in by a great story and wonderful personality.
 
Before lunch Olympic Medalist Michelle Carter took the stage. I knew who Michelle is from Olympic coverage but I didn't know much about her story or background so I found her story very interesting. Michelle talked about her path to the Olympics and had lots of inspirational quotes I wrote down in my notebook, she also talked about what's next - she sponsors a summer camp for girls and is going for one more Olympics. I don't want to talk too much about her story in case you have the opportunity to hear it yourself in the future but one thing I really enjoyed hearing from Michelle on is how she considers herself a girly girl and how she's not afraid to be that person and also be a super star athlete. I think there's so many times in our society where we equate being feminine with not being serious so it's nice to see someone who has found success while not being afraid to be feminine.

After Michelle's talk there was one more announcement - in addition to sponsoring the craft lounge and mid morning snack Michael's brought goodies bags for each attendee - and by goodie bags they mean A LOT of swag including an instax mini 8 camera. My roomies and I might have spent a significant portion of our lunch time in our room looking through the bag and squealing with excitement!


 
To close out the day we heard from Whitney English of The Day Designer who talked about her story and planning method - unfortunately I missed most of this talk because I needed to call home. But I heard from other attendees it was great and I enjoyed the items Whitney gave out from her collaboration with Blue Sky.


After Whitney's talk everyone brought up their planners one by one, or one by eight for some people to add their planner to one large display of planners so that our group could set the world record for the largest planner display. We wound up have 1,328 planners on display!

 
Of you see the grey pouf about five rows in - that's mine!

The roomies and I had planned on going off site that night but it was rainy and we were exhausted so instead we had pizza and got some much needed rest.

Fun photo prop sponsored The Honey B

 
Saturday morning started off with an Admin Panel from the group sponsoring the conference (Planners Gone Wild) and several other planner groups. It was interesting to hear how the admins balance their personal lives with their groups and hearing how their groups developed. After the admin panel the swag fairies made the first appearance of the day to deliver Llama Bags - these bags the grocery totes that fold up and were filled with items from sponsoring Etsy shops. This photo doesn't even do justice to the number of shops that contributed to the bags but as we were at tables of 10 it wasn't really possible to spread out. I had brought a binder with page protectors with me and put all my stickers into the binder making sure to notate each shop and any future purchase codes they were offering with each sticker sheet. so that they wouldn't get lost or bent being carried around.


 Mid morning we hear from the ladies of KIT Life , which stands for Keeping It Together. This session was packed with useful information on planning and goal setting and honestly I couldn't keep up taking notes there was so much info, luckily they have a special go wild link with their presentation. One thing I really liked was the idea of adding a "power hour" to each day. With this presentation we received a notebook and special Kit Life stickers designed by KAD.

 
After the break had a creative planning workshop with The Planner Society which showed how to use the items in her kit (or you could use similar ones if subscriptions aren't your thing) to decorate TN inserts and make shaker pockets and dashboards. At the end of the session the swag fairies brought out boxes with a Foxy Fix TN for each attendee - I received purple but my very kind friend Becky traded me for a pink knowing how much I loved it - thanks Becky!

 
To close out the speaker sessions the keynote speaker Erin Condren took the stage. Erin has a wonderfully warm personality and I really enjoyed hearing her story and how she balances her business with her personal life. It was fun to hear how the EC team really does take feedback from planner girls as they update planners and offer new types with each year's release - this year's will be on May 4th. To enable the attendees to select our own planner from her site Erin had the swag fairies make their final appearance of the conference to give each attendee a gift bag with EC goodies and a $25 gift certificate to her site.
 
At night Erin Condren, KAD, and a group of lularoe sellers sponsored Planjama which took over three bars and the joining hallway in the hotel and provided drinks and snacks. Eric Condren was so kind to pose for picture all night with anyone who didn't get one previously - I waited to get mine until then  since I was wearing pjs from her brand. There was a general club atmosphere in Club Condren, KAD offered karaoke which isn't really my thing but was very popular and the LLR girls had a pop up shop. In addition to drinks and snacks in the three areas Lille Henry sponsored a confetti carpet which was super cute and gave out swag - I can't wait to see how our pictures came out! There were country music impersonators posing for pictures, a photo booth, and face painting sponsored by a group of etsy shops. At the end of the evening an etsy shop gave out the last swag of Go Wild and we heading off to rest after the fun and exhausting two and a 1/2 days.



 
 
So, as I promised at the beginning of this post let's talk about how much did all that cost to attend. Here's a break down:
 
Conference Ticket and Fees $452
Hotel Room (standard room for four people three nights) $205
Travel $75 for gas (I live only 3 hours away this year, next year it will be more like $200)
Meals $150
Gifts (for roomies, table mates and general swapping - this isn't necessary but nice to do) $80
Conference Merchandise $50 (I was very conservative, many spent much more)
 
So as you can see it can easily cost $1,000+++ to attend. Meanwhile the swag bag is valued at $450ish, which is A LOT for swag. But, it also goes back to my point that if you're in it for the swag don't go - you have to see a value in the social aspect and a value in hearing from the speakers - that's what past attendees mean when they say the swag is just a bonus.

Attending the event surprised me in many ways - don't get me wrong all of the sessions were good but the sessions that had me most excited to buy a ticket wound up not being my favorite while others I thought might bore me really spoke to me. I'll admit the swag was a big part of why I went and don't get me wrong - it was AWESOME I also don't plan on hoarding all of it and will be sharing some with a friend who could not attend. I thought I would be using a new Eric Condren planner after this and now I'm having a really hard time not seeing myself using that beautiful Happy Planner. I thought I would want to spend more quite time by myself but I never made it to the hotel pool to relax. I went into the event with a lot of expectations and by the end my experience was very different than what I thought it would be - in a good way.

My biggest take away from the event was hearing a common theme from many of the speakers about persistence and success. Almost every speaker we heard from had some kind of failure  before she found success - Mica May had many business ideas that didn't take off, Michelle Carter didn't medal until her 3rd Olympics and had many health struggles along the way, Whitney English has a stationary company that went under, the KIT life girls had a huge business disaster they had to bounce back from, and Erin Condren used to have a clothing brand. Yet here these women were, very successful women I might add, ands they were very transparent in sharing their struggles and the path that led them to success. I think most people wouldn't open another business if the had one that went under but these ladies reminded me of the old saying that if at first you don't succeed try, try again. What separates these ladies from anyone else isn't a rich family that funded them or good luck - it's just plain old hard work and believing in themselves.

So yes, I left Go Wild with a lot of stuff (and I'm glad I drove so I could transport that stuff) but I also left with inspiration and new friendships. I hoping that next year's event will wind up being good timing because it seems like these events only get better each year!

 
 

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed your take on the event. I felt the same way about loving the speakers I thought I wouldnt. Also I did vlogs, which I've been posting in the group but here's a link just in case you'd like to check it out. Www.youtube.com/c/rhiannaharrison

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