You would think that I would be able to come up with a more creative title than this but apparently I am not one to be mysterious or clever. Just putting it out there. Take it or leave it.
Today’s post is all about our experience creating a booth for Rust-Oleum for the Haven Conference and a little recap on teaching our first ever class. It may not be our normal how-to or DIY instructional but it definitely falls into the category of ‘what we are up to’ and honestly, I don’t ever want to forget how this felt or how much work it was or even how proud I was afterwards.
So first things first. What the heck is Haven? Well, if you are a home-blog follower you may have heard this name floating around the inter webs. It is a conference for design, building and DIY bloggers that is meant to educate, inspire and connect you with other bloggers, brands and people. You can learn how to build a website, improve your SEO, make money, find your style and even how to finish your garage floor 🙂 And I have crashed the conference for basically it’s entire existence.
The first year I attended, John & Sherry Petersik were the key note speakers and I was their babysitter. The following year Sherry asked if I would do a class with her….we talked about the exhilarating topic of friendship….and then year after year I would come with a baby on my hip to say hi to a few friends and squeeze some shoulders. But I guess I never really fully attended for two reasons….one is kid related…and the other is that I never felt like I quite fit in….a lot of the women had laser focus on making their blogs successful….so many would talk about customer service with readers….and there were so many sessions about money or social media growth or things I just couldn’t connect with. Those aren’t bad things. I don’t want to sound like I am throwing shade. I am simply saying that I am not business minded. And people that ARE, well, they tend to intimidate me. I never felt quite adequate enough. Like I was too old school or not smart enough or TOO CHEAP to really figure out how to make this blog a business. or even work well with other brands.
Enter my darling Jeremy Bower.
I know that some of you have noticed that lately we have been partnering with more brands for posts. I think of these partnerships as a badge of honor. Before Jeremy was advocating for me on the business side, I would have never put myself out there even if it was something I REALLY wanted to try. And as for working with brands, I don’t have to work with them….I GET TO. I don’t get strong armed into saying things I don’t want to say….I get to share my voice, my opinions and my thoughts on different products and services…and a good brand will support that voice. And one of my very favorites is the family over at Rust-Oleum. I started doing side projects for them almost three years ago. It was just a side gig. I would spray paint some things for them and write instructionals. We called it dating because that is what it was. I really feel very thankful for the folks at Rust-Oleum because they gave me the courage to believe that the work I was doing was worthy. I don’t know if anyone else can connect with that feeling but it’s important for any one to believe in themselves….and even though Jeremy kept on encouraging me, the feeling of confidence really came from brand validation. So you can imagine my mixed emotions when it came to a phone call this past summer when our contact at Rust-Oleum asked if we would be interested in putting together a booth for them at Haven.
I kinda had a mental freak out. The deepest parts of me felt not worthy. not original enough. not talented enough. Logistically, how could we even attempt this? who would watch the kids? who would build it out? and what if it was a complete and utter fail in front of all my peers and humiliating to a brand that we love? and then Jeremy….my sweet encouraging husband who is all business all the time said YES. He knew deep down I wanted to try. He knew that I would probably come up with a million excuses why it was not gonna happen. He knew that I would feel a crazy amount of OCD and anxiety. And he also knows that it would stretch me in a way that I would love. So we put together a PDF of three concepts and pitched it to them. I was nervous and happy all at the same time. They came back to us and said, we want this one….
A few more phone calls later, we tweaked the original plan. They wanted to show off as many of their products as possible…and if you know anything about their product portfolio – it is VAST. They have paints and stains and spray paints and kits and cleaners and EVERYTHING. Our plan was to make a big colorful backdrop using their spray paint colors. Then it would be flanked with cubbies to show off lots of smaller projects that incorporated kits and sprays and stains. The floor was going to be covered with FLOR tiles (we thought this would be easiest) and then there would be a big desk with storage inside for odds and ends and products and info. The desk itself would be finished with their linen white chalk paint and the top would be covered in their Rock Solid garage floor coating.
Once everything was finalized and we got the go ahead, Jeremy constructed these three giant panels out of 2×4’s and under floor layment. And then I got to work making the colorful mural. I am always super inspired by street art….and one of my favorites is the contemporary street artist that goes by the name HENSE. He is an Atlanta native and did the mural that is in the photos above. Aren’t the colors and movement SO GOOD?
Well, after spray painting this giant canvas….I am convinced that I would like to spray paint. all the things. No seriously. the next time you see graffiti art….it might just be mine. I am committed to this movement of moms-who-vandilize. #justkiddingnotreally
Seriously though….I would really like to spray paint more art….it was amazingly like therapy. And I did a time lapse…would you even be interested in seeing that?
The other giant piece we had to construct was the desk. I found a plan online that I could adapt – more on that later – and basically just made the side panels and the back have a cool design. It was my first time using a router but it turned out really well.
Here it is when we were painting it! It’s very contemporary and HUGE. Thank goodness we put on casters because otherwise we would have never been able to put that bad boy on the truck.
So after a couple weeks of blitzing on this giant to-do list, the day finally arrived. My mom said she would watch the boys….we wrote the entire schedule and food arrangements and everything on a list….and we packed up the truck and threw some clothing into a bag to get ready for Atlanta. To say I was nervous leaving the boys is an understatement. And on top of that, my fingers were crossed that the booth would turn out.
And then Jeremy called me as I was doing the last minute task of dropping off Will at school…..
“Katie. I think I am having a panic attack. I can’t find the keys to the UHaul.”
Yup that happened. An hour and a half later, we found them dropped into a clamp drawer. right where we thought they were…um…yeah.
The hiccups to the grand plans continued….the hotel folks and the Haven folks thought our designated booth area was in this area. It was measuring about a foot too narrow but we just went with it. Until the Ryobi reps told us that we had set up in their spot. Whoops! So we deconstructed and moved ours to the REAL designated booth only to find that FLOR carpet tiles are not a good idea for hotel carpeted floors. It was a hot mess. So I ran to Target, threw a last minute gray and white find in the cart and headed back.
I gotta give a shout out to Jamie from Rogue Engineer….she and I met last year at a Rust-Oleum event and she helped me drag that rug through Target and not break everything. Also she did not judge when I randomly bought a Kitchen-Aid mixer. And then she helped me hang all the letters for the backdrop. Such a sweetheart this one….
In the end, it turned out exactly how I had hoped.
The desk gave visitors a place to perch (these stools are everything!) and the rug laid great over carpeting. #lessonlearned
The cubbies were filled with Rust-Oleum projects and info and product and they were interesting and colorful and fun.
I was obsessed with the majority of the vases and decor and the colors are SO cute.
Those little magnet cups are actually from the Home Depot and the Rust-Oleum people sprayed them and put little fake succulents in them! Aren’t they adorable?!
And I loved this pineapple. Sadly it cracked in the back but still…I think it’s worth recreating.
I made a little sign that credited the inspiration for the backdrop. I had my friend make one with a Silhouette cameo (my first time ever using a cutting machine) and now I REALLY want one. I didn’t have a chance to stop by the Cricut booth so maybe I want one of those. Any opinions on which is better? I might actually be a tshirt designing fool if I get one. Just saying. If I go missing for weeks on end….I am in my basement cranking out day of the year underwear.
One of the things brought was this little glitter dog. I felt like he was our mascot for the booth. He, like our booth, isn’t like any of the others out there 🙂
The best part was seeing the whole thing set up and then being able to roll the desk away for selfies each night. I love seeing your pics in front of the spray paint wall y’all! And honestly, yes, I was relieved that the work setting up was over and it looked great….but really this is an experience I would have never tried without the encouragement of loved ones. Even at 35 it is hard to be brave….but oh so worth it.
I also managed to snag a few pics of folks talking up the Rust-Oleum team in the booth.
If you are one of these peeps (sorry I can’t recognize all the back sides!) I would love to hear what you thought of the booth in person. What worked? What didn’t? I’d love to know.
Another big first during Haven was teaching a class. We were asked by Rust-Oleum to teach the class about the floor coating that we put in our garage. It was the best time ever…..Sunday morning at 8am. My voice is dripping in sarcasm.
We absentmindedly dressed alike….and then the funniest thing happened. Jeremy decided to do an introductory joke. The only thing that was missing was a punchline. It was like crickets had died in the class. I DIED LAUGHING. Poor Jeremy was suffering from Sunday morning no caffeine. It was pretty much a moment I will never forget.
The whole class was set up by the Rust-Oleum team and they did an amazing job. We didn’t have to do anything.
This is Jamie, Katie and Vincent and we got to know them a little bit better over the weekend and I gotta admit – they are those kinda people that are just so kind that it hurts.
Here are some photos that Vincent took of the class – ignore our ridiculous posing….
Vincent was a photographer for many years so of course his pictures are so good!
The entire class was able to learn and attempt to use smaller size units of the Rock Solid on wood. It was such a fun time and for real….considering it was really early on a morning following the big dance party the night before….we had a blast with the other bloggers. They were all sent home with Rock Solid coasters and then someone won a whole lot of Rock Solid….enough to do their own garage in the color of their choice!
So of course we learned a few things…this being our first class ever. First – it helps to have all the supplies set out. It was a messy adventure but really, hands on stuff is our jam.
Secondly – realize that your preparations aren’t the only ones. We failed to do this well. We had a powerpoint with talking points and we scrapped the plan when we saw their computer hooked up with video. You remember that video? The one where I squeeze the floor coating bag like I am milking a cow? How could you forget?! I think if we did it again, we would have realized that we could do both the slideshow and the video. Lesson learned.
And lastly – you are only as good as the team. We can’t thank the Rust-Oleum team enough. They were awesome! Not only were they understanding of our hiccups but they also were really encouraging and made us feel like worthy of representing their brand.
And to answer the question of what happened next…..welllllll…..we broke it all down….loaded up the truck and brought it all home. Yup. We negotiated that we would get to keep the stuff we brought so we probably will find homes for the stuff in our house….or just tweak it for other spaces….or do something else cool with it. I only have plans for the cubbies right now 🙂 I have no idea what to do with the rug. But it’s all fun stuff so be on the lookout for those things in the future floating around the house!
And if any other moms are out there….maybe questioning if you lost yourself in kid stuff and are no longer relevant….I get it. I do. I feel that 99.5% of the time. And even as I looked at all the other booths….all of them were pallet walls, shiplap or polished signage….and then I look at my street art inspired spray paint explosion of color….I gotta tell ya….there was a twinge of doubt. I thought maybe I am not like everyone else. But then the mom in me said “Just be you. You is enough.” By putting myself out there….allowing someone else to watch my four kids overnight (the first time! ever! I know!)….it felt like I regained a little confidence. A boost. And I hope that no matter where you are, or if you are doing a big work project or going for something new…..that you hear my voice in your head…..or your voice reading this in your head….YOU WILL CRUSH THIS. Just be you. You is enough.
P.S. We’ll be running an Instagram Giveaway on Wednesday night for enough Rock Solid product to cover a two car garage. So be sure to follow us @bowerpowerblog