Explore the blog


I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

Vlog Favorites

Looking for Something Specific?




Creative At Heart Round 10 Recap

July 27, 2021

WOW. My heart is so incredibly full. 

Last week I attended Round 10 of Creative at Heart, a conference for creative business owners in all industries and backgrounds to gather and focus not only on growing their businesses but also how their hearts are feeling. Being so close to our businesses and putting so much of ourselves into our work can be draining. I’m so thankful for Kat and her team for creating a space that feels like home and can give us a space to recharge.

I set a standard for myself when I left the marketing world to attend at least one in-person event a year. I’m a people person and I thrive in situations where I can be around a lot of energy and inspiration, so this is a must for me when I spend most of the year “alone.”

There are countless things that I took away from this conference (that honestly feels more like an intimate retreat or homecoming) so I’ll do my best to condense it down to my top 5 highlights!

1. The speaker line up was FANTASTIC.

C@H is structured like a typical conference with keynote speakers, opportunities for breakout sessions, and panel discussions. The C@H team did an amazing job finding strong, inspirational, and extremely qualified speakers to share their hearts and wisdom with us.

I loved the opportunity to hear different perspectives and tackle every topic from practical marketing strategies to issues of the heart to our diversity and inclusion within our lives and businesses. 

My favorite part about the speakers at C@H was how accessible they all were. Because this is a more intimate conference you actually have a chance to follow up with the speakers afterwards –– and not in a “hey, if you have 5 minutes can I ask you a quick question?” way. You actually get to spend three days with them sharing your concerns and ideas and getting real feedback from people you just watched on the stage. 

2. There was space for REAL conversations.

We learned a lot from the main keynote stage, but I think the real impact was made in the panel groups, break times, and breakout sessions. It’s so interesting to be in a room with people you’ve followed online and have a certain perspective of them…only to be reminded that they’re real people with real struggles too. 

It’s incredibly helpful to have a space to ask really tactical questions about how to film and edit a reel or launch a product, but then also authentically answer the question “how are you *really* doing…like really?

We talked about inclusion, rest, the ways we speak to ourselves, and the things we carry in the depth of our hearts. It can be heavy to live this life, but being in a room with people who are all on the same path is…relieving. 

Everyone who attends C@H is looking for something different but the intention is the same –– we’re all looking for connection, inspiration, and hope.

3. I made so many new friendships and connections.

You may be thinking…wow, did y’all just sit around and cry in a therapy session the entire time? Well…yeah at times we did hahah. But we also had a lot of fun and had a chance to make connections beyond the internet. 

My favorite part about being a part of the breakout sessions and the panel discussion groups was there was always someone in the room who either offered the services you needed to make that thing happen OR knew of a resource to help. You just can’t do that anywhere else!

I have been really involved in this community for a while so I reunited with a lot of friends from different stops along my journey and made a TON of new friends. Every day we ate breakfast and lunch together, had conversations during our afternoon snacks, and danced in our PJs during the late night treat. 

I was told Creative At Heart felt like home to most people and I definitely feel the same now!!

4. I left with the tools and the inspiration to make real changes.

Granted I’m still very much on the conference high, but I am SO excited to dive into implementing the things I learned at C@H. I’ve been to my fair share of conferences and while inspiration is usually the thing you leave with, it’s also important to leave with a list of things you can ACTUALLY implement to improve or grow your business.

I’ve had some things I’ve been toying with back and forth about doing within my business and C@H gave me the push to really start to put them into action.

While there were SO many ideas being thrown around, something I love about Kat and all of the speakers is that they very much took the approach of “do what makes sense for YOU.” You don’t have to do it all!!! You don’t have to do it the same exact way they did it!!! 

The beauty of these events and learning from so many people is that you can pick and choose what will work for you and not feel stressed about leaving the rest behind. 

You will be seeing some of these changes over the next few months, and some of them you won’t see because they’re backend…but you’ll see me be a lot less stressed!!! 🙂

5. We are so lucky to have a career and community that cares so much about our hearts.

One day in our panel group we went around and said our biggest takeaway. I flipped through my notes to see if I could find a quote that really struck me.

Don’t get me wrong…I have PAGES of inspirational and thoughtful notes. 

But that’s not my biggest takeaway. My biggest takeaway is how I felt being in that space. A few years ago I would have been nervous and unsure. I wouldn’t have felt like I belonged and afraid that I would never get to a place where I felt confident in my ability to grow this business.

I’m a 2w3 so I’m all about goals and I’m all about the HEART…so is every single person who attended Creative At Heart. I feel so lucky and blessed to have a career and a community that wants to see my business grow but wants to make sure my heart is in a good place while I do it.

Because the fact of the matter is that you can’t successfully run a personal business or enjoy your life without making sure your heart is taken care of. 

So, like the unofficial theme of Round 10…”Get a therapist and get a business coach!

I will definitely be coming back to Creative At Heart.

I am so thankful for this opportunity, especially after the year we’ve had and are still experiencing. My main goal for attending was to feel reignited and inspired…I found that and so much more. 

We ended our time together with Kat talking through prioritizing what is a must have and being willing to make sacrifices to make it happen (a little tear came to my eye because PRIORITIZE is my word for 2021!!!).

We left with an exercise of knowing and naming our season, whatever that looked like to us. I will be sharing more about this but I am in a season of REINVENTION. I am pumped y’all. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you Kat and C@H for pouring your full selves into this event and creating a space for us to be vulnerable and also grow together. 

If you’re interested in attending the next round of Creative At Heart make sure to join the waitlist!!!

Honorary mention: Thank you to my mom for watching Dune the whole week so I could focus and be fully present!!!! Look at how happy he was!


I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

Looking for Something Specific?

Vlog Favorites



How to Choose Your Senior Photographer



How to Plan a Proposal with a Photographer

The Conversation You MUST Have With Your Bridal Party

Reader Favorites

a few

a few

Reader Favorites