Stepping out of my comfort zone is not something I tend to go bounding towards. However, when the opportunity to learn from the best in the business comes up, you don’t shy away. So I bit the bullet and jumped into the unknown.
After weeks of build-up, the day had finally arrived. The venue was the STUNNING Forde Abbey and Gardens just outside of Chard, Somerset. I was filled to the brim with apprehension, but it was so nice to put faces to the names of people who I knew of through social media. I’ll admit for probably the first hour I was full on fan girling! Meeting Rhea Freeman was incredible, her podcasts have helped me no end in the last 6 months. As well as meeting the wonderful people behind some of my favourite brands!
We started the day with a quick introduction to each of the key individuals who helped organise the day. Sophie Callahan, Rachel Bragg, Rhea Freeman, Ruth Chappell (Dressage Anywhere) Melanie Clarihew (Mackenzie and George) and Emma Warren (Hiho Silver)
They all gave some incredible advice on the best way to promote ourselves as a “brand” ensuring we had a clear mission statement and that our content was true to that statement, and remaining authentic. We spoke about batch content and planning ahead, while maintaining a clear theme or message. The uses and brilliance of Instagram stories, using it to give a behind the scenes look into the daily life not just focusing on the curated grid photos.
We got the chance to have a wonder round the grounds to create some content. After a little while we were called for a group photo and we headed for lunch! Once we were all suitably full we had the choice to venture around with Rhea and learn all about Instagram stories, an equine portrait workshop with photographer Sophie Callahan or a Flat lay workshop with photographer Rachel Bragg. I opted for the Flat lay workshop as I felt it would benefit me the most!
Mastering the art of flat lay photography is something Rachel has nailed! Her photos always tell a story and the more you look at them the more you see! Me being the highly unorganized person I am, I forgot to bring props to the day. Fear not I managed to go on a scout and found a few bits to use in a quick snap shoot about my day. There are so many options with flat lay, it’s all about faffing to find the best shot! Whether you go for a geometric, uniform or free for all style eventually you’ll get the ONE! My efforts are by no means to a professional standard but I learnt loads, and more importantly enjoyed doing it!
The highlight of the rest of the afternoon (besides the cake) was an INCREDIBLE moving, inspiring and honest talk about confidence from George Banister (formally of Black down Shepard huts, and currently or Black Oak ltd) I’ve never been one for motivational speeches, seeing it more of a personal thing. But my god, everything George said found a way to resonate with experiences in my life. At the end of his talk I felt so positive about moving forward in my own self-confidence, and I had a good list of books to read to!
“I USED TO NOT BE CONFIDENT”
In all the day was incredible, and I really had nothing to worry about. Everyone was kind and supportive, and I learnt SO much from everyone! Finally to top the whole day we were all hashtag gifted the most AMAZING goodie bags! Items and discount codes, not books and seeds, samples and testers kindly donated from a huge range of brands!
Roll on the next HiHo & Co day!