Designer Vaca 2018: A Recap
Designer Vaca was started 7 years ago by female biz babes, Promise Tangeman of Go Live and Alyssa Yuhas when they both felt the need to just regroup and relax with like-minded ladies in the design industry. This retreat wasn’t meant to follow a typical “conference” format, with scheduled talks every hour for days on end. No, this was meant to be a relaxing, collaborative, vacation. They made sure there was just enough “conference” mixed in with a whole lot of fun and sunshine.
I arrived a day before the retreat, so that I could get a good night’s rest, and get settled in well before the festivities. I am a social introvert, so I knew that the activities of the following days would drain me, but I didn’t want to miss anything!
I arrived at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, California around 12:00 on the first day of the retreat. I spent my afternoon sitting in the shade by the pool, finishing up a bit of client work and enjoying the atmosphere. Women began trickling in, and it was easy to recognize those that were at the Ace for the retreat. We began to gather poolside, introducing ourselves, chatting about what we do for a living, and getting excited for the evenings activities to come.
The Designer Vaca kick-off was a cocktail hour with horderves, music, and a photo booth! We were all given cards when we walked in, with conversation prompts, so that we could try to remember all of the ladies we met throughout the evening. We were also given bracelets, to serve as our “wristbands” for all the events during the retreat. They were gorgeous gold or silver bangles, each imprinted with a variety of words. Mine said “Ask”.
We all chatted, drank some beverages, snacked on delicious treats, and took silly photos in the photo booth!
Day two was full of so much information! We kicked off the day with mimosas and coffee, and settled into our seats (armed with adorable notebooks from May Designs!).
Our first speaker was Arian Simone, Entrepreneur, Author, Angel Investor, Philanthropist, PR and Marketing Specialist - and all around bad-ass. She told us her story, of being laid-off, living in her car, to walking the red carpet with Usher.
She explained to us that a big part of success is to live fearlessly.
Most of us in entrepreneurship have had to Google something a time or two. And that is okay. Some say “fake it until you make it”, Arian says to “seize the moment.” What you visualize, you materialize. Do you picture yourself making 6 figures with a team of 10 fabulous employees? What can you do today to lead you to that reality? Maybe that means raising your prices, maybe that means hiring a part-time VA. You should act like you’ve already got it (to a responsible extent ;) ). You never know when “the thing could be the thing, that leads to THE thing.”
Another thing Arian hit on was staying in alignment with your purpose. It is so easy in the digital world to see all of the different things people are doing to make money and think "‘oh, I could do that!’… but does it align with your big purpose? Will it just be a distraction to your end goal? Have patience, and stay in line with your purpose.
Hear Arian’s Story Here.
Have a dinner party (a hypothetical one)
Who would you invite to your dinner party? Dead, alive, fictional or real, invite 6 people you want to have at your dinner party.
What personality traits do they have? What do they value? Why do you look up to them?
Now realize, those people are you. The things that you admire about them are the things you strive to be yourself.
My big invite was Hermione Granger (big HP nerd here) - why?
She would tell me to stop procrastinating, speak up for myself, keep learning, take risks, and to be a good friend.
Who’s at your dinner party?
Next up: Breakout Sessions
We were all given a random number in our welcome pack, which separated us into breakout groups. On night one, we wrote down questions and subjects we wanted to discuss, and during the breakout sessions we went over the most voted on ones.
Categories included: Client processes, dealing with overwhelm and creative blocks, client communication, Dubsado, Asana Love, and so much more.
I’m going to be honest, there was so much information, and so much jam-packed collaborative discussion, that I didn’t write anything down… so you’ll just have to attend next year’s Designer Vaca to experience your own breakout session! ;)
Next: Pool Chilling
It wouldn’t be a vaca style retreat if we didn’t get some sunshine, right? The afternoon was full of cold beverages, refreshing pool dips, and extended biz chats with all our new besties.
Speaker #3 - Afternoon Session: May Designs
There were a few optional afternoon sessions, and I opted for the one put on by Mica May of May Designs. This session was set up in true “OG Designer Vaca” Style. We all gathered in her small courtyard of her hotel suite, and just talked. Mica told us how she started May designs, and how she recently got her designs into an end-cap at Target (holla!). Most of us were curious about supply-chain management and how to start a product based business. Mica had plenty of great advice!
Speaker #4 - Dinner & Evening Session
For dinner, we had a delicious taco bar! During the feast, we heard insight on the print media world from Darling, Magazine founder, Sarah Dubbeldam. Sarah started Darling, magazine as a piece of print media that is untouched by image editing, showcasing women in their true and beautiful form.
The key takeaway from her presentation was about working with kindness in mind. The old “kill them with kindness” way. We are more than likely to encounter people in our business that act disrespectful, and sometimes simply mean. Sarah explained that in the end, leading with kindness will create a servant hearted mindset, and serve you and your business well. This should go without saying, but this doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you ;) .
She also said that anxiety is imagination gone wrong.
We must protect our mental health, and protect our imagination. When we get anxious, it is a sign that we need to take a moment for ourselves and regroup. Nothing good comes from an anxious mind.
Jumped in the pool, fully clothed. And it was cold.
On the final day I got breakfast with two of my new bffs, then hung out by the pool chatting with all my new friends in the sunshine!
My Final Thoughts
This retreat was AMAZING. I met so many inspirational ladies, made friends for life, and learned so much. It was so cool to be surrounded by women that all come from the design industry, but in so many different ways. We had freelancers, in-house designers, non-profits, authors, and so much more. I was able to share things that even “senior” designers learned from, and they were able to share a ton with me. The laid-back, no-pressure atmosphere was amazing.
Bonus: Joshua Tree National Park
After Designer Vaca, I took a trip to nearby Joshua Tree National Park, where I stayed in an adorable Air BnB with 4 other ladies that I met at Designer Vaca! We planned the trip before ever meeting, and we all had a blast!