From Jess: I wanted to write a little intro because I truly can’t even begin to describe what a special, joyous, moving, and informative conference this was last year. The EHD team was lucky enough to be asked to be speakers and I can only hope we contributed as much as we got out of the weekend. It’s easy to forget how important community is and how empowering it feels. So while I don’t consider myself a content creator because I really just help Emily be one, being around these incredible creators, both veterans and newcomers I found what felt like my community. I got to meet so many familiar faces, have wonderful conversations, and definitely fan girl a little:) I’ll never forget the first night as we were sitting down for dinner, Albie came out on stage to welcome us and immediately everyone stood up and started clapping and cheering. You could feel the love, the connection, and the gratitude that she had created a space that was truly for everyone. It was almost impossible to not get emotional. And Albie, of course, isn’t going to sing her praises too loudly so I will. We (as in Emily and our team) were astounded by what she was able to create. Not because we didn’t believe in her but because it was just beyond what any of us thought was possible for a first-time conference. It was expertly crafted and so much fun. If Albie’s goal was for design influencers to connect on a deeper level she achieved that with flying colors. Everyone, no matter what their status, was so warm, welcoming, and as helpful as they could be. If 2022 was year one I can only imagine what Albie is capable of for 2023 and beyond. If you are a design influencer, GO. Get on the waitlist here! The dates are June 21st to June 24th. It’s so so worth it. And if you are a company that is interested in sponsoring, DO IT. You are in great hands with this incredible woman. I could ramble on longer but I will let Albie get into her reflections and her plans for this year!
Happy New Year! I don’t care that most of January is already somehow gone because it’s still a very happy new year over here. This time last year, for context, I was bed bound & in between naps, planning the inaugural Meridian Experience Weekend from my iPhone. That’s how committed I was to bringing this dream to life. P.S. 10/10 do not recommend. When the doctor says rest, you should absolutely actually rest. Yet here I was, determined to get this vision outta my head & into the world… and I did. The Meridian Experience Weekend debuted in Bellevue, WA at the Meydenbauer Center, hosting 100 interior designers & home influencers for a 4 day weekend of celebration, community, edification, and transformation. We laughed. We cried… a lot. We learned. And we forged relationships that have legit changed the trajectories of some people’s careers & lives.
Which leaves the question…how do I top that!?
If you read my Meridian Experience post from last year, then you know the back story of how this idea was planted, watered, nurtured, and came to be. And if you didn’t read it, go do that now then come back here…I’ll wait.
I went into this eyes wide open, fully aware that nothing about this was going to be easy…and it wasn’t. I am, for all intents and purposes, a one-woman show who happens to have an amazingly generous network of peers & friends. These relationships were absolutely a huge aid in executing this massive event, however, the reality is that all of the minutiae of the event – getting sponsors, programming, coordinating speaker flights, social media marketing, ticket tracking, etc. – were all my job. I knew all of this and did it anyway because it needed to be done.
Going into this year, I had to guard myself against thinking I would need to “top” myself. There are certain things that happen that when you experience them, you categorize them as “once in a lifetime” and while the Meridian Experience 2022 Weekend certainly felt that way, I didn’t want it to stay that way. The goal was always to return for as many years as possible. Rather than trying to outdo the 2022 experience, I knew I needed to learn from & improve the 2022 experience. As an amateur event producer – amateur, in that, this isn’t my full-time career – I learned a lot…like building the plane while also trying to take off. Again…10/10 do not recommend lol.
With the planning & preparation officially underway for the Meridian Experience 2023 Weekend, I have a very clear idea of what I want to keep, change, and remove. I am also humble enough to know that there’s still a lot that I don’t know & can only hope that I’m agile enough to get through them. This year my to-do list is just as long – secure sponsorships, finalize venue details, confirm speakers, sell tickets, raise funds, figure out my wardrobe…all the things! There’s a lot that goes into these events that we, as attendees, greatly appreciate yet never think about how they come together. When I think about the events that inspired Meridian, I’ve studied every detail – guest swag bags, stage backdrops, pre-event email experience, venue signage, microphone branding, social media rollout…every. single. detail. What I deeply undervalued was how much the vision in my head would cost because apparently, I have very expensive dreams. You don’t know what you don’t know. And now…I know a little bit more.
Top of the list for me was creating a scalable curriculum for returning attendees, while also ensuring it would feel fresh for our new guests. For me, this meant bringing back nearly all of the ME2022 speakers. Every speaker is a wealth of information and, to be honest, we only just scratched the surface last summer. Returning speakers – and mentors – would be able to continue to pour into the attendees, their 2022 mentees, and themselves by reconnecting with a community that’s typically divided by state lines & packed schedules. And selfishly, I don’t have ANY group pictures of the speakers! There’s hardly any proof that was ever even in the same room with half of them and I want a do-over! LOL.
On that same note, I spend more time ripping & running than I did actually hosting, meaning this will be the year I learn how to delegate so I can eventually scale. I have makeup that never got seen & shoes that never got worn because I was always working. Thank goodness for the support of my friends to help carry the load because I can’t even imagine how I would’ve navigated those 4 days without them! And note that I said “learn” to delegate because handing things off & asking for help does not come naturally to me. That, combined with not having resources to outsource meant being extremely scrappy.
The goal is that with each year, I can be less scrappy & more strategic.
Speaking Of Strategy…
I knew returning to Bellevue, WA – with Visit Bellevue as a returning partner…woot woot! – would continue to support the elevated integrity of the event & last year’s data supported by the theory that this would be a one-of-a-kind retreat style event…not just a conference. For example, most attendees selected their highest tier in our hotel block; and nearly all of our guests came in a day early and/or stayed a day late to shop, dine, and explore the city & Seattle. The Meridian Experience community leaned into their #MESeason by, not only joining us to learn, but to truly celebrate themselves.
Working with partners that would recognize their talent for elevated design and storytelling means I have spent A LOT of time looking at who potential attendees are tagging & swooning over. This has been as much fun as it’s been insightful.
Hi…my name is Albie & market research makes me happy.
In addition to returning speakers, I have been very intentional about reaching out to partners I would hope to work with, prioritizing those in the Meridian Experience network…not just my network. This isn’t an event for me to work with brand partners, establish new relationships, and grow my portfolio…it’s for everyone else in attendance to reach these milestones. My job is to facilitate the accelerated connections to make this possible…to ensure that everyone’s #MESeason continues.
For This Year’s Event, I Have A Handful Of Very Clear Goals:
- Sell out all 100 tickets, and we’re already a quarter into that goal. Last year we were 31 tickets short, and while the vibes were truly perfect, I wanna hit that 100-attendee goal.
- On-board partners that are proactively looking for home influencers & brand ambassadors to work with, so that those relationships can start right on site.
- Create the first iteration of The Meridian House – a mini show house style display of vignettes designed by the Meridian community of designers. In 2016, I began researching what it would take to create a completely shoppable pop-up show house. Short answer: A LOT. This year, I hope to get the right sponsors to begin to slowly bring this to fruition.
- Raise $10,000 in crowdfunding, passing last year’s $7K achievement. I’ve said it before & I’ll continue to say it – ME2022 was largely possible due to the immense generosity of our extended online community donating to the launch & investing in its success because, in many ways, Meridian is a start-up.
- Actually get to meet & greet everyone, and sit in on the sessions, because while I know who everyone was, I didn’t get any face time with most of them & I don’t know what anyone learned.
Whether or not I hit all 5 goals to perfection…only time will tell. I do know, however, that I’ll be working feverishly towards making it happen & chipping away at each goal with every social media post, sponsor pitch, email campaign, and #allthethings happening behind the scenes.
Speaking Of Behind-The-Scenes…
Because there is so much foundation already laid, there’s a lot I haven’t had to do and I find myself sometimes wondering if I’m forgetting to answer an email or confirm a meeting or just do something. Why? Because this year, so far, I’ve been able to BREATHE. What you, and many others, may not know about me is that during the planning of ME2022 I had a full-time job. This year, during the planning of ME2023…I again have a full time. I have a husband and a daughter and a home, and countless other responsibilities. I’ve had my health go through waves of highs and lows. And of course, I am still @albieknows. There is almost never white space in my days and it’s not impossible for things to slip through the cracks. And yet…I still feel at peace…some weeks less peaceful…yet peace all the same. There’s a clarity, I suppose, that comes with knowing you tried and survived something that is big, scary, and unknown. I survived the Meridian Experience 2022 Weekend. I came out all the other side exhausted as all get out & leaned hard into my home as my soft place to land…and I wouldn’t change a thing, because to change how everything played out would be the erasure of all the lessons learned.
As tickets continue to sell and I continue to do what I do, it sometimes feels like a dream to be able to do this for the second year in a row. To have attendees, speakers, and partners return signals to me that I did what I set out to do last year, and we can only go up from here!
If you would like to attend go here and get the waitlist HERE for the 6/21-6/24 weekend!