Last week I shared the details and some of the photos of my 12 day trip to Italy. If you missed that post head over and catch up to find out what I was up to on the beginning of my trip when we visited Milan, Rome, Florence and finally, Cinque Terre.
We were in Italy so that I could attend a workshop for creative entrepreneurs hosted by Italian Fix, a travel company for the modern woman and Justina Blakeney creator of The Jungalow blog. Justina would be teaching us about branding our creative businesses and online marketing. The workshop was held in the small seaside village of Riomaggiore which is part of Cinque Terre, a group of five small towns along the Italian Riviera.
I first heard about the workshop on The Jungalow blog last year when last year’s workshop was announced. I wanted to attend but I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the time off work. Now that I am working for myself and focusing 100% on my blog and jewelry shop I am lucky enough to have the freedom to travel when finances allow it and take advantage of unique opportunities like this one. When they announced the workshop dates this year I begged my husband to let me go. He thought I was completely nuts at first “Italy is a long way to go for a workshop….” But once he warmed up to the idea we decided to extend our stay and travel to other parts of Italy.
The workshop was held over 2.5 day in a castle (!) at the very top of Riomaggiore. The hotel we were staying at was conveniently about 2 minutes away from the castle but inconveniently at the top of about 1,000 steps. There are no elevators and so when we wanted to head down to the main strip for food, shopping, sightseeing or whatever, Rob and I had to walk all the way down and up those stairs. My calves and buns still hurt thinking about it
Day one of the workshop started at about 1pm. Bianca, the owner of Italian fix and Justina greeted us along with Bianca’s assistants Kirri and Rosa. We were all seated and introduced ourselves to the rest of the class. Justina took over with some great insights about goal setting. We did some creative exercises which included going on a scavenger hunt to collect items and then we had fun using the items to create collages to photograph. After day one the group headed over to the neighboring town of Vernazza for a delicious Italian dinner on a rooftop restaurant at sunset.
My main take away from day one: Make sure you have a clear vision about what you are trying to achieve. Justina calls this your “North Star”. Everything you do in your work should be with your North Star in mind. Create small goals for yourself in order to achieve your bigger goals.
Day two was mainly about Instagram and photography. We learned a lot about using Instagram to promote our brand and some great photography tips using our cell phones. We also broke into groups and created a mock Instagram account for a fictious entrepreneur named Giana Donata and presented it to the class. We were on our own for dinner that night so Rob and I ventured over to Monterosso to check out the beach and sights there.
My main take away from day two: Post often to your social media accounts and make sure your “top nine” on Instagram always looks tight. Create hashtags that are unique to your brand and separate your business and personal Instagram accounts.
Day three was all about branding. This was my favorite topic. We worked on some worksheets to help us define our brand and our ideal customer. We went pretty deep with defining our brand and did some exercises to determine what words, colors and even smells describe our brand. Who our ideal customer is and what their likes and dislikes are. We also discussed Instagram and Pinterest strategies and how to create a “voice” for our brand.
Our final day ended with another group dinner, this time at a lovely restaurant in Riomaggiore.
My biggest take away from Day 3: Consistency is key. It’s important to make sure the message you are sending through your use of color, imagery and words are all consistent with your brand and carried out in all aspects of your work.
The three day workshop went by so fast. I met some awesome women and I am so glad that I went. I was sick pretty much the whole time with a weird stomach flu thing but I still managed to have a good time. I cannot recommend Italian Fix enough if you are thinking about going on one of their tours DO IT. Bianca and her team are really there for you. When I mentioned to Bianca how sick I was (and embarrassingly broke down in tears) she and her team helped me find a pharmacy and doctor and told me they would even take me to the hospital if necessary. It was really comforting to know I was not alone! It was so inspiring to listen to Justina and Bianca tell their stories and the obstacles they have overcome. I came away from the workshop with a more clear direction of what I want to achieve with this blog and my jewelry line and how I am going to achieve it. I feel like a have a great new set of tools to get me to my North Star.