Creative @ Heart Conference Review and Recap


As a virtual accountant for creative businesses all over the United States, the majority of my time with clients is spent chatting via email, phone, or video conference.

So when I have the opportunity to meet some my amazing clientele in person, I had to jump at the chance. This past June I jetted off to Bermuda Run, North Carolina to speak at Round 9 of the Creative @ Heart conference. Each day I kept detailed notes from the inspiring speakers and daily adventures and today I’m sharing my journal with you.

I flew in on a Monday, rented a car and had a beautiful drive from Charlotte to Bermuda Run, North Carolina. On the way, I stopped for a solo lunch in Davidson and charged my introverted self up for a week of lots of people!

That afternoon I attended the educator welcome meeting and began to see and meet so many friends that I’d only ever emailed, DM’d or talked to over the phone. I also had the pleasure of meeting three of my clients in-person which is fun after working with them for several years.

There was a cute little food truck outside of the venue and we all connected over fresh-squeezed lemonade. How appropriate since the theme for the week was lemons 🙂

Here’s me and my roommate for the week, Kari Roberts, who is a business coach and talented makeup artist. I loved learning about her entrepreneurial journey and how she’s helping side-hustlers prioritize their time.

Creative @ Heart Round 9 Roommate


The day began with an inspiring “Welcome Home” from Kat Schmoyer, the Creative at Heart founder and event creator. She had us think through the joys of the last 90 days, a pain point of the last 90 days, what we want to accomplish in the next 90 days and what would make 2019 a success. After writing that down, we wrote down three priorities for the week at Creative at Heart and what would make it a success.

Creative @ Heart Conference Center

Nancy Ray spoke about how to live abundantly in a world of scarcity. She reminded us that it starts with perspective. We need to take time to examine our thoughts and remember that abundance is tied to our daily habits.

Terri Baskin helped us to think about what our frosting is when it comes to our business. What’s that thing that makes you stand out from everyone else doing the same thing? The three things she had us consider were:

  1. Effort – shows your client you are truly invested in them
  2. Energy – the thing you are most proficient at
  3. Experience – the added value you bring to the table

Creative @ Heart Panel Group

Lunchtime was also our panel group time, which was my favorite time! I was on a panel with Abby Grace, Katelyn James and Terri Baskin and everyone in our group, except for me, were professional photographers. We went around the room and shared who we were, where we were from and an embarrassing story. Then we dug into the good stuff and talked about some of the hard parts of running a business.

After lunch, we heard from Laura Foote (one of those online friends I finally got to meet in person!) and she shared that there’s magic to be found in the every day. She shared a story of working at Disney World during college and how she was able to find magic in the monotonous job she was placed in. I was reminded that even during what might feel like an uninspiring line of work, we can make the experience magical for others. This is a huge focus for me when it comes to working with the “boring” side of owning a business and making it exciting to my clients.

Megan Martin was up next to share about how we can brand our businesses with heart. She said that magnetic brands have a story. To uncover our story, we need to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Why did you start doing what you do?
  2. What is significant in your life and experiences?
  3. What makes what you do unique?

Megan shared a very personal story about how her family life growing up and current family influenced her business and branding.

We had a little break after the keynote speakers to fuel up for two breakout sessions to wrap up the day.

Creative @ Heart

I attended Jessica Rasdall’s breakout session first, where we talked about how to make a billboard statement and craft a story that turns a “mess into a message” and engages the audience.

Kat graciously set up a session for the speakers to get together in a mastermind setting to talk through anything we wanted the group to weigh in on. Bonnie Bakhtiari was the group’s leader/facilitator.

I wrapped up the day by walking across the street to the Mexican restaurant near the hotel and joining a group of girls from the conference I didn’t really know for dinner. As an introvert, this was probably my biggest accomplishment of the week. I loved getting to meet these business owners and hear about their kiddos, their businesses, and what they were already loving about the conference.


We started the day with breakout sessions. The first one I attended was to learn more about Dubsado and their workflows. I’m currently using all the things to operate my business processes and I wanted to get a feel for whether or not it would be a good fit for all the different facets of my business. They’re still working on a few things we’re looking for, but it’s definitely a contender!

Creative @ Heart Sponsor

I had an opportunity to meet with one of my clients, Hope Taylor, to have our quarterly meeting and plan out the remainder of her year’s numbers. I love creating a money plan to see where things are in terms of income and expenses and plan for the rest of the year so I can get an idea of how much profit the business will bring. This also allows for budgeting if expenses look like they’ll be too high.

After the breakout sessions, we went back up to the loft of the WinMock to hear from Lara Casey. If you haven’t heard of Lara, maybe you’ve heard of her Powersheets? She shared three steps to the best rest of 2019. It was perfect timing with the second half of the year kicking off this week. The three steps are:

  1. Clearly know what you want
  2. Break your goals down into elementary steps
  3. Take a step now (can be one super small simple thing!)

In the middle of her talk, Lara surprised us with our very own copy of Powersheets for us to plan out the second half of the year. I plan on taking some time during this short week to work through these so I can walk through the second half of 2019 intentionally and truly use my non-tax season time to it’s best for the business, myself and my family.

During lunch, I had the incredible honor of getting headshots taken by Beth Anne Arthur. She was so patient in helping me pose, and make me feel comfortable during the shoot!

Creative @ Heart Conference Headshot

After lunch, Shanna Skidmore explained core motivators so we could understand what we’re not willing to give up in our business. I’ve been wanting to hear Shanna talk for years and was so happy to see her name on the lineup. I definitely resonated with the ‘time’ motivator, which makes sense why I’m LOVING our summer Friday’s off!

We had a little chips and guac break and then it was time for me to present my two breakout sessions on ‘Accounting for Creatives: Beyond the Basics.’ I really wanted this session to be more than just quarterly taxes and how to open a business bank account (although also very important). I wanted to go beyond that and talk about some non-obvious ways business owners can save on their taxes, think through the practicalities of outsourcing (profit and taxes) and whether or not an S-corp might be a good option.

Once my sessions wrapped up, I went out for pizza with a couple of new friends and decompressed from the day.


The day started out with some announcements and then we all split up into our breakout sessions.

My first breakout session of the day was with Rachel Heckmann on the topic of self-care. This is something that’s so hard for me to prioritize, but Rachel helped me see that even small little things done throughout the day and week can make a big difference in the way we feel. Some self-care things I’ve been implementing since Creative at Heart include simple things like showering and putting on a little makeup more often, reading fiction (non-business) books, and going for more morning walks. These small things allow me to be a better mom, wife and business owner and I look forward to incorporating more small things.

Next was a breakout session with Laura Foot to learn about the Strengths Quest test. I learned about my top 5 strengths (harmony, relator, deliberative, discipline and developer) and how they play a part in how I work with clients, my husband, and team members. There’s still a lot for me to learn on this topic so I’m looking forward to working with Laura later this year to analyze my team’s strengths to make sure our roles are working well with our strengths.

We followed the breakout sessions with a group picture and then lunch with our panel groups. To kick off the group convo, we talked about business finances and how to figure out what we can afford to outsource in order to give us time to do other tasks in the business. My group was primarily wedding photographers, so we focused on things like outsourcing image editing and email management. I really enjoyed our conversation about when you first dip your toe into the outsourcing world it can be really amazing to look around to your friends and family members to see where their strengths may be best suited to help you out in your business.

Once lunch wrapped up we headed upstairs to the main room for an afternoon of keynote speakers. Geomyra Pollard kicked off the afternoon and talked about cultivating a well-rounded life and business. She really hit home the reason why I started my business in the first place. I was craving a better work-life balance and wanted to have it in place before I started thinking about having a kid.

We took a little afternoon break before hearing from Abby Grace on “The Gentle No.” I could listen to Abby talk on this topic all day long. She shared how we can say yes while still protecting our time. My favorite quote from her was “You are more than what you do for a living.” I’ve been trying to stop saying “no, I can’t do that” and turning it into “here’s what I’m available to do.”

The last keynote speaker was Katelyn James and as anticipated, the tears were flowing. Katelyn spoke on Protecting Your Passion and Your Purpose. She shared the story of baby James and how there are valleys and mountaintops in our lives and businesses. I’ve followed Katelyn for quite a few years on Instagram and it was so powerful to hear her share her story in person.

After the conference wrapped up, I went back to the hotel to soak everything in and think about what things I wanted to implement right away, like self-care and digging into my strengths.

Kat and her team did an amazing job with all the details and putting on a conference that spoke to the heart but also had so much actionable material that we could apply to our businesses. It was truly an honor to be a tiny part of this conference. If you’re interested in learning more about this conference, I recommend subscribing to the Creative @ Heart mailing list. The conference sells out incredibly fast every year so be sure to keep your eyes on your email when they launch the next round.

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Amy Northard, CPA

Amy Northard, CPA

Founder of The Accountant for Creatives®
+ taxes + bookkeeping + consulting
+ Hang out with me over on Instagram!

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