The huge success and enormous post event interest created from the Hiho Styles, Skills and Silver Instameet in 2019 meant that there was no way that event was ever going to be a one off.
It was obvious that the equestrian and rural business world had clearly been lacking events of this nature. Instameets are NOT new, but it appeared that Hiho Silver CEO Emma Warren, the brain child behind the SSS day that September, had hit the nail on the head. She realised the equestrian and rural industry just didn’t do this kind of thing. She wanted to change that. Since then those of us involved in that first event had plenty of conversations with bloggers, vloggers and small businesses all desperate to know when the 2nd date would be.
Once we’d all had a sleep or two and got Christmas out of the way the initial seeds were sown and frantic scribblings started. The theme was ‘Be all you can be’ and it was Emma’s vision for those coming to find ways of challenging and pushing themselves to be better in their chosen world, but all wrapped up in a friendly, relaxed environment.
Specifically we wanted to provide attendees with simple tips and skills in areas such as Social Media, creating and using content, Branding, styling and more….
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Choosing the venue this time was really simple. Emma has links to Blackdown Shepherd Huts A magical place in Somerset where fabulous shepherd huts are hand crafted and delivered to their new owners with the highest of details and comfort. Nestled in a tranquil location it offered us something no hotel or other commercial site could ever. Character, spades of dreamy romance and a true family feel thanks to Blackdowns founder, Will, and his incredible team. Each shepherd hut on display was a mini venue for us and we had 3 to work with, plus a ‘Selfie Hut’. They also gave us their snug and comfortable customer facing office – complete with wood burner and their ‘Tea Room’ a place that only a few weeks ago was essentially a shell. They willingly turned that into an enormous friendly space where our biggest sessions were held. As if this wasn’t enough they laid on their catering hut too which enabled us to create our own special menu that we felt complimented the day and the setting.
I mean, corporate 4 walls that frequently offer a soul-less environment or something totally rural, totally niche and full of personality.
With the venue sorted the rest started to flow and plans emerged. Many hours of chat between us all, some face to face and some via the magic of technology, and the format came together. I can’t tell you how hard some of the group worked to pull this off. Even on the night before goody bags were being filled with incredible personalised items and the individual leather lanyards were being finished as the Chinese takeaway was ordered. I had prior engagements on the weekend before the event, including a ball that kept me out of my bed until 3am. Sober I might add. I know full well I didn’t pull my weight anything like the others did on that Sunday preparing, even by avoiding a hangover!
As a result I knew I really had to give it 100% and really deliver to my groups the following day as a thank you to Emma and the rest of the team…
We were also incredibly pleased to have a guest speaker, Lucy from Capture by Lucy a much admired Instagrammer ready to share her styling & photography knowledge and experience on this platform. I was really looking forward to meeting Lucy as we both share a serious love for flat lay images.
Alongside the Brands hosting & organising the event, it was kindly supported by some amazing National and Regional brands, such as Joules, FAIRFAX & FAVOR, Albion Saddlemakers, Cupsmith and Hullabaloos Lemonade. Each of them donating products for use in any of the session or within the completely incredible Goody Bags that each attendee received at the end of the Workshops. The interest shown towards these brands was fantastic and we can’t thank them enough for their support. Continued support in some cases too…
February doesn’t normally guarantee much in the way of weather but oh my word we had the best possible conditions. It was bright and sunny, just perfect for us to really enjoy the day and the huts in their winter sun glory. With attendees arriving for a 9.30am start the tea and coffee started to flow, the chatter began. Morning nibbles were enjoyed and the buzz started to grow. The central table, which was ENORMOUS was covered with incredible props. Seriously pretty and all very enticing to the eye. Perfect Instagram fodder! Lucy had brought with her a huge amount and we’d added to the pile. Flowers were everywhere and even though this was a working room on a normal day for us it had been transformed into a cozy haven for everyone to congregate and also the perfect place for Lucy’s presentations too.
As the groups separated and went off into their huts and rooms for their first session it was really clear, to me at least, that there was a real eagerness to learn and absorb as much as possible. I had human sponges in front of me. The questions flowed, the atmosphere was open and any shyness that might have been there seemed to melt away. Many of you may remember that I was a nervous as hell at the first one of these, but as soon as we all settled into our room I just loved every second of it. Might have been the log burner warming my bum all the time but I’d like to think it was being around people who were engaging back. Soon grabbing props (oh my word, the props, have I told you about the props!!…. I can’t tell you how many incredible items there were in my office or in the huts) and creating some of their own magic
Lunch approached and for some there was the option to take a tour around the Blackdown workshop with Alan. A place filled with true craftsmanship and passion from those that add their touch to each of the huts as they are built. Andrew Warren – Emma’s hubby – had been beavering away in another hut creating lunch alongside Sara and Megs. Did you ever think that such a think as a pheasant goujon wrap existed? Well it does and it was just one of the offerings available. All produce was locally sourced and all put together by our amazing team. The Hullabaloo still lemonade was going down well, I think my favourite was the Elderflower option.
Or it might have been the Raspberry…?
After the afternoon workshop sessions, everyone met back in the Tea Room for a talk by Andrew Ransford, Hiho’s King of the Road. There followed a thoroughly interesting conversation across the floor about the recently updated ASA rules that applies to so many of us now. It really is quite a tricky subject so it was good to get some general thoughts flowing with the whole #gifted #ad process for all.
Sadly all too soon the last of the cake was eaten, the crumbs all that was left and it was time for Ruth and I to hand out those amazing goody bags alongside homemade cookies from Chef Sara for the journey home. We all said our farewells to some lovely people and kept hearing the phrase “see you at the next one”.
As an introvert the first thing I needed to do was recover before thinking about the next one. I’m not shy and I don’t stop waffling either, but the aftermath for me is generally home and STOP. My Tuesday sunrise hack was a delight. The peace and quiet of just the horses, TC and I wandering up through the field with the sheep was settling, but actually I couldn’t wait to get speaking to those girls that made it happen and see how they were too. I’ve been digesting all that happened over those days, the conversations I had with some lovely people and reflecting on how it all went.
There are never the right words for how much admiration I have for this little tribe of ours. Relentless in their pursuit of providing others with the infrastructure to learn and to share their knowledge readily, they just put others first always. With Melanie and Sophie both due to give birth in the coming months it was incredible the enthusiasm they pulled out the bag when others would be flagging. You ladies are just fabulous, but everything we all do would be utterly pointless if we didn’t have the willing attendees ready to drive hundreds of miles to take away a few nuggets of wisdom…
It’s Friday now and I’m still actually buzzing from Monday. Watching Instagram over the last few days and seeing the images and content that people created on the day – and more importantly, since they got home – has been great.
I kind of think that days like Monday are actually starting to help me as a person too.
Now I’d like to sleep a bit…
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Until next time…
If you’ve not seen the blog from the first Hiho event, then head here for a catch up.
Images by Matt Sweeting as indicated, or myself.