Humbled and grateful. These are my “parting” words as I look back at 2014. It was this year that I —
– introduced The Blissmakers, a wonderful tribe of women who believed in collaborative blogging;
– began doing Workshops with other creative collaborators;
… and a host of other things, the foremost of which has been getting pregnant (double, no, multiple “yays”!).
It’s been a good year. And I’ve learned a lot, of course. There has been a lot of time as well for slowing down, for staycationing and staying in with the family, as much as there have been struggles, even sickness and sadness. In the end, I feel that my heart is full, and that everything this year has happened for a purpose. What that purpose is, I may not yet know. But what I do know as this year begins to close (in, 16 days, to be exact — eep!), are the valuable lessons 2014 has taught me, all of which came to a culmination at my most-anticipated (though virtually secret event) this year: The Blissmakerie 2014.
What is the Blissmakerie? Well, like I said, it is an event that is a culmination of my lessons this year as I’ve been cultivating the community here at MakeitBlissful.com. The event can be best described in four learning points of mine this year. They are:
1. Collaboration, not competition.
Launching the Blissmakerie concept of “meaningful mealtimes” was something that was in my heart way before I met with my collaborators for this first event last December 6th, 2014 at Scarsdale Artisanal Delights, which was masterfully styled by Constance Events Styling. (More on these two, in later posts.) It stemmed from similar gatherings I had grown up with, in the church of all places. Mealtimes and fellowships over food were all about the good things my heart wanted to delve into: Conversations, creativity and collaboration.
A couple of years back, starting a “movement” among bloggers — including owning words like “bliss” — would have been considered airy, unfounded concepts for bloggers, especially “non-influential” bloggers (like me!) who had no, say, celebrity following or large readerships. But I always knew my heart was bigger than what my head — or anyone else — could tell me.
Now, looking back at that collaborators I’ve worked with the past two years has been humbly vindicating. I say this because one of the most painful things that happened to me as a blogger was “blogger shunning.” And it really was because I wanted to try something new, which was to collaborate, not compete. I wanted to help other bloggers like me build their blogs well, and brand them.
So I explored collaborations. I went into the business of helping other bloggers brand themselves, make their content more blissful, knowing full well that they could even surpass me in success and reach — and I was totally OK with that! Some thought I was crazy, that I would pit bloggers against each other. There were those who disagreed with me and the ideas I wanted to try out, especially as a “mommy blogger,” which I was at the time. I suppose it seemed like I was pushing the envelope a bit, but for me, it was something to dive into, to pursue.
And so I did, alone at first. I helped one blogger, then another, and another.
Fast-forward to this point, years later, and everyone is realizing that Collaboration is the new economy.
Collaboration is everywhere: coworking, for instance, and quite predominantly on social media. Just look at all the creatives combining forces during workshops! For me, personally, the past two years have been huge for in terms of collaboration, with wonderful companies like La Creperie (for my blog & creative hobby workshops), Scarsdale (for this Blissmakerie gathering) and, of course, one of my first collaborators ever, Manila Workshops (for my work-at-home mom workshops). We support each others’ brands and businesses, openly and without competition. It’s been truly blissful, thus far.
As we open 2015 to more Blissmakerie events (Yes, we’re opening them to the public, soon!), we will dwell more on collaboration and creative networking, blogger support and empowerment. We can do no less anymore.
2. Be an authentic conversationalist.
As a blogger, people, brands and businesses typically tap me to begin conversations about them online. While I am open to starting these conversations, what I am more adamant about is ensuring I truly do and will support these brands and businesses. For me, this meant being totally real in terms of what I talk about, support and use in my everyday life, and letting these choices — whether they be products or services — reflect my real decisions. It’s not an easy thing to do at first, when the entire blogging culture is bent on working with brands left and right. However for the community we wanted to create here on Make it Blissful, it was essential as a tenet.
The perfect example of real brand conversations I’ve begun in 2014 is personified in an actual thing I crafted for the Blissmakerie’s holiday gathering. During the party, I gave away what I called The Blissful Box. This was a care package that I wanted to give the women of the community, as a “thank you” for their trust in working with me, their support in making Make it Blissful what it is today. As any “care package” goes, it was only filled with things I felt would truly bless the women, help them to unwind or relax, and of course, feel blissful about.
Here’s a peek into what’s inside:
Bliss Box Collaborators: Zoya Nail Polish | philosophy (Hope in a Jar, Microdelivery Facial Wash & facial GC) | Craftsmith (Parcel tags & BW postcards) | The Vanilla Company (Vanilla bean) | A Vanilla Story (Vanilla bear & bodycare) | Cutieverse.com (Hurraw lip balm) | facebook.com/yosisamraphilippines (Shoes) | instagram.com/casalaarmonia (Black towel) | carlosandveronica.net (Bloom watercolor postcards) | instagram.com/printcafe (for the Box container itself) | heimastore.com (Olive Room Spray)
Fat Fingers Sweet Treats (Macaron giveaways)
We also had a raffle for the other brands I’ve loved and supported this past year:
Raffle Sponors: Brown Belly Swimwear (Favorite resort brand of bodycare and beachwear) | Sitting Pretty Magnet Boards (the original magent board and my favorite for the past 2 years) | Happy Skin Eyeliner Gel Limited Edition Kits (fan of their affordable, Japan-made cosmetics!) | Sunday Paper Co. notebooks & essentials (Love their high-quality paper and minimalist approach) | Elin.ph women’s apparel (favorite online shopping destination for my daily wear)
Sharing these brands with the ladies was the most wonderful experience! I have to thank all the sponsors for being a channel of blessings to the ladies — everyone had such a grand time receiving their boxes. I wish all the sponsors could have seen how everyone’s eyes lit up (and how some even squealed, heehee!) to receive their box full of bliss.
I wouldn’t have chosen each product for that box if I didn’t believe in them myself, or have been supporting the brands all these years. Everything sheltered in those dotted boxes are things I love and find meaningful.
Which brings me to my next point…
3. Always create something meaningful.
I’ve always been a biggie about “designing a life I love.” This is really at the core of Make it Blissful. I suppose when we took a different direction together at the start of 2014, I was excited to experiment and see just how far things could go, how open people would be.
I blissfully realized that more and more people were keen on taking the direction towards a more meaningful way to blog, to craft a life, to even do work or run a business. For me, Make it Blissful means so much more than just another blog. It is a movement, a community, a meaningful coming-together of women who share the common love for learning together and making things better, no matter who or what we are in life.
As Make it Blissful moves into 2015, the community will see more of this practice of “designing a life she loves.” The Blissmakerie’s goal is to gather these women together — bloggers, creatives, startups, entrepreneurs — and in an inspired setting, create the atmosphere for collaborative conversation and meaningful connections. We want to grow together, to support one another, and to share each others’ load. A sisterhood, after all, is founded on these tenets.
Which brings me to my last takeaway for this year.
4. Find community in bliss.
Thanksgiving and gift-giving brings people together, naturally. There’s a natural and childlike anticipation when we hear the words “holidays” and “gathering” and “thanksgiving,” all mish-mashed into one thought and concept. And that’s exactly what I wanted the Make it Blissful Community to do at the end of this busy 2014: To commune and collaborate around the idea of bliss.
And commune, we did that Blissmakerie.
Bloggers from all walks of life — whether mommy bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, design bloggers, entrepreneurs and creatives — came together to get to know each other’s missions, passions and goals.
Bloggers (like my “idol” Frances Sales here of Topaz Horizon) who have been online for years (try 10, 13 years!) met up face-to-face for the first time, over food, fellowship and fun — all in a very feminine setting, I might add. (Like I said before, I like alliteration. Heehee.)
This small but meaningful gathering is just a handful of the women we’ve touched this past year, through Make it Blissful — the blog and the collaborations and the workshops. Underneath the prettiness of the venue and the delight of the Blissful Box, what really mattered most was this was and is a community of women who truly believe in living lives of bliss, of intention, of meaning.
Personally, it was my way of saying “Thank You” to these amazing women, these fine collaborators, and yes, these good friends in the blogging world. Bloggers like Frances of Topaz Horizon and Toni of Wifely Steps — the “veteran bloggers” in this group, I should say! — were women I only dreamed of meeting and collaborating with, and now, we are friends and committed to helping each other. Same with known celebrities, like Patty or Rica: I never knew women like these would be in the same room with all of us, appreciative of the mission we declare to collaborate and create something meaningful, starting with our online platforms.
Again, I am humbled and grateful.
It’s time to move forward together. It’s time to be a community of communities, of our blogs being shared among our fellow bloggers’ networks, of authentic and meaningful conversations about the things that really matter to us and fill our hearts. We can do no less, and we hope that the new year will open for us more doors to people who will #makeitblissul, too.
Until 2015, that’s it for the events and gatherings for Make it Blissful this year. I will be blogging about the forecast for next year, as well as pre-launching some exciting new events, workshops and products before 2014 wraps up. For now, I will revel with you in God’s goodness and favor, dear readers and blissmakers. If you want to be invited to the Blissmakerie’s next year, I encourage you to sign up for the weekly Make it Blissful newsletter (see the sidebar of the blog for this), so that you can be informed of the next special (and always secret!) gatherings.
Thank you to the following bloggers who wrote about this year’s Thanksgiving Blissmakerie: (List to be updated as more blogs are released.)
All photos of the Blissmakerie were by Sara Abrigo of Shutterpanda Photography. Copyright Make it Blissful 2014. Please write to us at editor@makeitblissful(dot)com if you want to borrow these photos. Thank you.