From our founder, Valerie Pierce:
“Friends, we’re so tired. But we are SO grateful.
IF:Gathering was a whirlwind and a roller coaster.
Leading up to the event, I was struggling. I had this massive to-do list in front of me that just kept growing and growing. I had met with a mentor of mine and she had all these wonderful ideas for the event. She very clearly said “these are just ideas and do not mean you need to adopt all or any of them.” But in my head, I wanted to adopt them all which put me into a frenzy of figuring out how to do it all in two weeks time (spoiler: did not happen).
I was anxious about the uncertainty – the uncertainty of what the venue would look like, how to be a vendor, vendor etiquette, who else would be there, what the crowd would be like, etc. I was anxious about the deeper questions inside like would anyone actually like me, the business, the planner?
I was anxious and nervous and stressed. But my husben and community reminded me “The most important part of going to the IF:Gathering is you, your team, and your planners. That’s it. And you have those already….You get to attend the IF:Gathering as a vendor with only 6 moths of being in business. You get to go with sweet friends. You get to go be exposed to seasoned businesses, ones that love Jesus. You get to be surrounded and inspired by women from all walks of life and women that you admire. You get to go there. Going to IF is a gift, enjoy the gift. Focus on these things, not on the other things.”
So it was with this focus (with some anxiety slipping into my mind), I headed to IF.
And it wasn’t at all what I expected, although as a new business with no vendor experience, I’m not entirely sure what I even envisioned. But it wasn’t that.
It was light and joy. There was laughter and tears throughout halls, around corners, in the main sessions, and outside in the sun. There were huddles of prayers being lifted and praise songs being sung. There was peace, comfort, joy, and expectancy. Expectancy to wait and see what God had in store for each of the women at the conference, not just for themselves, but for everyone around them and as an extension, what it would mean for the communities women would be returning to after the conference.
There was beauty, connection, intentionality, wholeheartedness, joy, and simplicity. Each woman was just allowing herself to be – to be herself, with people, and with God. It was honestly, all Kindred & Co hopes to capture, set in a conference.
These were the moments and glimpses I wanted to focus on. Because in all honesty, on the business side, things weren’t as grand or exciting as I had anticipated. I brought so many planners and tote bags with me, but only sold a portion of them. I imagined these grand relationships and connections with other vendors and well-known speakers, and that didn’t happen. I wanted to write a “sold out” sign and put it on the table, but that didn’t happen.
I was tempted to focus on what felt like failures. I wanted to focus on the imposter syndrome affirmed of not belonging among all these wonderful vendors and the anxiety of “what do I do with trying to bring these back to Boston?” I wanted to. Sometimes I did.
But I kept reminding myself that my prayer this trip wasn’t for the sales, although it would have been obviously wonderful, but for the connections. I prayed for sweet connections this weekend. Business connections, community and friendship connections, deeper connections with the women who came with me, and with Jesus. These did happen, and that is how I’m defining success.
I got to learn from more seasoned businesses and connect with them in person. My team, myself, and my business was prayed over by not just other vendors, but by customers and other random women passing by. I got to meet sweet customers, like my giveaway winner and a previous Boston Marathon runner, hear some of their life stories and encourage them. These were the be moments, the simple moments, the kindred moments.
I’m so grateful for the time spent at IF:Gathering and for all the conference meant for the business, and for my team, myself and our growth.
Thank you to the sweet IF staff and coworker that chose to believe in the business, myself, and Jesus to give us the opportunity to be there. I’m excited to see what happens next.”
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