I’m writing this to tell you about the weekend that changed my life.. and more importantly, my heart. & yes, I am ugly crying as I write this.. Only about the 30th time that’s happened in the last few days.

When I signed up for the AKP Charming Retreat, I was blown away by the value and how much I would be taking away from this event. But what happened in Charleston, and everything that I took away from this retreat, was far more than anything I could have anticipated.

I had the opportunity to learn from women in this industry who I truly admire. I prepared my mind to soak up every bit of information that they were so graciously sharing with us… But at the end of every lecture, it was not just my mind that was full, but my heart. These women bared their souls for us. Showing us how to become better business owners. Better women. Better moms. Better wives. Better human beings.

We laughed together (a lot).. We cried together (A LOT). And we built bonds with complete strangers, creating a support group that I think so many in our industry can only dream of.

So many times throughout my time in Charleston, I would reach out to my husband via text or phone calls and reiterate how grateful I was that he pushed me to go to this retreat. I doubted myself (way too many times) prior to making the choice to go, not because I didn’t want to, but because my own insecurities got in the way. Will I be good enough in this sea of talented individuals? Will I be able to move out of my comfort zone and allow myself to flourish? So many questions. But I tossed them aside. And I can’t begin to describe how happy I am that I did.

These women encouraged me and reaffirmed my worth. When I felt down, there was always someone to lift me up. ALWAYS. They taught me. They praised me. They inspired me.

So what happened after I got home… You know, when reality sets in and the high begins to wear off. Coming home was actually the icing on the cake for me. It was then that I saw just how much this experience changed me.

I came home to my biggest fans and my strongest supporters, and I loved them more fiercely.

I took on my tasks without fear and dread. I worried a little less and dreamed a little harder.

If there’s one thing I hope you take away from all I’ve written, it’s this…

Take the chance. When you give yourself a thousand reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do something, listen to that one reason that’s telling you why you should. 

I did. And it changed me.

 Model:  Kayla Maye  VW Bus:  Lil Photo Bus Co.  Floral Crown:  Ginger & Blooms  Model: Kayla Maye VW Bus: Lil Photo Bus Co. Floral Crown: Ginger & Blooms

Event Details:

Event Host/Creator: Ashton Kelley Photography
Educators: Ashton Kelley, Sarah Houston, Bethanne Arthur, Amanda Hedgepeth
VW Bus: Lil Photo Bus Co.
Florals: Ginger & Blooms
Event Planner: Ruth Pitt, Raise The Ruth Events
Event Rentals: MadHatter Vintage
Cake: Sugar On Top Cakes
Tulle Skirt: Whimmsy Luxe
Model Outfits: Lilly Pulitzer
Calligraphy: Lauren Perry Studio
Hair & Makeup Artist: Natty Contrera Artistry
Catering: Jaki, Bean.an.ti
Retreat: AKP Retreat

 Model:  Sarah Houston  Planner/Designer:  Raise the Ruth Events  VW Bus:  Lil Photo Bus Co  Rentals:  MadHatter Vintage  Hair & Makeup Artist:  Natty Contrera Artistry  Model: Sarah Houston Planner/Designer: Raise the Ruth Events VW Bus: Lil Photo Bus Co Rentals: MadHatter Vintage Hair & Makeup Artist: Natty Contrera Artistry

  Model:  Kara Blakeman   Planner/Designer:   Raise the Ruth Events   VW Bus:   Lil Photo Bus Co   Rentals:   MadHatter Vintage   Hair & Makeup Artist:   Natty Contrera Artistry  Model: Kara Blakeman Planner/Designer:  Raise the Ruth Events VW Bus:  Lil Photo Bus Co Rentals:  MadHatter Vintage Hair & Makeup Artist:  Natty Contrera Artistry

  Model:  Jordan Blackwell  Planner/Designer:   Raise the Ruth Events   VW Bus:   Lil Photo Bus Co   Rentals:   MadHatter Vintage   Hair & Makeup Artist:   Natty Contrera Artistry  Model: Jordan Blackwell Planner/Designer:  Raise the Ruth Events VW Bus:  Lil Photo Bus Co Rentals:  MadHatter Vintage Hair & Makeup Artist:  Natty Contrera Artistry

AKP Retreat | Charleston South Carolina | Arizona Photographer

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  1. Amanda Greer says:

    Emma, I am so glad that I got to meet you this weekend. Your work is gorgeous! Your heart and soul is so sweet and soft spoken. I agree with everything you said in this blog! We all needed this retreat in different ways. Beautiful way to describe the weekend.

  2. Emma. I don’t even know where to begin. But just know that as much as you were changed in this experience, you were just as much part of the change that everyone else felt. Thank you for being the sweet, loving, and fiercely talented and passionate woman you are. I can’t wait for our monthly check ins. ❤️