There are lots of things I didn't know when I launched Epiphanie. But one thing I was sure about was our branding. From the beginning, I had a very clear picture of what I wanted our company to be about: travel, adventure, and the idea that life was waiting for you to go explore it. I think it's because at the time, that's what I was craving for myself. So last year, I planned a series of shoots in distinctive locations from Phoenix, to NYC to California to Paris. I did all of them within the span of ten weeks. It was the surreal experience of a lifetime. I met the most inspiring people, and I'm so grateful for it.
The summer was also naturally riddled with real life stresses and at points, super overwhelming. So by the time the holidays came, I was in Full Hermit Mode, intensely guarding my calendar. Anything that meant I had to get out of my sweats, or wash my hair had to be damn worth it. And that's how my life has always been; a pendulum swinging between extremes. I don't know if it's "right", just that I have a propensity for it. Eventually enough time passes, and I'm ready to wash my hair to go play outside again.
This is where I was a few months ago when I started planning the next Epiphanie shoot. My adorable (insert every lovely adjective here) friend Alli had agreed to be our next model. Each shoot is based on a particular region. And since she lives in Tennessee, I knew I wanted hers to feel very rustic with a country vibe.
So I started googling log cabins.
Then I found this.
Then wheels started turning.
The house was gorgeous and perfect and COULD SLEEP 14 PEOPLE. Which is all I needed to read before I knew I was going to make a girl's trip out of this. Who could I lure into the woods with me? Since I met Alli at the Mighty Summit, it seemed natural to invite the same people. So literally five minutes after finding that cabin the evite was sent out.
Like that, I hit "send". Then I realized I had just voluntarily taken on the planning of a weekend for four.teen.people: what was I thinking what if no one shows up why do I always complicate my life what the hell am I getting into.
I'm a little bit addicted to doom-thinking.
But I'm more addicted to the adrenaline of planning fun events. So that's what I did. I planned and planned and planned, and googled like a maniac. I became obsessed with details and caterers and flight schedules. And as the weekend took shape, it went from being a fun idea, to a labor of love.
When it finally came, I wanted to make sure we were (freakishly) prepared. So Lauren (My Friend and I Might Die Without Her / Helper Of Everything Person) and I flew in the day before everyone arrived. We got there just in time for Nashville to spank us on the ass. HARD. Five minutes into driving our rented unfamiliar vans, we were greeted with a MONSOON. People driving 5 miles an hour on the freeway, my windshield was WHITE. I couldn't see cars, or lines in the road, or my hood. We barely found the exit to make our way off the freeway into a parking lot, where we sat talking to each other through windows until we found the courage to take the backroads to our hotel. *Side note: maybe it's because we were just happy to be alive and everything seemed sweeter, but the Hutton Hotel is one of the best I've ever stayed in. If you're ever in Nashville, I highly recommend it.
So we got to our room, cleaned up, and decided that it was only responsible for us to go check out the downtown strip. We were going to have dinner, scout out a few spots for the weekend, then come back to the room and work. Yeahhhhh.
We did go to dinner. We did scout locations. We even took cheesy tourist pictures with Elvis.
Then we decided to have one drink. At Tootsies. Because it's a Nashville Icon, and we had to.
But we all know one drink is never really one drink. In fact it was maybe five or six, and no one's driving so let's have another drink. The next thing you know Lauren and I are screaming Sweet Home Alabama from our barstools until 2 in the morning.
Which meant that I, who had planned on leaving the hotel at 8am, slept 'til 9, had a head ache 'til 10, and barely got my ass out at noon. And that meant I had about five minutes to get everything ready at the house I had never been to.
I raced to find a Target, I power-shopped for everything from milk to extra tampons and razors and candles. I found a grocery store that Tennessee doesn't let sell wine. Which meant I had to scramble to find to find a liquor store, get lost ten more times, lug 32 bags of food and preparations up a massive flight of stairs. Running behind, texting Lauren (who was picking people up at the airport) to "please take your time", "please go the long way, I still have to make the gift baskets!"
Inner Martha was in FULL FORCE.
But, I have to say that putting these together was my favorite part of all the preparation. All I could find at Target were easter baskets. But when I posted this on twitter, a few people asked what was inside. I can't take the credit because the contents were a result of obsessive googling. But if you're interested, it was lotion, a candle, snacks, a monogrammed notepad, tea, water, a magnet, and most importantly glow sticks.
All sweaty in 42 degree weather (pretty!), I finally got stuff put together. Then I took a minute to be astonished by where I was and by what I was doing.
The result of my impulsive evite, and weeks of obsessive planning was finding myself in the middle of obscenely beautiful nowhere, waiting for some of my favorite people to come meet me there.
I wanted to take in every minute, every bit of conversation, every spark of connection. And as a result, didn't get that many photos. But here are a few.
I'd planned a picnic. I ordered blankets (which *TIP: $20 quilts from Walmart are way cheaper than actual $70 "Picnic" Blankets. But they sat in the corner as it rained. So we moved our ideas indoors. And the awesome troopers from Tin Can managed to lug their adorable trailer up our massively dirty road to bring us cupcakes and old time-y treats. Who knew Tennessee was this adorable?
I'm not sure they knew what they were in for, looking that cute in a room full of bloggers and photographers.
They also let us use their sweet trailer as prop.
*Note about Alli's outfit. In another things-don't-always-go-as-planned-moment, the clothes I'd pre-ordered for her didn't work. But then Magical Princess of Styling Erin Loechner came to the rescue. See that orange belt? It's actually a pair of tights that she MacGyver-tied into a knot, right before she plucked that floral pin out of thin air. She is a Renegade. And we made the shoot happen despite the rain, also thanks to Leah for randomly having an umbrella.
We also fit 13 people into a rainy 6 person hot tub.
When the lightning struck, we took the party to the bathtub.
And yes, I know we should've used plastic glasses, but look how pretty they were in the morning.
It was so much fun. And I couldn't have done it without Lauren The Great (Thank you LL!) You are a truly bionic woman.
"Here's the truth of it: Blogging facilitates closer, faster friendships because even if we don't all read each others' sites regularly--if at all, because who has the time?--the mere fact that we have that quirk in common means it's easy to move past the smalltalk in short order and find ourselves doing intensely personal things like giving each other permission to say and think and do things we might not think we can or should say, think, and do, whether it's as innocent as using certain swear words or as deep as feeling things about our lives, our loves, our wants and needs that we might never have dared to feel without someone from the outside saying, "It's okay."
That, for me, says it all.
Love you girls.