Designer VACA Recap by Julia Walck

You guys, Designer VACA was amazing. I met so many rad creative women this past week I'm overflowing with inspiration, ideas, and energy. The laid back atmosphere made it so easy to walk up and join in on conversations and introduce yourself. Everyone was on a level playing field, you know? Because we really are all the same. Creatives who just want to learn more, connect more, and are curious about everything... "curious about the stuff that matters", as speaker Bob Goff would say. A big shoutout to Promise Tangeman and Alyssa Yuhas for putting this on! 

The talks from Bob Goff, Elle Luna, and Jessica Hische brought so much insight and inspiration on being a creative, and life in general. 

Elle Luna said, "Work with things that deliberately scare you", and that quote resonated with me. You don't get anywhere in life by playing it safe. You need to step outside of your comfort zone to see if you like something. What's the worst thing that could happen? If it's not for you, just move on to the next project / thing / job / person, whatever it may be, it'll work out elsewhere.

Another good one from Elle was, "The closer you get to what you love, the more vulnerable you're going to feel... if you feel terrified, it's a pretty good indicator you're on to something good". How true is that? She spoke of "Should" and "Must". "Should" is choosing to live for someone other than ourselves, something society has told you from the beginning of time. "Must" is who you are and what you believe. Your passions, convictions, and feelings. Who you are and what you MUST do. Follow that must. 

I got to have a casual conversation with Jessica Hische, who by the way was wearing the cutest Dunsen & Dunsen dress. UM AWESOME RIGHT? The conversation kind of ended up being about breast feeding once we started talking about how cute her baby, Ramona is. It's kind of great listening to a new mother be so excited about motherhood and just figuring it out as she goes along, you know? She's so down to earth and I'm SO glad I can say that. It's really cool that when people you admire are really great in real life rather than just on paper. 

The retreat was structured really well. There was a good amount of free time to hang by the pool, or explore Palm Springs: both really good options for getting to know some of the fellow designers.

Wednesday night was when I was first intimidated by how many people were in attendance. I mean, a room filled with 170 lady graphic designers. Whoa. How on earth do you meet people in this crowd? I quickly learned, "This is what going out to bars and dating is like". Something I haven't really dealt with. It was good to get uncomfortable and I started going up to people and introducing myself. Something that was a good icebreaker was this little photobooth corner. Emily and I were about to take a photo at the same time as some other ladies, and I said, "Hey, why not together?!" Awesome conversations sparked, Instagram handles were swapped, and business cards were given out like candy. It was great. 

On Thursday after the speaker, I took up the opportunity to tag along to Salvation Mountain with one of my roomies, Angela, and a couple girls who I had just met, Margie and Aisha. It was like a mini-road-trip inside of this awesome retreat. We stopped off at Bombay Beach, The International Banana Museum (which unfortunately was closed at the time), a statue of what looked like Paul Bunyon's cousin, and eventually Salvation Mountain. The rest of the day I hung by the pool until it was time for the communal dinner. The taco bar was fantastic, and so was Elle Luna, the speaker who I mentioned earlier. Tears were shed. Like a lot. I mean, you're in a room filled with hormonal women, what do you expect? Motivations were shared and it was really great just to see people coming together. 

Friday morning Jessica Hische did a Q+A on being a new mother and still a working professional. She gave some great insight that really just applies to being a working professional with or without a baby. For example, if a client isn't willing to work with your schedule, drop them; pass them onto someone else; it's probably not worth the stress. The main point of her talk was that it's 100% possible to be successful while having a baby. Not really my stage in life right now, but for other women in the room it seemed perfect. 

Then we had "Chalkboard Talks". These were design / life related topics open for discussion for 30 minute intervals. After walking around the room and scoping them out, you were to pick a board and join a group. I sat in on "Quitting Your Day Job", and "Creative Collaborations / Working Together". "Quitting Your Day Job" was mainly about going freelance. How to take the scary step and knowing no time is really the right time; things will never be perfect and if it's that time for your 'must', you have to do it. "Creative Collaborations / Working Together" was talking about the process of a collaboration, and how the meaning can differ a bit if it's through an agency, or a group of friends doing a project for fun. I asked about how to get people to understand the meanings of deadlines. I, myself am a very organized, structured, deadline-driven person and I work with a few people who don't understand deadlines. It was really great to hear feedback from fellow designers on how to go about talking to them and pitching the idea as something they would want to hear. I needed that. 

Some designers in attendance brought lil' goodies on top of business cards. I was lucky enough to snag a Ray Eames print by Kelsey Dake, and a face your fears sticker by Tina Snow Le.


Emily and I checked out of the Ace, said goodbye to our roommates Angela and Leila and then searched Palm Springs for another hotel. We felt like we just needed one more day of exploring. Luckily hotels are EVERYWHERE. We stayed at the Hard Rock hotel which was super close to the downtown area. We checked in, then grabbed lunch at a vegan spot and hit up some local antique stores. "Some" actually being about 5... antiquing in Palm Springs is one of the best spots to go.

On Saturday, we woke up at the crack of dawn and took the first Aerial Tramway up to the San Jacinto Mountains. It's a weird feeling to be in Palm Springs where it's around 102, then to go up into the mountains and need a jacket. We hiked a path called Desert Loop, about a mile and a half or two, and explored. The views were incredible and there were SO MANY little happy birds everywhere, which of course made me happy, too. Once we were fully exhausted, it was time to pack up and hit the road.

Now here I am back in LA and already am texting with some girls I met over the weekend. It was one of the most inspirational, uplifting times of my life and I can't wait to go back next year. 

Thursday's breakfast // ricotta pancakes

Friday's breakfast // Moroccan scramble