All photos by Eyes of Love Photography.

All photos by Eyes of Love Photography.

Ed's note: You'll notice that this issue of Raspberry Magazine has a bit of a difference - a group of women on the cover! And I am one of those women! I decided to share behind the scenes of a creative business retreat I went on a few months ago, because I've come to learn that in small business, community is essential. Yes, we can carry along just fine working from home in our PJs (maybe that's just me?) and for a few years I did just that; but there is really nothing so joyful, uplifting, clarifying and galvanising than spending face-to-face time with women on similar paths to you. It's like sunshine for your soul and rocket fuel for your business.

I share to show you that you can absolutely do this for yourself. Creative Vacay is not some fancy business retreat - we just made it up! Some of us met for the first time here. So gather your biz mates (online and 3D), hire a cool Airbnb house, and get planning!  ~Alana.


Business, Bonding and Bunk Beds - By Kirra Smith.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead.

Picture this: a balmy spring afternoon in the breathtaking Byron Bay hinterland, a luxurious (and somewhat spooky) old church and a group of women gathered together to share ideas and inspire one another to go big in business.

To many, it would seem an unlikely situation – eleven women, many of whom run similar businesses – staying together (in bunk beds no less) for a weekend of laughter, lavish lunches and list-making.  

Not so for Dani Hunt, owner of Neverland Studio, and the women she brought together for the second time for a weekend she deemed ‘Creative Vacay’.

The premise is simple. Dani is a creative genius, and like many creative geniuses she thrives in the company of other creative geniuses.

Enter the ladies of Eyes of Love Photography, Love Indigo Creative, The Fifth Element Life, The Darling Tree, Georgie McKenzie Design, JuJu Creative Hub, Steph Blaszak, Renee Carmody, Alana Wimmer and yours truly.

It was my first time, so I by no means considered myself a creative genius upon arriving at said spooky church, but by the end of the weekend I was certain that, with the support of those ten women, I was well on my way to becoming one.

Ranging from fresh to seasoned, each one is at a different stage of their business which means collectively, we were a powerhouse of knowledge and good intention.

Essentially, this was what made the weekend so unique – where else could you spend time intimately with a group of women from such a wide range of backgrounds? Nowhere, that’s where.  

Speaking of which, I highly recommend trying a Creative Vacay type situation for yourselves.

Here’s how it went down:

About a month earlier I received an (extremely upbeat and excited) email from Dani asking if I’d like to join her and nine other brilliant women who would be gathering for a weekend of biz talk and bonding.

Ahh yes, obviously I would.

Scary, "stepping out of my comfort zone" heart palpitations aside – I’m terrified in group situations in which I hardly know anyone and need to offer somewhat useful advice to people who know far more than I do – I arrived to an abundance of hugs and welcomes and a sense that this might have been the best choice I’d ever made.

That night we chatted, we ate, we laughed and some of us met famous people in restaurant bathrooms (if I remember correctly it was someone from Australia's Next Top Model).

The next day it was on. Dani had beautifully branded (of course) our Creative Vacay with welcome packs of pink pencils, sweet candles and notes to jot down our ‘burning questions’ - some areas of our businesses we wanted advice on.

Ranging from “Help, I have no idea what to do next” (me) to “How do I include client expectations in my professional contracts” (someone who knows a lot of things), we drew questions out of a jar and jammed on business until we broke for lunch.

Which was, FYI, a stunning selection of goodies from Harvest at Newrybar. Take. Me. Back.

In the afternoon, Alana (owner of the magazine you’re currently reading (HI!)) showed us how to create our own essential oil blend from her collection. Following a short guided meditation, we each intuitively chose oils to combine into a personalised glass bottle. Everything smelled great after that!

Another session of creative brainstorming, then before dusk we traipsed outside to the gypsy caravan while Michelle, the photographer of the group, managed to capture the moment (that's it on the cover!).

Then: a whole new day of ideas and inspiration on Sunday.

I can’t speak for the other girls (but I will because they’re not here) – Creative Vacay changed my life in all the good ways.

Not only did I come away with a to-do list as long as my arm, I left feeling part of something extremely rare and really quite magical.

Most importantly though (excuse me while I get serious) was the realisation that women are the most incredible beings in the world and that together, we can create communities that spread light and love and endless creative knowledge.

Best of all though, I realised that the support of women is more powerful than any other force there is and that together, we really can create positive change.

Both for one another and for the world.

So, off I go to spruce up my (fairly non-existent) sales page, write a little guide on how copywriters benefit businesses and email my new friends with about 4,678 new questions.

Thanks ladies, that really was something else.


Kirra is the creator of Archer Mala Beads - meditation beads handmade with the intention of bringing meditation to the modern world through the creation of stylin' soul treasures. She is also a writer and word wrangler at written pretty. She is passionate about using words to initiate connection and change. 

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