Monday, March 12, 2012

Creative Estates- Why I Would Not Attend Again

Ok guys, this is going to be a hard one. I've been debating back and forth about how to write this post, how much to tell, even if this post should be written. People don't really like negativity in the blog world, myself included. But I feel a responsibility to my readers, to my friends, to the other women afraid to say anything, and to those of you considering attending Creative Estates in the future to be honest. This is not going to be my only post about Creative Estates and I wasn't really sure this was going to be my first post, but I need to just get it out of the way so I can tell you about the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G women I met this weekend. Seriously, amazing. 

THIS IS NOT A PERSONAL ATTACK ON ANYONE... THIS IS AN EVENT REVIEW.

As you all know, I have been SO SO excited about Creative Estates. It was the first blogging event I was going to attend, the first time I was going to meet my bloggy friends, and the first time I was going to leave 5ohBaby. I had already decided to attend a blog event this year and did my research. I immediately wanted to go because Little Miss Momma was teaching thought Creative Estates sounded so intimate, so fun and so affordable. The tickets were $250 but it was all inclusive: Lodging, project materials, and meals.  I would be responsible for my own travel expenses and activities like snowboarding if desired. Awesome.
After purchasing the non-refundable ticket, I learned a few things about the event that were disheartening via twitter.

1.) There were not enough beds at the "cabin"... not by a long shot. The cabin has a King in the master bedroom, two bedrooms with queens, and one bedroom with 2 sets of bunk beds. That leaves a total of 7 beds for around 40 women. People had to bring their own sleeping bags and blow up mattresses to sleep on the floor. No bedding was provided.



 2.) We had to supply our own crafts for "free craft time". There would be a few classes taught at the retreat but there would be hours and hours of free craft time where we were responsible for bringing our own crafts and supplies.

3.) There were not enough people to offer rides to the event. We were told to fly into Phoenix airport even though it is 2 hours away from the event because we would be receiving rides to the retreat. However, there were not enough people to offer rides so we were told after purchasing those plane tickets, that we would have to find our own way.

At this point, I started to question whether or not I should go to the event. This was a big sacrifice from my family: financially, time commitment, time away before a move, etc. But I love love love the women going (still do!) so I decided to suck it up and meet my friends at the airport in Phoenix.


When we arrived to the address provided for the cabin at the creative estates retreat, it turned out to be just a large home in a neighborhood. It was around 5:30-6 just after the house was open to us. We were met at the door by someone who said "What's your name? Ok here" and handed us a swag bag (which I fully intend to post on later). There was no list to check our names or tickets off, no greeting from the event organizer, no direction on what to do. We put our things in the downstairs room and went to mingle. After traveling all day we were ALL hungry. There were a lot of cupcakes, cups with carrots and celery in it, cups with salads made of greens and nuts, and a little tray or two of cheese and pepperonis. That was the only food offered that night. There was no introduction of the event, the teachers, or any of us... just a free for all race to get your bedroom.

After the bedrooms were taken we made nametags out of index cards, tissue paper, and glittered tape. People had been drinking already and would continue to be. As the night continued people became more and more intoxicated, including the event organizer. There was yelling, flashing, and other lewd behavior late into the night. The girls in my room, including my pregnant friend Heather and I had a difficult time sleeping as the girls were all outside our window, yelling and drinking goldschlager.

The next morning we woke up and went downstairs for breakfast. There was no toilet paper in the house. Breakfast was bagels & cream cheese or donuts. There was coffee grounds, but no creamer or filters to fit the machine. There was no milk or orange juice or anything to drink except tap water out of mason jars. The first class taught was pushed back late. After the class we had free time and were told people were leaving and did we mind if lunch was cancelled and we could all have free time. Some friends of mine and I decided to make the best of things and head to lunch and make the drive to the grand canyon (more on this later!)

When we got home we were just in time for our next craft: sugar scrubs. A very simple craft that was completed in 5 minutes. Around 6:30 we were asked as a group if we were hungry and if we liked spaghetti for "Italian Night". Someone then left the house to pick up walmart brand pasta sauce, cheese, bread and noodles. Dinner was not served until 7:20pm which was very late for the two pregnant women and the multiple women who were nursing (myself included). There was no announcement of dinner and there was no variety. Another tray of carrots and celery, etc (not enough to feed more than 10 people, noodles, sauce, bread and hard left over cookies from the night before.


We were all shocked but everyone with the ability to hold their tongues much more than me didn't say anything. There was still nothing to drink except alcohol and tap water. Many of us were feeling sick and had persistent headaches. Our final teacher of the day had to start late without her supplies (neither of which was her fault). The crafts we were supposed to be making had been forgotten so we had to clean out our mason jars we were drinking out of to be modge podged with tissue paper instead.

We went to bed hoping that as Saturday was day 3 we would finally be served some protein or fruit or vegetables besides the snack trays. We woke to find that there was no more coffee, very little milk, and a variety of sugary cereals for breakfast.


We considered leaving for breakfast but didn't want to miss the next amazing teacher who had to start late again, by no fault of her own. We did our crafts having to share supplies and do things in stations because there were not enough outlets for our glue guns. At this point, we were all very shaky and hungry. Lunch was prepared and served (late again). Everything served was again walmart brand. There were three sandwiches: Bread and peanut butter, bread and nutella, or bread and cucumber and mayonnaise (i think.. it could be another condiment). There was walmart brand Turkey wrapped around cucumbers. There were also plain potato chips and scones. This was the 5th option for food in 3 days.


My pregnant friend had to have a real meal, so again we left the house to eat. While we were gone, a giveaway was done. The person doing the giveaway was told a group of us were not there and she didn't care and continued the giveaway anyway.

If you know me, you know I have no problem coming to someone with issues. I talked with at least 25 of the 35-40 women and was told that, although they were very unhappy, very hungry, and upset they hadn't had any real time to craft, they preferred no one say anything as there had already been a big fight between a paying attendant ant the event coordinator. We decided that it would just be best if we left when we got home from lunch. That night 9 of us left the house and went back to Phoenix. Immediately after we left two tweets came out saying "Some people are just cowards, & freaking RUDE!!!" and one from the event organizer saying "WOW". We were never called or asked why we left or contacted in any way. Later the even organizer would go on to tweet "A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit. -Thomas Jefferson" and ""I love it when someone insults me. That means that I don't have to be nice anymore." -Billy Idol" Dinner that night at Creative Estates was dominoes pizza and breakfast the next morning was not served.

Now, I am not a nitpicky person. I would've been fine with walmart brand food and sleeping on the floor, and maybe even bringing my own crafts. But there were no drinks for those of us who chose not to drink alcohol, there were no snacks, there was hardly any vegetables served and absolutely no fruit or protein. There was never an introduction of the event. None of the classes or meals started on schedule. Supplies were scarce or completely forgotten. The wifi was too slow for any of us bloggers to be able to blog while there. I expected to pay the $250 plus the $400 for a plane ticket. I did not also expect to pay $40 for my crafts, $120 for my portion of the rental car and gas, $80 for meals and another $60 for leaving and staying at a hotel bringing my grand total spent to around $300 more than the promised price. For that price, I could have attended BlogHer in New York which I gave up for this seemingly more affordable retreat. I left the retreat with a friendship bracelet, a felt flower, a paper nametag, a modgepodged jar, and a sugar scrub. The only craft I missed was the pointed party hat.

We were told on Friday (day 2) that the creative estates account was over drafted. When you consider that each of us payed $250 for that, it is a little upsetting. When you consider around 37 tickets were sold that brings the total profit of the ticket sales to $9250. The total cost for renting the mansion, if paid full price as listed on their website is $499 per night when you consider tax and a cleaning fee takes you to around $1800 leaving $7448 in the Creative Estates account. If you (generously) alot $2000 for decorations, craft supplies and food that leaves around $5448. I have no problem with the event coordinator making a profit for her time and work putting together an event AT ALL. But when you consider lack of food, lack of toilet paper, lack of crafting supplies, and a $5000 profit... something just doesn't sit right with any of us.

When you consider our portion of the rental, crafts, and food served I feel like at least $100 is owed to all attendants. That would still leave the event coordinator with a $1300 profit. I contacted the event site a purchased my ticket through and was told that a partial refund can only be awarded from the event coordinator. I was not sure that this would be worth the interaction when you consider the mean spirited and passive aggressive tweets occurring as such. I sent the coordinator a long and detailed email voicing my concern and asking for a partial or full refund. The full response was "Tickets are non-refundable.  Thank you for coming to the retreat."

I will post next about the amazing women I met, the trip to the grand canyon, amazing craft teachers, etc. I just had to make sure that, in an attempt to be true to my readers and those of you considering attending a Creative Estates event in the future, that I told the truth about our experience. I would absolutely recommend attending a blog event or conference but  I would not suggest attending any Creative Estates or related event in the future. I believe the event was entirely misrepresented and unorganized. I feel like the way things have been handled is unprofessional and disappointing as a whole. I am saddened by all of this.... but I am just being real.


103 comments:

  1. Ash, I am so proud of you and thankful that you are the kind of person that would write a post like this. It needed to be said. Those who read your posts, and knew how much you were looking towards this event, need to know that you don't endorse it. And I am thankful for HOW you shared what needed to be said: honestly, but not with the will to tear down.

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  2. Wow. So sad to hear it wasn't what you all were promised.

    Thank you for being open, honest & truthful about it, I, & I'm sure many other bloggers, appreciate it! = )

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  3. How disappointing for you all! I saw so many tweets prior to the event and all of them were so filled with excitement about the upcoming event. I've been out of the loop for family issues the past week or so, but to see this makes me feel so bad for you all. I'd love to attend a blog conference someday. I certainly would expect something more than what you got here. I'm so sorry the event side of things turned out like this. Can't wait to hear about the good stuff! :)

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  4. oh my. what a disappointment. I'm so sorry for you all. I can only imagine how frustrated you were. I think you were very patient, probably more than I would have been.

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  5. Wow! I was really considering going next year, but now not so much. I think if you pay all that money it would be worth it.

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  6. Wow! I hate that you and all of the other ladies were so ridiculously let down! Good for you for posting this to make sure that others do not make the same mistake. I don't see her ever making a profit from Creative Estates again if everyone could come across this post!

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  7. Thank you for posting the truth about your experience. I would love to go to a blog event in the future and i want to get my money's worth. I know that i will not consider this one now. I love and appreciate your honesty, always. (And I'm really surprised about the alcohol!!)

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  8. Amen!!!!
    Thank you for being honest. Seriously. I am so glad I didn't attend. I have to eat like every 3 hours otherwise I feel sick, so I'm parctically like a preggo woman (but I'm not lol) and I can't eat gluten! Lol so I knew if I tried to go it would have been difficult. And I would have been ticked off by the disorganization and lack of beds. Oh and the drinking.
    :-( I'm sorry that you had to spend so much money on that. And I'll be honest, I could just tell by seeing some of the posts from the coordinator, that she looked difficult to deal with. Sad that she couldn't have been more adult about how things turned out.
    Glad you met some awesome women though. :-) and once again don't fret for sharing this, you are being honest.

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  9. wow is all I can say. Creative Estates sounds so unprofessional and unorganized, I probably wouldn't have lasted as long as you did. Thank you for sharing your experience!!

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  10. wow i'm SHOCKED i know how excited you were to go and how hard it mustve been to spend 4 whole days away from 5ohbaby when it was so clearly a sham. that sucks but i am so glad you spoke up, that woman should be ashamed!! seems the overdraft occurred at the liquor store - alcohol is what was so expensive! (but i wouldve rather had toilet paper lol)

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  11. yep, unfortunately i'd have to agree. you are brave and i LOVE you!

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  12. What a shame! It's so sad that you put your hard earned money up expecting a great weekend just to sleep on the floor, eat unhealthy (or pay to go out on your own)and be treated so horribly by someone that is suppose to be a business woman. This is so unprofessional and ignorant. Hats off to you for being real, speaking up and holding your head high. :) Other than all of that, I am glad you and your friends made the best of it and enjoyed some of your trip! Can't wait to read the positive posts!!

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  13. Wow, what a shame. I have been seeing everyone's instagrams & tweets and realized that you had an amazing time with other bloggers so I thought maybe I would attend the next one. I'm SO happy that you posted this and I would be so furious if I were you!! Thanks for being honest with all of us and giving us a heads up to invest our monies into a better event! Can't wait to read about your trip to the GC :) XO

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  14. wow that is dissapointing! Especially with all the hype going on about how great creative estates is. Sorry that it wasn't what you expected! Glad you got to meet some amazing ladies in real life though :)

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  15. Oh my GOSH! I would be so incredibly upset. Aside from the time spent meeting amazing girls and making new friends... what a waste of money! I'm SO glad you posted this.

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  16. That's a shame~! I was dying to go, and was planning on going to the next one. Were you informed of the sleeping arrangements when you booked your ticket??

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    1. No, the picture you see is what was presented before purchasing the ticket. The sleeping arrangements were only found out IF you saw it on twitter.. which, some women did not

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  17. Good for you for posting this despite others' desires to not make waves. What you posted was your opinion but not irrate or mean-spirited. Thank you for being honest, because I would have been frustrated if I attended next year (because I heard that it was such a fun time) and walked away equally disappointed... and out $300 extra dollars. I worked in events for a non-profit and a boutique hotel, and it sounds like the event organizer missed A LOT of very important steps!

    Welcome back to the real world. I know I'm happy to see you posting again!

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  18. Freaking good job ash!-love one of the Utah girls

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  19. Thank you for writing this so tactfully and honestly. I had bought a ticket and was really sad when life stepped in the way and I had to sell it...but now reading this I am kinda glad I didn't go. I feel really bad that it was a disappointment for you guys.
    What I am excited to hear about was the comradery between the girls. I LOVE the fact that you stuck together and were looking out for one another. That is what this community should be about :)
    I would have loved to have met you all...but not in the situation that was described as above.

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  20. I'm shocked. Thank you for being brave and honest. CE has been on the top of my dream list for blog conference/retreats to attend. I'm sorry to hear it was disappointing.

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  21. Yikes!!! How awful!!! It sounds like an example of bad made good though with the friendships you made!!
    On a happy note: I found you through the Hollie Rogue's post today and I'm so glad I did!!

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  22. I just sent you an email but I just wanted to comment and THANK YOU for giving us your honest opinion. We value our money and want to know when something turns out like this. I am sorry you had to deal with that.

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  23. So proud of you for writing this and could not agree more. I would rather have been on "Survior." At least then we could have at least gone fishing and had a campfire to keep us warm. Gosh.

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  24. Thanks for posting this. I was thinking of trying to attend next year but I would have walked away sooner if I had been misinformed and underfed. You were tactful and honest. Two things I appreciate a lot. I hope it informs those who run it that they can't do what THEY want and get away with it. We don't pay to go to these things to be treated ignored and ill-informed.

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  25. WOW I am SHOCKED! And so so appreciate you writing this. We value our money a lot and would have been really sad if this had been me. Plus we dont drink so that would have been an additional disappointment. SO SO sorry for you, so thankful you chose to speak out.

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  26. oh man. i mean this sounds awful, Im SO sorry yall had to deal with this. I am still insanely jealous yall got to all meet in real life, but i hate for you this it was so terrible. not worth going next year at all, like I had planned. we need to make our OWN event! and trust me, we will have toilet paper at ours. :)

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  27. What an utter disappointment! I applaud you for writing this tactful post...you are probably saving many bloggers time and money and it would be bad to NOT warn us all about it!

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  28. My goodness. =( That stinks.

    Glad you found some amazing friends there.. found you through Andi's post today. ;)

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  29. This event sounds like an unorganized nightmare. What a sham. I would love to go to a blog event, but I want it to be well worth my money. It's a shame that you had so many unexpected expenses. It's fine to serve Walmart food, BUT, they need REAL food not PB&J, and just sauce and noodles. They could have made chicken fettuccine alfredo and been just as cost efficient. And some fruits for breakfast wouldn't have hurt either. And no drinks besides alcohol or water? UNACCEPTABLE. I've see a lot of pics from BlogHer and other blog parties that just look like a lot of drinking and going out, and that is not what I'd go for. Hmph :( Thanks again so much for your honesty on saying what needed to be said. I wholeheartedly believe you deserve at least half of your money refunded.

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  30. Way to go!! I am so happy you wrote this post! I would have been of the same mindset as you had I attended and I am proud that you spoke out!

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  31. Good on you for being so honest. Such a shame it didn't turn out how you hoped.

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  32. OhMyGoodness! What a nightmare. I'm glad you were able to bond with some awesome bloggy friends in spite of it. You girls will be laughing about this for years to come.

    Thank you for your honesty...because that sounds like an AWFUL event...poor planning...bad food (and let's face it--that's what everyone cares about!!!)....and lack of customer service. People should really avoid this event unless they are taking feedback to improve it.

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  33. i love honesty! thanks for the review, i'm so sorry it was such a nightmare
    :( looks like you still made some awesome friendships, despite the bad experience :/ hope this week back home with 5ohbaby is awesome and makes up for the bad retreat! xo

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  34. Wow, you lasted longer than I would have!

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  35. I suppose I am lucky that I got out when I did, although I tried to get my money back because she had totally misrepresented this event and what was included. As you can imagine, that was not a pleasant nor successful attempt. So glad that you ladies were able to make the most of it and have some wonderful friendships to show for it. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion!

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  36. I definitely appreciate your honesty. I was actually hoping to go next year. Now...not so much. Did any of you ladies talk about starting your own retreat? You definitely know what NOT to do now. I'd be interested in helping, if so.....

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    1. this would be super cool- I'd love to go!

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  37. I'm so upset to see a lot of women had a bad experience with this event. There was SO much excitement on Twitter leading up to it from what I observed, and now seeing it wasn't that enjoyable. So sorry it was a complete sham, and I hope you're happier home now with 5ohBaby. <3

    Remy / Cinnamon Bubbles

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  38. Oh wow..just wow. you are way nicer, and way more adventurous than I. I would have been going back out the front door the moment I discovered my money did not even get me a decent bed. So Not Acceptable. And I probably would not have gone quietly either....there would have been some serious discussion going on with that event coordinator. Good for you for telling the truth, and for doing it in such a repectful, decent manner.

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  39. I really wanted to go to this retreat. I am completely shocked that it ended up being so unorganized and not up to what everyone had expected. Seems like a blessing in disguise that I didn't end up going! Sorry to hear that your experience was less than spectacular :( at least you had the chance to meet up with some amazingly creative women!

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  40. Well said lover! Couldn't have said it better or more accurately myself. Thanks for being brave enough to say what we all are feeling. I love you!

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  41. Woah! What a bummer. Super glad you met some awesome girls.

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  42. Ashley,
    This is perfect! Straight and to the point. :) SOO professional and absolutely honest. You rock. :)
    PLUS
    I'm really glad I met you. :)

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  43. Wow. I just cannot believe this!! Thank so so much for being honest about this and speaking out... after seeing some other bloggers post on this I was actually going to start looking into it! I cannot imagine :( At least you had some friends there to keep support you! This sounds like a scam quite honestly...

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  44. I am someone who DOES drink and would have been fine to have been offered alcohol as a drink option....BUT: I would have gladly given up the drinks to have a proper bed, toilet paper and decent food choices!

    I do love my wine, but not nearly as much as sleep and food!

    Glad you did this review.

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  45. I left this same comment over at Momma Go Round, but wanted to leave it for you as well. I am SO sorry you spent your time and money on such a disappointing event. I would have been absolutely LIVID. I’ve never heard of Creative Estates so did a little googling. Once I saw who the creator/owner is…well, let’s just say that the debacle of the weekend makes sense. She has been notorious in her camera strap business for being months and months behind in getting orders out (and by all appearances, lying about when orders were sent), as well as being difficult to deal with in terms of returns. I would be very reluctant to do any sort of business with her.

    So glad you were able to glean some incredible friendships from the weekend!

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  46. I left this comment over at Momma Go Round, but thought I would leave it here too. I am SO sorry you spent your time and money on such a disappointing event. I would have been absolutely LIVID. I’ve never heard of Creative Estates so did a little googling. Once I saw who the creator/owner is…well, let’s just say that the debacle of the weekend makes sense. She has been notorious in her camera strap business for being months and months behind in getting orders out (and by all appearances, lying about when orders were sent), as well as being difficult to deal with in terms of returns. I would be very reluctant to do any sort of business with her.

    So glad you were able to glean some incredible friendships from the weekend!

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  47. What a disappointment! I think it is great that you were open and honest about your experience. You probably saved a lot of people $$ and valuable time!

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  48. I came over to read this story after seeing Nina's post! WHAT a nightmare, dissapointment, I think everyone above couldn't have said it better!! Good for you for being honest and TRYING to stick it out!! I'm interested to see what the "organizers" have to say about this event?! DO they REALLY think this went well?! Even if this was the first year they should have known better! I like the way you broke down the way the event should have been broken down! Maybe YOU should hold a blog conference! ...I would attend!! :)

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    1. This was the second year and I was only told that the tickets were non-refundable.I'd love to hold a blog conference but I doubt anyone would come haha

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    2. I would likely attend! In fact, I'd probably volunteer for a committee.

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  49. Awesome post. I hate to post anonymously but I myself have been to a Creative Estates event and it was an absolute disaster. It was my first blogging event and I always imagined bloggers to be bubbly and warm and friendly - and I couldn't have been more wrong! No one welcomed me, showed me where to go, or really even introduced themselves...I talked to a few fellow vendors/crafters who of course were super nice, but the organizers of the event were really hard to deal with. I am glad you made some new friends though - at least people are on the same page:)

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  50. I think your review was very honest, tactful, and classy. what a HORRIBLE experience!! I am so so sorry you had to deal with all of that. I know that some people at the event (the even coordinator) will be upset at your review but you said nothing that everyone didn't seem to know already were very professional in your post. I feel so bad that you had to leave your family and spend your money on such a horrible experience. but I am so impressed at how you made the most of the situation and got to know some awesome ladies even though the accommodations were less than ideal. that says a lot about a person to be able to still be positive in the situation. So sorry again!

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  51. That is just so unfortunate. What a complete lack of decency on their part to treat women (and women's hard earned money) like that! Bloggers should know that most of these women that go to things like this have families, busy lives, and do not have an unended supply of money. Financially and emotionally, it's a sacrifice to go away for this long without your family, not to mention the planning that goes into leaving children with only parent for that long (driving around, picking up, planning meals, everything). I know in my house, when I take time away from my husband and daughter and spend good money to do it, it better be worth it!!

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  52. To all of you who have said that you'd like to try for a refund, or have already done so and were refused: individually it's easy for the organizers to brush you off. Together, in Small Claims, you may have a shot. There was a contract beween each of you and Creative Estates, and it seems very much like they are in breach of it.

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    1. agreed on this. I would get a lawyer

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  53. Well, in many respects, I think the events of the last few days have been awful. Thing is, it's not just one person who had a rough time at this event, many people did. Ashley is one of the few brave souls willing to post it like it was, with photos. I'm so happy to hear the most of the ladies made the best of a bad situation and were able to talk and make closer friendships.

    That said, the event host... in my opinion... has acted quite childishly and has decided to close up her shop and retreat from the blogging world. She cited her father's illness for that. I respect that. I lost my own father to cancer when I was 19, so I know all too well, what that is like. But frankly, I'm not buying it. I think she's finally realizing that her behavior ruined the event and she (yet again) finding a reason to close up shop, take her toys and run away. It's unprofessional and sad.

    What I'm not seeing is an apology for her (and her friends') ridiculous behavior, mean spirited tweets, lack of organization. She isn't offering to reimburse anyone for expenses they incurred that should have been covered by their event fee. At least, she's not saying so publicly and nobody is reporting it.

    I'd respect her so much more if she just admitted that she screwed up and learned from her mistakes. Unfortunately, I don't think she's there yet.

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    1. I also hate to post anonymously but anyone who follows Shey or has met her knows that if someone goes against her, she tweets about it and is very harsh and brash about it. I attended CE last year and that is exactly why I did not go this year. I got a bad vibe from her and stopped following her on Twitter because of her negativity, even to her paying customers back when she was selling camera straps. I'm disheartened that you all had to learn about this first hand and waste all of that money. It breaks my heart. Thank you for posting this so that people aren't blinded to what's really going on. I hope that you all will seek wonderful blogging conferences like Blissdom and SNAP so that you can have a redeemed outlook on conferences!

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  54. That is so awful! As a nursing momma and mother of three, I would have been so heartbroken to have spent my weekend there. I tried to win tickets because I couldn't afford to go but it sounds as though I would have been totally screwed (not to mention starving and sleep-deprived). Sounds like you girls made the best of it but it's so sad to hear how that turned out.

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  55. This whole situation really burns my biscuits, Ashley!!

    How terrible of someone to try and pull one over on you girls and succeed so terribly, then not even own up to it! I appreciate your honest (like whoa!) and feel just terrible that this happened.

    I hope you don't regret the time lost with your family - I think this happened for a reason, you know? Sounds like many ladies are speaking up, and hopefully nothing similar happens again, or that someone who is thinking of pulling a similar stunt my rethink their motives.

    This post is classy to the limit. Love it!

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  56. Found you through Nina's blog. So sad and sorry you all had to go through this. I used to follow the event coordinator but had to stop because she is so childish and likes to put people down. I'm kind of surprised you ladies didn't feel this way before hand.

    Thanks for sharing your real views on this event. Everyone should know how an event works and if they should spend their money and time on it!

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  57. I think it was my Mom (maybe my Grandmother?) who said, "Wherever you go, whatever you do, keep a roll toilet paper just for you." That stuck, and now... whenever I travel more than 2 hours away from home, I have some with me. It has come in handy so many more times that I want to admit! May none of you be without toilet paper again. Good grief!

    Having said that, I just had a brief twitter conversation with another attendee, and I think it speaks for itself. I'm saddened by all these reports. I did not attend, but I did send some giveaways so I have a tangential interest in how it went... and I can't say that I'm happy about what I've seen and heard. My name and products are connected to that event now. Ugh!

    I'm so sorry so many of you didn't get what you paid for and expected. I, for one, would NEVER have accepted having to sleep on the floor without knowing about it ahead of time, nor would I have stood for a lack of basic amenities and balanced meals. Having read reports and having private emails from others, I absolutely believe Ashley's version of what happened.

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  58. THANK YOU for being so honest about it! I seriously considered it and was in fact a little bummed when I chose not to go. This post completely changed my mind about next year! I am so sorry it was such an awful weekend! At least it was with friends!

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  59. Contact the better business bureau!

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    1. I agree. The coordinator shouldn't be allowed to get away with this.

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  60. Found you through Nina's blog --- Just a thought, if you purchased your ticket with a credit card you could call and discuss the dispute options with the credit card company. (I work at a credit card company) The person you speak to will ask questions about how the retreat was presented and let you know if you can dispute it.

    Good luck.

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    1. This works!!! It was misrepresented and you have the proof, you can dispute that you didn't get what you paid for! Go copy & paste all the info from the CE website, print it out, now print out or provide in detail what you experience and all you have to say is that you did not authorize the purchase for the misrepresented event. You authorized the purchase for what you were promised. I work at a bank, trust me this will work!

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    2. We are in the process. Thank you for the advice!

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    3. CE website is gone! things that make you go hmmmmm!

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    4. NOT surprised. 100% unprofessional.

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  61. You're the third person I have seen post something similiar. I am so sorry you had to go through all of that! Those sorts of things are supposed to be fun... not stressful and unorganized! It makes me nervous to go to SNAP now, although the circumstances are a little different with that one. I already know I have to pay for my own hotel, transportation, etc. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that lunch, dinner, and crafts are good! I think you are the bigger person for telling the truth here!

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    1. snap will be nothing like the joke that is creative estates

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    2. I agree about SNAP, I know Tauni and it will be a BLAST. And I will be there, excited to see what all she has for us. Just check out the schedule and speakers, it's going to be amazing. I don't expect anything less from Tauni.

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    3. SNAP will be amazing, don't you worry!

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    4. SNAP will be fantastic!! So excited to meet and see you all!! Amy the necklace I won form you is my very favorite necklace!! I wear it all the time!!!

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    5. SNAP will absolutely be amazing. Tauni is professional, sweet, & ORGANIZED. We will likely get more than we expect from SNAP. Can't wait to meet all you SNAPpers!

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  62. I'm so sorry it was not what you expected. I know how hard you struggled with the decision to leave 5ohBaby for the first time. I'm glad you got to make some good friends out of it though.

    Keep your head up. Don't listen to all the crap being said on twitter. You are an AMAZING person, and I know you in "real life" so I can say that and mean it. :)

    Love you!!!!
    XOXOXO

    PS. Playdate soon! Connor misses 5ohBaby. ;)

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  63. girlie, this was so tactful and from a purely honest place. so proud of you. new blog reader, too. i was dying to meet leilani (soleil selene) so was really trying to find a way to get to go, even though my brick and mortar opens THIS THURSDAY. i thought "oh i can get my shop all ready...i really want to go to AZ". i felt like God was opening doors (to go), but i could never quite muster up a "yes" for all of the second chances i was presented with, to go. i am glad i didn't and excited that blogher is on the horizon.
    i am so sorry this was your experience, sweet girl.

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  64. the pasta on the paper plate with no meat in the sauce just appalled me.

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  65. Oh my gosh. I really wanted to go, and I live in Phoenix, but I just couldn't afford it. And after awhile I realized it was probably a good thing, because my very first impression of the event coordinator was over six months ago and it was not a good one. Nor was my second impression when I dropped off my contribution to the swag bags and was treated as though I were wasting her time. Thank you for sharing this, I really appreciate it!

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  66. Also, I would have ended up in the hospital on that diet because of my diabetes.

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    Replies
    1. I probably would have, and I am not even diabetic!!!! I need vegetables and fruits and real protein to survive.

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  67. well that sounds nightmarish. Im all down for some drinking, and maybe junking out for a bit, but good god.

    good for you to be so honest. the world needs more women like you.
    and I'm sorry it wasn't what you expected. that's a lot to throw down to pay for something.
    and then not have it even halfway meet your expectations.

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  68. Well boo! I live in AZ and was so sad I didn't get to go this time around... Looks like I won't be going to that at all! SO sorry it was such a let down for your first one! I haven't been to one yet either and would've been really sad if it turned out that way! Thanks for sharing though, so those of us considering going next time will reconsider.

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  69. I'm so, so sorry this was your experience! New reader here....found you through Nina's blog, but I'll be sticking around!

    Anyways, hang in there!!

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    1. Who is this Nina everyone is referring to? I want to see her blog too. lol ;)

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    2. Oh my goodness Nina from www.mommagoround.com She is Amazeballs

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  70. Hi Ashley!! I had planned to go to CE until we moved from AZ back to TX. Moving, money and what not I canceled my plans. Now, I've seen a BUNCH of CE blog posts about the good the bad and everything in between. I just had to tell you THANK YOU for being honest and open about it. I actually LOVE your honesty and think you did it respectfully. In the midst of all this....just had to tell you too that I'm following you know and can wait to get to know you and your blog a lil better. See my friend Kassi up there!?! We are saving up for SNAP next year! Maybe you can join us? I've heard NOTHING but awesome things about it!

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  71. Thank you so very much for our honesty... you see I had seriously considered going to CE this year but knew finances were too tight. However my husband thought it would be a good idea for me to get away and go next year so we had started saving. I for one do not drink and would have been offended by the drunkeness and lewd behavior in fully grown women. I think I'll give Blissdom or even SNAP more of a consideration especially since one will just be a day's drive for me. Once again thank you!!

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  72. Why are we this way? Why don't we speak up when we know someone is running their business poorly? I know I didn't speak up when I had a terrible business experience with Shey B. Even though I knew (from Facebook comments) that other people were having the same problem as me, I still didn't say anything. To rub salt in the wound, at the time I was going through my ordering hassle, Shealynn Benner was running a series about starting a business. (http://shealynnbenner.com/2010/02/so-ive-been-thinking-of-starting-a-business-part-2/) Do you sense the irony? It wasn't lost on me.

    So, here's what I'm going to do about it. Just like you, I'm not going to make character references. I'll let my e-mail communication with her speak for itself: http://andrearileyphotography.smugmug.com/Other/sheyeb/21976518_Nz7k3n

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  73. You know, I agree with Drew. Studies show that over 95% of unhappy customers (that includes products as well as events) who are unhappy NEVER SAY ANYTHING. This is wrong. As a business person, if i have an unhappy customer, I want them to speak up right away so I can make it right (or better) if I can, or at the very least LEARN from the experience. Not speaking up lets those businesses feel as if they are running their businesses just fine. We need to let them know differently.

    Shey had posted on her website something I realized yesterday was a big red flag. Had I read that, I never would have had any business dealings with her at all. It was said the first time she closed her business (http://shealynnbenner.com/2011/05/a-season/). She said, "I don’t believe the customer is always right. And I never will. I do believe in work hard and play harder. I also believe in taking vacations. Being burnt out is how it goes sometimes. I make mistakes constantly, but I work my butt off to correct them."

    I think we can all read and infer exactly what she meant by that. She has "closed" her business twice in the last year, both times under extreme criticism and pressure because of her poor business practices and decisions. She believes she can do no wrong and the problem is never on her end, despite the statement above where it says she works "her butt off" to correct them.

    We all know that's not true. She hasn't issued an apology to anyone about last week's event. She hasn't refunded any money as far as I can tell, nor does she have any intention of doing so. Rather, all that exists are accusation of bullying. I see no bullying here. These are honest, verifiable accounts that reflect poorly on one's business decisions. An now, she's closing her business under the guise of her father's illness? She posted that her father is cancer free. That's a good thing! I find that confusing and I don't believe that's why she's closing her shop, not one bit. During the event itself, she bragged about her shop being open and her father being cancer free. What changed in those few days? Nothing with her father, that's for sure. She just couldn't handle the criticism of an event that she organized.

    Now she is facing numerous event attendees contacting their credit cards companies to reverse charges based on fraud and I know several people have already contacted some attorneys about possibly recovering additional costs people incurred as a result of false advertising. She might be taking this personally, but in all reality, this isn't a personal issue. It's all about business and people were financially harmed. Is it any surprise that she has now closed her shop and changed her twitter name? I'm not going to call her names. I don't think that's right. I think that reading her own website, her tweets and seeing photos from the event (many not even posted publicly) and her own actions absolutely speak for themselves.

    I'm glad that some of you have super big hearts, believe in positivity and forgiveness. I think that's wonderful and it has it's place in just about everything. But there comes a point where people were really hurt by these actions and it doesn't just include people who physically attended that one event.

    People, you need to speak up when a business doesn't fulfill their obligations to you. You can do it, as Ashley did here, without resorting to name calling. Of course, the only bad names I'm seeing being used are coming from the other side of this, which is why I'm not surprised at some of the things happening. I applaud you ladies who have kept this civil. Stern and honest, sure, but still civil. The bad names and profanity, at least what I've seen, are all coming from those defending the organizer and her friends.

    The last thing I'll say after all of this, is to sum it up in three words: res ipsa loquitur

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  74. I just randomly found your blog through Ashley at TSP. I am so disgusted that this happened to you and those other women. I am so proud of you {even though I don't "know" you} for tactfully sharing your opinion and being so honest. I am appalled that other women at the conference want to keep it quiet. When I saw the meatless spaghetti on the paper plate, I was completely APPALLED. FYI, I eat meatless spaghetti at least once a week- but that is not something you serve to paying attendees at a conference.

    I can understand why someone wouldn't want to speak up if they were the only one who had a poor experience with this Shay individual, but there is always safety AND power in numbers. I literally read every single one of these comments and I was saddened to read that people experienced similar things last year. All of you poor women could have been saved if they had just blogged tactfully and honestly about this issue LAST year. I am also a little bit miffed that some of the bloggers that I "look up to" who are speakers/crafter leaders at this event can't be honest with their thousands of followers about it either.

    This totally reminds me of the whole Anthroholic personal shopping fiasco (google it if you don't follow fashion blogs, because you probably wont know what I'm talking about). It is so sad that people do not speak up sooner and I absolutely commend you for doing it and then following it up with positive posts about friendships that you've made.

    Kudos to you!

    ♥ B
    With Love From Michigan

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  75. Ashley,
    I am so sorry this turned out this way I so wanted to meet all of you but due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to attend!! I am glad there were a lot of cupcakes :-) I hope they arrived ok. I was forced to make and deliver them earlier than I wanted to!!
    Thank you for you candor and bravery for speaking up!!!

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  76. Did anybody notice that she also never bothered to thank those that sponsored/donated goods to the event? I sent something for the swag bags and never received an acknowledgement that she received my box, much less a thank you anywhere on the CE website or via twitter. The only way I know they made it was by seeing photos of the swag bag and by the wonderful ladies who posted about the swag thanking us. I'm glad that my items ended up in the hands of wonderful people who are thankful for them, but I am now embarrassed that it looks like I was supporting the event or the organizers.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sure everyone understands that the sponsors in no way are responsible for how this event went down. If anything, you should be applauded for adding a bright spot to the event.

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  77. Oh my word!!! I am appalled to hear this story. Thank you for sharing it. I will make sure I definitely skip any events like this. Yipes!

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  78. I just wanted to say that I attended CE last year and it was very apparent that it was not planned well. It was also very apparent WHO was responsible for the flaws. When the "FOUNDER" (and she made it very clear that she was) wasn't around for half of the conference, red flags were flying high. Not to mention that many of the attendees felt that she was rude when they approached her. What kind of hostess does that? Fortunately I experienced that and knew not to return. I learned who the better half of the conference was and I only wish those who didn't attend last year would have been warned. I jsut got back from SNAP in UT, hosted by the other half of the first CE, and it was beyond my wildest dreams! Let me point out that in saying all of this, I had and still have NOTHING against and no personal hatred for the "founder" of CE. I don't really even know her. I just know that the first CE was very disappointing, with the exception of meeting so many friends, connections,e tc. Reading your I am horrified! I have heard "rumors" (not from attendees) and I have heard from someone who bought a ticket and was denied a refund after the date and location changed. it's obvious that this founder has no clue how to run a business and has no clue about hostessing or customer satisfaction. I was not going to comment on this post the other day when I read it, simply bc I don't want to get involved. But when I read the CE founder's blog post tonight I felt I couldn't keep my mouth shut any longer. I'm so sorry you had to pay for this. I encourage you to follow SNAP and join us next year. It was fabulous! :) Also, thank you for being the one to come out and post this. I know you only meant it as a review and I know it's gotten a lot of positive and negative attention, but good for you!
    Jen
    Scissors Spatulas

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  79. Just re-reading this post, as I've seen so many positive tweets about SNAP over the last weekend and it makes me sad I missed out on it.

    Hope I get a chance to meet you again Ashley! xo Julie Ann

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