The Shop Tart has had a busy season, full of unexpected trips, much welcomed freelance assignments and plenty of impromptu fun. A while ago, she signed up for the Southern C Summit, produced by the Southern Coterie, a fun social network for southerners and southernophiles (is that a word?), and she had every intention of arriving prepared and well-rested. Stop laughing. The morning after one of her favorite galas of the year, the Shop Tart woke up bright and early, so she could leave by 5:30 and make it to the beginning of the second day of the summit. She didn’t quite make it to Southern Living Travel Editor Erin Shaw Street’s morning talk, which was a big disappointment, because she was really looking forward to it. Good thing Southern Living will be at the next Southern C Summit, coming up in August!
She did get there in time to hear Leapfrog PR’s presentation, “The Art of Storytelling: Give Your Brand a Voice,” featuring a panel of speakers including Melissa Blanchard of VanJean and Pout, Carrie Morey of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, Libba Osborne and Jackie Thompson of Leapfrog, Amy Pastre and Courtney Rowson of STITCH Design Co., and moderator Haskell Harris of Haskell Harris Creative. Dynamic founder of Dig South (and friend of Mr. Shop Tart) Stanfield Gray was next. It was all very interesting. Unfortunately, the Shop Tart was finishing a post for The Kitchn and was only able to lend half an ear.
By lunch time, she was ready to jump into the action…and realized she had forgotten to bring any business cards. So, while it may be that no one remembers her, she had some interesting conversations. Lunch was fun and Summit organizers Whitney Long and Cheri Leavy (with help from their husbands) were charming and helpful as they dealt with torrential rain, necessitating a few changes of venue. They handled it all with grace and good humor. A tent in the rain is an exciting place to be.
And now, this post will get quick, dirty and visual. After lunch, the Shop Tart and Shani checked into what is one of the largest hotel suites the Shop Tart had ever seen at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. This is a tiny portion of one of the bedrooms. The bathroom was so big the Shop Tart could have taught a Pilates class to 15 people while soaking in the large tub.
The hotel and grounds really are this beautiful. Actually, more.
Around every corner, there’s something else pretty and inviting, like this sun room just outside the reception area.
They returned to the conference center for more great speakers and bonding, including a lovely break for Goo Goo Cluster inspired desserts and coffee.
Back at the hotel before dinner, Shani and the Shop Tart relaxed in the gorgeous lobby bar, enjoying the sounds of a piano player rocking some gorgeously mellow versions of eighties pop songs.
The gimlet was just right and the service was insanely lovely.
And there were delicious and satisfying passed appetizers. Seriously, this is kind of what the Shop Tart thinks heaven will be like.
Back at the conference center, the ladies enjoyed dinner and more great speakers. And some lovely, funny bonding moments with other attendees. (Seriously fun people, y’all!) Each table had a different centerpiece. They were all fab, but the Shop Tart was too busy yammering to snap photos of them all.
The ladies stayed up too late, laughing too hard and drinking maybe a little too much wine. After dinner, back at the hotel, they couldn’t resist “just one more” at the lobby bar. You know how it is. Some of the most fun Summit speakers and attendees (we will not call them out here) were there and the conversation was lively.
The ladies had so much fun, they overslept. (Hey, they are both mothers with multiple children, they are both busy and April was a huge month for everyone!) They made it just in time to catch the last part of Ryan Dohrn’s presentation. Y’all! if you ever get a chance to hear this guy speak, just do it. The Shop Tart and Shani were particularly impressed with the way he made his tips relevant to freelance writers like themselves. They left feeling all kinds of inspired, with various goals, which they hope to actually accomplish! Yeah!
Back at the Jekyll Island Club for check out, the ladies decided to enjoy lunch in the Grand Dining Room. Shop Tart Tip: Ask to sit in the pretty round room to the left of the entrance and take in the beautiful grounds while enjoying your meal.
Another Shop Tart Tip: Get the flippin’ JP Morgan Crab Melt. Two awesomely crabby crab cakes served over grilled tomatoes and lightly buttered croutons with a delightful mornay sauce.
The bread basket was worth the carbs. Besides, the Shop Tart can’t resist sculpted butter.
And the chenin blanc was perfect.
A few more words about the Jekyll Island Club Hotel: You should go. It’s beautiful, welcoming and staffed by some of the most professional and warm people the Shop Tart has ever encountered, from the valets and front desk hosts to the waiters and bartenders. Staff can make or break a vacation experience and this one was above and beyond. They smiled in the face of nasty weather, semi-dumb questions and somewhat silly requests, and they made it all happen. Flawless. The Shop Tart will be working hard to try to find a way to fit a family trip there into her budget.
And the Southern C? Love it. Not only is the Shop Tart hoping to become a more active member on their forums, she also has not-so-tentative plans to attend the next Summit in Athens in August. See you there!
Happy Shopping and don’t forget to tell them you read it on the Shop Tart!