On Thursday morning at 5:30, after a wonderful night at the SC Arts Gala, I hopped into Anne Postic's car and we drove almost four hours to Jekyll Island, GA, where Whitney Long and Cheri Leavy hosted The Southern C Summit for the first time. I've been having fun on their site, The Southern Coterie, for several weeks now, but the summit was what completely blew me away. Imagine gathering a couple hundred incredibly motivated, uniquely creative business owners, designers, writers, editors, and bloggers in one room. The exchange of ideas and encouragement happening among this group was like none I've ever experienced. It was like camp on steroids--with cocktails and extremely well-dressed campers. We listened to panels that included participants like Melissa Blanchard (VanJean), Jackie Thompson (Leapfrog PR), Chassity Evans (Look Linger Love), Jane Pope, and Holly Phillips (The English Room). Stanfield Gray told us the unlikely story of how he was moved to bring nation's technocrats and forward-thinkers together in Charleston for the DIG SOUTH FestivalMary Dell Harrington explained her mission to bring mothers together who had moved past the "terrible twos" and into the "scary 16s". And of course, my friend Amy Flurry gave a brilliant presentation on the best ways to present yourself to the press and public in the beginning stages of your business. I ran into Shameeka Ayers, the driving force behind The Sugar Coma Tour, and whom I haven't physically seen since before I was pregnant with Baby B, and also finally met Angie Hranowsky, whose work I've been quietly stalking for the past several months. It rained. It poured. The wind blew the palm trees into discomforting arcs. All of us were thrilled to be on that island on the Georgia coast, catching up with and learning from old friends and new. Camp is fun when you're a grownup.

My favorite thing about The Southern C Summit is that it showed the best of the South. Our part of the United States tends to get trapped in a stigma of grits, twang, and gardening hats (and I love all three of those). The South does move at a slower pace in the sense that its residents appreciate stories, craft, and fellowship. But those are the things that also produce some of the world's most innovative artists, speakers, entrepreneurs and writers. The region is teeming with talent, and last week this fact was celebrated and pushed to go further and do better. It was exactly what we needed.

Thank you, Whitney and Cheri, for putting together a fantastic experience!

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Comment by The Southern Coterie on May 21, 2013 at 12:34pm

Camp Southern C! We like it! Great picture of you and Amy! 

Comment by Sudy Vance Leavy on May 17, 2013 at 12:41am
Since it was like camp, the acquaintances that you made, the new people you met become friends you can pick up with at any given time. Plan on reuniting in Athens on August 1. The Summit Series offers new surprises and another great camping experience.
Comment by whitney long on May 9, 2013 at 11:52am

Hi Shani!  What a pretty photo of you and Amy!  It was one week ago today, about this exact time, we were under the tent in the infamous Jekyll Island monsoon :)  So, so happy it worked out for you to attend the Summit!  What an amazing couple of days with so many Southern creatives under one roof.  Looking forward to Athens and Nashville and hope to see you there!

Comment by MaryDell Harrington on May 8, 2013 at 9:47pm

A bit like camp only with very lovely creature comforts- great meeting you at the Summit!

Comment by Amber Wilson on May 8, 2013 at 3:13pm

It was so much fun! Can't believe I missed meeting you Shani! What a shame...

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