Amber Housley

Inspired 2015 Registration is now open!

Category: AH Inspired


amber housley Inspired conference

I’m thrilled to share the registration is now open for Inspired 2015!

We’ll be returning to the gorgeous rustic country inn that is exclusive to our attendees. Located a little over an hour from Nashville, Tennessee, the venue is the perfect retreat for creative business women to relax and connect, but more importantly — grow their business, learn new skills, and be inspired by our amazing (and approachable!) speakers.

Our fabulous speaker line-up will be unveiled on January 26th.

We’re pretty confident that we’ve outdone ourselves again on content and business strategies not covered anywhere else or at any other conference out there!

Be sure and watch our new film that recaps last Fall’s wonderful experience! Register for your seat now.


Inspired: The Retreat from Amber Housley on Vimeo.

2015 #Powersheets Goal Setting: Part 1


Hello, friends. How has 2015 been for you so far? Still getting everything in order to make it the best year ever?

I am. This week, I’m working through my Power Sheets for 2015 and found that I needed to just write out a lot of the baggage I’ve been carrying around. What started as a list of what did work and what didn’t work in 2014 combined into one lesson after another.

So, here is my story for 2014 in all its messy parts — and in all its blessings. Hoping it might help just one person out there reading it and maybe to spur some change for yourself.

After writing all this out, I feel quite refreshed, just like how I’m approaching 2015.  I’ll follow-up later this week for some goals for 2015 and I highly recommend you check out Lara’s Goal Setting series over on her blog.

And, here we go….!

Lesson #1: Life will always go on and I don’t have keep up with the hustle that everyone else seems interested in. 

I started 2014 with the best of intentions. I knew our little baby girl was going to add an additional element to juggle and the time leading up to it I really embraced the coming time. I was mentally prepared for her and the affect on our life. Or so I thought…

Fast forward 10 days after her birth and I called a friend on the phone with giant crocodile tears streaming down my face. I was worried that the world would forget about me and my business. That I would be left in the dust and the world would continue on without me.

Yes. It was a big, selfish sob fest.

Looking back, it may seem silly to some to have these thoughts, but I had so much of myself wrapped up in constantly moving forward, that sitting still freaked me out.

It was a good reality check, and after a few words of stern advice from her, I have to say it was the best thing a new mama could have heard. It really set the precedence for the rest of the year.

I kept her words in my head. You will go away for awhile, and it’s okay. When you come back, it will be like you never left. 

Fast forward to the Spring, and momentum had picked up around here. I was on the path of blazing many, many trails. Our office days we were like busy bees as we prepped for the launches of new services, new product lines, and Inspired

Naturally, the pace started to wear down on me. On the outside, I probably looked incredibly confident. Everything was moving forward as it should. My always-planning self felt exhilarating to be mapping out the year of goals, tasks and metrics. But on the other hand, I was growing weary. The demands of being a new mom, working two jobs, being a boss and leader…I started to deflate.

There’s a certain gusto of energy that comes after a new baby. It’s as if you’re trying to make up for lost time. Or maybe it’s trying to reclaim your identity back? I’m not sure. In either case, it ended with me calling another friend who prayed with me on the phone. More tears. I was needing clarity but knew from earlier in the year, I was just trying to keep up with some sort of competition that didn’t really matter.

At that time, I decided I really despised the word hustle. I was wanting more heart and less hustle.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.41.42

Lesson #2: Chasing things is incredibly exhausting.
Lesson #2.5: Pause buttons are good.

 (are we sensing a theme here?)

Another blessing from this year was the gift of my heart saying “pause.” After I accepted the position with Studio Calico, it was timed with a week long vacation at the beach with my family. Man, did I need that time to stare at the ocean more than ever. From October up until the past few weeks, I put everything on pause. All the things I had wanted for so long – to prove I could grow a business, to be a boss, to even reaching six figure sales – I checked them all off and it all still felt empty and not fulfilling.

For the first time ever, I knew it was finally time to put on the brakes. I was searching for a lot of answers that my futuristic looking self needed but at the same time consciously knowing I just needed rest.

I trimmed off some extra things we were doing in the business, that while great income producers, needed a lot of extra time supporting and my heart wasn’t fully in it. I pulled back from a lot friends and ‘the outside world’ (i.e. the internet) and just sort of went through the motions. Waiting.

Waiting to know when it felt right again.

That time finally came again in the days after the new year. I can say the rest has been so restorative. I’m grateful that business still hummed along as I sorted things through. Sometimes you need to step back to get your groove back and that’s where I’m at.

In this time I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to just focus on my family again and the parts of my life I had been neglecting for a long time. I have a desire to work creatively again in many new ways. We also have some wonderful clients and projects underway that started in 2014 that I’m ready to give again to.

I think I was five years overdue on the pause button. I’ll be more aware of them in the future and not shy away from fear of what pausing things can do.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.38.13

Lesson #3: Keep your race with yourself. Just trust it will work. 

This race I keep referring to – there’s one place it worked. The race with myself instead of against the competition.

Inspired 2014 was a success for me in every sense of the word. Being the fifth production of it, I had fine-tuned things from every previous lesson learned. This was by far my biggest production yet. Every aspect we planned and detailed out just came together almost exactly as I had imagined it.

But during the planning process, I’d sometimes lift my head up and start to see other new workshops and conferences were popping up. As you can imagine, it would just lead my head down the wrong path. I had ugly feelings and thoughts and I hated feeling that way — it went against my ‘cheerleader’ nature. I want everyone to succeed and wholeheartedly believe there is room for everyone is the great wide world. But, I’m human and weak. I recognized the self-defeating nature of comparison and was determined to keep my head down and focused on all the good we could offer at Inspired and the lives we could impact of women and moms like me. When I stayed focused on the good and the energy in what I was doing, it was like magic. I’m so entirely grateful for every speaker, attendee and team members that played a role in it coming together.

As I stared up at the waterfall, knee-deep in fresh creek water, surrounded by friends while a large group was back at the retreat having small group conversations or learning to watercolor paint…I thought to myself, “you did it.”

It taught me that sometimes you have to keep your head down, run your own race, do the hard work, and just have to trust that it will work.

And it did.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.38.48

Lesson #4: Only you can define your definition of success.

For years I had my identity placed in the idea that my success was always linked to leaving my corporate job. My entire goal was to replace my salary with my business income. That was success! But the truth was, I had a really great job. A job that provided me with lots of other stimulation that my creative job sometimes lacked. I had incredible luxuries working for this agency and a great group of people I worked with for almost 9 years. Quite frankly, I was also pretty damn good at it. It’s no wonder that I could almost never leave it. 

But I did leave it and as I navigated leaving that work family behind and the identity of my formal self, I felt lost. Here I was placed in this amazing new job and opportunity and at the same time I didn’t want to lose my own sense of self or for outsiders to think I really hadn’t made it.

I wanted to hang a sign around my neck that read:

Hey! I like my new job AND I still have a pretty great business! I didn’t sell out! 

I had to pull together my new definition of success. 

In this new identity, I feel like I’ve been placed in a unique position that doesn’t have a voice today. I have a job that I’m actually not trying to leave (keep in mind, that has been my thought process for 8 years!) and the luxury that comes along with that has finally come to sink in. The opportunity to redesign my business to truly fit my passions and align them with the amount of time and energy I have left is an amazing gift. The work that I am doing by day is really fun and exciting and supporting everything that makes me excited about creative entrepreneurship – now that I’m working for a small (but also big and growing) creative business.  

I feel really compelled to share more of my story and expertise in juggling business with family obligations – and even a full time job – in the year ahead.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.49.58

Lesson #5: God does amazing things. 

When I first became a mom five years ago, my interest in God started to grow. However, it has been my participation in the Making Things Happen conference the last two years that has really played such a big role in all this. As I was surrounded by friends like Lara and other women who openly talked about their faith, it was inspiring. To see the example by so many friends of placing their hopes, their weaknesses, their failures and their dreams in God’s hands has been life-changing. Slowly over this time, God has been revealing more of His grace each day. I’ve prayed a lot of prayers and one really important one to me was answered just a few weeks ago as we joined as covenant members at Providence UMC ,on the very same day we baptized Kayla. 

This growing faith has been awkward at times but right all at the same time. I’m like a curious school-ager asking lots of questions and discovering new wonderful things. Everywhere I turn, I feel like a person or message is waiting for me at just the right time. Lara, Nancy and Ashlee have been a source of encouragement from afar via emails and texts at social media and such great examples in turning faith completely over to Him. Jenny saw I was looking for a daily devotional on Instagram and reached out to me to say she wanted to gift it to me. That little book has been a blessing each morning since I received it. This past October, I was struggling with parenting issues and I met Casey who spoke directly to my heart in all the promises God had for me as a mother even when I feel completely ill-equipped. I shared with Kristin how badly I wanted a church home and for our family to have God a part of our lives. I never thought the reality would happen so fast, but it did.

God is so good. I’m looking forward to growing my relationship in 2015. I can see how every lesson learned above was all pointing to this one right here.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.37.46

So here we are in the first week of 2015! Can you relate to any of the above lessons? Are you using Power Sheets as well? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Looking forward to putting some goals down and tending lists prepared later this week. It’s going to be a fantastic year.

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far!

- Amber

Make sense of the stars inside you.

Category: AH Inspired

I’ll let you in on a secret.

I’ve ignored my inbox for weeks.

Except for client emails and client notifications, most of the inbox has stayed unread or unreplied.

The Amber of a few months ago – or the last few years – would have balked at that idea (and making it publicly known). “Who are you? Are you really incapable of staying on top of things?” the old Amber would say disapprovingly with her arms folded, finger waving and head shaking in annoyance.

Instead, I just sigh and know that everything will be there tomorrow.

And it’s okay. I needed this space more than anyone may have needed me anyway.

This is my time to make sense of the life I live and pursuit of my passions and happiness. A little long overdue self-care, if you will.


“Make sense of the stars inside you.” @jasminedowling

This is where I’ve been since September. These past few months have been a season of stopping the hustle (a word, you should know, that makes me cringe) and taking time to just breathe and be in the moment. My life may be a juggle more than ever but somehow it doesn’t feel that way.

I spend my days in constant activity with zero time to pick up the phone to see what the rest of the world is up to. It’s a crazy pace, but refreshing and insightful. The more the days pass like this, the more appreciative I’ve been to be not caught up in the madness of chasing things. It’s been an attitude shift and a refreshing creative break.

Time away from the world does a soul good.

I’ve spent more time than I can ever recall, just being quiet, observing, listening, reading and thinking. It has been a gift.

I took a piece of paper out tonight and drew little boxes for every month of 2015. Then I thought about all I could fill those boxes up with. I’m grateful because they didn’t get filled on the first pass or even the second. It makes me smile when I think of the transformation that has taken place and how the intentions have changed. There are many wonderful creative things I have wanted to pursue and they will finally happen after I’ve edited the other things in their way!

2015 holds so much promise.

Grateful for the pause button state I’ve been in the last few months and finally feeling the urge to press play again soon. I sometimes feel silly calling myself an artist, but the analogy of ‘picking up the paintbrush again’ seems perfectly fitting.

There will be many new adventures ahead, but for now, just breathing in and out and soaking in the stillness.

What about you? Do you crave a pause button or are you in the middle of your own? I’d like to hear from you in the comments below.

Your Dream Job Does Not Exist, You Must Create It…or, Maybe Not…

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 10.39.40 PM

I sat in my chair quietly observing the group I had walked in late to. There were about a dozen of us creatives. I even recall one of the bloggers being an American Idol finalist.

I think we were all a little unsettled about what we were going to talk about.

It was Alt Summit 2013 and I had signed up for a breakout session “Things I’m Afraid To Tell You.” The premise being, what things are you afraid to tell your blogging audience or how can you go about sharing the more real and not-so-perfect side to your audience?

When my turn came to share, I explained to a group of strangers how I felt torn. For years, I had successfully grown my creative business. I had wonderful clients, my work was being published nationally, and I was reaching goals right and left. Yet, at the end of the day I still didn’t feel like it was enough.

You see, I still had a full-time job.

And of course, I was afraid to tell the world about it.

Partly out of respect for my employer…

(a really big marketing firm where I worked on programs for many products you see on store shelves, hotels you vacation at, and stores you shop in)

…and partly because I held onto the now widely-spread belief that you hadn’t made it until you ‘went full-time’ with your business.


(photo from Making Things Happen 2011 after which I spent years dedicated to the pursuit of quitting my day job.)

“Your dream job doesn’t exist! You must create it!” the Pinterest boards all scream.

Yesterday, I posted an Instagram of the view of the building containing the work I’ve done for 8+ years, and people were giving high-fives and cheers.


“You did it!” everyone seemed to yell in the comments.

I’m happy to report that yes, I did.

In a whirlwind of the last few weeks I did put in my notice…

…and then I happily accepted a job offer with an amazing creative company, Studio Calico.

::Insert Record Player Screech::

Let’s rewind to a little over a week ago…

I sat in the kitchen of a dear friend’s home sipping on coffee. I shared my fears about making this change and decision and what it meant to my family and frankly, my ego and heart.

I recalled the years of proclaiming this was the year I was leaving! The tears in frustration in how far I’d come and how far I still had to go on some goal line that never seemed quite concrete.

She looked at me and simply stated, “Maybe you’ve defined this version of success in metrics that maybe don’t fit anymore. Maybe you need to redefine your version of success.”

That was it. I had held my standard to what the creative world deemed as successful. The idea that you had to make some exciting cinematic story giving notice to leave the big bad corporate world behind.

For years, friends would ask me when I was going to quit my ‘day-job.’ I always had a half-dozen responses on timing, on money, on anything else that troubled me at the moment. In time, I even helped others in finding peace by making the best where they could in the situation (i.e. day-job) they were in.

But the reality is, I could have quit by now. I simply chose to ignore it.

The even further truth is there is a whole lot of me who still finds fulfillment in the marketing world outside of my own business. One that contributes significantly to my family and to a part of my heart.

Marrying my marketing skills with a growing creative company? The opportunity for this position was something I simply could not pass up.


(photo of Samantha by Nancy Ray Photography at Inspired 2014)

The 48 women in attendance at Inspired 2014 had the treat of getting to know (my new boss!) Samantha Shepard and the Studio Calico company. You can read her blog post recap here. Studio Calico is the industry leader in worldwide delivery of paper crafting kits to over 79 countries. They have an incredible and enthusiastic customer base and doing really BIG things in the creative and craft industries.

In my new role, I’ll be leading up the digital marketing programs and managing marketing operations for the main SC brand. In addition, I have the amazing opportunity to work with some super talented creatives and designers like Ali Edwards and the gals at A Beautiful Mess.

As a girl who created her first scrapbook in 1995, was published in the some of the very first scrapbooking magazines, who even had her own product line for a short while, and then ‘retired’ from the hobby in 2007….


(scrapbook page from 2005)

Quite simply, this is a dream job.

If you had told my 13 year-old self that one day I’d work at a major scrapbooking company, I would have squealed. Scrapbooking has been part of a lot of my life for decades. It’s what led me to the suburb we live in now (when my husband’s job moved us to Nashville, I hopped on the Two Peas In A Bucket message board to ask what neighborhood we should move to), and friendships with other creatives that I still keep to this day. Scrapbooking was even one of my first dabbles in entrepreneurship – I had a digital scrapbooking site called Citrus Blossoms where I designed downloaded scrapbooking products.

After we were married, and I devoted more time to growing Sweet Life Designs/Amber Housley, scrapbooking fell to the wayside. I’ve really missed it.

It’s amazing to come full circle!

So, you’re wondering, can I have my cake and eat it, too? Can I have the dream job and run the Amber Housley brand?


Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 10.54.50 PM

(photo by Nancy Ray Photography at Inspired 2014)

Well, for years I’ve lived double-if-not-triple lives. I’ve put on my hat as a wife, mom, career-woman, friend and entrepreneur daily. (My husband is amazing by the way to have such patience and encouragement!)

Most days, I do pretty good, but there are some days when I want to hide under the covers.

I sometimes proclaim, “I just want to be a normal mom!”

But, I’m not normal. I’m somehow programmed to work at this higher level and I’m embracing it with care.

As I mentioned earlier this week and alluded on social media, I’ve realized in order to be successful, I need to edit. In the pursuit of my empire-expansion (seriously, I’ve referred to it as an empire at times) I had a gut-check these last couple of weeks. Slow and steady has been my mantra, but this last year we’ve been more fast and furious as I’ve rolled out a mile-long implementation plan of projects that were entirely unreasonable.

This was also after I gave birth to our second child. One of the biggest blessings with her joining our family is her ability to make me realize how short this time we all have is. That we can spend it doing something we’re just okay with…or we can spend it really fired up and making what matters happen (that last part is something Making Things Happen really dives into – so grateful to be a part of it again in a few weeks!).

So, for the time being, at AH we are going to be focusing on two things that we do really well around here and bring me joy: Weddings & Inspired. I’m excited about expanding the small but mighty team very soon (stay tuned this week!) and for the most part, it will be business as usual around here. We’re thrilled about our 2015 wedding clients and already firming up details for a fabulous Inspired 2015.

This next chapter feels like a fresh new canvas to me. To work on a dream job daily and continue with my own dream work in my business seems like the best possible scenario.

Of course, it also feels really, really freeing in sharing this part of my life with you.

I hope this long-winded story brings encouragement to some of you. You could say I’m leading the charge in a new breed of entrepreneurs who find their passions lie in more than one pretty little creative bucket.



Inspired 2014 Conference Day 3 Recap

Category: AH Inspired

Everyone had such a great time getting to know each other on Day 1 of Inspired, learned invaluable lessons, business tactics, and creative skills on Day 2, and were all ready to knock out Day 3 when it arrived!

Thank you once again to miss Callie of Nancy Ray Photography for capturing these beautiful photos!

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Attendees were welcomed to their seats with a plethora of fabulous goodies from our sponsors. How cute are those chalkboard art greeting cards by Lily & Val, and that Pumpkin Pie Trail Mix provided by Jessica of The Budget Savvy Bride?

We also surprised the attendees with little burlap bags filled with Ghiradelli chocolate and a cute little invitation for the dinner we were hosting later that evening.

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Day 3 was structured very similarly to Day 2 of Inspired, with two keynote speakers opening the day, followed by a variety of breakout sessions.

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

The variety of creative classes were all so interesting, and ones that the attendees could not stop talking about! Sara Rose taught a session on Capturing Life and Family, Val of Lily & Val taught a Chalk Lettering & Illustrating class, and Jessica of Simply Jessica Marie taught a class about Working with Watercolor. How great did those paintings turn out by some of the attendees!

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

There was also an option to go on a group hike on one of the trails on the property. The view of the waterfall from the trail is stunning!

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Lucky for us, the weather was wonderful that day and we had the chance to eat our lunches picnic style on vintage quilts outside. After everyone was finished eating, we asked each person to take a moment to think about what they would tell themselves on the first day that they started their business. Each person’s quote or saying was different, and we loved looking through them.

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

After all of the lessons were learned for the day, everyone went back to their rooms to get all dolled up, and the Amber Housley team worked our magic to transform the main lodge into a pretty in pink dinner party!

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amber Housley Inspired 2014 Conference | Nancy Ray Photography

Amazing conversations were had during this dinner, as everyone tried to get in every creative thought and question to one another before leaving. That is what we love so much about Inspired. The connections that are made and the relationships that are formed. They are truly invaluable, and so helpful in being a creative entrepreneur.

We hope you loved reading these recaps! Don’t forget, if you are interested in hearing when we release our 2015 dates, be sure and sign up for our Inspired Insiders email list here.