My Personal Highlights…The Signature CEO Conference 2018

AUTHOR:  Teaira Abston of Dreamcatcher Stationery

Several, if not all, of my fellow creative bosses would agree that one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your business is to consistently seek educational opportunities to learn and expand your knowledge base. Whether the focus is on the newest trends or techniques of your creative niche or discovering new tools and systems to implement in your business, finding a workshop or conference to attend quarterly or annually can prove to be worth the investment.

Every year creatives plan to attend various conferences and workshops in search of the ultimate educational and networking experience. With so many promising to offer just that, it can be overwhelming trying to find the right conference for you and your business. One conference I have attended that has proven to be well worth the investment, is the Signature CEO Conference, organized by Tara Melvin of Perfectly Planned Events. Tara thoughtfully curates the best of the best in the creative industry to present attendees with valuable information and tools to immediately implement and take their businesses to the next level.

The inaugural conference was held in 2015, but my first time attending was the 2017 conference. I had such a positive experience that I knew I could never miss another. What I appreciated so much was the intimacy of this conference. The speakers were so engage, and they even stayed after their own presentations to learn from other industry leaders and interact with attendees. I didn’t feel lost in a sea of professionals fighting for a handshake or “usie.” Instead it felt rather inclusive and personal, especially when we were able to mix and mingle during lunch and speed networking.

I loved that each speaker presented on his or her own area of expertise, covering a broad range of topics that applied to us all regardless of our creative niche. They spoke about practical things we could apply to our business the very next day versus fluff that is only “instagram” worthy. LoL The Signature CEO Conference 2018 was simply amazing!

This year’s speaker line-up included industry gurus like the amazing Kathy Romero, Kellie Daab, Jacqueline Nwobu, and Dan Simons to name a few. The jewels that were dropped were truly invaluable.  I ended each session with pages of notes and was fired up to get back to my home office to make the necessary adjustments in my business.

Monique Melton’s presentation about creating passive income definitely resonated with me. She specifically spoke about the importance of creating something that doesn’t compete with our core service/product. Instead, she implored us to study our target market to find the gaps and areas that can be improved by understanding the frustrations of our audience. It got my wheels turning, and I’m already considering adding a new service/product that will compliment what I currently do.

Patrick Teague dived deep into the basics of copyrighting and how to recognize copyright infringement. He also gave steps on how to obtain copyrights for things such as pictures, videos, and other digital products online. He also touched on social media since that’s how the majority of us share our work with the world.

The panel discussion focused on the grit and grace of being an entrepreneur also resonated with me. They discussed the sacrifices made in order to get ahead, the hardest lessons they’ve learned, and shared so many examples of ways to practice self care while being an entrepreneur. Each panelist was very transparent about their journey and their struggles, giving examples of challenges they had overcome to get where they are today. Their candid responses were heartfelt and relatable.

 Although each speaker focused on very specific topics, there were a few points that were consistent among them…

~Outsource and get help in areas where you know you are not the expert…Abby Grace touched a lot on this.

~Utilize tools that will help you stay organized and on top of things, such as processes and systems to help you streamline. Nicole Peck of Bizbash and Jacqueline Nwobu, CEO of  Munaluchi Bride gave us some amazing apps we can use.

~Be ready to pivot and change often because there’s no one size fit all model. Adjust with the industry and determine ways to stand out as a brand! Kellie Dabb talked about becoming known for one thing (niching down), and creating a smooth client experience unlike the rest by starting with a clear message and delivering the luxury to your client by providing the VALUE.

~Authenticity goes a LONG way, especially on social media and when building lasting relationships with people. Network = your net worth!

The Signature CEO Conference is perfect for established and newbie creative professionals. I would recommend this conference to anyone who is looking to learn from some of the best in the industry. At this conference, you get so many practical steps you can take and apply immediately. The speakers are experts in the areas they present, and they provide great information on ways to improve on what you’ve already established.

In addition to the amazing educational opportunity, you can expect to laugh and catch up with old business buddies. Expand your business network by meeting new people and laying a foundation for cultivating new relationships. You will learn so much from others who ask questions and share their thoughts on different topics.

You’ll find yourself opening up to fresh new perspectives that may allow you to see things in your business that you’ve never seen before. You are guaranteed to walk away with the motivation you need to finish the year off strong and plan for the next year. At the end of each conference, I’ve left with a feeling of  “I CAN DO THIS!”…Just knowing I have people there that will genuinely cheer me on means the world.

Oh, and I forgot to mention how fabulous the welcome party was! It’s a great time to let your hair down and be a guest at an event when we are usually on the other end.

So…are you sold??

Great news! Early registration is now open for Signature CEO Conference 2019.  I’ll see you there!

Guest Blogger, Markel Insurance…”Free Wedding Directories to List Your Venue”

(One of our 2017 Sponsors, Markel Insurance, is on the blog this week! )

Listing your venue on free online wedding directories will help you reach more brides and grooms.. To help get you started, we’ve listed some website directories where brides can easily find you.

Directories to list your wedding venue
This online directory is a perfect place to list your venue. It’s free with no trials or upgrade packages. Customers can find you by searching on location, capacity, amenities and budget.
Get your business in front of more brides by listing your venue for free on Wedding Vibe. There are additional packages you can purchase to gain more exposure.
Another great website to list your business for free with a basic profile. You can also upgrade to a paid profile that supports more portfolio images and more promotion opportunities.
This directory lists more than 700,000 wedding vendors. Create a free listing with the option of upgrading.
Join in discussions with real brides. Set up a profile and you can start interacting by updating your status, creating a headline and sharing a blog.
This website is a comprehensive resource for event planning. It lists more than 300,000 venues and services for weddings. This is also a free directory with the option to pay additional fees to participate in certain Programs the website offers.
This website offers free listings for high-end wedding vendors who cater to upscale brides-to-be.

Additional websites that offer free listings:

We hope these free online directories help you attract more brides and grooms to your venue.  After you gain your clients, make sure your clients are protected with wedding insurance.

Markel offers wedding liability insurance, protecting the host and honoree from incidents such as property damage to the venue or injury to a guest. Up to $2 million in wedding liability insurance can be purchased from Markel any time at least 1 day before the event and covers the ceremony and reception, rehearsal and setup/takedown. Policies start as low as $75.

By offering Markel Event Insurance, it will not only protect your clients, but it can also protect you by potentially decreasing your own business liability risk for accidents due to negligence of the event host or honoree. Markel Event Insurance is an easy and affordable solution for your clients – a free quote takes only a few minutes online or on the phone – turning you into a one-stop-shop for your clients.

Markel can provide you with free client materials to help raise your clients’ awareness of the benefits of event liability insurance.

To learn more, please visit or call 1-855-422-5944.

2016 Highlights | Day Two | The Signature C.E.O. Conference 2016


After a very energized and fruitful day of knowledge from day one of The Signature CEO Conference, the attendees were ignited to continue on with day two to engage with their colleagues to learn more of the behind the scenes business acumen to make them stronger leaders and business owners.


To get the crowd motivated early in the morning, industry mogul, Maya Warburton Holihan of House of Maya boutiques, led the crowd with a dance move to the song of Justin Timberlake’s, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”  After a few moments of everyone grooving to the beat, Maya, settled everyone down and led them on the journey of the challenges of an entrepreneur with her lecture on, “Leading Through Crisis, Change, and Growth.”  We journeyed through every type of scenario from personnel to environmental to political to social.  After an analysis of each of these types of crisis, Maya coached the attendees on how to manage crisis identifying successful leadership characterstics, and how to lead with integrity.


Our Featured Keynote Speakers, Ginger Johnson & Liz Pickett of Ginger+Liz Colour Collection, addressed the group on How to Build a Product or Service that your Target Audience will Love!  This dynamic duo is not only fierce in the beauty industry but leaders across the board for entrepreneurs.  Ginger and Liz focused on profitability, benefits your brand offers, need vs demand, and so much more.  Their lecture embodied the cycle of product or service development to inspire your customers to work with you.


Legal eagle, Stephen Marshall of Franklin & Prokopik, PC, had everyone mesmerized with the language of contract law discerning Contractor vs. Employee!!!  Talk about engagement, the attendees were hanging on to his every word and taking note.  Attendees were informed about the proactive steps to protect their business from contractors and employees, the unique difference between contractor and employee, and the risks for their business based on the actions of independent contractors and employees.


“How To Become a Person of Influence with your Industry” was coached by Marilyn Crouther, Senior Vice President and General Manager, of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services U.S. Public Sector.  An Executive with endless accolades and years of experience in leadership, was the right person to lead a lecture on this subject (if you saw her resume, you’d understand why).  Marilyn outlined and perfectly narrated the power and vision of action, merging passion and authenticity, and understanding the importance of one’s influence.  Attendees left inspired and fully committed to become not only better business owners but business leaders.


After lunch, attendees were had the opportunity to learn about SEO, the evolution of the website and what it means to establish a digital brand, and new insight of having a web presence.  This was all under the direction of Myrna P. Daramy, CEO of Mezzohead and NewlyBride.  Attendees walked away with an empowerment of knowing that they were equipped with the tools to make better decisions for the growth of their business online.


Being prepared to master your dreams through finding your purpose was the platform of Dr. Antwain Goode’s lecture on day two.  Dr. Goode, founder of Tate Consulting, led the group down the path of personal development by redefining your purpose, positioning, attracting mentors, knowing your true north, reflection and how to take the next step of action.  Another inspiring lecture to take your business to the next level.


To complete our two days of valuable knowledge and growth, Chef Dana Eugene Herbert, of Desserts by Dana, took the stage to lead with our final lesson of business intelligence, “6 Things Every Business Owner Must Have in Place”.   Dana circled the spectrum from personal appearance, to friends in business, to developing a strong team, to developing definitive company goals, to having a checks and balance system, and more.


The Signature C.E.O Conference is an educational platform to empower wedding and event professionals to be the best of the best in their professions.  The foundation is built upon solid business intelligence to stimulate and strengthen the mindset of leadership and entrepreneurship, and to build the character of one’s intelligence to dominate in their field and build and bridge their network of professionals to thrive in this diverse industry.  The core competencies focus on:

  • Branding & Marketing
  • Business Financial Planning
  • Business Technology
  • Legal & Contracts
  • Business Best Practices
  • Productivity & Business Management
  • Business Innovations
  • Small Business Entrepreneurship

We enjoyed connecting with new and old friends, and most importantly valued the time and education that was conveyed by each of our speakers.  Thank you to our dynamic Speakers and our supportive cast of Sponsors that helped to make The Signature CEO Conference 2016 a SUCCESS!!!!


Special thanks to all of our collaborative Sponsors that helped to make the the conference a success:

Caribbean Caterers | Edge Floral Event Designers | AllSeated | Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center | Tony Craddock & Cold Front Music | Memories of Bliss Photography | Chew Entertainment | A-list Photobooths | Couture Cakes by Sabrina | CV Linens | Famous Dave’s Catering  | Fingers in Ink | 5-12 Desserts | DC Sweet Potato Cake | Fluffness | Norman’s Popcorn | Papered Wonders Inc | Sweet Pearlz Cheesecakes | Sugar Shack Donuts | Ten23 Designs | Tierra Floral Design | Blackwall Hitch | The Day Designer | Lebanese Taverna | Marriott Westfield’s Dulles | Ruth Chris Steakhouse Arlington | The Lara Casey Shop | Virtue Feed & Grain | Aisle Always Love | Calligraphette & Co | Shea Radiance | Tracy’s Gourmet 

Photography Credit:  Memories of Bliss Photography

Conference Founder & Producer:  Tara Melvin of Perfect Planning Events



Speaker, Maya Warburton Holihan, Owner of House of Maya bridal boutiques


The attendees dancing to a little Justin Timberlake!


The attendees in a dance off!


Speaker, Ginger Johnson of Ginger+Liz Colour Collection


Speaker, Liz Picket of Ginger+Liz Colour Colleciton


Break Sponsor, Sugar Shack Donuts


Break Sponsor, Sugar Shack Donuts


Sponsor, Gillian DeSouza of Caribbean Caterers


Speaker, Stephen Marshall of Franklin & Prokopik, P.C.


We love our Speakers!


We’re dancing again…Speaker, Tiffany Chalk, has moves!


Sponsor, Flufness, opened up the kid in everyone serving their delicious cotton candy!


Sponsor, Flufness, opened up the kid in everyone serving their delicious cotton candy!


Speaker gifts courtesy of our Sponsor, Papered Wonders.


Speaker gifts courtesy of our Sponsor, Papered Wonders.


Speaker, Dr. Antwain Goode of Tate Consulting.


Loving our Speakers!


Sponsor, DC Sweet Potato Cake had us all licking our fingers!


Giving love to our speaker, Chef Dana Eugene Herbert.


Speakers, Ginger Johnson (left) and Liz Pickett (right) of Ginger+Liz Colour Collection.


Speaker, Marilyn Crouther, Senior Vice President of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services US Public Sector.


Julie Moran accepting on behalf of Speaker, Maya Warburton Holihan.


Speaker, Myrna P. Daramy of Mezzohead and NewlyBride.


Speaker, Dr. Antwain Goode of Tate Consulting.

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