When I think about Austin, TX, floods of memories come back to when I first started my blog. I remember going to PaleoFX for the first time in 2013, where I was able to meet a ton of paleo bloggers and really began to understand the business I was creating. In Austin I found a publisher, I learned how to monetize my business, and I created endless memories with friends. Those trips to Austin became a yearly adventure where I would see some of my favorite blogging friends, talk about business, get inspired by others, and leave feeling more excited than ever to put everything I learned into practice. So when I found out about the Fresh Air Retreat and that it would be hosted in Austin this year, I leapt at the chance to be a part of it.

The Fresh Air Retreat is a yearly retreat hosted in different cities all over the US, hosted by Liz Della Croce of The Lemon Bowl and Lauren Grier of The Curious Plate. The 3-day event includes 10+ bloggers, tons of amazing meals around town and meals made by the lovely Executive Chef Trimell Hawkins, break-out sessions with different brands, and plenty of time for everyone to mingle, ask questions, and learn from each other. Since we all work in a business that hasn’t been around very long, we are all constantly learning from each other, which is why these types of retreats are so helpful and so important. When you work at any business with other people, you learn from them and are able to work as a team to come to a conclusion. But when you work for yourself, it can feel a little isolating, so having something like this retreat is a huge way to fill your cup as you learn how to improve different facets of your business.

While we were at the retreat, we were able to meet brands in person, which is a rare experience. Most interactions are always over email, sometimes even rarely over zoom, so to place a face with a brand and understand their mission on a much deeper level was SO cool.

Dave’s Killer Bread was one of the first brands we met with. I already knew some background about the brand because I had listened to a podcast with Dave, sharing his history serving time in prison and creating a business after. Dave’s serves fluffy organic bread while also serving its community with their Second Chance Employment, making sure that the best person is hired for the job, even if they have a criminal history. I’m a big proponent of second chances and finding this out about Dave’s made me love the brand so much!

Zwilling is a brand I’ve known about for years since they were some of the first knives I purchased when I began to cook on my own, and I’m sure you have Zwilling products in your house that you may not even know about! They have been a kitchen-staple brand for so long and are constantly trying to improve the experience for cooks in every household. They just launched their Fresh & Save Vacuum Storage System to easily and quickly vacuum seal your food and keep it fresh much longer, all without large vacuum seal systems and bags! Since I was never taught how to properly use a knife, one of the most fun parts of the retreat was the Zwilling knife skills class. All of their different knives serve different purposes and it was so fun to learn about all of them!

Flor de Cana is a clean rum brand in Nicaragua that has been in the family for 130 freaking years! This Fair Trade and Carbon Neutral Certified company creates jobs for locals, cares for its employees, and gives back to their community. This was the first time I ever had an espresso martini and it was absolutely lovely. As a person who thinks all alcohol tastes terrible, this is a rum I will be trying to turn my MIL on to since she’s a diet and rum kind of gal! If you’re going to to drink rum, THIS is definitely the brand you should be supporting!

Envy Apples was another brand we chatted with and got to know. Whenever I go into the grocery store, I usually stick with my same applesover and over, which means I often miss out on a super crunchy, sweet apple. Envy apples are really balanced and always crunchy. We had a multicourse meal with Chef Trimell all around apples and it definitely got me excited to make my Apple Crumb Cheesecake and Apple Dump Cake over the holidays!

Raptive is a company I’ve worked with for years. They create the ads on my site and a ton of other sites out there. But as a person who rarely pays attention to all the nitty gritty details, ads are something I don’t spend much time thinking about. We had a session with Raptive where they taught us so much and we were able to ask a ton of questions. I learned sooooo much in this session, it was incredible!

The best part of the entire trip was getting to know so many new women with all different backgrounds. I absolutely fell in love with Madeline from Mad About Food. She’s so smart, so talented, and SO funny! I really wish I could hang out with her every day. I learned SO much from her! Christina of The Whole Cook was another woman who is hilarious, personable, and easy to be around. I spent one of the afternoons with Zainab from A Classic Twist who has a PhD in neuroscience while crushes baking at the same time. Maybe I would be better at baking if I was a scientist. I also really loved getting to know Mary of Mary’s Whole Life. We talked all about confidence and how to make daily changes to improve confidence with time. And last but not least, Addison of Organically Addison was so fascinating to get to know since she is one of the hardest working women I’ve ever met who is always trying to build out her business in bigger and better ways. OMG I almost forgot to mention the person I’m closest to simply because she’s someone I’ve known since my first time ever in Austin – Cassy of Fed and Fit. Cassy has been a close friend for years, she even traveled out of state with a 6-month old to bring me a homemade cake and make a ton of mocktails and cocktails for my baby shower. She’s the kindest person I know (not even joking) and she constantly inspires me with her excitement for work and growth. I love her so much.

On our last night in Austin, we had one of the most delicious meals of the trip at Ciclo in the Four Seasons. They have bottle service outside, serving Laurent-Perrier which was one of the most delicious champagnes I’ve ever had. And as a person who doesn’t enjoy alcohol, that is a huge compliment. And their food is DIVINE, especially while sitting outside on their patio that overlooks that river, with a million twinkling lights filled throughout the trees. I loved that spot so much.

Fresh Air Retreat was truly a treat. I left feeling excited to update my website, begin writing blog posts again, and take the tools that I learned from the retreat and put them into action. So pumped for what’s to come!

All of the beautiful photos from the retreat were taken by Amanda Kamppinen

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