PlannerCon 2018 Review

PlannerCon 2018 was a whole new experience - a great weekend full of meeting new people and learning new things. After I attended the event a week and a half ago, a part of me wanted to write about my experience right away. Then, I took a step back and realized that I needed some time to digest everything my own first. I'm hoping that my thoughts will come across to you more coherently because of the break I took.

I checked in early Friday night to look around and see a few shops. Then, on Saturday and Sunday, I went to two workshops each and purchased a few more things. In between it all, I met a handful of people who were so welcoming, despite the fact that I had gone to the event alone. Below you'll find a detailed recap of a first-time Planner-Anything attendee.



Originally, PlannerCon was going to let the attendees participate in two workshops with the possibility of a third. As the date drew closer, however, we were eventually allowed up to four! Although the workshop sign-up process was one of trial and error, I appreciated the fact that the PlannerCon team was ultimately trying to let us experience as much as possible.

Each workshop had its own flair that came with the theme, and most importantly, its facilitator. There were so many vibrant personalities at PlannerCon with their own inspiring stories.


Travel Bullet Journaling with Amy Tangerine


I'm used to watching Amy speak to huge crowds and go on countless trips to creative events on her YouTube channel, so to see her up close with a smaller group like this was surreal. She brought so much energy to this workshop and spread a message of positivity - that if we take steps towards our dreams, then we can achieve anything.

Her team put together a colorful kit of papers, stickers, and washi tape for us to decorate our notebooks with, which I took full advantage of in order to create this spread. It was such a different style than what I'm used to, but I went with the flow and let my creative senses take over, which was a very freeing sensation.

I later dropped by her shop and talked to her sweet mom about how busy (and great!) the sales had been. I also worked up the courage to say hi to Amy, and got her to sign my notebook. Despite the hectic schedule and travel, she was so upbeat and kind to everyone.


Beginning Lettering with Jess Park


Here's a confession: I've never officially brush lettered before. I usually write first in cursive and go over the down strokes again with my pen, which makes my writing look like it has been written with a brush pen! I had no idea what to expect from this special 90-minute long workshop, but all I have to say is it's so much more difficult than what I imagined. Even though I've known how to write in cursive since I was 11, getting the letters to form and connecting them seamlessly was challenging - so challenging, in fact, that my hand started hurting halfway through the workshop from all the pressure I was putting on it. Ultimately, I found that taking the time to focus and writing slowly helped a lot.

Since this workshop was sponsored by Sakura, we got a few pens to try out. The Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pen was especially amazing - the tip of the pen bounced back easily, which made it more manageable to control. I also loved that Jess, the facilitator, left enough time in each section to interact with the audience by taking their specific lettering questions.


Hobonichi Techo with April Wu


I was so surprised to find out that Hobonichi was traveling all the way from Japan to be a part of PlannerCon. They kindly provided us with sample pages of the A6 and A5 (cousin) sized sheets for the workshop, but funnily enough, most of the workshop attendees already had Hobonichi Techos with them!

The facilitator, April, is widely known for her blog and Instagram where she shares her urban sketches. She went over a multitude of ideas on how to use the Hobonichi Techo and how to truly turn it into a "life book" as it's branded. For example, you can print a 4 x 6 inch photo and paste it directly onto the A6 page for a perfect fit. You can layer receipts and ticket stubs with washi tape, leaving plenty of room to write underneath.

The Hobonichi team also created a special stamp just for PlannerCon, which they had at their booth! Needless to say, I had to take a stamped sheet home. It took me four or five tries to get it right, but let's hope they forgot about that embarrassing moment...

Overall, the whole workshop reminded me of how I used to write in a Hobonichi Techo every night from April to December of last year. I credit this journal with bringing me back to the hobby of journaling and stationery, and for that reason it will always have a special place in my heart.


Building & Growing Your Etsy Shop with Kayla and Alex


Although I don't have an Etsy shop, I thought this workshop would still expose me to valuable concepts of what it really takes to run a successful stationery business - and lo and behold, I was right! As you can see, I took copious amounts of notes during the hour and brainstormed some more around my blog name after I got home.

They shared their success story through hilarious slides and more importantly, relatable dialogue. Even the most well-known businesspeople can bore their audience with their big words and fancy phrases, but Kayla and Alex broke down their tips in digestible chunks and explained them in a way that made sense to everyday people. Some key points I took away were:

  • To use other big retailers for market research (e.g. what's selling off the shelves and what's not?) as well as product release timing (e.g. when does Target bring out their Halloween goods?)
  • To photograph your products on a cloudy day(!) because the bright sunlight can often be too harsh
  • To showcase how your product can be used

One of the most encouraging things they brought up was this anecdote: if only the best people made burgers, there would only be one burger for all of us to eat. The phrase "Be Your Own Burger" stuck with me long after the session ended, not only because of how catchy it sounds, but also because it's something so obvious that I never thought to apply to my own work before. I think it's great that we all strive to be the best at our craft - at the same time, it's a healthy practice to remind ourselves that we have the ability to differentiate what we make from everybody else's. It's not always about being the best at everything, but what flair and uniqueness you bring to the table.


What I Bought

Considering the number of amazing vendors, I actually didn't buy as many things as I thought I would. I mostly stuck to functional purchases such as clear stamps, task-related stickers, a magnetic clip, and a pouch. Then there were a few others that looked too fun for me to pass up, like the enamel and space stickers, the terrarium washi tape, and the tiny traveler's notebook.

I made it a point to stay at the booths for a while to chat with each shop owner. I felt a ton of passion from them in what they do and their genuine excitement about where they're headed. Most of the shoppers remained very supportive as well, which generated a lot of positivity in the air.


All in All...

At the end of it all, I was happy but tired (and thinking: "what do you mean I have to go back to work tomorrow? I didn't get to relax at all!"). I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for the speakers, vendors, and the entire PlannerCon team. With that being said, it was a one-of-a-kind experience - over a thousand people from all over the world coming together to celebrate something they truly enjoy. It was a weekend where people didn't have to feel "weird" to own, use, and love their own analogue systems.

Thank you to all who were kind to me in my solo attendee journey and hung out with me! That meant the world to me, and I hope we stay in touch. Most of all, thank you to everyone who worked so hard to host this event.

See you again next year, PlannerCon!