Support Shapes; Using a Book Exchange to Promote Candles, Photography, and Coffee

Recently a major planning mood hit me. All that meant, initially, was hosting another book exchange. I keep saying I am done, but I am not. I keep waiting for them to get dull, but they won’t. Sitting in a circle, talking about books fills my cup every time, and I always ride that high for days after. A new theme for every meeting has ensured they’re never stale. Passion never gets old either; bringing only our favorite books to the circle is one more tactic to guard against boring get togethers. I was in the mood to plan a gathering where we could get into some heavy books. Last time we did feel-good/happy books and I needed something dark this time. I decided on books with a morally gray plot; a story with a seemingly good idea, until you get to the dark twist. I love those moments when, as a reader, you must decide which side you land on. Oh, the conflict. My favorite kind. I had the perfect book too, Never Let me Go. Those poor souls who did not pick this perfect book still have many thrillers and dystopian novels to choose from. I started planning.

When I plan, I am also a huge scatter brain. I make plans only to abandon them and jump into planning something else. Scheming only makes me excited to scheme even more; this book exchange led me to plan a photo shoot for Valentine’s Day and a beach trip to celebrate a book release later this year. The photo shoot idea, however, came back around and morphed my book exchange completely.

I was trying to plan a Valentine’s photo shoot so my best and I could send out Valentine’s Day cards. We took Christmas card photos a year ago with each other instead of our boyfriends. It was amazing, so we wanted to do Valentine’s cards too. I allowed myself this tangent in the middle of planning a book exchange because it was already the end of January. There was only two weeks before V-Day; I had to jump ship and plan this quick. We work with a photographer, Shana who is also part of creative support group. What better way to actually support her than to hire her for this photo shoot? While thinking of locations for the exchange, I also thought of some for the photo shoot, I was going back and forth until something obvious stuck in my brain. This year is my year of creativity, yes, but also of support. I started this group of creative women because I want to be working WITH my friends, not AT my friends. I want to go to their things, not just invite them to mine. I wanted that feeling of collective creativity that is so special when it’s your own friends you get to create with. I abandoned my morally ambiguous book and asked my best if she wanted to co-host an exchange with me for Galentine’s Day and focus on books about love; romantic, friendship, and self-love all included. We already had someone to take photos for us that we could put on thank you cards instead of Valentine’s cards. Also, my best already has her own business where she makes candles and bath bombs/salts, so she could take over goody bags to make them better and more personalized than ever. Three creative people, one event. Promotion triangle. Friendship triangle? I don’t know it was a shape of support.

 

Galentine’s Day came fast, and luckily the event came together quickly too. Easy when you have a team. We decided the location would be a local coffee shop, The Perc. My best and I already go there most Saturdays to drink and be creative. Sometimes we plan our lives and discuss passions over chai tea lattes. Once we took over a back table and Heartspainted, forgetting about our drinks completely. The Perc is in the heart of downtown Lewisville and already serves as a safe space for local artists with live music on most weekends. The Perc cultivates an atmosphere of creative community – just what we were looking for with our triangle of support. By adding in The Perc maybe it’s a square now. Regardless, it was perfect for an exchange themed around Galentine’s love and our added theme of girls building each other up.

 

My best did make candles and bath salts for everyone. They were beautiful and so festive! We put a little thank you card with pictures from our photo shoot in every bag

Goody bags
Personalized candles and bath salts!

and I think people were blown away by the fact that we honestly took the time for a real photo shoot with a professional. Why wouldn’t we, those pictures are AMAZING! The Perc was kind enough to let us reserve the entire back of the shop for free! With these events, I often run into a charge for space, depending on the location and number of attendants. This group was the largest to date and we still got the space for free. We were even allowed to hang a banner and move tables and chairs around so our large group could sit close and hear each other better. My favorite tiny detail was the foam hearts we all wore. I wanted huge hearts like in Julie and Julia. Easiest to make out of felt, I assumed, but my best friend found better ones made from foam and even glued pins to the backs so we could attach to our shirts easily. We all wore black so the hearts could stand out. I can’t even tell you how cute we all looked.

 

Group Shot
Very happy!

 

At the end of this exchange, I felt happier and more supported than ever. Not only did we have the most girls in attendance, and have a superb range of books, but we got to

Total
All books brought!

showcase more than just my love of reading. We showed off a glorious small business through the goody bags, a talented photographer through the thank you cards, and a favorite coffee shop that is already doing so much to help creative types like us. This was an evening of loud giggles and glittering heart decorations, yes. It was also a night of girls supporting girls, coming together on a day dedicated to friendship to plant the seeds for further shapes of support. I hope people go back to The Perc; it’s my favorite local place because they are crazy, insanely kind there. I hope people hire our photographer and buy candles and bath salts from my best because it’s so obvious how great they are. I hope their businesses get more and more traction now that a dozen more people got to see what they can do. Mostly though, I hope everyone left feeling loved and supported themselves, like they could call on any one of us at any time to help promote, support, or be there for their creative thing. I want this first co-hosted event to lay the groundwork for many more. I want to co-host more, help more. I don’t have many skills aside from writing, so I’m not sure how much help I’d actually be to anyone like my friends are to me. I’ll be there though, for whatever they do – with bells on if I must, but definitely with foam hearts on my clothes, and hearts of admiration in my eyes.

 

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