April 24, 2019
Hey friends! Lindsey here popping in to tell our story of how The Heart University started! BUCKLE up friends. It’s about to get good.
We’ve received so many questions asking us how we met and why we started The Heart University. So, I wanted to tell you the behind the scenes story of how Evie and I created this company. How did The Heart University come to be what it is today. The answer is beautifully complex and full of SO much faith. It all started with a friendship between two photographers (um yeah… that’s us), and has transformed into an endeavor that neither of us could have EVER imagined.
Back in 2015, Evie and I randomly started following each other on Instagram. We still don’t know how or why we found each other on the app. It makes no sense. Literally none, so I’m just going to chalk it up to God. We were two wannabe photographers trying to be cool Insta-hipsters. Hint: We SOOO weren’t. I had just barely started my photography business that year (LOTS of shoots in Kansas cornfields back then!). And Evie was slowly starting to find her niche as a photographer as well. Nothing much happened after that until 2017… but please enjoy our tragic 2015 era instagrams below and have yourself a good chuckle cause LOL.
Fast forward to April 2017- My husband and I had moved to Northern, CA for a couple of months so he could complete his military training. Evie was also in Northern, CA for ministry school, so we decided to meet up and exchange photoshoots on the coast of Mendocino. As one does. It was EPIC. From that moment, we realized that we were soul sisters; destined to be bff’s until we were old and gray. You can check out this little boomerang video we took the day we met. Even from day one we were matching and frolicking. No surprises there, haha.
Soon after that shoot, Evie was in a transitional period. She had moved back to Ohio with her family to go to school, but felt that God was calling her to start her own photography business. She had shot weddings before, but not ‘professionally’ or full-time. In the summer of 2017 God opened her eyes, and she realized that photography was her calling. She then dove heart-first into developing herself and her brand. She noticed that she started getting lots of educational questions via IG and email regarding how she grew so quickly. People kept asking her what she was doing to build her business. Slowly Evie realized her passion for pouring truth and knowledge into other photographers, small business owners, and creatives.
That summer, she FaceTimed me out of the blue and without preamble said this: “I want to start a workshop and I want to do it with you.”
Of course I, being the ‘Debbie downer’ realist, pointed out the fact that we had fewer than 5,000 followers combined. Who would want to attend a workshop hosted by two lame photographers like us?! Evie quickly countered that any time someone asked us questions via email, DM, or in-person, we always had an answer for them. Thus, the idea for what would become The Heart Workshop began to bloom.
Later that summer (summer of 2017 was LIT lemme tell ya), my husband and I found out we were moving to Hawaii! We moved at the end of the summer to Oahu, Hawaii.
Then in January of 2018, Evie came to Hawaii to visit and start planning the future of our little workshop. We knew we wanted to offer an in-person photography workshop, but we had no idea what to call it. One night as we were driving to get sushi, we were brainstorming what to call this thing! We wanted something more than a catchy line or a popular word, something deeper. I finally asked Evie flat out, “Why did you want to start this? What was your reasoning behind it?”
As Evie answered why she wanted to start a workshop in the first place, she kept coming back to one word: “heart”. That was it. We realized in this industry – the creative business world – it’s so easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of the business. It’s so easy to fall into the comparison game, base your worth off your numbers, and forget WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. But that’s exactly why we wanted to create this workshop: to create a place where we can dig down into the HEART of what we do, why we do it, and learn how we can pour our hearts and souls into our businesses to make us come alive, succeed, and stand out in this oversaturated industry. Every aspect of our desire for this vision came from our hearts, so The Heart was born.
With a name for our vision (finally!!), choosing a venue was a LOT easier! Malibu, CA had the boho aesthetic that we both love, so we decided to host the first workshop there! We wanted to keep everything small and intimate because again, we didn’t think there would be an overwhelming response to our offering. We honestly weren’t sure that anyone would want to come. (I’m laughing about that now…) We had to fight past A LOT of fear, rejection, uncertainty, criticism – you name it!
In spite of that, we launched tickets on January 30th, 2018. We announced our first Heart Workshop. We sold tickets on the same day, and those 12 tickets sold out in SEVEN HOURS. WHATTTTTT?!?!?! (Check out our very first announcement video below!)
The fact that twelve people woke up, didn’t know what we were going to offer, but still dropped the money to attend our workshop was UNREAL to us (it’s still kind of unreal now!).
We thought it would take a couple of weeks for those 12 tickets to sell. Since they were snapped up so fast, we decided to open up a few more spots so more girls could attend. In total, 17 women attended our first workshop in April 2018. It was such a powerful experience for both of us. Through that first workshop we realized our love for empowering other creatives. We felt a calling to help business owners know how AMAZING they are and how to embrace what makes them unique. God showed us our calling to help encourage and teach creatives in their businesses and lives. That first workshop fanned the flames that God had placed in our hearts, and He slowly started showing us the bigger picture of what He was calling The Heart to become.
Next, Evie flew back out to Oahu right after the Malibu workshop, and we decided to plan and launch the second workshop ASAP. Because why wait? We REALLY wanted to host in Hawaii for the first workshop, but we let our uncertainty and fear get in the way. Not so this time!! Because we received such positive feedback from everyone in Malibu, we re-vamped the format of the workshops to include more attendees, a second styled shoot, two more days of teaching time, and more in-person feedback for everyone. We launched tickets in May for a December workshop in Hawaii.
IT SOLD OUT IN TWO HOURS.
We also had SO MANY girls asking to be waitlisted. We both were speechless. Like, WHUT?!?
We didn’t want to have more than 25 women attend, because we’d seen first hand the impact of the small-group, individually focused environment. It was a priority to us to be able to know the names of each attendee, hear her story, and build relationships that lasted well beyond the week of the workshop. We wanted the women who attended to find true encouragement and support not only from us, but also from the other photographers they bonded with during the week. How could we meet the demand while still staying true to the heart of The Heart?
Because there was such a demand, we felt driven to open up a second week for the Hawaii workshop! We booked another week of lodging and launched the second round of tickets.
THAT ALSO SOLD OUT IN TWO HOURS.
When we saw that demand, we KNEW that we were following God’s calling. We knew that we needed to offer an opportunity for ANYONE who wanted to learn from us. After the Hawaii workshops sold out, we felt that an online course would meet the demand for the material from in-person workshops while allowing more people to access that content.
We decided to call it the Heart University, (thanks to my hubby for coming up with that name!) because we wanted to stay true to the core of why we were doing this in the first place. Evie and I knew this was a natural extension of the Heart Workshop, but we wanted to embrace our desire to educate and empower ANYONE who wanted to learn and pour into themselves. We didn’t want to be specific to photography either, because so much of what we teach applies to lots of different creative areas and business education.
In October, Evie flew back to Oahu, and we turned my spare bedroom into a REALLY HOT (like sweaty hot) studio, hired a videographer (shoutout to Brady Clayton the BEST videographer on the friggin planet), and spent a week filming the ENTIRE Heart University. All four seasons. 25 episodes. ONE WEEK.
As if that wasn’t enough, we also decided to launch the next workshop in the middle of that week. After brainstorming LOTS of epic locations, we decided to head to Utah because we wanted mountains, desert, and wide-open spaces. Somewhere radically different than where we had ever been before.
UTAH SOLD OUT IN 15 MINUTES.
We literally had women tell us that they set alarms so they wouldn’t miss the release. They booked without even knowing the location. They were literally shouting with excitement when they received the confirmation email. All of this kept re-affirming that launching the online course was the exact next step that we needed to take.
We launched the Heart University online course on January 23rd, 2019 with one week of open enrollment and the response was OVERWHELMING. We literally had to turn off email notifications on our phones because they were pinging constantly!! What we realized with this launch was the close date of enrollment, January 30th, was exactly one year from the launch of our very first Malibu Heart workshop. Cue our mega jaw drops because we didn’t plan that AT ALL. That was ALL God. WOAH.
The growth that God has brought to us in ONE year is absolutely ridiculous. The hearts we’ve been able to minister to and the support we’ve received from our students has been more than we ever expected. It’s incredible to see so many of our students reaching out to each other, planning shoots, asking for advice, and building into each other as business owners. The Heart University is already so much more than we ever dreamed. It’s become a community of support, encouragement, and empowerment.
Our plans to grow the Heart University are beyond huge, overwhelming, and almost impossible. But so was the idea of launching a workshop! We’re so excited for what the future has in store, and cannot wait to bring you along with us. Our mission from the beginning was to empower creative business owners, help them find what they were created to do, and guide them to a life with purpose, meaning, and passion. All of that still rings true. It’s the whole reason for The Heart.
All this happened because of a single Instagram connection, a photo shoot, and a shared passion for empowering others. Evie and I are so excited to see where the future of the Heart University leads us!!
WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
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