Naturally outdoorsy and curious, Bobbilee Hartman has always had a passion for connecting with others and finding new sources of inspiration along the way. A software engineer—who has also dabbled in photography—Hartman launched her event business, Lodged Out, almost two years ago to develop unique and creative retreats. Now an award-winning event producer, she is known for outdoor retreats including Rails Camp West and Lodged Out. We sat down with Hartman to find out more about her company and how becoming a founder has shaped her life.
How have you grown personally and as an entrepreneur as your business has evolved?
Bobbilee Hartman: I’ve grown up a lot since I started running my own business! For starters, I am far more organized and confident in myself and my talents. I’ve also grown a huge new network of friends, artists, companies, and entrepreneurs from very diverse backgrounds. What’s more, I am starting to understand what my limits and strengths are, what distracts me, and what’s worth my time versus what I should delegate to others (both personally and professionally). Another big thing I learned this year is that not all of your friends are going to be your customers. For example, I can’t be sad that my friends aren’t signing up for my events or commenting and congratulating me on everything I’m up to. I’ve had to learn that I can’t shut people out of my life for not being by my side all the time and remembering to say “Congrats, I’m so proud of you!” They support me in other ways and I no longer take it as personally as before.
What drew you to open up an event company that helps people turn off their phones for a weekend and connect with their peers?
Bobbilee Hartman: My two biggest pet peeves are friends who are on their phones at dinner or when we’re talking, and when people have 10 or more Instagram stories about everything they did that day. Also, I’m a software engineer so working on computers and phone apps created to keep you on your phone or computer pushed me over the edge.
We’re living in an oversharing era and my retreats are a reminder that there are far deeper connections and experiences to be found beyond our screens. I believe that we all need more silence and the impact being unplugged has on our creativity and connection with others is beautiful. I feel it at my retreats and I can see the impact when people leave. The workshops and speakers at Lodged Out are fun and inspiring, but the real bread and butter of what I’m curating is a space for people to relax, connect with people authentically and see how their creativity can bloom when they have more space to think.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ignored along your journey?
Bobbilee Hartman: The advice to check your email once in the morning or after lunch and once at the end of the day. I think I should definitely get in the habit of not checking my email every hour because I refresh the email app on my phone too much. This could probably save me thousands of hours every year.
Tell us about your most memorable mistake.
Bobbilee Hartman: During my first event, I put my boyfriend in charge of booking a bus for everyone. He booked it and I didn’t review the final contract because I was so focused on producing everything else. The bus came at the right time on the first day, but on the last day of camp, the buses didn’t arrive. I called the dispatcher on the landline and realized that the bus was scheduled to pick everyone up at 3 p.m. rather than 10 a.m. I had to sneak away from the group and look calm while I grabbed the camp director and told him about this major mistake. He luckily had two small vans that fit exactly the amount of people still at camp, so we managed to pack everyone in without most folks knowing what had happened. I had to write a $500 check on the spot for that mistake.
You recently did a collaboration for an event in Washington state with the Olympic marathon runner Sarah Attar. How did it go?
Bobbilee Hartman: This event was like all the other Lodged Out events that I produce but it had a themed activity throughout which is trail running, or hiking if you’re more of a hiker. The event just ended last week—it was pure magic. The workshops were enlightening and out of the box, and the fireside chats were full of beautiful messages that led to authentic conversations.
The weather was rainy on and off but the rugged mountain views from the lodge and the trails definitely made up for it. The days started with a run or a hike in the morning, followed by brunch, two workshops with a long break in between each, then a post-dinner fireside chat discussion. The workshops included hydrosol-making in the wilderness with the founder of Juniper Ridge and an unplugged photography aka cyanotype workshop.
We can’t wait for next year, stay tuned, this will be an ongoing sub-series with Sarah.
To find out more about upcoming events, check out Lodged Out and get a 30% discount with discount code AWOMENSTHING on any retreat.