fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

A Retreat to Work + Wellness

By Jordan Staggs | Photos by Kelli Boyd Photography

The secret to a balanced lifestyle is elusive for most, especially the hustle-prone entrepreneurs of modern society. Often juggling their own companies and projects along with family, social agendas, collaborations, and health, it’s a tough road for those who want to feel good while working toward their dreams.

Enter the Southern C Retreat, an exclusive long weekend of business workshops and wellness excursions that took place October 1–3, 2017, in the beach communities along Northwest Florida’s Scenic Highway 30-A. Whitney Long and Cheri Leavy began the Southern Coterie as an organization dedicated to connecting business-minded people who love the South and love learning from meeting and sharing experiences with others. Their annual summit events usually attract up to three hundred members to enjoy seminars and workshops on topics such as branding, social media and digital marketing, networking, and work–life balance.

The Southern C Retreat was a more intimate sister event to the Southern Coterie’s annual summit, with a cap at a hundred attendees—namely female entrepreneurs and other businesswomen. This smaller scale allowed a more in-depth opportunity for attendees to connect with each other and with the retreat’s presenters and workshop leaders, plus the wellness experts at the WaterColor Inn, where attendees stayed. “In addition to the beautiful coastal locale and  slower-paced agenda, which everyone loved, we began each day with fitness offerings and then wrapped up a little early to allow for some downtime to explore the area, sit in a beach chair, ride a bike, et cetera,” Long says. “This resonated with attendees as was reflected in post-Retreat feedback; work + wellness is something with which all entrepreneurs struggle.”

After morning activities such as stand-up paddleboarding lessons with RUN/SUP, beachside yoga, bike rides, and more, presenter sessions took place each day at the stunning WaterColor Lakehouse on picturesque Western Lake.

The impressive lineup of speakers included Erin Loechner, the founder of Design for Mankind and author of lifestyle book Chasing Slow; staff members from Coastal Living; One Love Organics founder Suzanne LeRoux; licensed CPA and personal trainer Brian Salter of 30A Wellness; and Southern Living home and garden editor Zoë Gowen. Bonus master classes were conducted by the beach with Waiting on Martha founder Mandy Kellogg Rye, Libba Osborne of Leapfrog PR, Haile McCollum of Fontaine Maury Brand + Design, and Hoffman Media’s Brian Hart Hoffman and Brooke Bell. Small-group mentors also included Dominique Paye of the Southern Coterie, Erin Phillips of Pinckney Palm, Alexandra Golden and Natasha Murphy of Nicely Built, and Monica Lavin of Lavin Label.

The most valuable part of the retreat came in the form of meeting new people and learning from each other, not only for the attendees but also for the organizers, presenters, and mentors.

“Our presenters participate fully at our events, so we choose aspirational and accessible personalities,” Leavy says. “Transparency is a must with the Coterie, and we had a great lineup that shared openly. For the retreat, we had good discussions with our presenters about our goals and intent with their sessions because we wanted work–life balance and what wellness meant to each of them to be topics, along with the expertise they would share.”

“The presenters were truly highlights!” Long adds. “Each one brought so much invaluable content to attendees through their presentations, takeaways, and transparency. We scheduled the sessions to be a little longer than our usual, and this allowed for a deeper dive into each topic.”

Outside the presenter sessions, master classes, and mentor workshops, the retreat attendees got to mix and mingle while taking in some of the 30-A area’s best views, activities, and dining. The October 1 welcome included a reception and a Boozy Beach Bonfire, complete with s’mores, at the WaterColor Inn. Attendees also enjoyed rooftop libations at The Pearl hotel in Rosemary Beach and poolside cocktails and food at Caliza in Alys Beach. “The chefs outdid themselves and gave our attendees a delicious taste of the Gulf Coast,” Long says.

The most valuable part of the retreat came in the form of meeting new people and learning from each other, not only for the attendees but also for the organizers, presenters, and mentors. Sharing ideas, making connections, and inspiring each other in positive ways are always goals at the Southern Coterie.

As entrepreneurs—and especially as female entrepreneurs—we need encouragement through successes and missteps, and having a core group that is rooting for us along the way fuels us,” Leavy explains. “Good and bad practices can be discussed, which helps avoid costly mistakes and improves the bottom line. Collaborating on ideas with others in the network only makes the ideas better. Connecting with others who have different expertise provides resources needed to grow. We all have something to bring to the table and we wouldn’t discover it without a community of like-minded individuals coming together at an event like this.”

As entrepreneurs—and especially as female entrepreneurs—we need encouragement through successes and missteps, and having a core group that is rooting for us along the way fuels us.”
The Southern C founders Whitney Long and Cheri Leavy
The Southern C founders Whitney Long and Cheri Leavy

After rave reviews for the 30-A retreat, the Southern Coterie team is considering a repeat of the event, but next up on the agenda is rebranding and launching its new website, as well as continuing to collect new members and inspire like-minded individuals with advice and positivity online. “Our blog and newsletter are invaluable resources for our community,” Leavy says, “but we are excited to offer more and to add online interactive events with our presenters and sponsors sharing compelling content and providing tips and techniques in categories such as social media strategy, work–life balance, brand collaborations, media, PR and marketing, organization, and web strategy. Our community will find an online space to connect and collaborate, fostered by a shared job board, a membership directory, and a community calendar.”

With never a dull moment, Long and Leavy are also planning the ninth annual Southern C Summit, which is returning to Sea Island, Georgia, in February 2018. Leavy says the team is excited to “bring the community to life again” in person at the organization’s signature event. “Our lineup is shaping up to be stellar, and the social elements are going to be oh so fabulous,” she says. “Sea Island and our sponsors will spoil everyone during the entire three-day event. Our finale is a Beachside Biscuit Bash with Bake from Scratch magazine and some of our favorite bakers, including Carrie Morey of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits. What better Southern send-off is there?”

— V —

Learn more, become a member, or book your ticket to the Southern C Summit at TheSouthernC.com.

Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine September 2023 Jay Mercado
VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail