Nov 28, 2012

Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

IKEA Dec21 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

What a title to this post, right?  Enough to make one’s head spin with excitement. That’s what last month was like for me and I’m here to tell you all about it. I recently signed on to a program with IKEA, OWN and O Magazine called The Life Improvement Project. The Life Improvement Project is a site designed for people to be inspired about ways to live in their home. It’s a place to share ideas about living and learn from others. IKEA designed the site to look like a house so people can easily write their ideas and upload pictures of projects in areas of the house they want to improve. Pretty cool, right? The site encourages people to share ideas not just for improving the interior of your home, but also how to entertain in your home (which is my role in the project), how to be more green in your home, and how to live well in your home. There are some other great ladies who are involved in this project, including Lisa Ling. You’ll get to meet all of them below.

Scroll down to read on about my experiences speaking at O You, meeting Oprah, making a commercial with Ikea and OWN, my shoots with O Magazine, and my aha! moment while at O You (scroll down towards the end for that).

OMagazineNovember1 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

As part of the project, I worked with the Oprah, OWN, O Magazine and IKEA teams on some wonderful projects. Above you can see IKEA ads that are in the November and December issues of O Magazine. Remember this post of the behind-the-scenes?  It was for these ads. They came out pretty cool, right?  They sure know how to make a lady feel glam! I loved working with the IKEA and O Magazine teams on this shoot.  But there’s a lot more…..

Last month, I packed my bags and headed to LA for the week for another part of the program.  The week included speaking at the big O You event, shooting a commercial, and speaking on a panel moderated by Lisa Ling.  Want to see some snapshots and get the deets? Scroll down..OYOU2012 3 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

After settling into my LA digs, I then had a TV shoot with the OWN and Ikea teams.  It was a surreal experience.  I’ve done national TV and even live TV like here, but this was a huge production. Think trailers, massive production crew, people there to punch holes in your soda bottle tops for straws so you don’t ruin your lipstick kind of production. There was an awesome director, who guided me through everything.  The OWN, Harpo and IKEA teams were incredible to work with. If you watch OWN, Discovery, or TLC starting today, you may be able to get a glimpse of this commercial. You can also find it here.

Here’s a screenshot…ps – I want this kitchen!

IKEAAmyAtlasCommercial Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

After the commercial, it was time to prep for a panel with the Life Improvement Squad, spearheaded by journalist Lisa Ling.  I was there to talk about entertaining in the home, while Interior Designer Erin Gates (seriously rad and talented designer/lady), Life Coach Susan Hyatt (bubbly, wise and insightful!) and Green Expert Cathy Hobbs (Emmy winner and go-to green gal) were there to talk about design, living well in your home, and being green in the home, respectively.  The panel was in an IKEA in California. Scroll down for some pics and O You/Meeting Oprah….PS – Lisa Ling is as wicked smart and lovely as she appears on camera.

OYOU2012 1 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

After the IKEA panel and some drinks with the rest of the Life Improvement Squad, we all got ready for the big O YOU event.  Have you all heard of Oprah’s O YOU event?  Oprah speaks there, along with many of her experts. We were there to speak about improving life in the home. 5,000 people were there.  No biggie.OYOU2012 2 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

I love the sign above. If you could use six words to define your own story, what would it be?  For me, it would be my mantra…no matter what, never give up. 

We spent time at IKEA’s Life Improvement booth during the event. It was a bit intimidating to walk in and find a double life sized poster of myself. Thank goodness for amazing photographers. No, we did not schlep those back on the plane! Each member of the Life Improvement Squad had a designated area and we all spoke with attendees about how to improve life within the home. I spoke about entertaining at home for the holidays.

OYOU2012 72 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

I also had a book signing at the O You Barnes & Noble booth. My book signing time slot was with Life Coach Martha Beck. People had traveled from all over the country to see her. She was really inspiring and charming. Valerie Bertinelli was there (read photo caption on right below – loved her!). OYouIkea20121 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

Next up was a panel before the many attendees. Did I say thousands earlier?  Butterflies, anyone?  Penny Wrenn moderated the panel and I had a chance to talk about my tips for entertaining, while Cathy spoke about green tips. One of my tips was this…when deciding what tabletop items to use when you are entertaining, look at items not just for what they are, but also what they can be. For example, the chevron pattern has been very popular this year. I’ve taken V shaped dishes and arranged them so they zig and zag to mimic the chevron pattern. Once you start looking at the shapes of items in a different way, it will open your eyes to endless design ideas. The same goes for when you are planning your menu. For a party with a chevron design, I have cut sponge cake into petits fours rectangles and then have arranged them to zig and zag. The cumulative effect of piling on the pattern will give you a big visual punch, even if it is in the small details like the desserts….

OYOU2012 4.11 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment Speaking of desserts, I had to take a break in our green room for some “research.” Here’s a candid shot of me eating carrot cake and pistachio brownies. Yum.  I’m glad there was a makeup person for touchups after that. Pictures with Oprah were happening soon (sorry…I can’t share, but it is framed and hanging in my home). BUT, look at the pretty ladies from the Life Improvement Squad below. Yep, the touchups were indeed worth it after the cake.OYOU2012 8 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

It was around this time that I had my first encounter with Ms. Winfrey herself. Lisa and I ran to our green room when we met her in the hallway.  Her positive energy was infectious. Lisa and I were both wearing orange dresses (no, there was no memo!). With Oprah’s big signature voice she said….”LOOOVE the orange ladies!”  It was definitely a moment!  I had another moment below….

OYOU2012 5.2 Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

And that moment really took me by surprise. It was when Oprah took the stage to speak. Truthfully, I was laser focused the whole week in LA and I hadn’t taken a moment to take it all in. There were people from all over the country who had come to get inspired at this conference. Yet, I was already mentally packing my bags to get home to my kids, husband, and work in NYC. Of course, I was really excited to hear Oprah speak (who wouldn’t be?), but I wasn’t prepared for what was coming.  And then she did it.  I know it is so cliche, but she totally wrapped me in.  It was as if she was talking directly to me (of course she wasn’t – – there were thousands of people there), but you know…she just has a way of doing that. Here is what she said that really hit me….

She spoke about how at one point early in her career, she was obsessed about wanting to be like Diana Ross. She obsessed and obsessed until one day she realized she was never going to be Diana Ross. Then she quoted her mentor, the late Joseph Campbell, who once said “the privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.” She talked about how people waste time wanting to have a life that doesn’t necessarily belong to them instead of claiming the privilege and responsibility of being who they are. It seems so obvious, yet it felt so profound to me. I’ve been guilty of that. I’ve studied Martha’s, Tory’s and Ina’s success paths the same way she studied Diana. It’s human nature. However, when Oprah said that, I realized…I’m never going to be those people and that is okay. I instantly felt relief.  How many times have I beaten myself up that I wasn’t who or where I wanted to be in my life? Don’t make me count…I am hard on myself (it comes with the OCD). Seriously though…I realized if I tried to be like them, I will fail. As Oprah said, my privilege of my lifetime is to be good at being me. And so is yours. Oprah said that her greatest gift was that she had this aha! moment at an early age, which then freed her up to realize her own potential. Sounds liberating, right? Truthfully, I’ve never considered myself a spiritual person, but I HAVE always felt (and hoped) I was put here to make a change and inspire people (beyond desserts and entertaining).  Not to worry…I’ll always be making parties and baking and crafting. I just think I was meant to do something more as well. It will be my journey to figure out exactly what that is and how to do it my way. A huge thank you to Ms. Winfrey for reminding me to stay true to myself, even when I least expected the message. I hope you all benefited from this and felt like you were sitting right before her, too.

Below is a glimpse of me (and Lisa, Martha Beck, and Laura Berman) listening to her. We were all captivated.

s Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment

One other note about the day…after Oprah’s speech, we took photos with Oprah {again, Oprah charismatically complimented the orange dress – loved that!} and then she graciously and casually mingled with the crowd while wearing flats and nibbling on nachos and guacamole. Seriously, it’s hard to beat that moment. Hey, it’s hard to beat the whole week. What an honor.

PS – Did you catch the quote above in the polaroid from O’s Creative Director Adam Glassman? Confidence IS your best accessory. Kinda loving that. Wise man, he is.

Disclosure: While I have received compensation to be a part of the Life Improvement Project, I have no obligation to write about the project and this experience. All opinions in this post are my own and I genuinely wanted to share this with you so you can see the behind the scenes.

 

pixel Meeting Oprah + OWN + O Magazine + IKEA Life Improvement Project + Behind Scenes + IKEA Commercial + An Aha! Moment
  • Karyn

    Wow! Congrats!

  • http://www.lilychicevents.com.au Lilian Oliver

    Congratulations Amy! You deserve all that life throws at you! Your words ARE inspiring…I live in Melbourne Australia and know that you and your team influence many styles here and this in turn makes many parents and children VERY happy. Dont for one minute think that what you do is insignificant, I can assure you it is not. Your book is sitting in many a bookshelf and even I {a non baker} made your marshmallows and my children loved them…then Leoni from Just call me martha texted me to ask me what I substituted an ingredient for {not available in Aus}…and she is a baker…and we had a connection and GREAT Marshmallows…all because of YOU. Bless you xxxooo

    • Amy

      Lilian – What you said above means so much to me. Thank you for sharing the moment with your children and with Leoni. I love that I did something that somehow impacted those moments. xoxoxo

  • Jenn

    Amazing!!

  • http://www.FineFrostings.com Jo-Ann with Fine Frostings

    Talk about many bucklist moments – how amazing! As always you look fabulous in your cute dresses! Thanks for sharing your ‘Ah Ah’ moment. Yes to compare is fruitless as you were made to be ‘Uniquely You’ and no else in the world will ever be like you. So never deny who you are – celebrate it otherwise you do a diservice to your creator and most importantly to you and all those around you.

  • Stephanie W

    Oh my gosh, I love what Oprah said, “the privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.” It’s taken me awhile to realize that as well, but once you do it is so freeing!….the only expectations you have to live up to are those you have placed on yourself. I’m sure like you, I have goals but sometimes what happens to us in real life is so much more than what we ever imagined for ourselves. I’m so happy that Ikea, The O Team, etc. have recognized what talent you have. I have been following your career for years and am so thrilled for you!!

    • Amy

      Stephanie – Thank you so much for what you said above. Yes, I think that is exactly what I felt when she said that. It was freeing. So refreshing, right?

  • http://www.sweettablescapes.com Christine Alpert

    What a post….absolutely fabulous to see how you’re being part of something bigger already…nothing like being yourself and working hard.
    You truly are an inspiration!!

  • http://www.ohmy-creative.com/ Susan @ Oh My! Creative

    What an amazing experience! I would say “I wish I were you” but all my years of watching Oprah she always encourage us to be ourselves! Congratulations…looks like it was awesome!

  • http://www.ohmy-creative.com/ Susan @ Oh My! Creative

    What an amazing experience! I would say “I wish I were you” but all my years of watching Oprah she always encouraged everyone to be themselves! Congratulations…looks like it was awesome!

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/spaceshipslaserbeams Stephanie @ Spaceships and Laser Beams

    You’re journey is so inspiring. The irony is that I am sure a lot of us reading this post, me included, were thinking I wish I could have a life like Amy’s. It makes Oprah’s words hit home that much more. Thank you for sharing.

    • Amy

      Stephanie – Thank you so much. I know it takes a lot to open up like that. Trust me…it is flattering to hear what you said above. I’m even more happy that her words hit home for you. My instinct was I had to share this with you all precisely so it could hit home for you all, too. And why shouldn’t you feel privileged to be you? You make the coolest boy parties around. xoxo

  • Amy

    Stephanie – Thank you so much. I know it takes a lot to open up like that. Trust me…it is flattering to hear what you said above. I’m even more happy that her words hit home for you. My instinct was I had to share this with you all precisely so it could hit home for you all, too. And why shouldn’t you feel privileged to be you? You make the coolest boy parties around. xoxo

  • http://bloomdesignsonline.blogspot.com Jenny from Bloom

    WOW! Thanks so much for sharing that. How you feel about Oprah is the same way I feel when I have an Amy Atlas Moment. Thank you for being such an inspiration to me. You make me work harder!
    Jenny

    • http://bloomdesignsonline.blogspot.com Jenny from Bloom

      and dream bigger!

  • http://www.dulcesobremesa.blogspot.com Susana @ DULCESOBREMESA

    WOW! Such an amazing experience Amy! Congratulations!!
    You know… I think it is one of life’s greatest gifts is to sorround ourselves with people who encourage that we naturally become ourselves and you are one of them. Getting to know your work and your profesional track record (exactly two years ago now) was to me then as Oprah’s words are to you today. You know the feeling… :-) … and… what I can I say but THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
    Susana

  • http://www.dulcesobremesa.blogspot.com Susana @ DULCESOBREMESA

    WOW! Such an amazing experience Amy! Congratulations!!
    You know… I think it is one of life’s greatest gifts to sorround ourselves with people who encourage that we naturally become ourselves and you are one of them. Getting to know your work and your profesional track record (exactly two years ago now) was to me then as Oprah’s words are to you today. You know the feeling… ☺… and… what I can I say but THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
    Susana

  • Mallory Frost

    This was such a fabulous and engaging story to read, Amy! Thank you for sharing your exciting experience in LA, Oprah’s insightful message and your great personal mantra, “no matter what, never give up.” I thoroughly enjoyed reading this heartfelt post and like others, am left feeling inspired!

    The carrot cake and pistacio brownie you were eating looked great — what’s your favorite dessert by the way? :)

  • http://www.dulcesobremesa.blogspot.com Susana @ DULCESOBREMESA

    WOW! Such an amazing experience Amy! Congratulations!!
    You know… I think it is one of life’s greatest gifts to surround ourselves with people who encourage that we naturally become ourselves and you are one of them. Getting to know your work and your profesional track record (exactly two years ago now) was to me then as Oprah’s words are to you today. You know the feeling… ☺… and… what I can I say but THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
    Susana

  • Mallory Frost

    What a wonderful and engaging story, Amy! Thank you so much for sharing your exciting experience in LA, Oprah’s powerful message and your great personal mantra, “no matter what, never give up.” It was truly enjoyable to read this heartfelt post and like others, I am left feeling inspired!

    The carrot cake and pistachio brownie you were eating looked great! What’s your all-time favorite dessert?

  • Hillary S.

    Amy-congrats on what looks to have been an amazing experience!!! I have been following you for a little while now and have always been inspired by the beauty you impart on the world (I love your work!). More importantly watching your success while doing something you love is the best example/inspiration…thank you!!!

  • http://Www.celebratingmomentsbymarcie.com Marcie (Celebrating Moments by Marcie)

    I am so proud of you!!!!! It has been incredible to watch all the doors that have opened for you this past year and all the way, you have remained so humble & gracious! WOW AND 3 of my fav things… You, Oprah AND Ikea TOGETHER!!!
    I have been doing a lot of soul searching as I work on taking my business to the next level & your “ah-ha” is just another confirmation to be brave and be myself! Thanks for the inspiration Amy … On EVERY level! Hugs girl and CONGRATS!!!!!!

  • http://www.pinklittlecake.blogspot.com Kathia

    Your words are so inspiring Amy. Congratulations for this great opportunity, you certainly deserve it.You are such an inspiration for us.
    Thanks for sharing your own personal story,I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you.

  • http://Www.bestfriendsforfrosting.com Melissa @ Best Friends For Frosting

    Congratulations on your fun ride! It”a beyond lovely reading this article and watching how far you have come. I learned about you 3 years ago in O Magazine (long before my website) and was beyond inspired. I even got ideas from the article for my candy bar at my wedding reception. It’s such a fun experience to watch you grow within your career. By the way I LOVE Joseph Campbell. I am just as passionate about motivational speakers as I am about entertaining. PS. My confession is that I have an Oprah keychain that I have carried around for years and one of her limited edition Christmas snow globes. Yup, just a little obsessed. ;). There is nothing better than seeing my favorite motivational speaker & entertaining stylist collaborate. It’s seriously the best of both worlds. What a treat!!! Thanks for always inspiring me. Would love to see you get your own show one day… Preferably very soon. Happy holidays! XO

  • Laurie

    Amy, I’m so glad you posted this monumental experience for all of us to share. Lovely, really lovely.

  • http://kitchentravels.typepad.com/dawns_bella_via Dawn | Dawn’s Bella Via & C.

    Dear Amy – thank you so much for sharing this story. Your words and Oprah’s really touched me. You have no idea how many people you’ve inspired with your creativity and generosity of spirit, including me! For years, I worked in business and then as an attorney, and although I reaped financial rewards, I never felt “successful.” Frankly, I was very unhappy. I finally decided to stop being who I thought I “should” be and start being who I really am, and it’s made a world of difference. I recently started my own business, and it has been SO rewarding. Even though I am working long hours and putting my heart and soul into this new venture, I love it. Know that you played a part in helping me to find my true self. Gratefully, Dawn

  • Nathalie

    Congratulations, Amy!
    You are an inspiration to many of us. I’m not in the event planning business but I do love entertaining, and your book and blogs have been a wonderful source of inspiration to my parties since my daughter was born. I wish I could leave my day job as well and just do what you do, someday hopefully!!
    May life continue to show you ways to share your talent with the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dolcesoiree Krystin

    Amy, this is amazing! I saw this posted to your facebook page, and I am not kidding. As I clicked through the link, I said to myelf, “Ah! I want to be Amy! She is doing everything I want to do, and she does it so well!” Little did I know your Aha! moment would be exactly what I needed to hear, and I didn’t even know it until I read your words. Looks like you had so much fun! Thanks!

  • Jessica

    Thank you for this post, Amy! It’s one of your best ever! A lot of your readers come to your blog for inspiration and this post really and truly was inspiring. Keep more like this coming please!

  • http://www.kcustomables.com Kelli- K Customables

    WOW!!! Congratulations on your success! You are truly an inspiration! Amazing job!

  • http://JenKimMade Jen Kim

    what an honor and incredible experience to participate in all of these great things! thank you for all of the words of inspiration in this post and how you inspire us with beauty every day xoxo

  • http://www.pureea.com Dylan Chumleigh

    I like the way you projected this blog over here and that was such an awesome experience.

  • http://blog.viablossom.com/ Cristina [Via Blossom]

    Rest assured that your life’s mission is being executed to perfection! You have inspired many of us to start brand new careers, to take new risks and to live a colorful life. In you, I see a mentor. Thank you, for inspiring me every day!

  • http://www.laviegage.com La Vie le Gage Couture Events Wedding Planning

    I so enjoyed this post Amy! So happy for you and really send warm thoughts your way for sharing your heart.
    I soaked up all the quotes and inspiration you took the time to share to help all of us! Such a gracious gift indeed to share one’s heart!
    I’m so thankful that I read this post!

    Joyce Goeppinger
    Colorado

  • http://www.laviegage.com La Vie le Gage Couture Events Wedding Planning

    I enjoyed this post Amy so much!
    Your inspiration really has helped me very much.
    I posted earlier, but the post did not go through. I am just writing briefly so that I don’t duplicate what I said earlier in case my comment does make get posted.
    Thank you so much,
    Joyce Goeppinger
    Colorado

  • http://www.onestoneevents.com elissa @ one stone events

    congrats, amy! on both your great success AND your aha moment! you DO inspire so many!!

  • Dorangela

    Congratulations Amy! So proud of you! You continue to prove that if you follow your dreams and are a good person you can succeed!! Love. D

  • http://livinglocurto.com Amy @ Living Locurto

    Amy!!! I was just at my hair salon, the ONLY time I actually ever sit and read a magazine and there you were! LOL! I had to come to your site to see if you wrote about it and loved this post. So excited for you. What a fun job. I love Ikea and Oprah. Great to see you getting to be a part of this. Congrats! Your photos in O Magazine are so cute. Looking forward to seeing what you do next:-)

  • RHONDA

    How exciting. Did you enter a contest to become part of the panel? How long will the project last? Looking forward to your contributions.