April 30, 2012

Hello & Goodbye Party World

{This was supposed to be a New Years post but I have held onto it, not because I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in; but its hard letting your baby go.  I have hemmed and hawed on what I should do and after much reflection and sleepless nights and reading motivational sites I know that its time to JUST DO IT!! It is time for me to let go and move forward.}

2011 was an interesting year for me. I saw a downside in the party planning part of my business and I have seen my Christmas decorating side of the business double.   Yes it’s true I have done many parties for celebrities, high profile clients, sports figures, etc… and yes its true I sign confidentiality agreements with them.  Yes it’s true my client base are those with disposable incomes and not budget minded moms (though everyone has a budget large or small).  Yes it’s true I have become expert at pulling off parties on short notice; because disposable income clients roll that way.  Yes I have a lot of stories I could tell and some I can’t.  I have been very fortunate with what I do and the client’s I work for.  I have been in the party planning business for 16 years and I have earned my expertise in the industry one bad experience at a time and I know how to never let it happen again.  One thing I can truly say that I have enjoyed in 2011 with regard to parties is the other party women I have “met”, shared stories with and offered a little bit of my knowledge to help them with their dreams.  I don’t need to tell you but I am by no means a social media maven. I don’t blog regularly, facebook regularly or show and tell what I am working on.  When I am working on an event I am too busy to photograph it along the way and after an event I am too tired to be bothered with pictures if I can share them at all.  I wish I was better at it but I’m not and that’s just the way it is and I’m leaving it at that.  A true highlight for me since I am not a social media maven or didn’t post much was the fact that I was recognized by my peers this year several times and that truly meant so much to me.  I was invited by the Children’s Party Network aka CPN to be a VIP guest at a California get together, I made the Purple Pugs 2011 List of Fabulous; Party lovers crush other party lovers list,  and I also made Piggy Bank parties top 10 list for 2011.  I was asked to be a judge in the Designers Challenge for Sparkling Event Designs and later as a challenger.  The recognition from these ladies blew me away, it’s nice to know that even though you aren’t constantly self-promoting or cross promoting that people still notice you.  To be recognized by peers is more confirming than a phone call from a “celebrity” client. So a great big THANK YOU to those who have offered their friendship and support, it means a lot to me. I have also been humbled time and time again by the kind words of other planners and those that have reached out to me for business advice.

I have struggled with the different aspects of my business and what I can let go of that will lead me in the direction of my long term goals.  I have worked on so many different thoughts and feelings on how I wanted to approach the New Year.  As a business owner the year end is a true reflection of the year. What worked, what didn’t, etc… For me the year end is a chance to reflect on all of those things and I have come to the conclusion………

If you can’t go back……..It’s time to go forward!

I am not willing to go back in time.  Scroll back 18 years ago and I would have been the ultimate blogger, had blogging been around and had I known about it.  I was the quintessential stay at home Mom. I created things from nothing, found things on the side of the road or at yard sales and gave them new life, I cooked from scratch and on a budget, I painted, decorated and threw play date parties for my children and killer birthday parties. It was not uncommon to find me with a paintbrush or hammer in my hand taking on a project or creating party decorations because then selections were limited and if you wanted unique you created it yourself.

I started party planning as a business before it was cool and everyone was doing it.  I used my creativity and ingenuity to build a business and a name for myself.  Through the years the children have grown up, I no longer re-purpose things but buy new, I don’t re-decorate my house on a whim, but I still love a bargain.

I have created a business that has allowed me the freedom to work from home, be with my children and do something I enjoy……….up until a few years ago.  I have persevered through the tough economy, tweaked and changed things as best I could; but the truth is when you are running a legitimate event planning business there is overhead that must be priced into the events.  I no longer have the luxury of working for small budgets or cutting my price because someone wants something they can’t afford or thinks because the economy is bad I will give them a deal.

I have thought and looked at different ways to re-invent myself in the saturated event planning/stylist market and social media thrust and see my only option to travel back in time to when I was creating crafts and photograph it and sell it as wonderful or new.  The truth of the matter is just about everything I see every day in the party planning world is not new and I have been there or done that before and I don’t have the energy or the time to go down that road again albeit with a camera.

My life has changed and my business that was created as a creative outlet for me and something to do since my husband worked 70+ hours a week has changed.  I started years ago doing a little thing called Christmas decorating for my clients and who knew where it would have taken me.  Today Christmas decorating is a huge part of my business,  in fact due to the economy it is the only constant part of my business. 

I have always been good at a lot of things and able to figure things out quickly and make it work; something you need to be able to do as an event planner.  But at this point in my life and my career I am looking to have more consistency and be able to grow a business that I can bring others into to be in charge.  People always say how fun you work for yourself, well Yes and No.   When you own your own business there is no part of it that you don’t touch or are a part of. 

I rush through Christmas decorating and then move my focus back to event planning; this has caused a serious yo-yo effect in my life.  I can no longer do this, I could but I don’t want to; it does me no good to work on “party ideas” for a maybe or a what if or for a few more followers in the social media outlet; when at the end of the day that has never been my event planning client base.  I want to focus on what has become the core of my business which is Christmas decorating and what I enjoy and look forward to.

With event planning you never know when the call will come and how much notice you will have.  I have become an expert at pulling off parties with less than 2 weeks’ notice; it’s hard, a lot of work and you can never do all the creative things you would like because there isn’t enough time.  With Christmas decorating you know when it will be quiet and you know when it will be busy; you know when you can plan trips or quiet time or house re-decorating it gives me the luxury to be “Martha” to my family and still run a growing business. 

Through the juggling of the two sides of the businesses my family has been shortchanged; there is always chaos and I am over it.  I am no longer the stay at home Mom with time to fill while the children are in school or when my husband works late.  My life has changed and with the downgrade in the economy my business is the sole support of my family and with that responsibility my outlook and views have changed.  My Christmas business this past season has doubled and I see the larger potential for the Christmas decorating side of the business and it is something that I want to focus solely on in the New Year.  This is where my dreams and growth will come true.  Christmas decorating is where I can grow a business that doesn’t solely depend on me.

I have met a lot of great women this past year and a half; a lot who remind me of me when I was younger and I wish them all the best. 

I am not saying that event planning hasn’t been good to me as it has and I have enjoyed it thoroughly, it’s just that I am opening a new chapter in my life and am looking forward to a fresh start. I no longer want to be a “jack of all trades” I want to be an “expert” in one thing. Having said that I remember once a wise old vendor asked me what I “did” and I told him “everything” and his response was you will always be busy, he was right.  I just can no longer focus back on forth on creativity, it’s exhausting and no longer rewarding and I have earned my stripes to be an expert in one thing.  I am going to clear out my studio of the “event planning” props and find closure and a renewed sense of creativity to my Christmas decorating options. 

For 16 years event planning has been my baby but it is now time to let it go.  For those of you starting out in event planning don’t consider my grief’s a red flag for you.  Event Planning has been good to me and the fact that I have been in business for as long as I have is homage to that. The “burnout rate” in event planning is 2-3 years and having done it professionally for 16 years I would say it is a good sign to you that what you are doing can have longevity for you should you choose.

In the meantime I would love it if you would follow Christmas Specialists on facebook since I will be pulling the plug on my other social sites ( I know I could leave them up but just knowing they are sitting there bothers me, I guess I’m weird like that. When its time for me to let go I have to let go completely.)  I just know that my dreams no longer include fabric ceilings or fabulous parties they are made up of Christmas centerpieces and Christmas trees and this girl has made up her mind to focus on that and not focus on HOW TO DO IT ALL.

Thank you for listening to me and following me and being a friend.  This will be the last post for me, except for maybe a few facebook reminders that I have moved completely to Christmas Specialists.