blogging and business Archive

On Growing Older and Getting Better

Hi guys! I’ve missed you. I hope you didn’t think I forgot about you.

Because truth is I didn’t. Funny enough when I made my list of New Year’s Resolutions last month not one of them included to blog more. I certainly didn’t plan on blogging less, which is how things have seemingly unfolded, but I planned on making intentional changes and much needed improvements behind the scenes here.  You can catch up a little on my thoughts for 2014 over here. I have so many big aspirations for Hey Gorgeous and what this little empire of mine is to stand for. I’ve learned so very much since I signed up for a blogger account five years ago without any idea I’d be writing this here today. I’ve been battling the glorification of busy but finally being comfortable to admit to myself that I actually enjoy working really hard, sometimes for long periods of time. Guys, five years ago feels like an eternity.

I’ve also grown a lot as a person. In the last four weeks this fact alone really hit me. I’ve grown a lot as a woman. It feels weird to even call myself a woman because in a sense I feel so young, like I’m still just worthy of being called a ‘girl’. Everyone has their perceptions of what’s young and what’s old. I also think the societal nicknames and lingo we have for one another as females (‘girlfriend’ ‘sister’ ‘lady’ ‘gal’) makes being called a ‘woman’ feel so sophisticated. But my heart has softened in my experiences, my goals have changed, my business has continued to exceed my expectations in growth, my personal style has slowly started to evolve, I feel wiser and as a result, all of these things are shaping me into a different woman. And it does have a lot to do with sophistication, actually. Not that I was unsophisticated before, but reflecting on my growth and the change that comes hand in hand is pretty refreshing.

One of my goals for this year was to actually talk less about my goals. And to just do. To be humble in my life as a wife, planner and friend, to work smarter, to challenge myself professionally and keep blinders on as I move forward making my biggest most personal dreams become a reality. I attended Joy Thigpen’s workshop in January and was absolutely changed as a wedding designer, business owner and woman (again back to that woman thing; it’s been this odd epiphany as of late). I think it was there tucked into the quiet of Serenbe that I felt the magnitude of these thoughts of change and growth just sort of come full circle for me. Like an affirmation in my soul that this indeed is the path I’m supposed to be on. Joy you were a true ‘joy’. Thank you for sitting with me on our last day and just listening.

So without being so super random and all over the place on you all, I’ll tell you this much. From here on out there will be more posted via this blog of mine than just one post a month. I promise! I also can’t wait to infuse this space with a little bit more behind the scenes details on a few special upcoming projects, client work, business pursuits and of course final outcomes with the weddings and events my staff (!) and I take on. I’ve been so blessed to be able to pursue what I love and can’t believe it all started here just five years ago. Baby steps always turn into giant leaps.

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And to sum up my feelings for today in the form of a quote I so love: “I love the person I’ve become because I’ve fought to become her.” Rylee Blake. Preach on, woman. And thanks to all of YOU for growing along with me. Have a really wonderful Monday, blogettes! Photo above by Harrison Studio.

Pep Talk Tuesday {Trusting Your Gut}

Intuition. Gut. That feeling.

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If you’ve read Dave Ramsey’s Entreleader (highly recommended for anyone running their own business especially those who are looking to hire team members), you’ll know he talks about his wife getting a ‘feeeeeling’ when she felt a new potential hire wasn’t the right fit. I laughed a little when I read this part of the book because I know that, ‘feeeeeling’ all too well myself. I’m not sure if it’s a woman thing or just a characteristic I was born with but either way it’s a really good thing. My intuition and my gut instincts have for a long time now, allowed me to make calculated decisions and choices that for the most part have been beneficial in my business and life. Let me explain a bit more in depth.

One time I received an inquiry from someone who wanted to see my pricing. The first thing in her email was to do with cost. Right away when I read this first sentence of said email, I knew something felt off. Normally, the emails I get from brides are excited in tone, involve a fiance’s name, a date if already set, a place if applicable, and a few end sentences like, ‘We can’t wait to hear from you!’ or ‘We love your work!’. Now disclaimer; I get it. Not everyone is the kind of person to send sweet over the top and lengthy inquiries (as a lover of X’s and O’s this took me a while to get used to), and I know some brides work office jobs, have stressful positions or just overly busy schedules where a quick and dry message really is just their way of gathering information (pricing, availability, details) quickly and efficiently. I get it.

But I sent this potential client a very excited and kind email back, the same way I do with every potential client, and included my pricing. I told the client I would love to schedule a phone call at her convenience to discuss more about her wedding and what I could do for her and her fiance. Instead of a response back with potential dates to call, I received back an email with a request to send over my contract. It was important to the client to ‘make sure’ the contract was ‘a good fit’. After politely letting the client know that it’s against my policy to send contracts before a phone call or before a client is ready to review and sign the actual contract, I knew I wouldn’t ever hear back from her. And I didn’t.

This client could have been anyone trying to do a number of things and I’ll never know if she was actually a bride really trying to get to the bottom of how a vendor operates but the bottom line is this: I had a gut instinct right from the get go this person was not my ideal client. I wouldn’t have been able to meet her needs in multiple different capacities and we obviously operate in very different ways (assuming she was a real client looking for a planner). And this isn’t a bad thing! When you can be honest with yourself and the client about not being the right fit for the job I believe it shows your professionalism and allows the client to respect you and your decisions. Scenarios like the above happen quite often in every day life and sometimes acting on your ‘feeeeelings’ is a good thing (i.e., for me in the above scenario, refusing to send my contract was a good move because I could have been giving this valuable information to someone who may have wanted to compare my contracts with theirs or make a big decision like working with me as a planner based solely on my contracts; which to me made sense in both scenarios after never getting a response back).

I tell my consulting clients (love those gals) all the time, when you get a feeling about something it’s best to often act on it. Not just think about it and understand that, ‘Yup this feels wrong’ or ‘Yup this feels right’ but to actually avoid/say no/go for something because on impulse you know what’s best. My favorite example not involving myself, involved a consulting client who wanted to start a wedding planning business. Actually scratch that; she wanted to relaunch her wedding planning business which used to exist a few years back. She had simply walked away from her business then because she associated the less than impressive market response with total business failure.

While we chatted a bit and I got to know her story a bit better, I was shocked to find out that she actually executed more than 10 events when she was previously operating (she has an awesome portfolio/the ability to get these photos for her new site), she therefore had the experience and know how to run her business/operate her craft and she had the time to pick back up where she left off since at the time of our call she was working a part time job so she could stay home with her child. This client and our session together illustrates a situation where specific tools to launch/grow a person were not given but instead, I helped to give someone that little nudge towards following THEIR own gut feelings. This client just needed to hear it from someone else that, ‘YES this is a good move!’ For the record, this sweet client recently emailed me to let me know of all the great changes in her business and life as a result of our call and her being able to feel comfortable with listening to her own gut and ultimately, her heart. How cool right?

I could talk about this for hours and give you at least five other situations where my instinct pulled through like mentioned above. But I want hear from you! Have there been any times in your life professionally or personally where your instinct’s acted in your favor or maybe a time where you’ve listened to your instinct and it wasn’t the right thing to do? Let’s get an awesome conversation going again like we did on this post last week!

Have a happy Tuesday, friends! And big shout out to Bradley James Photography for the gorgeous photo above xoxo

Cultivate Workshop 2013

This is a shot Kelly took of me Instagramming our last shoot. I promise I’m not as angry in real life as I look here.

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But the purpose of this photo and post is to let you know I am so stinkin’ excited to announce that I will be a guest speaker at the 2013 Cultivate Workshop on August 11 – 13th. I get so many questions about my instagram account and how I make this popular social media service work for my business so you can bet I’ll be speaking about it then along with a break out discussion on building a brand and using it to ensure success. I’m such a believer of networking with like minded, encouraging and genuine entrepreneurial women and this is the perfect chance to do just that. You can read more about it all here and for those of you who are interested in attending there’s an early bird registration rate available until June 1st (which is Saturday). Just use the code HGEfan100 to save an extra $100.00 off. Hooray, guys!

So whose with me? I’ll be the girl who after the conference can be found in her onesie on the resort’s water slide.

Sign up here. I’d be so delighted to meet you! xoxo

The HGE Studio Part I

Let me tell you a little secret. I’m an extremely decisive person and 99% of the time have my mind made up before I can even believe it myself. I’m not sure if this is a quality I’ve had most of my life but in addition to my decisiveness I’m very good at listening to my gut and making decisions based on intuition. Case in point, about two months ago I really started to feel the effects (both positive and challenging) of a growing business and I decided to start looking into an outside office space and studio. With little knowledge on commercial real estate but a gut feeling that starting this search would be a good idea, I set out and toured what felt like all of Grand Rapids, calling in circles, visiting almost seven potential spaces that fit my needs and price point and then boom I found one! I was ready to sign on the dotted line, get my keys and make magic happen. Here’s that diamond in the rough everyone, myself included, seemed to love.

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But something didn’t feel right. And I don’t just mean that iPhone photo above. Ick sorry!

I forgot to mention that sometimes in addition to being very decisive, if I’m on the fence about something (which hardly happens) I tend to lean on others to gauge their opinions and ultimately what they would do if they were Rhi. Such was the case a few weeks ago when almost every single person in my circle had an opinion to share; and let me point out I am so grateful for my smart, wise, courageous and smart friends. I value their opinions and trust their judgement. But then I thought I should call my Dad. You know, the one who started his construction business alone with a young entrepreneurial business loan 25 years ago. The one who worked his tail off over the past 25 years to go from a small business that served small construction needs to an Incorporated business with a fleet of vehicles, 80 plus employees and a roster of business across the country and internationally. And most notably he’s the one that move after move, would make his office work in a spare room or the basement of our home. Here’s a man selling multimillion dollar building contracts from the comfort of his small, cozy, home office, and one who continued to do so until he absolutely had to move to an outside space that could accommodate his needs. Surely my Dad would have advice for me.

The thing I love about my Dad, and my Mom, is they tell me things I don’t want to hear. I used to hate that but as I get older and wiser (ha!) I learn to secretly love learning from and taking their advice and opinions to heart. My Dad’s initial advice on the space, before I could even tell him about those beautiful windows and that yummy light and the cheap rent, was ‘Don’t do it.’ Then this weekend he had a chance to see the studio, the building, the surrounding area, the whole nine yards. And and Sunday before him, my Mom and my Grandpa left he told me, ‘Remember Rhi, increase your revenue, decrease your overhead. And don’t do it.’ Wow. Talk about getting the opposite of what you really wanted.

I have a sweet friend and together we have accountability dates once a week. We talk about our goals, challenges and one thing we did well from the week prior. My one thing I did well from last week was taking my Dad’s advice and more notably my Mom’s points to heart as I continue to sit on the fence with this studio space. In the heat of my excitement I didn’t think about the things I should have like the lack of running water, at all, in the studio. My flowers wouldn’t jive well with that. I didn’t think it would be a big deal that our Michigan winters will absolutely freeze my tail off and probably drive me to crank the heat resulting in a ridiculous heating bill; when a big, grown man who leases the space next to your potential one tells you Michigan winters are miserable in said building, that’s gotta count for something.

These next few weeks will mark the start of my 2013 wedding season. My first wedding this year is my unicorn themed wedding and ironically enough the first event under my new brand. I’m. So. Excited. I’m also trying not to make a decision on a space (which I’ve decided I do absolutely need whether it be separate from my home or a revamped basement space) just because it’s exciting and fun. I want this to be a smart move and something that feels so good in the end because I did it the right way. In the meantime, I’ll be spray painting more cones for the unicorn inspired garlands you’ll see at June 2nd’s event and reviewing some pricing and plans to redo our entire unfinished basement. The smart biz move here would be to review all of my options before making my final move right? Right.

If you’re a business owner with a studio of your own I’d love to hear about your experiences! Obviously there are variables in every business wedding industry related or not (how much you make, how often you meet clients, what your inventory is like, what market you’re in, what your future business plans entail) but I’d still love to hear different perspectives and stories :) Happy Thursday, friends! Soak up that gorgeous sunshine out there xoxo

FAQs: Work From Home Schedules

Keeping in line with my January post on social media free weekends, I wanted to talk a little bit about my work schedule and what I’ve found works for me as a work from home professional. A lot of you have been asking for more wedding industry business advice and that makes me so happy! Around this time last year, I was struggling to keep balance between my personal life and my business. I was working a part time job to make a bit of extra money leading up to my wedding season and was coming home every night exhausted from my full day of work. Sometimes I’d work until 3:00 am handling my own business responsibilities and more than often, I’d schedule consults and Skype dates with clients as late as 9:00 pm; when I just wanted to be in bed winding down from my day. Andrew took a backseat to it all and I found that life caught up with me; and not in a good way. Rhi needed a schedule intervention really bad.

In May of 2012 I finally decided to leave my part time job and take on Hey Gorgeous full time. For the second time. Best. Decision. Ever. Within just two weeks I booked two more events for my season, which surpassed the amount of money I would have made working my part time job for six months. I was able to work during the day and do things like eat dinner with my husband at night. Or go to a movie and not feel guilty about it. But I also learned really quickly that I’d still need to put in the hard work at home with Hey Gorgeous if I wanted to be successful and get my work done. I write a lot on this blog about what I do to stay motivated and on task. I think any business owner or creative professional can attest to the difficulties of staying on task 24/7 even more so when you wear so many different hats.

These days, I stick to a loose 9:00 am to 5:30 pm work schedule that’s done wonders for me. I work Monday to Friday, meaning those times and days are when I am accessible to clients (unless of course an appointment is made outside of these parameters and I certainly do work overtime when it’s necessary like the week of an event). I wrote a bit about a typically work day over here. And then I also wrote about a typical wedding day of work here. Just reading that post gives me this weird combination of exhauastion and excitement because my job is pretty demanding but absolutely and 110% worth it. I also usually spend Sunday nights prepping for my work week ahead, and once my weddings start each season I take Mondays off. When you work on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays you need to give yourself a little break.

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That’s just the tip of the iceberg on work schedules and office hour boundaries (as learned from the incredibly smart Lara Casey herself) but I’d love to generate a discussion here (over Starbucks lattes of course!) If you’re a business owner who works from home or not, I’d love for you to dish below on what you like and dislike with your current work schedule. Maybe your comment will inspire other business owners to make changes with their current routine! Which also leads me to the exciting news involving my hunt for a perfect office space for the 2013 and 2014 Hey Gorgeous season. More on that soon though, soon. Happiest of Mondays, to you all! Photo by Kelly Braman xoxo