So I don’t know about y’all, but I am harder on myself than probably anyone in the world. I was raised by a single, hustle in heels, girl boss of a mama who raised me to follow my dreams and to seek joy in whatever it was that I chose to do. Despite her best efforts though, I have always struggled with my personal image and worried about what everyone thought about me.
I opened my first business when I was a junior in college— it was an online bakery called Sweet Creations. We specialized in cake pops, cupcakes, and holiday orders. We developed a small following and when I graduated from college, I didn’t really feel like I could part with it. If I’m being totally honest, it had become kind of like a security blanket, and the idea of the real world was still pretty scary for me.
I got hired as the pastry chef and assistant catering manager at the college in my hometown and suddenly, I had two degrees and was going to be using either of them. But piping cupcakes was something I knew I was good at, and more importantly— everyone loves the cupcake lady!
While I had the occasional wedding or event that would come up, I wasn’t really getting the opportunity to do all that I wanted to do. Making the wedding cake was great, but showing up for a delivery where there is no wedding planner, so the mother of the bride is setting up centerpieces instead of spending the morning sipping on champagne with the bridesmaids— I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Guilty that there was more I could be doing to help. That I had been trained to do something and was only using 10% of my skill set.
Do you ever feel that way? That you’ve painted yourself into a corner and somehow limited yourself with what you’re doing? Well let me tell you, it’s not too late! I love baking cupcakes, don’t get me wrong, but I had to be honest with myself and reassess the fact that I wouldn’t truly be happy where I was at.
So we rebranded, this time as A Touch of Class Events. I added wedding and event planning to are bakery business, as well as bartending services. The girls I had trained at the college now had several years of event experience under their belts, and were more than willing to help with the occasional wedding or birthday celebration on their days off. All of a sudden I had a team and we were able to take multiple events a weekend— but it still didn’t seem like the brand was “me”.
I found myself comparing each wedding we did to more successful planners in the surrounding area, and obsessing over how many more events they were taking on than us. Then one fateful day in June, my husband to be was working a wedding for me at one of my favorite venues when he ran into a friends from college. After a bit of small talk, he asked Lee what my job was. He told him that I owned A Touch of Class and the guys eyes got as big as saucers.
You see, apparently A Touch of Class is also the name of several small businesses in the surrounding areas— including a gentleman’s club about 5 miles away from this venue that I adore. Now this may come as a shock, but this business had not been registered with the Small Business Association, so it did not come up when I searched locally before choosing the new name. It is true what they say, that not all exposure is good exposure (pun fully intended).
Lee was more than a little nervous to tell me the news when he came home that night. I had owned my own business for 5 1/2 years at this point and I’m gonna be honest with you, when he told me I just poured myself a big glass of wine— and started to laugh. Something just clicked and I realized that no matter how hard we try to have the best logo, prettiest website, or book the most events, sometimes you can still mess it up. And that is ok, because I don’t want to pretend to be something that I’m not to my clients.
So, we rebranded for a third time and hopefully the last, as Magnolia Grove Weddings and events. We offer the same services, but this time I lead with my sass, love of shopping, and addiction to coffee and wine. By sharing more of my personal story I’m able to relate more with my clients and our relationships are more genuine. What’s more, I have come to learn that not every client is the perfect customer for you.
It’s a process, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but I have started to care a little less about what everyone else thinks. So whether you’re a small business owner, a dreamer, or a fellow creative like me-- I hope that you find your groove in the upcoming year and truly lead with who you are as an individual, rather than with what you think your followers want to see.
PS-- We just found out yesterday that we were featured on Southern Bride and Groom's feature of The Big Fake Wedding's 100th show. The wedding signage and dessert bar elements were contributed by yours truly-- pretty exciting stuff. Check out all of the amazing vendors here! http://www.southernbrideandgroom.com/inspiration-big-fake-wedding-raleigh/