I can’t believe how much has changed for both of us in the last year – creating a Party Shop, getting serious about the blog, buying a house, getting engaged – it’s been crazy. And I’m so excited because I have a feeling this year will be even bigger. <3 In case you missed it, Fernanda and James got engaged over the holidays and now she’s knee deep in planning her wedding. I’ve always loved weddings – the dresses, the flowers, the glitter, the flowers…and it’s always been in the back of my mind how much fun it would be to be a wedding planner. And so it’s especially exciting that today’s #wcw is a wedding planner by trade, and a mega talented one at that!
My love affair with today’s featured #ladyboss began in a pretty branding workshop in a downtown Hamilton studio. Fernanda and I spent a gorgeous October day learning a TON and meeting some crazy inspiring bloggers and creative biz owners, and I got to sit next to Anna. I don’t want to freak her out by being too aggressive, but I talked to Fernanda the whole way home about how much I liked Anna. Her business cards were so colourful! She liked Kate Spade! She was a wedding planner! How could we be best friends?
And so when we started the #wcw series I immediately knew I needed to get up the #ladyballs to ask Anna to stop by the Blog. When she said “yes” I fangirled for like a solid five, but I’m BEYOND excited that you guys get to meet her!
Today we’re chatting with Anna from Spunky Sapphire Events about the hold weddings have on our hearts, all-in-good fun sass, and being genuine.
Tell us about your career path – what were you doing before you got into wedding planning and what got you to where you are today?
My career path is a bit unconventional and winding, but I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned at each “checkpoint”. In high school, I thought I’d either be an accountant or a teacher (glamorous, I know!). After running an event when I was 17, I absolutely fell in love with the process never realizing I could make a career out of it! When it came time to choose a major, I enrolled in culinary school to get a more well-rounded view of the event industry with the full intention of getting into wedding planning when I was finished because weddings have my heart! Something a lot of people don’t realize about me is that I’m a trained chef as well! After interning with a wedding planner, I discovered that having the culinary background gave me an edge and common ground with other vendors. A year after graduating, I uprooted and moved from Michigan (where I grew up) to Canada (where I was born). I knew I’d have to eventually start my own business because most wedding planners work on their own and I’ve always been one to be my own boss. In the meantime, I worked a variety of kitchen jobs during the day and would come home and sit in front of my laptop for hours in the evenings writing blog posts, website copy, meeting with other wedding planners and asking all the questions I could think of! The School of Google was a very good friend. 🙂
Finally, in February of 2014, I decided to bite the bullet and officially launch Spunky Sapphire Events and I haven’t looked back since! Last fall, I was extremely blessed to be able to go full-time with it. Today, I’m over-the-moon excited to be working with my dream clients and allowing them to reclaim their time to focus on building a strong foundation for their upcoming marriages—I take the wedding planning stresses off their plate!
Full disclosure I love your brand, it’s so fun and colourful (and we share a mutual obsession with Kate Spade, so basically we’re soulmates) and I feel like the name of your business sets the tone for your whole image. Was that part of what you were going for with Spunky Sapphire? How’d you come up with the name?
Spunky Sapphire is definitely a unique name and does have a bit of a story. My brand has evolved a bit, but I feel like the name came first and I had no idea what the brand would look like; amazingly, they match! The sapphire has a bit of a history in my family and is something I’ve always held close to me. It has a heirloom/legacy- and classic-quality to it. I named a restaurant concept I had to create in culinary school Sapphire and, when brainstorming my business name, it kept coming up. I wanted the business to reflect a bit of myself as well which is where the “spunky” part came in. Plus, alliteration and all that. 🙂 I feel like “sapphire” keeps it classic while “spunky” brings a little playfulness to the table and that’s ultimately what I’m all about. Classic with a little all-in-good-fun sass.
What advice would you give to recent grads looking to get into the wedding industry? Do you have any tips or tricks for navigating the event business?
Looking back, I would tell myself to stop being scared and just get out there. So, for new grads, I’d encourage genuine connection. Life is one big networking event, but if you’re fake about it, I doubt you’ll get anywhere. We’re all people. Reach out to people who inspire you and ask advice. It’s not an easy industry to break into, but once you’re in, it’s so beautiful and the people are lovely. That being said, if you’re not in it because you truly love it, you’ll be miserable.
Prepare to work harder than you ever thought you could; it’s not all blissfully creative. Prepare to cry sometimes because it isn’t easy. Prepare for unexpected happy dances in your living room because amazing things that you could have never expected will happen and it’s incredible!
I can’t stress this enough, be kind and genuine (I know I said it already), and give of yourself first.
Event life can be insane – what kinds of things do you think are vital to balancing your personal and professional life as a wedding planner?
Is there such a thing as balance?! I’ll be honest: they bleed into each other all day every day. Part of being a small business owner is that I’m never “off”. I may have closed my office door to focus on making dinner for my husband and getting ready to spend the evening with friends, but my brain will suddenly think of a brilliant business idea and I’ll want to act on it, like, yesterday. I take time to braindump the idea so it’s out of my head and well into being fleshed out, but then I leave it on my desk for the next day. I’ve learned that giving myself legitimate rest is so crucial for my success, and, as hard as it is to do, I make sure I take it and make time for my life. Ultimately, my motto is that my business supports my life, not the other way around!
Tell us what a typical “day in the life” looks like for you.
A typical day for me starts at 7 when I get up to make my hubby his breakfast and pack his lunch. (He’s spoiled, and knows it!) I usually then check my emails and set out my game plan for the day (if I didn’t do it the night before). I really try to sneak in a workout in the morning as well. The rest of the day is spent creating blog content, posting to social media, creating client design plans, sketching, answering emails, dreaming of styled shoots, running errands, and doing the work. Around 5, I try to shut down, plan for the following day, and switch back into “personal life” mode.
What’s one piece of wisdom you’ve learned along your career journey you’d love to share with other creative biz owners?
I have two pieces of wisdom—is that okay? 🙂
- The. Work. That’s how it happens. Those “overnight success” stories? Yeah, someone’s been doing the work for a long time and it just came to a point that the world noticed. Stop wishing and start doing. You can ask all kinds of questions and advice, take all the classes you want to take to “be prepared”, but ultimately it comes down to doing the work. It took me a long time to get to that point; it’s one little regret I have. Just start! Start anywhere. I always think of this quote from Karen Lamb that Lara Casey always quotes: “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.”
- Stop comparing your life to the highlight reels on Instagram. Holy moly, I can’t stress this enough. Your story is going to look different than that other event planner succeeding beyond your wildest dreams—it’s supposed to. Enjoy her highlight reel (enjoy making your own), congratulate her on her success, and then put the blinders on and look at your own paper and ignore the rest. It’s your story—how do you want it to turn out? And, then, refer to point 1 above and do the work.
What’s your next goal?
My next goal is to get featured in a few key publications so I can really attract the dreamiest clients and help them regain their time during wedding planning. Ultimately, I want to help my clients plan for a marriage not just a wedding and to share their story in details for their big day.
If you could pick anyone, which three women would you invite to your next dinner party?
Rhiannon from Hey Gorgeous Events—she’s from my hometown and we just haven’t had a chance to meet yet. Her floral design is out of this world I’d love to hear her design process for her clients.
Lara Casey—she’s a goldmine of “Make It Happen” information and talking to her in real life would be incredible!
Jenn from Harper Hadley Events—we are friends because of Instagram and still have to meet in real life! What better time than this really cool dinner party?
What are your favourite Instagram accounts to follow?
This is such a hard one to answer because I love so many people’s Instagram accounts! Here are a few:
@mollyjacques — a freelance hand-letterer. Her work is soooo pretty and inspiring.
@tulipinadesign – always full of fluffy flowers and amazing design.
@meganmartincreative – her feed is full of bright colors, her cute little girls, and inspiration and heart for the creative.
I wish I knew how to…
Do a lot of technical things for my website. It’d be SO great to be a whiz at coding and SEO so whenever something had to be updated, I could just take care of it!
Tell us what “celebrate the everyday” means to you.
Celebrating the everyday for me is enjoying all the little things that happen. Pull out the fancy dishes to celebrate a small win. Enjoy a homemade cookie just because (and don’t feel guilty!). Have a living room dance party because somebody just made your day! Sometimes, it’s the little things that make life beautiful and just because you didn’t have a huge breakthrough today doesn’t mean wonderful things didn’t happen. Take time to be grateful for #allthethings.
Isn’t she the best? Thank you SO much to Anna for joining us, and inspiring us to get out there and #dothework!