When I started this company I didn't even know I was starting "a company". To be honest, I just thought I was going to be a freelance floral designer, and that alone excited me. I've been extremely creative most of my life.. I just didn't realize I could make a career out of it. I stumbled upon my love for flowers in the summer of 2012. I was in between jobs and working for a family friend that rented part of their building out to a local florist. I walked by on my lunch break and the delicious smell that overcame me from the unit stopped me in my tracks. I walked in and asked if I could look around. I swear, it was like divine intervention. They were in need of help for weddings that weekend, so I offered, of course. I mean, I was a single girl trying to pay the bills in a downtown loft. I was up for anything. I mean not ANYTHING (get your mind out of the gutter), but throw flowers in the mix and who wouldn't be up for that?!
I had no clue what I was doing, but I learned. I think I had been helping out for 2 or 3 weeks before I delivered my first wedding BY MYSELF. I was scared shitless.. (excuse my french) but also crazy excited. I had never felt more in my element than when I was around flowers. You see, that summer was probably the most challenging summer of my life. I went through a lay off and a life changing break up all in a two month period.. but we'll save that story for another day. I lost myself, then found myself again. And I truly believe that those flowers gave me a confidence and healing that I so very much needed. But then, summer ended and I got a job offer. I joined the sales and recruiting world once again and the 60 hours a week didn't leave much time for anything else. I continued freelancing in any free time I found. My love for flowers continued to blossom (pun intended).
Let's fast forward 2+ years later...
I got engaged.. I got married.. I quit my corporate job.
It just so happened that the florist I had helped all along needed someone to come on board to coordinate weddings + freelance. So, of course, I jumped on that opportunity!!! It was my DREAM JOB.. or so I thought.
The week after I quit my job, I started working for said florist. I'd say 15-20 hours a week.. $12 an hour + whatever I made coordinating. Not a bad gig if you're coordinating a couple weddings a month! I WAS SO EXCITED. So, I got an LLC as I was advised to do so that I was able to write off work expenses (aka pay self employed taxes), named it XO because that's what you come up with when you and your girlfriends chug a bottle of wine and talk work, and I was ready to do whatever came my way!
Fast forward a few weeks.. I was told coordinating weddings for them was taken off the table due to a former non compete agreement they had in place. I mean, I get it, but shouldn't we have discussed this let's say ummmm BEFORE I QUIT MY JOB. So I was stuck making (at most) $960 a month.. which any self employed person knows is really more like $672 at best. PER MONTH. I mean, my husband was supportive and all, but that didn't even cover my car payment + insurance at the time.
But I digress.
I say all of this to explain to you that when I started XO Events & Design.. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I had literally NEVER coordinated or planned a wedding. I had NEVER made a bridal bouquet. I was starting COMPLETELY from scratch. I knew that I needed to educate myself on my new field. Whether it happened by accident or not, it was happening and I was doing it! One thing you should know about me is that if I'm going to put my energy into anything, I am going to be the best. I don't half ass anything in my life.
I researched different online educational wedding planning courses (snore).. I stalked instagram hashtags like it was my job, and finally I had found exactly what I was looking for. I found @TROUVAILLE. Which as odd as it may seem, actually means "a lucky find".. and that's exactly how I felt. I started following @heygorgevents and I fell in love with her mission and how she loves on others so well. Her work blew me away and I thought to myself.. this is what I want. This is who I am. I want to love others this well, I want to share my heart at this capacity. So I booked a ticket to Grand Rapids and I attended Trouvaille 2.0. It was a truly LIFE CHANGING experience, and one I'll never forget.
I remember during one portion of Day 2, we face timed with Lara Casey of Southern Weddings.. everyone around the room was raising their hands and asking questions about weddings they'd done and getting published and such.. then my turn came around.. oh my gosh, I was SO NERVOUS. So with a shaky voice I said, "how do you show your value to a bride as a wedding planner if you have never planned a wedding before?" and I'll never forget her response. She said, "just you being here is enough to show me that you're going to give those brides all that you have." and she was right. I invested in myself before I actually believed in myself. I left Trouvaille with industry friends that I still keep in contact with to this day, an understanding of the industry, a mission statement for why I was doing what I was doing and a rein-stilled love for flowers. I created my first bridal bouquet, I sketched my first design, I practiced my calligraphy skills and I had the absolute BEST time.
I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Trouvaille and the community that stemmed from that experience.
Life is interesting how it works. Rhi was so lovely during my time at Trouvaille. I remember thinking to myself, "I wish this girl was my best friend" I mean, I honestly felt like we were long lost sisters or gal pal soul mates.
God works in crazy ways though.. This past January both of us had the same due dates. We were both pregnant with boys and so thrilled to be mamas!!! Then we both had our boys on the same day!!! 8 longgggg days late, I might add. We rekindled our friendship and she's been my favorite girl in the world ever since. She gets me in a way that is hard for people outside of our industry to get. Being a new mama and navigating this (sometimes) energy sucking business is hard enough, but having her to lean on is like an answered prayer. This girl has a heart of gold and you'd be lucky to spend 3 magical days learning from her and the extremely talented list of speakers that she has curated.
Rhi, I love you, and I hope so badly to be there by your side come May 21st!