I am so excited to start this new blog series! Every other Friday I am going to post a "Friday Feature" blog highlighting a female creative small business owner. I hope these posts will give you insight into what these women do and what their lives look like. I also hope you'll find these posts helpful if you're in the creative industry, you run a small business, or you're thinking about starting a small business.
The first post in the "Friday Feature" series is kicking off with Randi Russell, a wedding coordinator and owner of Carry Your Heart Events. I first connected with Randi on Instagram when I noticed she was a wedding coordinator who recently moved to Burlington, NC (about 15 minutes from where I live in Mebane, NC). After we connected we quickly set up a time to get coffee at the Blend in Burlington (which I highly recommend to anyone local!!). From the first moment I met Randi, I could tell she was such a warm and kind person. We talked about the wedding industry, her children and family, and our hopes and dreams for our businesses and our lives. Since then I have been able to connect with Randi a few more times and I always enjoy being around her. I know her positive attitude and joyful spirit would brighten any bride's day and I highly encourage you to consider hiring her as your wedding coordinator! Please read below to hear a little more about her business and her story.
Please Introduce Yourself and Your Creative Small Business.
My name is Randi Russell and I am a wedding coordinator and planner and my business is called "Carry Your Heart Events." A lot of people look at their budget and immediately say "I can't afford a planner!" That's ok! I couldn't either...and I didn't want one when I got married. I wanted to do all the planning myself but I needed someone to come in on the wedding day and execute it all. That's a coordinator. Most people don't understand what a coordinator does or why it's important to have a coordinator. Coordinators step in near the end of the planning process and help guide the bride through the finishing details. I don't just show up to the wedding and tell people where to go. I coordinate with the vendors prior to the wedding to make sure they know times and any special instructions, make a detailed timeline that gets distributed to vendors and wedding party alike, and make a detailed set up list with the bride so I understand exactly where she wants everything on the wedding day. I run the rehearsal and give everyone my insider tips on when to walk, how fast, where to stand, where to hold bouquets, when to hand off the rings, etc. I am there on the wedding day to set up the precious personal details, ensure vendors arrive and set up correctly, manage the time, put out fires, fix broken buttons, get everyone down the aisle, bustle dresses, cue the band, tell the bride and groom how to cut the cake, break down and clean up, pass out tips, and everything in between. It's a big job but i love every single second of it.
I also just moved to Burlington, NC from Athens, GA (Go dawgs!). My husband and I have a big ole plot of country land that we have BIG plans for. In the meantime, we are living at my in-laws while we build our dream home.
Why did you start your creative small business?
I started my business in 2012 when a local photographer, and friend, called with a bride in crisis. Her bride had hired someone to plan and photograph their wedding. But this someone dropped the ball and the bride really needed out. She reached out to this new photographer and hired her, but really needed a coordinator to bring it all together. The photographer, who knew I loved planning weddings and had coordinated several for friends, called me and asked if I would be interested. I said a big ole "YES" and Carry Your Heart Events was born.
What does an average day look like for you? What things/responsibilities are you juggling?
An average day for me isn't so average. I am a stay at home mom to two precious girls. I take care of them and we play a LOT. When they have nap time I can sit down and write emails and work on plans. Throughout the day I answer calls and texts. I do a lot of my work at night after my girls are in bed. But as you know, weddings really happen on weekends. My weekends usually consist of weddings, wedding planning, and family time! It's hectic and creative and perfect.
What has been a struggle for you as a creative business owner?
Oh I have met struggles abound! The biggest one is juggling business and family. Both are incredibly important to me, and I am slowly learning how to manage both without burning myself out. When weddings are approaching I am learning how to work smarter and play smarter. I also find as a creative owner that I can get in creative ruts. I can go through times where I feel uninspired. But suddenly, out of nowhere, inspiration will hit in the most random places (seriously...in the grocery store it's happened!), and I am back in the saddle!
What productivity tips do you have for my readers?
Lists and calendars! I use Google Calendars and have different calenders with different event colors that all sync to one master calendar. This helps me keep things scheduled and on track. I can look at a week and know what I have going on so I know not to schedule other things. I've noticed that if I put too much in a day or week then I will shut down and not give my all. So I am very concious about spacing out priorities and deadlines so I can be 100% with everything. And I am a list maker! I have a notebook just for CYH (Carry Your Heart Events). There are pages of lists containing website ideas, blog ideas, vendors to email, venues to tour, and colors to try. It is a life saver because my mommy brain doesnt always work correctly. My system is a little off since we are not in our own home at the moment, but I have big dreams for my new office.
What resources or tools have helped in your business?
I wish I could say that I've attended conferences and read life changing books or found profound websites. I haven't done any of those. What I have done is lean on like-minded business owners and industry friends. My business model is all about community. When I moved from Athens I had a core group of vendor friends that I bounced ideas off of, collaborated with, shadowed, and learned from. The wedding planners and coordinators in the area were huge inspirations and models for me. I plan on doing the same thing here. My main resource is and will continue to be other wedding vendors. But I plan on adding in a conference or two in the future.
What tips do you have for readers who have (or want to start) a creative small business?
Failure will happen. It just does. Business is life, and life is messy. If you are like me, then your business is personal. There isn't a divide for me. So when something goes wrong, it hurts. To the core, deep down, hurt. I've learned that my skin has toughned. But I've also learned that I don't ever want failure not to hurt. If it doesn't hurt then I've become complacent. I want to continue to be better, to create dreams that haven't even been dreamed, and to make people feel my love. I didn't get into the wedding industry to make a ton of money and to book all the brides. It won't ever be like that for me. I got into the industry to follow my own dream, and now that I'm here, I want to spread the happiness. There is no way to feel true happiness and success unless you've had the door slammed in your face a couple (several) times. So go find some doors!
What is your favorite clothing store?
I'm so glad you asked. I am NOT a slave to fashion. My friends make fun of me because I wear t-shirts more often than not, rarely have my hair down, and still wear the same jeans I had in high school. But my BFF, who is a fashion and shopping maven, just started an online boutique and I have been converted. The site is www.athenaattire.com and she's on Instagram and Facebook too. I wear things that are in style now! I have people tell me they love my clothes now (I still don't get why no one loved my tie dye t-shirts). So FINALLY I can say I do have a favorite clothing store, and for once, it's not Goodwill.
If you found this post helpful please share it with your friends and leave any comments or feedback you have below! Please check back in two weeks for the next "Friday Feature" post.