This week the mega-summit of luxury wedding professionals, Engage, took place at The Breakers. It’s an inspiring conference, and I was terribly sad that I couldn’t be down there (and so I consoled myself with twitter stalking instead). From having attended in the past, one of the reasons that it’s so inspiring is that it is a forum for celebrating excellence in craft AND business. One reason I started writing Wedding Pro Wednesday was because while Mayra and I may be creative professionals, we are also operating a business, and we wanted to share some of the lessons we’ve learned (sometimes in real time as we were learning them!). But, I think it’s equally important to share the successes of others, because that’s also terribly inspiring. We can learn so much from our colleagues, especially when we get past the notion that there is a success pie and more for one person means less for you.
SO, here are to some of our colleagues in the industry who have had BEYOND banner years; they have taken their craft AND their career to the next level and should be applauded.
Christian Oth. Celebrating 10 years in this business, Christian has elevated the business of wedding photography. He’s transformed what we think of “wedding photography”, but has also elevated the business aspect of this area of the industry, period. Recognizing that his work is one of a kind, he has always been bold enough to charge for it. He has made a policy of sticking to his guns on prices and services and, in turn, has luxury clientele who respect his studio as a place of artistry and business. He was also bold enough to grow: bringing in amazing talent under him and elevate them to success as well. Shawn Connell and Sue Kessler have become sought after and command top fees as well, and in raising the tide of quality, he has lifted all the boats.
Luis Rodriguez has been an open “secret” in New York for many years . We first worked together in 2006 and I fell in love. He is the Sam Fine of wedding makeup. He was a star at Chanel- when ladies from the board would come in from Paris, they all sought Luis to do their makeup- but he truly shone taking care of his brides and clients at events. His talent and professionalism rivals only his calm demeanor and many a client (including me) has a hard time going to anything special with out his hand in our look. This year , in recognizing his own talent, he has branched out on his own (a bold move in and of itself) and cut back his other work to build his own eponymous business specializing in special event makeup. He is launching his own website filled with all his gorgeous brides and ladies at luisrodriguezmakeup.com
Amanda Allen of Newlywish is rethinking what registering can be and capitalizing on the generational shift towards uniquely designed homes and lives into big business. By mixing larger brands like Wedgwood and Waterford with offerings from local boutiques and speciality shops who had lacked registry capability, she is able to offer clients a totally one of a kind, curated registry experience. She launched Newlywish a few years back, but 2012 sees her poised to take her business to the next level: She recently won the Women 2.o NYC Pitch startup competition and the tech world is taking notice!
Leonardo Lorenzo is the perfect example of where your career can go when you focus on the relentless pursuit of excellence in all aspects of what you do. Leo is the newly appointed Director of Catering at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Conde Nast Traveller’s #1 hotel according to readers. I focus a lot on small business owners here, but in truth, in this industry our reputations and our commitment to working to elevate clients dreams stands on the laurels of an individual as much as any large name brand. Leo has worked in top properties in Chicago as well as at the Waldorf here in New York before being tapped for this position.
Amy Atlas has taken her stunning dessert tables and evolved into an entertaining and lifestyle brand. This year, in addition to her launching Sweet Designs, her hybrid baking/crafting/entertaining book that was filled with how to and oohs and ahs, she was profiled in O magazine and appears in a series of Ikea ads in a joint O project about Life Improvement. She still finds the time to remain as sweet as her tables! I’m enamoured of how her commitment to celebrating delightful details has inspired so many at home entertainers and her embrace of their work (she often features other people’s sweets tables on her blog) is part of what makes her more than a business, but a brand!
Abby Larson also knows a thing or two about branding. SMP and it’s popularity have caused old dogs like us to learn new tricks. With the size of her audience, the days upon days of pretty, her carefully curated LBB listings (we are honored to be a member) and now the afterlife that a posting on SMP can have on Pinterest, she’s elevated what it means to be featured on a blog… it isn’t just a blog it’s Style Me Pretty… (one blogger wrote “Just as designers dream of having a project featured in their favorite shelter magazine, and actresses hope to land the cover of national women’s publications, brides around the globe have one goal: get on Style Me Pretty.” So we weren’t surprised to hear that some of the “Big Media” have taken notice of SMP- earlier this month she inked a deal with AOL to become an official part of their lifestyle group. Add to that her new book! From a love affair with weddings to a blog to becoming part of the biggest media brand in the world- that is something to be proud of.
Kathy Romero is going global! This year she took the opportunity of a lifetime – she joined the team at Preston Bailey Design as their Director of Wedding Planning and Client Relations. Being offered that position does not come lightly- it not only takes capability it takes likeability and a great reputation. All of which, Kathy had built a wealth of while building a business of her own at Kathy Romero Events. No matter how amazing the opportunity, deciding to make bold change requires courage and flexibility and I admire her fearlessness. Kathy’s commitment to excellence and one of a kind persona is sure to make her a global sensation as part of the PBD Team. I cannot wait to hear all of her adventures!
Saipua I got to spend a lot of amazing time with Sarah at Saipua this year. This year she probably produced some of the most stunning work in flowers that I’ve ever seen and it dawned on me that to call her a florist is a misnomer. She is the most pure artist that I maybe have ever met… her medium is flowers. So I was not at all surprised to learn that late last year (and all this year) Sarah and her partner Eric have been plotting, sewing and growing their own flowers up at World’s End, their flower farm. Frustrated with the lack of interesting blooms available in the local market, Sarah and Eric decided to take matters into their own hands and grow with love and care and passion all the things they know they would love to work with. If that isn’t bold business, I don’t know what is. Their first harvest should be coming soon and I can’t wait to see!
Shark Pig This year was the first year ever that I was sent a video of a wedding virally that didn’t involve a dance down the aisle or an embarrassing toast. It was simply so very pretty, and different and modern that it took my breath away. It was made by Shark Pig and while I certainly have my FAVORITE videographers (and I definitely do) I called them on the spot to see about doing something for a client we were working with who was a film maker. Non linear, dreamy and short and to the point, The video in question was of a low key wedding in a field (aren’t they all?… kidding) BUT I think that their work (they have advertising backgrounds) really taps into the mood, aesthetic and vibe that contemporary couples WANT their memories to have….
Liene Stevens Back in April Liene and her business The Splendid Collective Launched a new arm: Form + Function which is a series of affordable human resources tools to help small business owners designed with the wedding and hospitality business in mind. If that weren’t impressive enough, 2012 saw her offer up what I can only call ground breaking research in who our new client is here, where you are as you read this, and everywhere: The Millenial. She is putting out such easy to digest, imperative information you need to go over to her site right now and READ EVERYTHING. Her research is so important to people like us, who sell emotions in many ways, that she is truly doing us a service by even explaining it to us. I sited some of her facts at a conference recently and one person came up to me afterwards and said “I just thought I had a slew of Bridezillas, it turns out that they are just Millenials.”
Other pretty awesome accomplishments by our peers: Marcy Blum released a Revised version of her classic “Wedding Planning for Dummies” as someone tweeted, every Smarty needs a copy; Matthew Robbins authored his Inspired Designs this year; Keija Minor was named the Editor in Chief of Bride’s Magazine, making her not only the first African American to head a Conde Nast publication, but, I’m going to bet the most accomplished career switch in history (from Corporate Law to EIC!)- the December issue is her first EIC mast head; Bernadette of 14 Stories launched a line of women’s tuxedos called Fourteen; and, as previously noted, Julie Sabatino launched The Stylish Dresser. Most lovingly, Lindsay Landman took up the inaugural presidency of New York’s first Wish Upon a Wedding with great success.
And, if you are wondering about the video that I just fell in love with… here it is.