I just came on my own site to look for a recipe (Buttery Plain Muffins, if you must know… Breakfast!) and realized it’s been over two months since I last posted. Oops. I wish I could say I’ve been out saving the world during those last two months, or that I have an exciting announcement (nope, no babies around here for a while), or that I’ve been cooking up a storm and can share all my latest recipes with you… But really, I’ve been working.
I’ve been without full-time work for over a year now. This economy just stinks, jobs are scarce in non-computing and non-healthcare fields, and most employers want a specialty (I tend to be a generalist, and can usually do anything you put in front of me, but this fact takes me out of the running for a lot of what’s available). I LOVED my last job and would go back in a heartbeat, but because of some regulations with how I was hired (nothing I did – and no one did anything wrong at all, I was just classified as a special interim employee, and because the last position was at a government institution, there are a ton or regulations about employee classification… No one expected the position to still be vacant by the time the regulations kicked in, or I’d have been hired in a different way), I had to leave after a certain amount of months. If they called me up tomorrow and asked me to go full-time I’d take the position without any hesitation whatsoever.
I’ve been planning events for a really long time (like, more years than I’d care to admit at the moment), and worked for several years as an event planner for a nonprofit. After the wedding I planned last November, I realized how much I really loved it. Once the photos came back I started thinking seriously about starting a wedding planning business. Of course this was something in the back of my mind since I planned our wedding in 2008… But I was always stalling out with the details. What should I name the business? What should I specialize in? What should I charge? Was I ever going to have a free weekend? I finally just decided to go for it, whether I came up with a killer name or not. In a single week I just jumped right in, found a name that I liked well enough, purchased the URL, started a Twitter, and created the basic outline of my business. I then spent a painstakingly long few months designing my logo, writing out my website code by hand, and putting my thoughts in order.
I’m still learning how these things go, taking each client as an experience to learn from, and finding that some things are harder than I thought. I’m still learning how to charge for things like my time (8-hour-marathon-design-session anyone?), figuring out what crafts I can handle (I made a giant mess of the first fabric bunting banner I created until I realized I could use my paper cutter to make beautiful straight lines!), and looking for clients. I’m actually teaching myself things – like how to use Illustrator – and have been really pleased with what I have been able to create (when you visit my site, because I know you will, check out the Design section of the Gallery for an art-deco peacock invitation. It was my very first custom art piece using Illustrator and I’m ridiculously proud of it).
And of course, I’m still looking far and wide for a “real” job too (I have an interview!Tuesday! that I’m really excited about), since I’m currently not making enough money to buy ramen noodles for the month without one, and the costs of starting a business are seriously understated!!! But at least this a) keeps me busy, b) is an awesome creative outlet, c) is something else for the resume, and d) is potentially laying the groundwork for my future. I may decide in a year or two or five that I am so done with weddings and social events and I want to go back to having my weekends free, but I may also decide in a year or two or five that I am ready to go full-time (er, since I’m currently not working any other jobs, I guess that should be “go back to full-time”) in the event planning world.
My husband has been SO patient with me, not complaining when I took over the office with my boxes and boxes of event supplies or when I forgot to make dinner for days in a row, or when I didn’t shower all day because I was working on a deadline, or when we didn’t have any food or water or TP in the house because I hadn’t gone grocery shopping in three weeks… He is my rock, and the reason I can even do all of this – if I didn’t have his full support I’d never have considered spending money on a new business in a financially-strapped time like this. I am blessed to have him, and blessed to have the incredible network of family and friends that I do (several of whom are in the industry – and who have been invaluable resources!!!). I am blessed, too, with some incredible clients. It’s the best feeling ever when you can meet someone and realize you’d actually want to be friends with them, even if they weren’t paying you to help them create something awesome.
For anyone who is wondering, the reason that a wedding planner (or a graphic designer, for that matter, since a lot of what I’ll be doing and I’ve been doing is graphic design) charges so darn much is because we’re always working. Like, seriously, all hours of the day and night. I will probably just have to figure out a way to go without sleep once I get a full-time job because I’m already waking up early and going to bed late, working through meals and time with the hubby, getting up on the weekends to finish projects, and having to physically be dragged away from the computer. It’s grueling work, and wedding season is just gearing up! It’s not glamorous, but it is rewarding to see the faces of the people you’ve helped to have the best event possible. I’m currently making about $.05 an hour (maybe I can raise that up to minimum wage by the time this year is over?) because a lot of what I have to do is marketing, recruiting, creating content, designing and redesigning my website (after less than 6 months, I’m already realizing I want things that aren’t there, and I don’t like things that are… oops), and working on things like invitations, which are so much fun to do but which are, after costs, not what I’d call money makers. I’m also spending a ton of time in thrift stores, since I’m offering unique and vintage pieces to clients and performing event personal shopping too), and even the most focused and rewarding thrift store mission (like when I happened upon a 75% off sale on a TON of vases, scoops, cake plates, etc.) involves sifting through junk for an hour.
Anyway, that’s why I haven’t had much time for this blog, or for the activities I so love to share on this blog. I’m hoping I can achieve balance, but at the moment I’m just trying to achieve.
If you’d like to check out my site, please visit http://www.EventsbyElisa.com. While you’re there, leave me some blog love, or like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter. I do try to keep up with those forms of social media, at least somewhat. I can’t guarantee when the next time I post here will be (although I do hope it’s next week when I attempt – and hopefully score big with – some baked goods for my friend’s bridal shower – which I’m technically planning with myself as a client… that’s fun). If you have any friends you know who are here in Southern California and are planning a wedding (or a shower, or a birthday party, although I do tend to focus on weddings because most people say they can’t afford a planner for a shower), please share my site with them. I try to keep my rates as reasonable as possible (reason #438 why I am making $.05/hour at the moment?) and offer a lot of services (event design, planning, and/or coordination, graphic design, event shopping, etc.), so I’m a good value too.
Oh – and if you’re curious, the muffins were YUMMY. 🙂