I’m back today with a Girl Boss Series feature and you’re going to want to keep reading because this Q+A is super inspiring!
If you’re new around here, throughout 2019 I’m featuring one inspiring, supportive and driven female entrepreneur from my community with YOU!
Today’s feature is someone that turned from an amazing business partnership to friend – Kelsey from Back Bay Bride. By the end of this feature, you’ll know why that came to be. Kelsey is not only a super talented wedding planner, driven entrepreneur and business woman, she’s absolutely sweet to the core and is so genuine!
How did Kelsey and I meet? I’d start off by saying Kelsey is a mind reader. I was in the midst of mocking up the lay out of the ballroom for our wedding reception and due to my lack of special skills, I was stressed and overwhelmed. During this same week, Kelsey emailed. She was recently married [see her gorgeous wedding feature on Inside Weddings here] and enjoyed the planning process so much, she was venturing out on creating a wedding planning business. Perfect timing!
Through the months that followed, I didn’t have any wedding stress. Oh except for when I couldn’t find my bridal robe the morning of, but guess what? Kelsey saved me then too by bringing me a super cute white robe to borrow. She’s amazing.
All that to say, you know why we miss out on opportunities? We don’t put ourselves out there! Pitching yourself to a potential client to build up your portfolio or to a brand if you’re a blogger. Both of these situations feel really uncomfortable and vulnerable. As humans, we default to the worst case scenario. Hearing a ‘No’ is always scary, but it’s those moments of vulnerability when we grow the most. And hey, you may get a ‘Yes!!’.
Through the wedding planning process and the years that followed, I’m still in total awe of what she has created since founding Back Bay Bride. Kelsey has turned her passion into a thriving business and is total GIRLBOSS!!
Not to mentioned, at the same time of launching and building her business, Kelsey was earning her MBA from Boston College and growing a career in Corporate Communications. WOW. This is a perfect example that we CAN do what we set our hearts on, you just need to make the leap and grind.
I know Kelsey’s story will provide learnings and inspiration for the A Mix of Min community and I’m just so excited to share her Q&A today! Let’s dive in.
GIRLBOSS Q&A: KELSEY, BACK BAY BRIDE
Company: Back Bay Bride
Location: Portland, Maine
Q: What was your first job and how did you land it? Any nugget of wisdom learned that you still apply today?
A: When I first graduated college with my business degree, I joined a Rotational Development Program with focus in Human Resources at a large insurance company where I had interned my Junior and Senior year. The two year program included three rotations across different functions. Halfway through the program I realized I wanted to shift my focus from HR to communications and fortunately was able to find a role in the company’s Brand & Communications department where I stayed for five years.
I honestly have to credit my undergraduate education at Babson College (I later got my MBA at Boston College) for such a great start to my professional career. Like so many of us would say, my college experience really was some of the best years of my life. Not just because of all of the fun and the life long friends I found but because it was a very driven, motivating culture with lots of very smart and talented people who you knew were going to do big things and it made you feel like you could be one of them.
I had so many opportunities at school through classes and group projects and extracurriculars to learn the skills so necessary to be a good employee – leadership, commitment, responsibility, creativity and curiosity and I really believe taking advantage of everything college had to offer helped me to become an attractive candidate for that college hire program that lead to a growing career at the company.
Q:What inspired you to become a wedding planner and what factors led you to taking the chance and creating your own business, Back Bay Bride?
A: There are a lot of factors that lead me to start this little business.
To start, I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit – in fact the strength of Babson’s entrepreneurial program is why I chose it to begin with. I had a lot of little “businesses” growing up from trying to sell handmade jewelry to family members to selling badly sewn pillows to kids at summer camp. I just get a lot of joy in making things and it is really satisfying to have someone want to buy your product.
I also have always had a strong interest in marketing and branding which has certainly come in handy as I’ve established and grown my business and personal brand.
Finally, I’ve always had a real passion for event design and entertaining. And not to mention I really am a hopeless romantic and I really just love love. And pretty things. And organization. I knew going into planning my own wedding that this was something I might be good at and I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to see if I could do it professionally for others.
Q: It’s fair to say you play a vital role in a very important day in people’s lives! How do you manage this pressure?
A: Trust in the process and a positive attitude! The most important thing is that two people in love are celebrating their love and commitment with all their favorite people in the world. For the most part, anything that could go wrong (at least things that I can control) will not change that most important fact.
From there, I just trust that up to that day I’ve done everything I can do to the best of my ability and I know that everything is going to come together, even if not exactly as planned, still exactly as it should be.
I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason so you might as well go with it and embrace it.
Q: Amongst the weddings you’ve planned, is there a favorite moment in them that you look forward to seeing?
A: I always try to plan for a few minutes before all of the guests enter for the bride and groom to see their reception space for the first time. I think it’s a really special moment for the couple to get to see all of the things they’ve been dreaming and planning in real life, exactly as their guests will see it once they enter.
Every couple gets swept up in the energy and craziness of the day (as they should!) and forget to notice the details, but taking a moment to really see and appreciate the experience they’ve created through all their thoughtful touches and careful choices is so important. And selfishly I really love to witness that moment. That and the first dance!
Q: What is your key piece of advice for any woman out there reading this that have an entrepreneurial dream, but have yet to take the initial plunge?
A: I made the decision to start Back Bay Bride while sitting in a breakout session at the Mass Conference for Women. I really wish I could tell you who was speaking but I don’t remember that part.
All I remember was the advice that she gave which was that you don’t have to be at 100% to start. She said “just start”.
And I thought to myself, I could do that. There is nothing stopping me from just starting. So I wrote a list of what ‘just starting’ might look like and started an Instagram account later that week. I know that some business endeavors may be harder to ‘just start’ than others but just taking the first few steps – buying a certain inspirational book or creating a website or making your first product and posting a photo of it is a step in the right direction to building something real.
Q: You’ve juggled not only a thriving Corporate Communications career, a wedding planning business and newlywed life, but also earned your MBA degree… all at the same time! Wow! What is your key to prioritizing projects and also self care?
A: When I was still at my corporate job and about to start grad school, a senior leader who had completed her Executive MBA shared some wise words. She said: “You can be an A+ student or an A+ employee, but it would be almost impossible to do both and that it is okay to not be perfect at everything”.
I still always do the best I can do at everything, but sometimes the best thing you can do is to cut yourself some slack at times. I think I’ve figured out how to know when I am getting to a breaking point and I just shut off the computer, put away my phone, drink some wine and just relax for a night. Everything will be better off if you give yourself a little space to recharge and refocus.
I have certainly not mastered the balance and there are definitely times where my self care suffers but sometimes you just have to be kind to yourself.
Q: What is your one liner, quote or mantra?
A: “There is a time” which is a quote from a reading at our wedding. To me I interpret this to mean everything will happen as it’s meant to be. Always believe there is a reason why things happen the way they do, even when it feels like they are going wrong, and everything will happen in its time.
A MIX OF KELSEY..
Q: Favorite Boston restaurant?
A: We used to love this small, kind of random Italian place on Newbury street near our apartment, Trattoria Newbury, but sadly it closed! We also love Piattini on Newbury for a cozy date night or Barcelona (in the South End) for a fun night out. Honestly though, the Portland food scene is way better than Boston :p
Q: Favorite weekend activity?
A: Waking up on my own time, actually sitting and drinking coffee, going to barre class, meeting my husband for bagels and then doing something outside with the pup. That was more than one activity but it’s kind of my dream day 🙂
Q: Favorite wedding trend?
A: Ugh, greenery. I can’t get enough. I know it’s so on-trend but I love the texture and detail it adds to a tablescape and I love using natural decor whenever possible.
Q: Most recent beauty find?
A: I’m pretty obsessed with my Dry Bar Three Day Bender curling iron. It does everything from beach waves to bouncy curls and it works super fast and the curls last for actual days with just minor touchups.
Also for any bride-to-be’s out there, my husband and I cannot suggest Kelsey as a wedding planner enough. She’s so creative, super organized and amazing at what she does. She provided so much support to us through the planning process. Plus, she made our wedding weekend SEAMLESS so that we got to focus on being in the moment.
You only get married once and it goes by in the blink of en eye. You don’t want to be spending any precious time coordinating vendors or putting out fires day-of. No matter how much you plan, questions or hiccups will arise and without a dream wedding planner like Kelsey, you’ll have to do that instead of drinking mimosas with your girls and soaking in the love with your new groom. She’s amazing! Xo Mindy