This week on Planner’s Lounge, we are sharing the stories of how four different wedding planners changed the course of their business and careers to better fit their lifestyles and passion. I’m continually fascinated and excited when I hear about event professionals making positive changes to be happier, more successful and less stressed. Earlier this week, I shared my story about the big changes I made at my planning company in the past few years. Yesterday, we shared the challenges and advantages of merging businesses from revel and bloom.
Today, Michelle Gillette shares her story of transitioning from owning her own successful event planning business (Dramatic Events) to a career in the events department at a prominent local hotel.
What made you decide to change the course of your business or career? There was no real epiphany involved in my decision to make a change in my life. I was presented with a similar opportunity a couple of years ago at a different hotel and ended up not going down that path but it managed to plant a seed in my mind. When I found out about the opportunity at the Brown Palace Hotel I realized the thought of making a change excited me so I decided to go for it. The more I thought about it, the more committed I was to making the change and realized I really wanted the job. I knew there would be things I would miss terribly about owning my own company and I also knew I would have a hard time letting go but it’s been worth it so far and the trade-offs have worked in my favor.
How long did it take you to complete the change? The hiring process was actually fairly quick. From the time that I applied to the time I accepted the position was only about 3 weeks. When I initially took the job I still had 3 weddings booked in 2010 that I had to complete. I did have to let the weddings that were booked in 2011 go though. I dissolved my LLC in January of 2011 so in total it took about 3 months to wrap things up with Dramatic Events and completely shift over to being an employee of The Brown Palace Hotel if not in my everyday life, certainly in my mind. It was definitely hard to let it go and take the website down for good. I wish I had been able to find someone to carry on with my business instead of letting the 8 years of hard work disappear but ultimately I knew I wouldn’t trust anyone with my company so it was better just to let it fade away.
What was your biggest challenge in making the change and how did you overcome it? There have been many small challenges along the way but no real daunting challenge that I felt I couldn’t take on and overcome. It has not been easy but I’m also not the kind of person that can’t meet a challenge head-on and tackle it with everything I have. If anything, I really thrive when I am presented with challenges so that has been great for me. I think a lot of wedding planners thrive in that type of environment and its part of what makes you good at your job. There was a definite learning curve to figuring out the systems in place here but luckily we are given a lot of autonomy as mangers to find a way to do our jobs that works for us and our clients. I don’t have someone micromanaging me telling me the best way to get the job done. I think if I did, I would not have lasted over a year in this position. So, I feel extremely lucky to be part of such a strong and supportive team that really trusts us to get our job done. The biggest challenge for me has been managing so many clients at one time. I have had 3 weddings happening simultaneously on a Saturday evening so that makes things interesting! I could theoretically work up to 20 weddings in one month alone – that’s a lot of brides and grooms!
Do you have any regrets? I can’t say that I do, no. I love the people I have the pleasure of working with every day and I never wake up wishing I didn’t have to go to work. That doesn’t mean this job hasn’t been tough at times, but the good certainly outweighs the bad in the long run!
What are the best things that have happened since you made a career/business change? I really feel like I can come home from work and just relax. I don’t have the constant feeling that I should be working, even when I’m sitting on the couch watching TV with my husband at night. I can truly leave work in my office behind my locked door and not even think about it (most of the time). It is wonderful knowing that I’m not responsible for everything required to make a business work/run smoothly – I was never good at book keeping and marketing so it’s great to know I don’t even have to worry about that stuff now. I can just be good at “my” job, not good at everything. I also really love knowing I work for a company that takes care of it’s guests and I consistently have happy clients. They thank me but I know the truth is that I couldn’t do any of it without our amazing staff. It was stressful having to work at different venues with different event professionals at times, when I wasn’t 100% confident in the end product and knew I would be held accountable for every possible flaw in someone’s wedding day. I have eliminated that stress at this point which is a great feeling.
Thank you Michelle for sharing your inspiring career transition!