Fundraising + setting the right tone

Committing your time and efforts to a charitable organization to plan a large event, typically the largest fundraising event of the year for the organization, can be a daunting task. However, when placed with the right committee members and when working for a cause that you truly believe in, the rewards and satisfaction at the end can be worth every minute. We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with multiple organizations throughout the year and really get an inside look at what creates their success.

Be passionate about your cause. Whatever your charity may be, know it and own it. Be passionate about it and share that passion with others as you work to raise money to find a cure, add to research funds, rescue animals, feed the hungry, free the captured, build a new facility, educate our youth, aide those who have served, shelter the homeless, protect the battered, and so on and so on. We live in an unbelievably giving and bit hearted society and the fact that so many have the means to be on multiple sides of organizations that lend a helping hand is a beautiful thing.

Be goal oriented. Set real numbers, whether it be people, money, phone calls, or total donation. This will help to keep track of the overall progress as a whole and when the goal is reached and passed. Most people are competitive by nature, giving your committee members something to strive for, making the end result even better all around; a personal feeling of accomplishment among those who have helped reach the goals, and the donation goal reached for the cause.

Know your budget and know your limitations. Every successful event needs a budget as a foundation. This helps keep areas itemized to know what should be raised, but also allows your committee members to have professional meetings with vendors to set perimeters from the beginning. This way your vendors know if it is within their realm to produce what your event needs are, and everything is black and white from the beginning.

Assign committees with dedicated members and leaders. Break up tasks among committees with driven members who all have the same goals. Make sure everyone has their own strengths but is equally driven to be involved. A few of the committees may include entertainment, decor, food, ticket sales and seating, and sponsorship. Having one chair for each committee means that there can be one collaborative meeting among chairs to take information back to the smaller groups, but that during committee meetings the focus can remain on that committee work.

Think outside the box. What is your draw? That really unique element that sets your event apart from the others in the area and makes the tickets sell like hot cakes. This can be the location, auction items, entertainment, food, decor or sold out guest attendance each year, but having that special something will keep the event hot year after year.

Wow your guests. Create the experience that will leave your guests asking for dates for the next event and asking how they can get more involved. If you can create instant buzz post event, it makes marketing for the next that much easier. Make sure your guests feel like VIP’s from the entrance on and know that they are attending a well produced event. This will make them comfortable and willing to donate more throughout the night, creating more success in the end donation.

Stay on your path. At the completion of your event, when you think the work is done, think again! Get together, calculate the results of what was raised or will be donated and give everyone a congratulatory pat on the back. Asses the planning and overall event with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to gain a good grip on where the direction needs to be placed for the next function and set the next date to start the planning all over again!

We look forward to watching the production of each event again this year as the organizations strive to top last.

xoxo

Hiring || Productions Operator + Delivery Driver

We’re hiring again! We’re looking for a driver, productions operator, all around good guy to keep things rolling around here and put up with all of these ladies on a regular basis! If you know someone interested, send them to us!

Needed:

Delivery driver and productions operator to join our Ashley & Co. team. Hours will vary from 30-50 per week, depending on season, with many nights and weekends. Responsibilities include inventory control, organization and cleanliness of warehouse and storage, delivery trucks, overall property and client communication upon delivery and pick up. Inventory includes tables, chairs, linens and misc. décor items. We are in a fast paced environment that requires quick thinking and good problem solving skills when onsite with clients.

MUST:

*have valid driver’s license and be able to clear insurance screening

*be willing to work nights and weekends

*posses the ability to manage delivery or set crew as needed

*have attention to detail

*have a positive attitude and customer service

Please email us at [email protected] or apply in person:
Ashley & Co.
3122 Texas Avenue South
College Station, TX 77845

Stephanie Hollis, coordinator || welcome to the team

I am pleased to introduce to all of our extended family and friends, Stephanie Hollis, the newest full time member to our team! We first worked with Stephanie when she was the director of catering and events at Traditions Club in Bryan. You know when just get the feeling that you’re in good hands? That was the feeling you got when working with Stephanie. She had the experience of food service, …

Little Blue Box || An Intership Casting Call

 

Oh that little blue box. Who doesn’t know it? What girl doesn’t get giddy when she sees it? I will never forget when I was given my first official gift from Tiffany & Co., and the significance of that gift.

It was the summer of 2002, I had just finished my junior year at Texas A&M and moved to San Francisco, CA to intern with JPM, a sports PR and event planning firm. I had no idea the true experience I would gain that summer and what it really meant to work in a small, woman owned and operated business. That summer I learned more than I could have imagined about myself, the real world, what I felt my direction should be going forward in career paths, and the true benefit of internships when finishing college. I learned to be self sufficient in a new environment far from home, and to appreciate the new relationships you build no matter how fast the encounter might be. I learned customer relations from two fabulous women in the office, Jill, Pam and Juliana, who spoke to everyone on the phone like they had known them their entire lives. I learned the importance of attention to detail and how to make paper trails in every sense of the word. I learned event planning was for me. At the end of my internship we all went to lunch for a bittersweet moment. I had become quite fond of those I was surrounded by, and hoped they felt the same of me, yet I missed Texas and it was time to go back to Aggieland and finish my college experience. As a token of their appreciation I was given the traditional Return to Tiffany Round Charm Bracelet that I soon monogramed to make my own. To this day, I wear it every single day, to the point that the monogram has faded and the hole holding the charm to the bracelet has worn almost completely out.

JPM internship

Now, twelve years down the road, many more experiences under my belt and two years into our venture as Ashley & Co. I love that we are able to pass the internship experience and little blue box on to other young, aspiring souls. Kelly Nail started as one of our interns in the summer of 2013 and came on full time to be our Lead Coordinator in May of 2014 when she graduated from Texas A&M. Upon completing her internship and graduation, she was gifted her little blue box which had the same charm bracelet that I was given those short 12 years ago. It is a right of passage, a medal of honor, some fun new bling that says Tiffany, a girl’s best accessory. With each box that we get to present, there is a story of growth and maturity within that person.

There have been so many wonderful young ladies (yes, we are equal opportunity, but it seems that the young men aren’t as drawn to our industry!), that have come into our business and personal lives through our internship program who have gotten to understand the ins and outs of our business…which is really much broader than it seems! When working for a full service event company, you learn the office side of design, paperwork, file compilation, general traffic control, customer service, wedding prep and wrap up, the inventory side of prep, upkeep, loading, delivery, control, truck driving, time management, and the start to finish of working events. Whew! Not an easy job, and certainly not for all personality types. But that’s why everyone needs experience, right?

We have been lucky enough to have several of our interns turn into employees, have been able to watch several others chase their career dreams after graduation to paths all over the United States and are so proud of where each has gone after leaving us. It is time again for us to put out a call for interns. But not just anyone. We are looking for those truly interested in being immersed in the culture of event planning, design, rentals and hands on work. Everyone here is capable of doing all jobs, and that is how we like to operate, even if we are 95% women, tables, chairs and trucks don’t scare us! :) If you are interested in joining our team for Fall 2014/Spring 2015, reach out to us, we would love to chat.

xoxo ~Ashley

Bridal Planning Guide || Follow as it Fits You

 

As a general life rule, we are all different. This is a positive aspect that makes life interesting and unique, and weddings are no exception. We’ve worked with clients who have an extended planning time of up to two years and a few who have had engagements totaling only two weeks, so take the following as it fits you best. We often are asked by our clients if there is a general outline of what to do when planning a wedding. There is, yes, but, take it with a grain of salt and know that you are in charge of your own destination!
{edit dates, order, eliminate what you don’t want, don’t stress if you don’t fall right into the “norm”, etc.}

Eighteen Month Bridal Planning Guide

Twelve to Eighteen Months:

Discuss and define your overall tone of the wedding: formal, semi-formal, informal.
Decide on your color scheme.
Interview and select a wedding consultant.
Select your ceremony site.
Select your reception site.
Research the options in your area.

Six to Twelve Months:

Compile your guest lists from you, your groom, and both sides of the family.
Discuss wedding rings and begin to shop or design those desired.
Shop for and select your bridal gown, veil, shoes and other accessories.
Select apparel for bride’s attendants.
Interview and select a photographer.
Interview and select a caterer.
Interview and select a florist.
Interview and select a videographer.
Interview and select the entertainment for the reception: band, DJ.
Schedule your engagement photos.
Interview and select musicians to provide ceremony music.
If you are not marrying in a church, interview and select your officiate.
Discuss honeymoon plans.
Select and order Save the Dates: mail 6 months prior to the wedding.
Select rehearsal dinner location.

Three to Six Months:

Select and order men’s formal wear.
Select and order invitations and personal stationary: include maps, accommodation cards, etc.
Secure reservations and lodging for the honeymoon.
Place your gift registries: two to three store choices.
Select and reserve rental items.
Reserve bridal party transportation: horse drawn carriage, limousine, classic car, etc.
Begin skin routine and select make up artist.
Begin personal fitness routine and set goal.
Sample and select a baker for the wedding cakes.
Schedule final menu tastings and determine menus for rehearsal dinner and reception.
Begin pre-marital counseling.

Six to Eight Weeks:

Write local newspaper wedding announcement and submit with an engagement photo.
Mail invitations.
Plan attendants’ gifts: gifts for each other: gifts for parents.
Review and finalize floral arrangements and décor.
Experiment with hairstylist and make up artist: take veil along.
Attend your final gown fitting.
Select and purchase ceremony accessories: unity candle, guest book, ring pillow, flower girl basket, etc.
Select and purchase reception decorations: candles, draping, vases, candy etc.
Review all contracts and details of professional services.
Schedule physical exams and immunization updates.
Select photos for your video montage.
Schedule your bridal portraits.

Two to Four Weeks:

Mail invitations for rehearsal dinner.
Make reservations for bridal luncheon for wedding weekend.
Confirm honeymoon reservations.
Record all gifts as they are received and send thank you notes.
Confirm times and appointments with wedding coordinator.
Determine the floor layout for rehearsal dinner and reception: confirm seating chart and order or make place cards.
Confirm wedding party arrival times.
Begin process of change of name and address: bank account, credit cards, diver’s license, social security, etc.
Obtain your marriage license.

One to Two Weeks:

Pick up wedding rings: check sizes and engraving.
Final consultations with all vendors: florist, entertainment, photographer, videographer, decorators, rental company, baker, etc.
Confirm the final guest count with the caterer, reception facility, rehearsal dinner facility, etc.
Remind men to pick up formal wear and check fit while in store.
Complete the wedding day schedule.
Pack for your honeymoon.
Schedule a spa day for pampering for you and the girls: manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, etc.
Relax and enjoy your family, friends and soon to be spouse!

Expectations. The Big Picture.

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since Jeff and I closed on 3122 Texas Avenue South and officially began the business expansion. Of course there were expectations. There were expectations every step of the way, every phase of the project. We did the renovation of the property ourselves, which in itself was an experience. We grew, as a couple, personally, and professionally. A lot. Then we found out we were pregnant when we were about six weeks into our project, which put our little bundle of joy arriving an estimated five months after we would open our doors for business.

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I’ve always been a “Big Picture” type of person. I can see the end result in projects or situations but often the details of achieving that can appear blurry. When we started our renovations everyone thought I was crazy when I would proudly walk them around our new building and tell them what I had in my head. Especially our contractors. Those poor men had no idea what hit them. Thank goodness Jeff has many years of experience of dealing with my creative nature and can take my wild ideas and turn them into step by step reality. Day by day we saw the transformation take place before our eyes and become one day closer to our ending “expectation”. May 2012 came and we were officially cleared by all inspectors and opened for business.

before…
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after…
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Through the summer we continued to work out the kinks in things, welcomed new clients, got many more married off, and started to prepare for the new addition to our family. I had no idea where to start and what to purchase to fully prepare for this arrival. Luckily, I was surrounded by much more experienced friends and family that could guide me to that point! I had expectations of welcoming this little person into our lives and I guess things somewhat remaining the same? I know, insert laughter here. I learned quickly that no matter what you “expect” as an expecting mother you will be given words of advice from any and everyone, so take it as you wish. My reaction was much of a blank stare to those who felt compelled to share negative thoughts, stories or words with us about how our lives would change. Brandi Laine joined the Ashely & Co. team as our Showroom Manager on October 1st and was put through a sink or swim type of training to prepare for my absence shortly after she started.

baby pod and bipbaby pod

October 16, 2012 we were blessed with the most precious baby girl, Sophie Blaine Sanders, that our family could ever ask for. She was perfect in every way and naturally it was love at first sight. We fought through the first days to get the eating on track and quickly found our routine of, well, not really having a routine. We figured out we had a really good baby. She slept well, ate well, pooped well, only cried when she was hungry or tired, and started going to work with me when she was about two weeks old. Don’t get me wrong, we had all the funny stories of new parents that I’ll spare everyone of…occasional cry sessions that didn’t make sense, sleepless nights when we still had to function during the days, and oh the poop! Sophie was soon a regular on the showroom floor and when it came time to send her to daycare in January I wasn’t ready. So what did I do, decided that I could keep her with us at the shop. Run a business, conduct meetings, and keep the baby at the shop. Sure, why not?

Again, it was the Big Picture of the more flexible schedule, the financial side, the ease of breastfeeding since Sophie would be with me all day versus pumping, that I focused on. I didn’t really know what to expect on the side of true baby detail, but soon began to figure it out. We have an amazing crew who works with us, and ladies without you this would not have been possible. For the first year of Sophie’s life she has been a social butterfly at our shop as everyone who has visited has been able to be a part of her firsts. We all got to share in her rolling over, her first tooth, learning to crawl, standing, first words, learning motor skills, and first steps. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. But now, things are a little easier to reach, much more interesting, and our little baby is motoring ALL around.

brandi podshop pod

On January 6 Sophie will start school at Stepping Stone and we will all begin another chapter, full of more expectations. Our energy at the shop will be business focused and Sophie’s energy will be focused on learning and development. I feel incredibly blessed that I was given the opportunity to “take my daughter” to work for the first fourteen months of her life, and have those precious moments as memories.

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To our clients and vendors, thank you for being you and for your friendship. We are grateful for the relationships we’ve formed, the experiences we’ve shared, and the laughs we’ve all had during the last two years. We are thankful for each of our clients, whether it be a full wedding planning experience or rentals for a small party, we are grateful to get to spend time with each of you and for what you teach us.

I’m amazed at how quickly the last two years have passed and am excited to see what the future holds for us, personally and professionally. I’m proud of how Ashley & Co. has progressed and am looking forward to more growth as we add more inventory and take on more work. Thank you for sharing our journey, having your own expectations, and being a part of our Big Picture!

Much love going into 2014, and Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

xoxo
Ashley

Aggie Football vs Wedding Day

I’m writing this blog during the calm before the storm, as we in Aggieland prepare to host the biggest football game (dare I say) EVER at Kyle Field. As those of you who are familiar with Bryan/College Station know, we “march to a different drum” when it comes to planning our calendars.

“I can’t have my wedding in College Station, in the Fall on a home game.”
“What time is the game? We will set the ceremony accordingly to make sure the wedding doesn’t interfere.”
…or one of my favorites…
“I HAVE to have a TV set up with the Aggie football game playing so that my guests can watch during the reception.”

Yep, it’s true, our lives here in the Brazos Valley revolve around our beloved university and the schedule of the football team. And we would have it no other way. Things took a bit of a turn when Texas A&M left the Big XII and became members of the SEC, which happened to be the same year as when “Johnny Football” made his debut. Who could forget November 10, 2012 when the Aggies defeated #1 Alabama. People around the globe fell in love with the heart and passion of that Aggie team and stayed on the edge of their seats as they watched #2 juke and jive his way to victory. And so the preparation for the 2013 Texas A&M vs Alabama game began for fans everywhere.

In the event industry in the Brazos Valley, we’ve seen a turn the last year of local events being held in the Fall amongst the football games. It used to be that it was frowned upon to have your wedding on a “home game” weekend, but this year people have gotten down right feisty when they hear that there is another “event” happening outside of Aggie Football. For those brides who have a wedding which falls on an Aggie football game, I’m sorry, you’ve had to hear this gripe a lot.

We’ve been season ticket holders for many, many years and have endured the good, the bad, and the ugly (in no particular order), and I am actually excited to say, we’re NOT going to the game! Nope, we’re going to a wedding. A wedding in a gorgeous location outside of the Brazos Valley, to unite our dear friends Macee & Cannon. Macee (a Sam Houston alum), has been a rock star on handling all of the heckling from the Aggies for having her wedding on THE GAME. For me, you really can’t get much better than this weekend. We’ll be surrounded by close friends, watching the game as we all get ready for the wedding, get to celebrate a great love with these two, and not have to fight the influx of visitors in BCS. So really, this bride would be the one who has it figured out, right?

The ceremony and reception site are in the process of being “built” right now in a field just down from Macee’s parents’ house and on Saturday everything will be adorned in coral, mint, gold and black and white stripes, and we just can’t wait! Check back for what we get to share about the wedding.

To the Aggies, BTHO Alabama! To Macee & Cannon, see you soon!

aggie football vs macee and cannon

xoxo