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, …
I typically keep business and personal pretty separate, but we are a small company and I feel like clients, vendors, those of us who work together, we’re all family. On a daily basis, I realize just how intense this whole parenting thing is. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but it is so real. I constantly question whether I was really supposed to be the person chosen for this job, and then laugh be…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!