When I started The Welcoming District in 2015, I never had a launch party. My ideal client was someone in a corporate office sending their clients to a DC hotel who wanted to welcome them with locally curated gifts. Were they supposed to be at a launch party? Should it include the local vendors I was using? Would they even attend? I didn't really know who I would invite if I were to host a launch party. I felt alone and disconnected when starting my business. I didn't have a tribe (other than my family and the friends outside of the creative industry I was pursuing). I needed business friends. People who I could really connect with and were in the trenches with me.
After being in business for about a year, I started the rebranding process. I refreshed my logo and changed my ideal client to those wanting to tell their stories and welcome guests to their wedding/event through gifting. I also help creative entrepreneurs grow their businesses through gifting and no longer limit my brand to local products (although, I still use them whenever possible). Rather, I choose products that help tell a story.
This styled shoot launch party took place at Blackwall Hitch in Alexandria, VA on February 1st, 2017. We had a styled shoot to feature all the participating vendors and then an open house style party to allow all our friends to enjoy what was created. Here is how everyone became a dear friend of mine.....
In October 2015, I attended my first Inspired Retreat. It's one of the best decisions and investments I've ever made. I met so many creative female entrepreneurs who became my biggest fans (other than my mom, of course). :) I also joined The Savvy Community and The Rising Tide Society that fall and began attending Tuesday Together DC meetings regularly in January 2016. I made a commitment to investing in people. Connections were helping me and my business grow. I needed to learn from others and learn to share my heart and story.
In March 2016, my friend from Inspired Retreat and founder of The Savvy Community, Heather Crabtree, was visiting from Arizona in nearby Annapolis, MD. She invited anyone who was willing to make the trip to join her at The Chesapeake Bay Beach Club for cocktails and community. Heather is a positive person with a servants heart. I knew I needed to make the trip to see her again and connect with a few new faces. That night I had the pleasure of meeting other savvy business owners including Monique Melton and Sabrina Hare. These two ladies have been blessings in both business and friendship. We have reached out to one another along the way; cheering on one another, providing helpful advice, sending referrals, hugs, etc. Both of these lovely ladies were a part of this special day. Sabrina, who owns Couture Cakes by Sabrina designed the beautiful cake and made cake shooters for everyone to enjoy. Monique was asked (okay, maybe told) she had to be there with her beautiful hair. (Check it out. It's gorgeous, but she won't let me touch it.) :)
Another way I began connecting with more creatives is through offering new products. I met Tiffany McCall, owner of Sugar Studio, when I included her beautiful royal icing cookies in my Valentine's Day box collection. After meeting up at a Starbucks near her home, we became instant friends. She's a kindred spirit for sure and I'm so blessed that mine makes pretty cookies for a living. :)
A gift I designed for our silent auction.
Styled shoots and Tuesday Together meetings are how I connected with the talented and absolutely hilarious Catherine George. She made the exquisite gem bonbons that sprinkled the dessert table with blush and gold foil.
My dad made this amazing faux fireplace for me! And it fits in my car! Whaaaat?! It comes apart in ten pieces which makes it great for transporting and styled shoots. Once the pieces were inside, it was set-up in about 15 minutes. It's so cool! #shiplap #makingjoannagainesproud
These ladies are AMAZING! #squadgoals #tribe #blessed
Blackwall Hitch in Alexandria was so gracious by providing their beautiful space for our styled shoot and launch party. They also served these yummy appetizers - chicken wrapped in bacon, finished with bbq sauce and served over a corn relish. DELISH! A signature cocktail was created specifically for me, too! This strawberry spritzer was perfect!
We were pleasantly surprised by Wedding Wire attending and featuring this special event! Here you can see them getting my friend, Sarah Rizzi of Sincerely Pete Events, ready for a featured interview! Yay, Sarah! She provided day-of coordinating services for me and I can't imagine what it would've been like without her. (Even if you are a detail oriented person like me, you want a day-of coordinator for your wedding/event. Seriously.)
What some people don't know is that when I left teaching in 2015, I was blessed to be have the opportunity to use my degree in Floral Design/Interior Plantscape with Bergerons Flowers. Christi hired me as the Event Manager at her Mayflower Hotel location. It was truly the stepping stone I needed to transition into the wedding industry. Working for Christi taught me a lot and she is a wonderful friend. I knew that I wanted her there and her design talent featured for all to enjoy. Thank you, Christi, for all the blessings you've brought to my life.
Photo props by Mark with a Spark!
My dear friend, Amy Johnston of Johnston Style, who I met at Inspired, provided these awesome jumbo balloons! She lives in Portland, Oregon so she wasn't able to attend, but sent me a sweet text that morning letting me know she was thinking of me. xoxo
I met Alejandra, owner and founder of Mark with a Spark, at a styled shoot last spring. We had such a great time styling that day and just really clicked. She lives outside of NYC, but made the trip and this beautiful sign! What a great friend! Her work is pictured above and she is pictured below (wearing the pretty white top).
Something Vintage rentals provided these gorgeous nesting tables. I had the pleasure of working with them in 2016 on a collaborative styled shoot. Their pieces are unique and will add that pretty touch to any event.
Look at all these amazing friends who came out to support me! #mycuprunnethover
One of the products and services I added during my rebrand was wooden calligraphy signs. I so enjoy creating these!
I was so happy to have so many friends supporting me at our styled shoot launch party and am glad I waited to have one until this point in my business. I have made lasting relationships that are constantly helping me grow and making me a better person. This event wasn't about featuring just The Welcoming District; it was about all of the people who have been a part of this journey and make it all worth it. It really was one of the best days ever. Thank you, everyone. I have truly found my tribe.
Styling, Planning, Calligraphy Signs & Gifts @thewelcomingdistrict
Floral & Drape @bergeronsflowers
Gem Bonbons @catherinegeorgecakes
Laser Cut Signs @markwithaspark_
Day-of Coordinating @sincerelypete
Vintage Nesting Tables @smthingvintage
Backdrop Painting @christineolmstead
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