We had the good fortune of connecting with Amberley Adams-Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amberley, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I discovered I was pregnant two weeks into my 4-week notice I had with my full-time employer. After building a solid foundation to Blue Events & Co. I was faced with the decision to play it safe and withdraw my notice or continue to take that leap of faith. The stakes had been raised. Instead of only having fear of letting down my husband, I began to have fear about not being able to provide for my child and being the mother he needed me to be. The struggle of learning the right work life balance began the moment I saw those two pink lines. Many working mothers fight daily to find this balance. I find the most difficult thing as an entrepreneur is learning how to clock out. I failed terribly at this the first year of my son’s life. It could have been the odd sleeping hours and awful postpartum depression, or just the normal new business growing pains; but raising both my business and child at the same time was intense to say the least. There were never enough hours in the day. There were no boundaries as to when was the right time to work, and when was the right time to mom. Self-care was nonexistent. After surviving that first year I realized I was always giving my clients and family the best of me, but not giving myself the best of me. I grew the courage to set boundaries. Some days I only get 15-minutes, and some days I take half the day just to focus on re-centering myself. My personal favorite activities consist of kickboxing, yoga, gardening, and being with my animals. As long as I am out of my office, and all by myself, then I am able to recharge and give everyone the best of me. Besides self-care, I learned how to trust and hand over responsibilities. Hiring the right team is the only way for a small business to grow. This was also probably the most difficult step to take. I am not a believer in hiring the person with the most experience. I believe that you can always train your team, but you cannot teach attitude, common sense, drive, and genuine customer service. At first it was an intern that came in once a week to help me organize paperwork for that weekend’s event. Once I saw how that small amount of faith in someone else allowed me to finally get dinner on the table before 8:00pm, I became driven to grow the dream team even more to maintain that balance. We now have a team of 5 coordinators and planners, and I only work after 5:00pm two days of the week. Being an event planner requires the occasional evening meetings and attending events on the weekends. While I am away I think about what I am missing at home. My support team helps me overcome this struggle. If my husband was not constantly reminding me how far we have come, and that I am still a good mother, I am not sure if I would be able to feel balanced. I know I am not the only mother that has said, “I have two jobs and I feel like I am doing both of them halfway”. On days I feel like this my cheerleader of a husband reminds me I am still doing both jobs well. The event will still go off without a hitch, and my son still loves me. That is all it takes for me to reaffirm my life’s decisions and focus on the job that needs me the most at that moment. The Blue Events & Co. business model was created to fit into my lifestyle and long-term goals. I have had judgement and been told to do things differently. We are not your “traditional” wedding planner where you have 3 packages to choose from and a set amount of planning hours included. I created a business model that focuses on streamlining the planning process making it easier for my clients, vendors, and myself. In the long term, my team members will be able to run their own business under the Blue Events & Co. name using the tools, training, support, and resources I provide them with. This will help us to grow as large as we want, but still allow me to continue to maintain, if not improve, that work-life balance. Overall, I find that self-care, support, and business management are the tools I use to run Blue Events & Co. and my household; all while keeping my head on straight. I am forever grateful for those who have guided us to this point: family, team members, vendors, and clients.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Blue Events & Co. is an event planning business that focuses on simplifying the planning process, and educating clients. Instead of having the more traditional event planning company structure which offers 3 packages with a set amount of planner’s hours, we have 3 different styles of planning that other package options within each style. In the beginning I received some judgement, but I enjoyed the challenge of going into the unknown by creating something more unique. I stuck with my guns and original business plan, regardless of so many people encouraging I just go with the norm. I am so happy I did. At times I doubted myself, maybe like most entrepreneurs do, but hearing my client’s positive feedback as well as positive feedback from vendors helped me push through that doubt. Going against the grain can be scary yet empowering at the same time. While in college I made the decision I would prefer to learn the basics with every trade in industry before becoming an event planner. How could I understand or appreciate my vendors if I was completely clueless about their specialty? I needed to understand the reason why behind their decision making. This tool helped me select the best vendors to pair with my clients and their needs. The result: a flawlessly executed successful event.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would have to start the trip with a good Texas bonfire at our property here in Georgetown Texas. We would invite all our friends and neighbors, buy a great bottle of scotch, and pass it around the fire while listening to some of the best Texas Country music. Maybe one day we could go for a hike at the Greenbelt and dare each other to dive into the underwater cave. We could go cool off from the hike on Ladybird Lake with some kayaking or paddle boarding. We would have to do one night in downtown Austin. To start the night off right we would grab a craft cocktail at Half Step on Rainey Street. This is where I met my husband during the South by Southwest Festival. There is live music just about everywhere you go on a Saturday night in Austin, so we would find one or two shows to attend. If we had enough notice to make a reservation weeks in advance we could take a hike at Hamilton Pool, or grab a craft cocktail at the secret bar, Midnight Cowboy on 6th street. To cure morning munchies we would have brunch at Suerte on east 6th street, or attend the gospel brunch at Stubbs. For a slower pace we could enjoy a casual afternoon walking around the Georgetown square. If it was in the spring and our guests were from out of town, a good old fashion photo shoot in a field of bluebonnet is a must. Some time during their visit we could introduce them to tubing in San Marcos.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The foundation of Blue Events & Co.’s success is owed to my loving husband and son, dedicated team members, amazing vendors and clients.
Mylah Renae Photography Kati Maxwell Photography Felicia Reed Photography