We had the good fortune of connecting with Diane Murray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Diane, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
First and foremost I have been a collector for decades. While teaching high school business courses I sponsored the business club, Business Professionals of America. My students competed in business related events. One student chose Entrepreneurship and struggled to come up with a concept for her business. I spoke to her about the collections I owned and told her I was not sure what I would do with my fine things as I did not think I could part with them, but they were taking over my home. Together we came up with the idea of “sharing” my collections through a rental business for weddings and events. She competed and won the state championship with her business plan and presentation. A few years later when I “quitired” from teaching Grands LLC was born.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Mixing colors, shades of the same color and/or styles to provide a one of a kind tablescape for my clients sets me apart from the typical event rentals provider. In design, you want your audience, in this case guests, to experience a setting that encourages their eyes to gaze throughout the room. If all of your tables look the same there is no need to look elsewhere. I was one of the first vendors in the Houston area to provide colored vintage goblets having launched in 2017. When you pick up a vintage goblet you will know the difference in true vintage versus “vintage style”. There is a certain warmth and connection that comes from using pieces from the past and it is the way I have chosen to serve the present.
Switching from being a collector to sharing my collections has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done professionally. People often ask me “Are you afraid your things will be broken?” It is hard to explain the love I have for my “things”, but I prefer they be shared rather than sit on a shelf or in a box. They have stood the span of time and are actually more resilient than people think. I do not worry about breakage, I worry about storage space as I am a compulsive buyer.
I set out to do this as a stress free retirement gig. Honestly, at the beginning, I wanted my clients to pick up the rentals, return the rentals and all I wanted to do was WASH THE DISHES! I quickly learned that clients wanted services such as delivery and setup at a minimum. Five years into it I am the booking agent, delivery person, setup person, coordinator, dish washer, inventory manager, social media rep, and bookkeeper. As a business owner you must touch every aspect of the business so time management and hard work is required.
I want the world to know that I care for my clients. Although I have a degree in Marketing, I am not that great at sales. I am much better at relationship building with my clients. I will advise them on what they need and not push them toward items that are not necessary or add no real value.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to “shoutout” to my husband for not only providing the capital for my business adventure, but also his patience throughout the process. Others who have inspired me, supported me, and truly helped to jump start my business are the wonderful vendors I have met and worked with. Working alongside Yvette Valdenegro with Pop Up Weddings was something I did when my company was in its infancy stage. In that stage it was about learning from a pro in the industry. I provided value for her business through my rentals and she provided me with knowledge. Understanding that no business can survive without a social media presence was eye opening. In order to obtain content for my social media accounts I needed professional photographs so participation in styled shoots was the next step. There are so many wonderful vendors I have collaborated with and I will undoubtedly forget to mention some. Special shoutout goes to Heather Brack with Wild Pony Express Bar for hosting the first styled shoot I participated in that really launched my business. Other vendors I must mention that have been incredible to work with are Jenny with Lovebug Party Boutique, Meghan with Magnolia Girl Makeup, Susanne with Stones Throw Floral, Lezlie with Lezliehicksevents, Lisa with Finishing Touch Events, Shannon with Event Artistry & Floral, Brandy with Next Chapter Weddings, Steph with Lily in June and Sarah with Let There Be Cake. Photographers who have provided me with countless photos to create content from deserve a special shoutout – Ashley with Rivers Light Photography, Sonia with Sonia Alexandria Photography, Jenny with JW Baugh Photography, Annie Lui with Annie Lui Photography, Erika with Erika Geier Photo, Alyncia with Senae Photography, Naddy Paz with NYPM Photography and Mandi with Mandy Roach Photography. Without venues my business would not exist. There are too many venues to mention and I love them all. I would like to give a shoutout to Dry Creek Gatherings who trusted me enough to add me to their list of coordinators as well as their rentals category .
Facebook: @grandsrentals (Grands LLC)