Stacie Hawkins, Owner/CEO, Lead Planner & Designer of Stacie + Co., a successful entrepreneur, thriving business owner, wife, mother of three and world traveler. Her philosophy is simple: Faith first, family second, work third. In this installment of our Vendor Spotlight series, Hawkins, 27, shares insight into how she manages the crazy hours of being a wedding planner and designer, keeping up with wedding industry trends, traveling, and maintaining a work/life balance.
ALHI: What inspired you to get into event planning and design?
Hawkins: My inspiration really started when I was in junior high and I loved being able to plan events and put together special dinners for our family. I decided in high school I wanted to pursue this and chose to move forward with getting certified in Event and Hospitality Management from the U.S. Career Institute while in high school. I graduated high school at 17 and chose to pursue my degree in Business Management with a Minor in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Marketing. I graduated from Johnson & Wales University at age 20 years and continued to grow more interested and involved in the events world. I continued to plan family events, church conferences, and youth group programs along with my wedding, my sister's, and several friends. After this, it became apparent that God was calling me to do this, and I needed to truly put my faith in him and just go for it. I started my business pregnant with my second baby and God truly had his hands in every aspect of it. Business took off in ways I never imagined possible. Being able to create something beautiful and amazing from scratch is more than just the snap of your fingers and a wish to your fairy godmother; it takes dedication, time, investment, planning, organization, deadlines and hard work, and it is the most rewarding thing when it finally comes together. It's pure magic every time.
ALHI: Talk to us about your journey to creating Stacie + Co.?
Hawkins: I started my company when pregnant with my second son; at the time, my oldest was only one. It was truly a leap of faith and jumping into something full force. I started with one client who entrusted me to bring their vision to life. From there, our official first year in business was booming with 12 incredible clients, buckling up for an amazing year two with more than double the clients. At this point, I was beginning to burn out, with two kids under two and now pregnant with my third. I knew something needed to change and it needed to change quickly, or I wasn't going to be able to keep up. During year two, I was able to adjust my packages and pricing to be able to fit the mold of my business philosophy while still running a successful business. When COVID hit, I decided it was time for a full rebrand and to really bring out what I am meant for. During COVID, we rescheduled 20-something weddings; well, not just rescheduled but also replanned half of them. I decided I should also totally redo my company. Wouldn’t you love a front row seat into that day-to-day show? Through COVID and the crazy times it brought, it has produced Stacie + Co. Design and Events. I have now scaled my business to be able to take a certain number of clients per year, worldwide, implementing luxury, high-end products for them while being able to truly focus on them and give them one-on-one time. I don't pass my clients off to the next team member or have them work with 10 different people. It is me. They have full contact with me throughout the entire planning process. They become part of our family and I get to know them along with their family to truly bring out who they are and what makes them, them. Unique and perfect in their own way.
ALHI: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Hawkins: The connections, the networking, but most of all, seeing the faces of my clients when they see the vision they had and all the hard work we put together come to life and be a reality. I love the moment when I walk my clients through their ceremony and reception area before all the festivities begin. To see the reactions on their faces, the surprise, the shock, the happiness, the tears of joy and the realization that “today I am getting married.” It’s truly magical. That's when I know that I have truly done my job well and provided my client with their dream.
ALHI: Tell us about yourself.
Hawkins: I am a God-fearing wife and mother of three amazing boys. I am from a small town in Alabama but have had the privilege and joy of experiencing a lot that this world has to offer. In addition to small town Alabama, I've lived in Miami, Denver, Houston, and Chicago to name a few, all of which are full of new experiences and cultures. I look at it as such a blessing to have been able to experience so many areas of the country so early in my life and I can't wait to see what God has in store for me in the future. I married my high school sweetheart and we have been together for 13 years now. What a journey it has already been. I love to be outside; snowboarding, hiking, wake boarding, playing with my boys, trying new things as a family and individually. I just love experiencing the creation that God has given us in as many ways as I can.
ALHI: You are a highly sought-after, luxury event planner and designer, you run a successful business and travel the world executing stunning weddings. You’re also a wife and a mom of three. How do you handle it all?
Hawkins: Faith first, family second, work third. If those three do not align, nothing in our lives will. Then there’s boundaries, expectations, and goals. Without all three of these things, I can't succeed at anything. We have boundaries in our work life and our hours, and expectations when it comes to work life/family life and setting goals with not just my business but personally and in our family. I take a certain number of weddings and events per year so that we can also enjoy our family and our kids. They are young and will only be young once. It is everything to me to not miss out on that and to take it in. At the same time, this allows me to be able to truly dive into each of our weddings and events and devote ample amount of time to each client so that we can focus on each and every detail.
ALHI: What is the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
Hawkins: Taking risks and really believing in myself and having faith that if God wants to keep this door open it will be, and if not, it will close. Constant networking and striving to better myself and my business.
ALHI: What is your greatest fear as an entrepreneur?
Hawkins: As most entrepreneurs would say, failure. But more than that, not holding up to what I know I can accomplish, what I am worth, and seeing that through what I do.
ALHI: What keeps you going when things get crazy or challenging?
Hawkins: Truthfully, the love of the job and the fact that I actually love what I do. I desire to do better and be better every wedding and event we have. I want every conversation, every interaction, every small detail to be better than the last. This is not just a job for me, but it truly is a passion, and I continually look at this as, when I am gone, when Stacie Hawkins is gone, what legacy has been left behind of Stacie + Co. What impact and what good will Stacie + Co. still be doing and still be carrying on? That is bigger and better than anything and that keeps me pushing harder day in and day out.
ALHI: What advice would you give fellow planners?
Hawkins: Take each day as it is. Don't force yourself to be something you're not. Be who you are. You know what you can handle, you know what you are able to do in your "work hours,” you know what you can't handle. Understand your boundaries. Set boundaries. Set goals. Set expectations. You are only as good as you allow yourself to be. Be you, not your competition.