2016 Year in Review
It's the last morning of 2016. I'm at home in my office wearing a white fluffy robe, drinking my hot coffee (with a healthy splash of Bailey's in it) contemplating my life. I've been challenging myself over the last few weeks to review my year, set new personal and professional goals, and to make resolutions for 2017.
Many of you already know that 2015 was a year of incredible achievements and incredible pain for me. I left my career for self-employment; doubled my bookings; built my first team; had my first tv appearance; and got my first feature in print. In the same year, my best friend tragically passed away, I was in a bad relationship, and I hadn't planned well enough to be financially stable during the winter (I was almost forced to leave my apartment). In a tremendous year of "firsts," I experienced grief and vulnerability for the first time in my life too. Through it all, I learned that being human and emotional is a healthy way to process grief and anger. I also learned that I need to plan more effectively for potential dry spells - my first hard lesson in entrepreneurship.
I decided to make my struggles just as public as I had with my all my achievements. So I wrote my "2015 Year in Review: long story short, it sucked" post, where I publicly made two resolutions for 2016: (1) I would prepare better for my financial future (2) I would open myself up more to emotional experiences and focus on personal growth just as much as I did my professional growth.
I also had some pretty big professional goals for 2016 outside of my resolutions. I wanted to book 30 quality weddings, launch floral design services as a new key feature to our wedding planning company, build a larger support team, have our senior planners take on their own weddings, branch out to the Toronto wedding market, and double the amount of magazine features and our social media following. I'm VERY proud to say that we accomplished ALL of these!!!
We hit our 30 wedding goal and fully launched our floral design services. We ended up doing the florals for 17 of those weddings this year, and so far 100% of our weddings booked floral services for next year as well. We planned two beautiful weddings in Toronto this year and we are planning a few more for 2017 already. I was nominated for four awards: "Best New Business," "Best Bouquet Design," and two for "Best Wedding Planner" through Faces Magazine and the Ottawa Wedding Awards. We literally doubled our Facebook and Instagram followings. Our team grew from 6 to 11 with 3 lead planners including myself. We even booked weddings right through to 2018 so there won't be a dry season this year or next. It's been a HUGE year for us.
There were a couple other fun surprises I didn't expect but loved. I was asked to style a number of television show sets throughout the year and I've been loving them. I also decided to start sharing my photography publicly and I've actually been hired to do 12 portrait sessions so far. I also did a LOT of travelling. Between a long vacation in Florida and Philadelphia, countless trips to Toronto for work and education, and a wedding in Tremblant, I spent a lot of time on the road.
We had some lows too though. The most significant was the loss of one of our team members, Chelsey Cassidy, who passed away suddenly in April. It shocked us deeply and we all took it very hard. I also found that it was a challenge for me to manage a company that has tripled its bookings and size in 3 years. My old systems worked well for me in the past but weren't good enough for a bigger team, and halfway through the season I had to restructure, which was a huge headache. A few of our girls also left the team for personal reasons in the middle of the season and we had to bring on extra support to fill the gaps, which put more pressure on everyone.
Overall, the season was a great success but we ended up being burned out at the end. I've spent a lot of time since then figuring out how to simplify our processes, refine our systems and build a much stronger foundation for 2017 with room for growth. I also wanted to open myself up and connect with other people who have experienced similar issues, so I've been very open about how I run my company and the errors I've made along the way. I've had so much support and advice along the way from fellow entrepreneurs who have really helped me focus this year. Which brings me to my resolution for 2017. My word for the year is "MASTERY." My resolution is to master my trade. I resolve to be an ultimate professional. I want to focus on mastering business management and leadership. Obviously this is going to take years of practice, commitment and education but I commit to starting now. No more "surviving the crazy wedding season" - I want to slay.
My other 2016 resolution had to do with my personal life, or lack thereof. For the last two years, I completely shut down the idea of dating. I loved being single, but I was always open to falling in love. So to try to develop my personal life a little bit, I decided to give online dating a try. My username was TheWeddingPlanner (yep!!) and I actually had a really great experience. I met a lot of wonderful, nice, successful guys over a 6 month period, but I refused to settle for anything less than magic and I knew I hadn't found it yet.
Then I met Jordan Brum. He was actually the Best Man in my final wedding of 2015 - Jenna's wedding - which happened days before I wrote my 2015 review. While I was completely oblivious and nothing happened that day, we met again 6 months later and we fell in love in 24 hours. It was magic.
He's a tall blonde man with a beautiful frame, a permanent frown, and a generally grumpy disposition. A small town guy from Pembroke, former soldier and current labourer. We immediately bonded over our love of whisky and I quickly saw how complex he really is. He's a man of integrity; intelligent with firm values and a strong sense of honour, deeply devoted to his family and close friends, well-written, well-spoken, and his work ethic is unrivalled. I love how sensitive and emotive he is and how he wears his heart on his sleeve, but he can also fix anything, play any sport, has combat training and knows a thing or two about guns. I've never met a more self-assured and well-rounded but humble and unassuming man.
Jordan moved in with me in July, one month after our first date. It was a too tight in my one-bedroom apartment though. Flowers were spilling into every corner and we had my decor rentals on industrial shelves in the bedroom. We needed a bigger space, and we decided start looking for houses. Two days later, my friend Victoria called me in a panic. She had to move indefinitely to Kenora and she had 3 weeks to either sell their house or try to rent it out. It was a serendipitous opportunity. So weeks later, Jordan and I moved in to her beautiful house in Nepean. I converted the formal dining room and formal living room to my office and showroom, our floral production space is in the finished basement, and Jordan has a workshop and huge garage so he’s thrilled. It couldn’t be more perfect for us right now.
So on this final morning of 2016, I sit here in my office with my white fluffy robe and cold coffee, contemplating my life. And as I stare around the room deep in thought, wondering if I followed through with my resolution to open myself up and establish a personal life outside of my business, my boyfriend walks down the stairs completely naked with a frown on his face, takes a look outside at our lawn and complains about the snow he needs to shovel before we go downtown to watch the fireworks tonight. Then he comes over, kisses my neck and walks his bare ass over to the kitchen for some milk. And just like that, I can see that I did it. I opened up. I fell head over heels in love with the naked man in my kitchen.