District Boss Interview: Tart Event Co.
KELSEY + AMELIA ARE THE BOMBSHELL LADIES BEHIND TART EVENT CO.
These lovely ladies are a talented duo based in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA. They infuse moments of honesty, art, and delight into their incredible event planning and styling business. Ahead, they share a glimpse inside their lives as event planners, dual-entrepreneurs, new mothers, and best of friends.
1. Tell us about Tart Event Co.
We launched Tart in 2014, & we like to say that we specialize in social events. While we mostly have wedding clients, we love a good birthday party, anniversary soiree, launch party... Anything that we can really take to the next level of customizing with intention. Our mission behind Tart is to help our clients create a perfect day that reflects their style & tells their story. A Tart wedding is immersed in unique personality, artful design, & a bit of creative innovation.
2. Tell us about the team - Kelsey + Amelia
Kelsey is our DC gal, having moved here three months before we launched Tart, & Amelia is in Virginia. We met on our second day of college in a Communications 102 class at George Mason University, & halfway through college started dreaming about owning a business together someday. We had babies earlier this year within two months of each other & our husbands are best friends, so "work wife" doesn't even begin to cover it.
3. How did you get into wedding planning?
We both separately landed on "Event Planning" as our career choice in college, & after graduation, Amelia headed straight for the wedding planning arena, working for an established wedding planner in Richmond, VA, while Kelsey went the venue route in Norfolk, VA. After about four years of industry experience, we were both ready to launch a company of our own, which we had been scheming about for years. It was so helpful to pool our individual experiences and knowledge that we'd gained during that time!
4. What's been the biggest struggle/biggest accomplishment of your entrepreneurship journey?
One of our biggest struggles (let's be honest, there are many) is chiseling out a place of our own in what is a very saturated market. Between a bazillion other talented vendors, Pinterest confusing brides into doing all the work themselves, and social media algorithms working against brands, it's tough! We worked really hard on our new website, in hopes of reeling in our ideal client, but it's a non-stop effort to get your name out there.
Our biggest accomplishment has to be going full-time at the beginning of this year. We really pinched pennies & invested a LOT of time & effort for 2.5 years before we started paying ourselves, so it's really amazing to be able to financially contribute to our households again!
5. With something so personal as wedding planning, how do you set client boundaries?!
Ohhhh, that has been SUCH a tough lesson! Kelsey learned in her days at the venue she worked at that nearly every item on a contract is because someone broke something -- & our contract certainly reflects that now. It took a lot of trial & error, but we are now protected in our contract with working hours & communication guidelines, with flexibility as we see fit. We've learned to read our clients & evaluate what boundaries we should set early on, such as whether it's someone that we're okay setting the precedent of texting with or if things need to be done more formally via email. Communication is SO nonstop these days, but it's been important to us to be able to "leave the office", especially now that there are babies in the picture.
6. How do you balance two different locations for your team?
It's both a blessing and a curse that we've never lived in the same city since college. We've always operated out of different cities, so we've built our day-to-day tasks around that since the beginning! We are in nearly constant communication - Sometimes on Instagram, Facebook messenger, texts & email all at the same time with four different conversations, ha. We've been lucky that our events have been SUPER balanced with our travels between Richmond, Charlottesville & DC, so it feels like we're just taking turns on who is doing the traveling. We do a lot of Google Hangouts with our clients, since that's usually the most convenient to get everyone in the "same room."
7. Average day-to-day?
Our day-to-day has been a little topsy turvy this year with the addition of our kiddos (one in April, one in June), but it's a pretty consistent rotation of emails & projects, with the occasional Google Hangout or phone call with clients in the evenings when they're off from work. Amelia heads up our logistics & administrative projects (schedules, vendor management etc.) & Kelsey heads up the creative end (style boards, vendor sourcing, etc.) but we check in with each other often for feedback on the various projects we're working on - Truly a team effort all day long!
8. Favorite Nighttime Routine
Put the babies to bed, grab a glass of wine & an episode of whatever we're currently binging! & yes, we do tend to watch the same shows.
9. How Do You Work As A Team?
Be honest, check-in often, set job responsibilities! BE HONEST - We always end up with more problems than solutions when one of us doesn't say what they mean, & once we are both open with our opinions, we get on the same page with a great compromise that is the best answer anyway! CHECK-IN OFTEN - Checking in with each other helps keep us from getting overwhelmed or feeling like a one woman show. We are a team, & shouldering the responsibilities of that is what we signed up for! SET JOB RESPONSIBILITIES - About six months in, we sat down to really reflect on our individual strengths and weaknesses, & built our evenly yoked titles & responsibilities from there. While we rarely do anything without consulting the other, this helps us stay in our lane & get more accomplished, especially with day-to-day tasks like responding to internship emails or posting on Instagram.
10. Personal Favorite Moment of Entrepreneurship
We've only done one double header weekend (two weddings, back to back), & I will never forget getting into the car after we finished the second one & feeling both completely exhausted and unstoppable all at the same time. Both weddings were completely different styles, couples, & even cities... But with our powers combined, they went off without a hitch. It was just a really great feeling of hey! We are good at this! & an overwhelming sense of pride in our partnership & teamwork.
One of our weddings had a very spotty forecast. A HUGE and unexpectedly strong storm rolled in RIGHT before our al fresco ceremony was set to start. Guests were arriving and we had no choice but to direct them to the reception tent, which was SUPPOSED to only open post-ceremony. We were watching the radar like professional meteorologists & realized the storm was going to pass super quickly. A quick check with catering staff and the executive decision was made to swap "cocktail hour" to begin immediately, allowing us to entertain guests while it stormed and give us some extra time until the ceremony began. The guests were actually thrilled to be getting hors d'oeuvres and drinks before the ceremony started, and the bride and groom were so relieved that their guests were happy, even though it was storming. The storm did indeed move through quickly and we were able to send them down the aisle under sunny skies and with an aisle lined with happy guests. It was a perfect opportunity to test our problem solving skills and felt like a 10/10 for thinking on our feet to keep our clients in happy wedding la la land!