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Featured Planner: mStarr Design

Aisle Planner mStarr Designs
Photo courtesy Lindsay Hite of Readyluck

As a wedding planner, being creative is part of your job. But, for Emily of mStarr Design, being creative IS her job! Based in New England, Emily and her team are beautifying weddings, events, and homes galore with a unique take on traditional east coast style. Keep reading to learn more about how she became a designer, what it’s like being a new mom, and her favorite piece of tableware!


Aisle Planner mStarr DesignTell us about your path to becoming a wedding and events designer.

I’ve always been a creative person and found ways to channel that creativity. I started a jewelry company in my 20’s (the original mStarr!). I know this is totally cliche but it wasn’t until I planned and  designed my own wedding that I realized I wanted to explore that professionally. I was working in radio at the time but decided to create a website and organize a photo shoot that ended up being featured on style me pretty. From there, I started getting clients and a few months later, I took the leap and pursued mStarr full time. I think I hit the market at the right time, where design and styling was a relatively new concept and really no one was doing it in New England. With lots of hard work, good ideas, and networking, mStarr grew very quickly and I consider myself very lucky!

How would you describe your design process?

In one word- relaxed. I’d like to say it’s always the same with each client or project and, while we do follow similar approaches, sometimes a particular client or a particular project requires a more catered approach. Our process; however, always includes some version of a questionnaire, consultations, targeted Pinterest boards and lots of emailing and texting with clients!

Your right brain loves…Anything pretty. No seriously – flowers, a beautiful vase, aged wood, a cool couch. Whatever!

Your left brain digs…Checking things off my to do list! So satisfying.

Forks, spoons, knives, plates or glasses? ooh, I think I have to say glasses!

You like to be pulled into a project early. Can you explain why that is important to you and your process?
Truthfully, it’s a bit of a control thing – but for the right reasons!  When there is a mishmash of vendors (that seemingly don’t share any type of aesthetic) or a venue that doesn’t allow for more than a 2 hour setup, things can be very difficult and limiting. There are lots of things that ultimately affect our work and we don’t want it to be negatively.  We want everyone and everything to run smoothly so, bringing us in early is key.

You’re a new mom (congrats!) What has life been like since having your daughter, Max?

A whirlwind! In the best way… well most days, haha! Learning how to juggle being a business owner with being a mom, and doing it all mostly at home is HARD. Just when I think I’ve figured it out, her nap schedule changes or she needs to eat more or is going through a mama-only phase. While it has its perks, working from home can be tricky and I’ve made it work until now with the help of a babysitter. But, now that Max is 9 months old and is so interactive, we want her to spend regular time with kids and mama needs to get back to a more regular work schedule! On one hand, I’ve learned to do a lot in a little amount of time but, on the other, there are only so many hours in the day and so much work that needs to get done. So, we’re working on a new care plan. Being a parent and, in particular a working mama, does give a new perspective to everything though. But, it has also opened me up to new projects that are kid-related!

Aisle Planner mStarr Designs
Photo courtesy Joyelle West

In addition to expanding your family, you’ve grown your services to include interior styling and sourcing. What inspired you to make the addition?
I’ve always had an affinity for it, and a knack (I think?) for it.We moved into our 1830’s farmhouse a few years ago and I created a hashtag pretty early on. I realized people were following me on Instagram just to see how I was styling things around the house so it was a natural next step and one I’m super excited to keep growing! I’m always styling and restyling things around here and I am lucky to have some partnerships that make it even more fun! It kind of grew organically, much like the wedding  and event side of the business.

You have a background in project management, jewelry design, and marketing. How do you feel like your past influences your current work?
Any client-based job is really the ultimate test in project management, right? Marketing is a given with anything, especially your own brand or business and jewelry design was my first real creative venture. I even get to bring it into the current mStarr every once in awhile…like when i designed necklaces for a client’s bridal party.

Aisle Planner mStarr Designs
Photo courtesy Fat Orange Cat Studio

What do you need your couples or clients to bring with them to kick off a project?

Priorities are so important. We don’t care if their priorities are lettering from a certain calligrapher and  custom cocktails or peonies and food trucks. We just want to know what makes them tick so we can create the best experience for them and their loved ones.

As a designer, how do you utilize the Aisle Planner Checklist?

Much the same way a planner would I assume. So much of what we do is logistics especially when you’re talking about installs. Plus, we do some coordination so we definitely use the Checklist for that. But, think of it this way – even something as “fun” as invitations are, we have about 20 tasks to make sure are checked off in order to bring them to life. From deciding on a calligrapher or designer, to confirming the components to be included, finalizing the wording, asking the calligrapher or designer to weigh the suite so we can confirm stamps, reminding the clients if they’re mailing them to hand cancel, the list goes on! Aisle Planner quickly became our most important management tool given all of the features it has for us and for our clients. The email notifications are especially key in our world!

Aisle Planner mStarr Designs
Photo courtesy O’Malley Photograhers

How would you describe the quintessential New England wedding?

That’s a good question! (New England is still a pretty traditional, old-school market so my answer might be a bit different than many others.) When I think of New England weddings, I don’t think of hydrangeas and starfish decor, I think of coastal charm in Maine with driftwood and watercolor or rustic in New Hampshire with lush greenery and a ceremony in the woods.

Is there something you have dreamed up but have yet to bring to life?

Oh man, so MANY things! I have note after note in my phone with ideas for weddings, ideas for workshops, ideas for mStarr in general. Maybe I’ll get around to a couple of them someday, ha!

 

On this month’s theme: Be Silly.

Having a child throws your inhibitions right out the window. The songs I make up, the faces I make, the sounds that come out of my mouth. They are all ridiculous and I’m always a little horrified when I see videos of myself 🙂 BUT there’s something very freeing about that and it only encourages my creativity.

Want to see more from Emily? Visit her website or follow her on the ‘gram!

About the Author

Tayler Cusick Hollman
Tayler Cusick Hollman

Tayler is the Creative & Marketing Director at Aisle Planner. She is obsessed with color and pattern, notoriously cooks everything from scratch, and can sometimes be seen cruising around on a skateboard. Follow Tayler on Instagram @taylrd_designs

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