Wynn Austin is the Owner and creative leader of Wynn Austin Events in San Diego. As one of our San Diego neighbors we were thrilled to connect with her to learn all about her business, her background, and how transitioning from the corporate to the creative world was an inevitable thing!
What was your path to becoming a wedding planner? How did you first get interested in the wedding industry?
It’s a common denominator for people who work in the creative industry, never to have imagined that they would be able to have a creative vocation. I’ve always enjoyed making things, painting, and creative activities but I was raised to think that those activities were not practical careers. In high school, I started working as a bank teller and decided that I wanted to study finance since it would help me progress with the company I was with after I graduated, which is what I did. After a total of 10 years with the company, I started thinking about being creative again. I started knitting again on my lunch breaks and after work to help me cope with stress of my job. Somehow, I knew I was meant to do something else, something inside of me wanted it, but I have no idea what I wanted to do. My wedding was a very low key destination wedding in Hawaii, so I never knew about this whole world of creatives that revolve around weddings and events. One day I was in a business meeting and out of nowhere one of my business partners told me that I reminded her of her daughter. I asked what her daughter does and she said that her daughter is a wedding planner in the bay area. And there it was, a little bit of serendipity. I was intrigued that people did this for a living, so I started my research and was spellbound how many people are out there making beautiful things everyday. I decided that week, that being an event planner was what I wanted to do.
Tell me about your journey building Wynn Austin Events.
I started Wynn Austin Events from the ground up. Naturally, all my peers and friends at the time were in finance and banking. I didn’t have any friends in the event industry to ask for advice from or who would understood where I was coming from. I did an online course and kept my day job while I worked on creating my business at night. There was a lot of trial and error and expensive mistakes. When I first started, my business’s name was Le chic wedding consulting and I paid a lot of money for the logo, website, and marketing materials. I called vendors and asked if I could come work for them for free. I did everything from handing out cake samples at bridal shows, to sweeping petals at a wedding. I just wanted to learn who did what! Who puts together all the details? Who sets up the escort cards, fans etc. I really had no idea. Luckily, I had a lot of sales and marketing experience and really just threw myself out there, at bridal shows, every industry meeting I could attend, and networked my heart out, even when I was 9 months pregnant! Little by little, I started booking weddings at very low prices for the experience. I was honest with the clients that I had in the beginning and was so grateful that they gave me the opportunity. After a few years, I started discovering my style, my clientele, and decided to rebrand to Wynn Austin Events. I just worked really hard everyday to take care of my clients, kindle and grow relationships, and to build my brand. I still work really hard everyday and sometimes it doesn’t seem like I accomplish much, but when I do have time to look back and reflect, I still can’t believe how much I have grown. It’s pretty exciting.
What are your favorite design elements?
My favorite design elements always bring something in that is unexpected or add the little details that are so personal for the couple and their style. You may notice from my portfolio, I love decorating chandeliers. We love embellishing existing ones, bringing in new ones, and even creating chandeliers from materials that are unexpected. It’s a significant focal point, especially when it hangs over the dance floor. For me, that’s one of my favorite ways to create the wow factor.
What would you say is the WAE signature?
When I think of our signature look, I believe our signature style feels romantic, luxurious, and stylish. It is creating a sophisticated event but it feels warm, inviting…never stuffy.
Your background is in finance. How has that helped you build your business?
My background in finance and business has helped me immensely when it comes to running Wynn Austin Events. In my previous career, I managed a portfolio of high net worth clients. That experience has helped me effectively manage my clients’ budgets and learn how to strategically allocate their funds for their event where it will have the most impact. Just the fact that I am comfortable talking about money makes a huge difference. It’s always a stressful subject in any context!
Are there any similarities between the finance and wedding industries?
There are so many similarities between my previous career and my current career when it comes to the business aspect of it. I took care of my clients, advise them, manage their budgets, was the liaison between my clients and the vendors or business partners. My core priority has always been to provide the best customer experience that I am capable of in any career or position that I have held.
How did your priorities shift after you started building your business?
In the beginning, I focused on wedding coordination, promoting my ability to handle the logistics and the planning portion. But as I was given more opportunities to be creative, the ideas started flowing and I started coming up with ideas that would even surprise myself! I never knew I was that creative. My business started evolving into a design company and it became a pertinent part of Wynn Austin Events. Logistics is still imperative in our business and we really pride ourselves in doing our best to be as organized and prepared as possible. For the most part now, when I get contacted, the couple tells me it’s our style that brings them to us. We also do our best to be the one stop shop for our clients. We have built and made things for our events, we have an online store called Wynn Austin Collection where we sell items that are hand curated and handmade from our independent designers. We even style our brides with our jewelry and veil collection. We have an in house calligrapher Laney, that does most of our calligraphy signs that are at our events. We try our best not to say no and always explore ways to bring their vision to life whether we do it in house or with our business partners.
You’re lucky to have a great team of planners with a range of skills, does each person have a different niche? And has that influenced the types of clients you are booking?
They are all incredibly talented in their own way. Most importantly, they are some of the most hard working, kind hearted, and responsible girls that I have ever met. I still take a very important role in assigning event planners. For the most part, I still do the initial consultation and will bring it to the event planner that I think best matches the couple’s style and personality. With being able to grow my team the past year, WAE has been able to cater to a broader group. We are able to offer our clients a wider range of services. When I was doing it by myself, I was limited to full service clients only. I also only took on about 15-17 weddings a year because I didn’t want to lose the personal connection and to be able to service my clients the way that they deserve and expect from me.
How does your team stay organized through wedding season?
Signing up for Aisle Planner was a game changer for us. I signed up at the perfect time! It has streamlined our process by letting me create templates. Also, being the owner, I am able to see all the weddings and the details of every wedding and event. The girls and I do conference calls together and I review the details of the wedding that they are working on with them and help them in any areas that they need help or have questions on. For myself, I try to keep as much information on their for my clients as I can so that it’s all in one central place. We also use google drive to share documents and to collaborate with each other.
What are your goals for 2016?
My goal for 2016 is to continue to help my team build their portfolio with Wynn Austin Events. We also are trying to build our business in corporate and social events as well. Our new website for our collection will be launched soon, and I am hoping to continue to find new artists and items to add and develop that side of the business. Another idea that we have is to partner up with some of our vendors and create workshops. That is something that I am exploring. We have a lot of fun things in the works!
Check out more of Wynn’s fabulous work at wynnaustinevents.com