Have you ever been curious about the creative genius behind the gorgeously curated images on the Aisle Planner Instagram, or the inspiring articles on the blog? Look no further! Today, I’m here to introduce a very special member of our team, Tayler Hollman. Tayler took on Aisle Planner as a freelance client just over a year ago to help clean up a few of our social media pages, and has grown into the company’s in-house Director of Marketing, managing everything from advertising, editorial, social – and even the occasional design project!
Lucky for me, her day to day crosses PR quite often, so I’m privileged to work with Tayler on the regular. Her eye for great design and passion for helping creatives is a perfect fit for her role in the company. From big ideas on how we can help strengthen and shape the wedding industry, to itty bitty projects like resizing a photo for a random to-do I’m working on – Tayler’s YES attitude is an incredible asset to our team. And we can’t help but love the surprise floral bouquet’s she brings to the office!
What about your background do you feel like has helped you thrive in what you are doing now?
I worked in marketing in both the education/non-profit and corporate technology spaces before connecting with Tina and my experience in both those fields (even though they are so far removed from the world of weddings) absolutely groomed me to thrive as part of the Aisle Planner team. I really feel like after spending a fair share of time questioning what I was going to end up doing with my life that this was where I was supposed to land.
I am a social scientist and educator at heart and (surprisingly or maybe not so much), my education plays a big part in my being an effective storyteller. I studied psychology in undergrad and continued on to get my Master’s in sociology, so understanding people on both the individual and cultural level is something I am proud of. After you study all of the factors that influence us all for as many years as I did, it really becomes impossible to turn those lenses off. Seeing the world through those overlapping perspectives has really come into play as I write interviews. I think it helps me dig a little deeper and connect with the stories of people I haven’t even met in person!
You built a business working with all types of wedding planning professionals. What did that teach you and how do you incorporate that into your work now?
Having the opportunity to connect with and support all kinds of wedding planning professionals has been experience worth its weight in gold! The wedding planning process is such a team effort and requires all of these professionals to sync up and execute their services all at the same time. It’s really a beautiful logistical dance.
Each of the pros I have worked with have taught me something. I have learned how to be a better visual storyteller from working with photographers. Working with florists gave me a deep appreciation for the proposal process and what it takes to deliver show-stopping product to multiple weddings on the same day. And working with some of San Diego’s best wedding planners has taught not only about the creativity behind weddings but the rock star people skills it takes to be at the helm. Each of those lessons has impacted how I do my job everyday – because I know what it takes to be a wedding professional from working with them first hand – and that’s why I am so passionate about sharing their stories.
What book are you reading right now?
I am actually not much of a reader; despite the fact that I am always reading something when I have the chance. I think it is the educator in me who is always looking to learn something new. That being said, my reading list is always so dry! I have a stack of books on writing, marketing, social media, and SEO sitting on my desk – you know, the stuff that puts most people to sleep. I was a student for so long that reading anything that I can’t highlight, underline or take notes in feels like a waste. So lame; I know.
How do you work through creative roadblocks?
When I hit a roadblock, I usually take a step back because, most likely, I have been looking at the project for too long. I work best in the early morning, so if I hit a major roadblock (and don’t have a deadline breathing down my neck), I will often table it and wait until the morning when my mind is fresh.
The other thing I have learned about myself is that the more I try and force my way through a creative roadblock, the less likely I am to have that ah-ha moment. So, to clear my mind I’ll often hop on my road bike or go for a run along the coast. No joke, I have texted Tina in the middle of a ride because I finally had that epiphany I was waiting for.
Aisle Planner is a lean start up and all-hands-on-deck team. How do your roll up your sleeves and tackle projects that just need to get done?
Boy, have I been rolling up my sleeves since day 1! Because I am the nerd who can’t bear the thought of being bored, I have this broad range in creative and technological skills. So, if I need to jump in and create graphics, write articles, sketch something, do some basic coding, no problem! I am not an expert at everything but I have learned to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades from working on teams with small budgets and limited resources. That has come to be a valuable asset both personally and professionally.
When you are part of as small of a team as we are and have a to-do list as long as we do, you have to be willing to dive in the deep end on some projects that push you outside of your comfort zone. Having the guts to put yourself out there and try and master new skills quickly is a big part of getting things done around here. It might sound awful to some but I love the thrill of the challenge!
What has been the biggest challenge for you and how are you excited to work through it?
The biggest challenge for me is knowing where we need to go, what we need to do, and who we want to be and being patient about getting ourselves there. I am always playing the long term game and love the strategy and thoughtfulness that it is going to require to get there.
The other challenge is using our resources in the smartest possible way. We get approached with so many great opportunities but, it is hard to be a part of everything, everywhere, all the time. As a small team, each of us has a pretty epic list of daily responsibilities which means, stepping away from your desk to be on site somewhere can mean you are going to have a long day tomorrow. The other challenge is, how do we support everyone equally and give them the attention they and their events deserve? I have had to decline on some opportunities because I just couldn’t swing it and step away from the office and that always is a bummer. The upside? I have been able to meet and build strong relationships with wedding professionals around the world. And I know that we’ll be doing some amazing things with them in the future!
You recently collaborated with a family member over 2,000 miles away to plan their wedding using Aisle Planner, what was that like?
It was actually my mother-in-law’s wedding – no pressure, right?!? Since I was planning a wedding in a city I don’t have any professional contacts in, being able to have everything so organized was a huge advantage. I was able to design everything out in the Style Guides with my mother-in-law, keep quick tabs on the budget, and fine tune the timeline with the vendors who helped make the day so awesome. Doing everything via email would have been insane when you consider how many emails I already respond to in a typical day.
What surprised me the most? That my pretty computer illiterate mother-in-law (I say that with so much love) was able to dive right into planning on Aisle Planner. And from someone who helps design our UX (user experience), the fact that she navigated through the platform pretty easily was a huge win in my book!
The biggest challenge for me is knowing where we need to go, what we need to do, and who we want to be and being patient about getting ourselves there.
When is it important to push through versus decide to hold back and be patient?
This is something that I hear a lot of small business owners or entrepreneurs asking. Probably because it’s really hard to be patient when you have been busting your ass trying to make something happen! But I have the most success when I push when I am working on short term tasks or goals and am patient when it comes to the longer term stuff. Here’s my logic: if you have been patient in setting your long term strategy and goals, then you have taken the time to come up with a plan that is sustainable. (Think of sustainable as realistic and achievable.) So, if you have set the foundation with something that makes sense with the resources that you have at your disposal, then it’s time to crank through all of those shorter term milestones. Being patient is hard (especially when you see stuff going on all around you) but the long term game is a slow one and so you have to be patient.
Where do you see Aisle Planner’s technology influencing the future of the industry?
Most industries have formal standards and yet, the wedding industry, seems to be more fluid and informal. Each professional in the space has the ability to establish their own standards and that is incredibly liberating! But I think that where Aisle Planner is going to effect industry standards is by raising the bar of expectation. Because we are making the business of wedding planning more streamlined than ever, planners can dedicate more of their time to the creative and relationship side of running a planning business and raise their own professional expectations.
Raising expectations is a standard that we should all be working to do and it is very exciting to be a part of the team who is empowering wedding planning professionals around the world to do just that!
What are your biggest goals for yourself? For the team? For Aisle Planner?
For me – To never get too comfortable. Because when you get comfortable you get complacent and that is definitely not where the magic happens.
For the team – To be known as a group of women who kind of beat the odds. We aren’t in the heart of the tech world and that is something we get reminded of a lot. But you don’t have to be in San Francisco or New York City to build an amazing product and talented team. We are driven to make it happen because of those challenges.
For Aisle Planner – That as we continue to grow that authenticity forever sits at the core of who we are. Because by putting our customers’ needs at the heart of our mission, we’ll always be moving in the right direction.