Every great team has a great leader standing at the helm. And here at Aisle Planner, we are very lucky to have one of the most passionate, inspiring, and driven women in the wedding industry leading the charge!
When Christina founded Aisle Planner in 2013, I don’t know that she truly could have imagined exactly what she was building. By no means am I saying that she didn’t have the vision to imagine and build a powerful piece of technology; rather, I don’t know that she had any idea how far her idea would spread. Today, Aisle Planner is no longer just Tina working by herself out of her home (she has a team) and has grown to be a global community with planners in 52 countries around the world!
So I sat down with Tina to talk about the inspiration behind Aisle Planner, how she has accepted the challenge of building a business in an unfamiliar tech industry, and everything she is most excited for in the years to come!
After being a wedding planner for as long as you were, what was the motivation behind starting Aisle Planner?
I planned weddings and events for years using a mash up of different tools – excel spreadsheets, word documents, google docs and a host of project management tools. Even with all the different tools I was using at the time, I always felt really organized and in fact, my couples (and all of my vendors) would compliment on how organized I was. As my business grew and the more events I booked, the more I found myself overwhelmed. It’s never a good place to be when you’re doing something you know you love and are truly passionate about, but are so stressed out that you’re no longer able to enjoy your work.
At the same time, I found myself dreaming of bigger and better things for my business, but frustrated by the fact that I didn’t have (and couldn’t find) the right resources and tools that were capable of moving my ideas forward. Add a husband and baby to the mix, and achieving the dreams I had set in motion all the while being a good wife and mom seemed impossible. And it turned out that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way – once I started to share my frustrating with many of my colleagues and planner friends in the industry, I learned that most shared the same sentiments.
So, extreme frustration – coupled with the fact that this was a widespread problem many were facing in the industry – was really the inspiration behind Aisle Planner.
What about your background do you feel has helped you thrive in what you are doing now?
As wedding and event planners, we are constantly faced with difficult and challenging situations on a regular basis. It’s no surprise that “event planner” is named one of the top five most stressful and demanding jobs ever! While many of the scenarios I’ve faced as a planner have caused sleepless nights and stress beyond compare, every challenge, struggle and experience I have had as a wedding planner has contributed to who I am today.
For all the brides who wanted more than their budget could bear – I learned to get creative with doing more with less and the importance of building, balancing and managing budgets. For the time that a wedding venue shut down a few weeks before a wedding, I learned to move quick on my feet, recalibrate and rebuild to keep plans moving forward. From the time the caterer accidentally threw away the bride’s cake topper (and family heirloom) into the dumpster, I learned the value of rolling up your sleeves and just getting the job done – even the dirty work plays a big role in the bigger picture. For each time I had to calm a nervous bride or groom, I learned to be supportive and compassionate of the emotions of those around me.
Through all of this, I’ve learned that things won’t always go as planned, but regardless of what’s thrown my way, I can handle it – and live to tell a good story! I look back at the last fifteen years of working in the wedding industry, and I don’t think I could have been more prepared for my role here at Aisle Planner.
What is your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
While the Design Studio is certainly the most glamorous feature (and the one that I have the most fun with), the wedding planner part of me will have a hard time choosing just one – especially since each and every feature plays an integral role in the planning process! But in all honesty, the features that exist just scratch the surface of what we’ve mapped out for Aisle Planner. That said, what will be my all time favorite features have not been released yet!
The tech industry is largely portrayed as male dominated. How does it feel to be tackling a tech start-up with a team of women at the helm?
As a wedding planner (without a technology background) a big challenge was finding accessible educational resources, support and mentorship – my tribe so to speak – that I could relate to as a female entrepreneur in the technology space. The local start up scene (as supportive as it is) was and is still primarily male driven, and while I can’t help but be inspired by all the amazing entrepreneurs doing amazing things, I look forward to the day when there will be more support for women in technology.
But when it comes down to it, it’s all about perspective, and the fact that I am a female leading the charge of a tech start-up didn’t make me feel that I was any less capable of making things happen. If anything, it made me even more excited to be a woman-led business, building purpose driven technology for an industry that is predominantly led by women.
I’m extremely proud to have attracted an amazing team here in the offices of Aisle Planner. The office brims of excitement and creativity on a daily basis, and the fact that we all just so happen to be a team of hard working talented women may not have been completely accidental.
When you started building your team, what were you looking for?
In everything that we do, regardless of whether you’re planning a wedding or event, building a business, or creating a life you love, it all comes down to one thing – the people that you choose to partner with on your journey. When it comes to building the right team, I’ve always felt that when passions, values and motivation align, you can create the most amazing things. So quite naturally, these are things I look for as we continue to build out our team.
Success is not effortless. Our team carries this business on their shoulders every single day, no matter what crazy hard challenges we are up against. That takes true passion. I’m genuinely excited to continue to build out a team of like-minded individuals who are just as passionate about the wedding industry as I am.
What are the critical elements of your workspace you couldn’t live without?
While we’re in the process of redesigning our office space, there’s a shortlist of things that make our workday more enjoyable. It’s the little things that keep us creatively inspired so fresh flowers and lit candles are everyday essentials. When it comes to 2pm, it’s an understatement to say that we’re powered by dark chocolate. We work hard and love to celebrate our wins, so we always have a bottle of champagne (or two) in the fridge. And of course, I couldn’t live without our office dog, Kula (my golden retriever) curled up at my feet.
What excites you the most about technology?
I’m excited by the endless possibilities that the right technology for an industry can enable. In my case specifically, I am excited about the possibility to support, improve and move forward an industry that I’m passionate about; which brings me back to the reason we started Aisle Planner – empowering men and women in small business with technology that enables all the possibilities that do not exist with current solutions. I’m inspired by purpose – to build solutions with technology that allows small business owners to work more efficiently and do more with their time, make more money, lead better lives and ultimately stay passionate about the work that they do because of it.
What most excites you about the future of Aisle Planner?
There are so many things that have me excited about the future of Aisle Planner. I’m excited about supporting the growth of our community of wedding professionals. I’m excited to continue to build out our team here at the offices of Aisle Planner. We’ve got great new features on the way and there are so many exciting announcements we’ll be making throughout the year that I am bursting at the seams to share it all with the world!
What lessons have you learned along the way of building your business?
I’ve learned many things along this journey and I continue to be humbled by the lessons I continue to learn with each passing day. I’ve learned there’s no one right way to building a business. I’ve learned that as one person, you can do more than you think you can. I’ve learned that you can pave your own path and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. I’ve learned that those mistakes are the very things that make you stronger and in the long run, help you forge ahead. I’ve learned that you can make things happen, even when the odds are against you, with sheer will and hard work.
What book are you reading right now?
Currently on my night stand: Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner. While it’s a departure from the business books that I’m typically drawn to, this book has me hooked. I’m only half way through, but there’s something about Coco Chanel’s story that resonates with me. From humble beginnings, Coco Chanel worked tirelessly to transform the way women viewed not only fashion, but how women viewed life and their place in the world. It’s amazing to think that something like fashion could have the kind of impact that it did, which has lasted even today. Throughout the novel, I’ve found myself constantly reaching for a notebook and pen to jot down gems I would come across and loved.
One quote in particular, in speaking about a popular hairstyle at the time which she pushed for women to no longer use, she said “No horsehair frame to elevate one’s chignon? That would indeed be revolutionary. We spend hours each day having our hair styled. If we forego the effort, imagine what else we could do with our time?” Just beautiful. She goes on to say, “I worked my fingers to the bone to liberate women from our cloth chains, our minds remained as closed as ever to the possibility that we might deserve more than a husband, a child and growing old cooking sausage.” How can you not be inspired by such passion?
Coco’s perspective on the importance of women and their time parallels the dream we have for Aisle Planner. She knew her work was so much more than just fashion. She recognized the importance of highlighting women’s independence, the usefulness of their time, their potential, and their overall contributions to society. We wholeheartedly standby this thought process. For all planners, both men and women, we work to create a platform that is much more than just planning and design tools. It’s about what these tools enable their user to do, whether its create spare time to spend with their families, focus on generating new leads and growing their business larger than they ever could’ve imagined, even taking the time to volunteer or explore a hobby that will help make the world a better place.
Coco Chanel’s work had a lasting impact on the world, and I can’t help but feel inspired and encouraged by her life story.
“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.” – Coco Chanel
I couldn’t end this interview without sending out a great big virtual hug to our community of Aisle Planners. I’m blessed to be doing what I love, and I don’t take for granted the support, love and encouragement that you all continue to show us on a daily basis. I’m able to overcome hurdles and make the biggest strides forward because of this, and for that, I am beyond thankful.