No matter how much we love or hate our job or what age we are, people always love to ask the question, “So what’s your dream job?” For Megan Willis, her dream was to make the beautiful events she envisioned in her mind come to life, which was vastly different than her day job as an accountant. She finally decided that she couldn’t keep waiting to make her dream a reality. Her story is one of vision, risk, and celebration.
Megan is a shining example of how hard work and determination can make your dream become a reality. She decided to join our coworking space as a Nights and Weekends member while still working her day job to kickstart her idea. Now, just one year later, her company has grown enough to have its own studio right down the street from our Oak Cliff coworking space.
Megan walks us through her story, her passions, and her vision to explain how she gradually began transitioning out of her day job and into the dream job she had the courage to create for herself through Celebrate Colorfully:
Tell us a little about yourself: where you’re from originally, what led you to Dallas, and the career you pursued before Celebrate Colorfully:
I grew up in a town called Victoria in South Texas. My husband and I met in high school and moved to Denton to attend the University of North Texas. After graduation, he was hired by Dallas ISD as a teacher, and we moved to Oak Cliff to start our post-college “grown-up” life. I pursued my degree in Hospitality Management with the intention of doing event planning, but put those ambitions aside to get the first job I could find to sustain our new life in Dallas.
About two years into doing accounting for a mortgage servicing firm, I decided to stop waiting and start planning weddings on the side. I remember staging a photo shoot with grocery store flowers and cake in our apartment to create content for my first website. I booked my first client for $500 through Thumbtack and just kept putting myself out there as an event planner. From one wedding in 2014, to 10 in 2015, to now almost 30 weddings this year; the growth has been so exciting to experience!
Where did your passion for all things flowers and weddings come from? At what point did you realize your love for weddings was something you wanted to turn into a career?
My major event-obsessed switch was flipped while planning my own wedding in 2010. Our nuptials were a heavily DIY’d affair with a budget of just $5000 for the whole shindig. But looking back further, I can identify moments from adolescence where it was so obvious I would end up as an event planner. Even though my hometown was small and verrrrry country, I would plan out elaborate birthday parties for myself. Honestly, those plans never came through (my parents certainly didn’t have the budget to throw their 14 year old a secret-garden floral-explosion dessert party), the thrill of planning was where the fun was!
I didn’t even know you could major in Hospitality until I started college. I changed my major and that was that! Flowers came much later. I only started to get interested in floral design last year. I had a bride who had amazing style but a modest budget. I told her I would learn everything I could about floral design and if she liked my style, I would do her flowers! If not, I would help her find someone else. I took private lessons, workshops, and even community college classes to learn and hone my skills. We just did that bride’s wedding this past May, and it was everything she dreamed of!
Can you explain the moment when you realized that your current job just wasn’t cutting it, and you truly wanted to pursue making Celebrate Colorfully a reality?
Honestly, my day job stopped cutting it about one month in. I knew accounting wasn’t for me long term and my position didn’t offer any real opportunity to advance. I’m not ashamed to say it was all about the paycheck. I started Celebrate Colorfully two years into working my accounting job and continued working there for another two years!
I just got tired of waiting. The time is never going to be perfect to start your own company.
I realized I would probably never have enough money stashed away or have everything in place. But I couldn’t ignore the itch any longer, so I put together a website and didn’t look back.
What were your first steps in establishing your new business and brand?
Branding was important to me from the get go. I had learned enough writing my home/diy blog on the side to know that branding is make or break. It really matters if you want people to keep coming back. The first thing I did was put together a mood board to hone in on a vibe/aesthetic that I loved. The second thing I did was hire someone to do a logo for me. This was crucial because even though I could technically whip myself up a logo in photoshop, I would spend hours and hours second guessing myself and making minor adjustments until I scrapped the whole thing and started the whole process over again. Handing that over to a professional was such a time saver. I was able to describe what I wanted and pick from options I knew looked amazing. When we rebranded last year, I hired someone again and it made the whole process much simpler than it would have been with me at the helm.
The next most important thing to me was building an online presence with intention and integrity. It was really important that I was exhibiting my actual work! I just couldn’t get around the idea of using stock photos and nothing is worse internet etiquette than using other people’s photos as your own! My first website was full of photos from my wedding, family weddings I had helped plan, and my DIY apartment photo shoot! As we completed events and did styled shoots of our own, the website evolved to be much more professional and exciting, but I still feel good about our humble beginnings because it was genuine.
What difficulties did you experience, and what solutions arose out of those difficulties to help you get where you are now?
The biggest difficulty for me was finally accepting the fact that I couldn’t do everything by myself. Not only was I juggling a day job during the week, but actually running a wedding day takes two people, minimum. During the early days, I depended heavily on my friends to back me up. In 2015, I decided to hire my first interns to help manage our social media profiles and be event day assistants. It was so hard for me to trust people with my brand and my company, but it was necessary to grow and be able to take on bigger and better projects. This year, we officially grew into a two-person operation when my assistant, Caitlin, became part-owner of the company. Now she handles more of our coordination while I handle the floral design aspect of the business. Because of this partnership, we are able to grow beyond what I could have ever thought possibly for my little side hustle.
How did coworking help grow your business?
Coworking, and Common Desk in specific, legitimized our baby business in such a major way. While other planners were meeting at coffee shops, I had a conference room to meet new clients! Every guest I brought through the space was so impressed with the environment and the concept of a shared workspace. I always joked that Common Desk made me look so much cooler than I actually am! I have met brides, fellow creatives, and just plain incredible people at Common Desk. And when our floral weddings grew out of my house, our connections at Common Desk helped us find our brand new studio down the road. There is just no way to explain how much our membership at Common Desk impacted our company for the better. I can definitively say that we would not be where we are now with it!
And last but not least, what’s on the horizon for Celebrate Colorfully?
We are so excited for what’s next for Celebrate Colorfully! We have officially moved into our new studio, The Coterie, in the Bishop Arts District! We are launching floral design workshops for DIY brides, aspiring florists, and anyone who wants to try their hand at arranging flowers. We are also coming up on a huge fall wedding season, so we’re gearing up the studio for lots of meetings and lots of flowers!