Student Feature: Athena DeVonne
Today, we’d like to share yet another story of student success. Meet wedding planner Athena DeVonne. She took a chance on a career change that would give her more time with her young children, as well as more financial freedom. She chose QC’s Wedding Planning course to help take her there, and it paid off. Read her inspiring story below.
Company Name: Coalesce Creations Wedding Designs
Description: “Making your memories grand on a modest plan.” Coalesce Creations Wedding Designs understands that your day should be a reflection of you. Your goals paired with our experience will create an endless memory. Through listening, executed detail and unique custom design … your wedding will always be remembered as the coalesced expression of two hearts into one love.
Region: Dallas, Texas
What motivated you to start your career as a professional event and wedding planner?
I didn’t start the way most wedding planners started. I didn’t catch the planning bug after helping a friend or family member or from planning of my own wedding. It literally started with a simple conversation. I needed change.
I am a single mother of two precious daughters, Alaithia (5) and Aarionna (4). Alaithia has a condition called Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria. In short it means she is totally dependent on me. She currently cannot speak, crawl, or walk. As you can imagine, a special needs child grows such a love in you as a parent. I grew tired of missing her therapies, school functions and opportunities for special programs due to having to clock into a full-time job. I was also tired of trying to balance my younger daughter Aarionna’s activities, which were often held back because of her sister’s condition.
One afternoon I expressed these feelings to my significant other and stated I need more time, flexibility and financial freedom to be there for my daughters. We discussed my talents, skills and abilities and narrowed it down to something in social networking, design, events or public speaking. We somehow brought up weddings, and I was smiling the whole time we were talking about it. It was he who suggested I research being a wedding planner. It would allow me the chance to work from home, schedule my own hours and expand my passion for design. It entails lots of networking, sales, negotiating, talking, creativity and social media to stay on top of trends. So I jumped on the internet, found QC Event School and … well here I am now.
I find joy in the challenge of turning a client’s ideas or dreams into a visual reality. The celebration of love is special and delicate. I want to enhance and tell the stories of couples everywhere. I have a strong passion for creating more then one function out of anything, pushing my creativity outside the box and making a new blueprint. My goal is to be sure every bride who wants a wedding has one, no matter the size of the budget. Creativity and strong resources solve all obstacles.
What are some highlights of your career so far?
Wow, I have been blessed! I just launched Coalesce Creations Wedding Designs January 15, 2013. Since that date we have:
- Contracted seven brides (all who signed during the initial consultation)
- Become the preferred wedding planner to two local wedding venues (Frisco Heritage Center & Aristide Event and Conference Center)
- Become the exclusive wedding coordinator and designer to The Gallery Event Room
- Built a partnership with esthetician Lorina Coleman of More Than Makeup. Together, we created a bridal package for my clients including skin care, body massage and the wedding day look
- Built a partnership with Kevin Gaddis Jr. of Epic Event Photo Booths. He provides unlimited photo booth shots for my wedding couples at an awesome special price
- Been interviewed by wedding planner trainer Debbie Quain of Weddings for A Living. I am one of her Wedding Business Guide members. It was great to be asked to share our story. This was our first press release (in just 6 months of launching)
- Been invited to be the first guest speaker on Sophisticated Events by Shatasha’s blog, The Trendy Bride’s Lounge
Most currently I am working with another wedding planner to create a bridal magazine. (Visit my website for the launch details) I am also publishing a how-to book for D.I.Y brides to help with the process of planning your own wedding. Wish me luck!
How did your course prepare you for working in the field?
Oh my goodness, how could I have my career or success without this course? The course has enabled me to go into a consultation with a prospective bride, speak confidently and express knowledge. With the experience I gained from the assignments and conversations with my tutors I can currently say I have signed with every bride I have met with. The course has prepared me to be highly organized, aware, and helped me find my own identity in this industry.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out with their training or career?
My advice would be start and don’t wait to have it all together. Remember, the word “impossible” spells out “I’m possible!” Go into your business with a business mindset. My mother always says, “Treat a business as a hobby and you will receive hobby results. Treat a business as a business and you will receive business results.” Don’t miss the opportunities presented to you just because you don’t have everything. Confidence and self-trust are vital, so get going! Experience is just as powerful as knowledge … so grow both!
Athena’s portrait by Kevin Gaddis Jr. Photography
Photos 1-3 by Dee Portilla Photography
Photo 4 by Ezell Photography