Business vs Personal

I'm sure most of you have seen The Godfather...and if not that then you've definitely seen You've Got Mail, and heard the characters refer to business as not being "personal." In The Godfather Michael Corleone says, "It's not's strictly business." And in You've Got Mail Tom Hanks' character quotes it: The Godfather is the I Ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? 'Leave the gun, take the cannoli.' What day of the week is it? 'Maunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday.' And the answer to your question is 'Go to the mattresses.' You're at war. 'It's not personal, it's business. It's not personal it's business.' 

But it is personal. It's personal to me. This is my business and these are my clients. It's Your Time Events is based on me, the owner, and the way I feel and live life and work with others. I've had vendors tell me to learn to focus more on the business, to separate my personal from my business, but I don't know how and I honestly don't know if I want to. 

I never wanted my clients to ever be just a number. I wanted relationships. I wanted to be there for my clients every step of the way. I want to get to know them and their families and those most important to them so the wedding day I can do my job! How am I going to do my job successfully if I don't form that relationship with my clients?  

I recently spent some time doing a lot of introspective analysis. Creme Brands was helping me to get to know myself and my clients better. Who am I and who is my business? Who is my ideal client and how do we work together? Where do I see myself and my business in several years. What do I want? What sets me apart from others in this very populated New Orleans wedding industry? I think I was pretty clear and it only confirmed what I already knew about myself and my business, it is personal. 

And when I try to act like it's not as personal, I may fool those who do not know me or my clients, but I am definitely not fooling myself or my client. We recently coordinated two weddings for one day. It was not originally planned that way, but it happened. And I have to say it was definitely a confirmation of who we are not. We are not a wedding planning company that just wants clients. We are not a company that just sees the numbers. We are not a two and three weddings in one day wedding planning company. We are not big and we are fancy, but we are personal and we are real and we do feel. This blog is a huge apology to some very special deserved more. 

I didn't get to see you walk down the aisle. I didn't get to see you get dressed or even help you get dressed. I didn't get to help bustle you. I didn't get to know your families and friends. And I don't know if you wanted that type of relationship, but it's what I want and it's what my business is based on and I was very disappointed with how I felt after executing both weddings on the same day.  

To the outside, and to many of the vendors, things looked great...I know, because I've gotten many compliments. But on the me, I know they weren't perfect on your day. I know, I did my "job" and it wasn't like things went horribly wrong or things weren't planned out completely or I didn't technically give you the hours you paid for. And I know both venues had absolutely wonderful venue coordinators to help and that Brandi and Rebecca did their jobs and made sure you were taken care of, but it wasn't me. What you didn't get was my undivided attention on your day. What you didn't get was that person you had in your corner every second of the day. What  you didn't get is what I absolutely love about my job, being there for you ever step of the way. 

To all of my clients, and especially to those who feel they didn't get the coordinator they signed up for, I am so incredibly sorry and I hope your days were and are all that you wanted them to be! I hope that whatever hiccups there may have been are dim in comparison to the brightness of the rest of the day. You are truly beautiful people and couples and I love working with each of you! 

I absolutely cannot wait to see what your photographers captured that I may have missed! I cannot wait to see the entire day unfold through those captured memories! Hugs to both of you ladies and to your husbands!

And to Creme Brands, thank you for helping us put into words, what we are truly all about!!

New Orleans Business Owner: Lessons I've learned as an Entrepreneur

Several months ago my brother moved home (he's lived in Florida for a LONG time). He went to school out there and worked out there and had a life out there, but I'm guessing he thought it was finally time to come home. 

Once he did, he also decided he was going to start his own business. Now, New Orleans has been praised as a great place for entrepreneurs and young people, so this is a great place for him to start. But like so many other people looking to start their own business, he wasn't sure how to get moving or even where to start. So we sat down and made lists and worked on things together.

It's scary starting a new business. It's your own. You're constantly wondering if it will be a success and if the next client will come. You're investing time and money into this huge venture and there are absolutely no guarantees, but you do it anyway.

As entrepreneurs we’re often going after our dreams alone and it’s hard. There are so many ups and downs and it’s so easy to take a look at what other people are doing and wonder...“What is wrong with me? Why is it taking me soooo long? Will I ever be able to get to where I want to be?”

Being a business owner and someone that loves to see people happy and successful, I felt compelled to share some tough lessons because the more honest and open we all are about the reality and truth of entrepreneurship, the more we will empower each other to succeed. 
  1. IT WILL TAKE TIME - This was a big lesson I learned (and am still learning). I remember when I was starting It's Your Time Events, someone said it could take a long time...sometimes it's the 3rd year, and other times it's longer for a business to be successful. That definitely didn't help my fears, but I kept going anyway.

    It's been 3 years and there are still many times when I am not sure if I'm spinning my wheels in place or if I'll ever have another client or if I'm doing the right things. We live in a world where we want to achieve everything now…We want 10,000 subscribers now, 100,000 website visitors now, lots of sales now. And so often we get caught up looking at what other people are doing and then think, “why is it taking me sooooo long???????” But as the quote goes, “Rome wasn't built in a day.”  It takes time (and LOTS of patience, faith and hope!).

    Once I started to be okay with this, it was like a weight had lifted. I stopped beating myself up about how long it was all taking and began to enjoy the journey more, because that’s what it’s all about anyway.  So, if you ever think to yourself, “why is it taking me so long?” just remember that it does take time, stick with it and be okay with it, because it’ll help you to enjoy your life right now more.

    I started It's Your Time Events because it made me happy. For every wedding and couple I worked with, I saw a future....I saw the hope that it represented. I started my business because I wanted to be a part of that and contribute to someone else's day. I started it because my daytime jobs did not meet my social or creative needs. That’s why I started It's Your Time Events. To be a part of helping others' special ensure they are able to enjoy those moments.
  2. YOU NEED TO BE MENTALLY TOUGH - This follows on nicely from the first lesson I learned because entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint and in order to keep on going, you have to have mental strength – that’s what will get you to the finishing line (not that there’s really a finishing line in business, the line is always moving!).

    This is by far one of the toughest lessons to learn....and toughest hurdles to get over. Success begins with YOU. It’s an inside job and it’s something that you have to do on purpose, day in, day out. Heck yes it's scary! You're trying to achieve something you've never done before and you're doing it primarily on your own.  I know all of the excuses because I've said them to myself... “I don’t have the time, the money, the knowledge, I’m not ready yet etc.”

    I literally had to tell myself that I can do this. I will make it happen. I am going to start my own business. I had to condition myself, and you will have to do the same, to overcome the fear, to tell the excuses to go away and allow myself to step up and be the person I need to be in order to make it happen.

    When the challenges arise, when things go wrong, when everything feels like it’s taking foreverrrr, you have to have the right mindset to be able to deal with it and keep moving FORWARD.  This will be your BIGGEST asset in life, because the right attitude will help you to start manifesting a life and business you love.
  3. IT TAKES MONEY TO MAKE MONEY - This is a lesson I learned early on - to make money, you've got to spend money. Because of my background in communications and marketing, I knew where I wanted to be to reach my audience. However, I also knew it is best to talk to those already in the industry for suggestions. So I figured it all out and with a credit card and a small spending limit a day, I was able to get my business and my offering in front of my audience from day one.

    I think so often we build a website, create a product or service and think that somehow people will discover us, that somehow miraculously we’ll be able to build a big list and make lots of sales. The truth us that if you want to want to grow faster (get more traffic, more subscribers, more sales) you have to pay. And I’m not talking about spending thousands… you can start off with an advertising budget of a couple of dollars a day.
  4. YOU ARE NOT ALONE - Make friends with like-minded people, who get you and want to help you along your journey. This is one of the most valuable things I've ever done, not just in terms of my business, but in terms of my sanity!

    Knowing that I have people I can turn to to talk about my experiences and challenges and get perspective and advice, and people who are there to celebrate with me when I have a win, makes such a huge difference. I would go insane without my business friends, who are actually scattered all over the world.

    Being an entrepreneur can be so lonely, if you let it be… so don’t. Start getting better connected by reaching out to people who you resonate with, send an email, join Facebook groups, go to networking events, attend conferences – hang out where other like-minded people hang out and start building friendships.
  5. BE CONSISTENT & FOCUSED - I actually learned this lesson when I was training for marathons and half marathons and a half ironman in DC. It takes a commitment and it take focus to make it happen.

    If you want to be great at something you have to practice being great at it consistently and you have to stay focused on it. I would have never thought I would be able to run a mile let alone do a half ironman! At one time in my life I would have thought that was impossible. But all that training and commitment and focus, showed me that I am capable of doing things I never thought were possible. Those races showed me what it takes to make big things happen.  

    It’s exactly the same in business, if you want to be great you have to practice being great every day… even when you haven't gotten a client in a month or more, even when you feel like you keep doing things wrong, even when you have hardly any followers/fans/subscribers.

    I get it. It's tough and scary and disheartening and so you want to try every different angle to improve, to make it happen. It’s sooo easy to feel the need to hop around from one idea/strategy, to the next, but this often leads to inconsistency. You start doing one thing and before long, you've moved on to something else… never allowing yourself the chance to become really great at it.

    So instead of doing a million things, just focus on being consistent at one thing (or a few), and then once you’re great, keep up the practice and, if you want, move on to something else too.
  6. KEEP IT SIMPLE - You're starting a business. You have family and friends. You probably have a daytime job which pays the bills. There is a LOT going on in your life. Starting and maintaining a business can quickly become overwhelming and chaotic because there are a million and one things we need to be doing. It’s exhausting. It will be okay though. You can do this!!

    I've found keeping things simple is best. I literally have to list my priorities and focus on one thing at a time and make life easy by planning out the what and the when. I review my priorities and goals and needs and wants and if something doesn't fit within those goals or needs, then it's not on the list. It'll just have to get addressed later. When you know what you need to do and when you need to do it, it makes life so much easier!

    For me, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't carry my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. I literally schedule EVERYTHING: daytime work, It's Your Time Events work, family time, and I try for social and me time, but that doesn't always work out.  I know myself. If I don't keep track of my time and my priorities and what I'm doing or not doing, I will feel overwhelmed...I go insane. I get emotional and stressed and frantic and unable to focus on anything.   When you are intentional about your day and keep things simple and plan things out, I promise, you’ll feel so much happier and make lots more progress.  

Not entirely sure of what your priorities are or what your ultimate goal is? Here's a worksheet to get you rolling. Or we can set up a session to talk. I love coaching others and seeing their dreams come true! 

It's Your Time Events owner, Erin St Pierre England, is now offering Coaching sessions on starting and managing your business. If you have any questions or would like to discuss where you are in your process, we'd love to help! Contact us at

Life's a journey, you have to keep moving forward

At 18 or 19 years old, I thought I knew what I wanted to do in life. I came out of high school thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was going to head off to Baton Rouge and attend LSU for undergrad and then head to LSU Law, so I could work in a position where I would be able to help other people. 

To help other help people....

But I didn't get into law school. In fact I was rejected from every single school I applied to. I even took an LSAT class where people didn't understand why I was there...I got all the homework right all.....the.....TIME! How could I not pass that test!? It's a test....not a guy holding a gun to your head! 

Talk about a blow to your confidence and drive in life.

It's called choking. Yup....that's about what I did. Each time I walked into the test setting, I told myself "this is the test that determines the rest of your life." Ouch...looking back, that seems like a lot of pressure on a 20something year-old. 

So, I sulked for a bit and then took the GRE and headed to grad LSU of course :) 

I started in Political Science with the idea of staying on track to go back to the law school thing, but eventually a good friend helped me realize I don't need a law degree to help people. I began working with student athletes while at the same time working in government. I was a part of two very different programs but they both allowed me to feel like I was helping people....I was making a difference! 

Turns out my friend was right. I don't need a law degree to help people and make a difference in small and big ways. I pursued a Master of Liberal Arts with concentrations in Political Science, Counseling, and Higher Education (talk about a well rounded education!). I loved every second of it!

After an absolutely awesome SEVEN years at LSU, I finally stopped (because I couldn't afford being a professional student) and in the Spring of 2005 I accepted an internship with a smaller Texas school working in their athletic department. At that time, I was making....wait for it....$1,000 a month! (Yes, we all start at the bottom people. We all have to learn certain skills and knowledge that we are not taught in school.) I left home for the first time and had my own apartment and took advantage of activities on campus and saw a bright future. 

But then August of 2005 rolls around and everything in my world shifted a bit. Yes, Katrina happened and for many people from New Orleans Katrina became a milestone in our lives. Things happened pre-Katrina or post-Katrina (this thinking may be shifting a bit as we get older, but it's still there).  

August you know where you were? I know exactly where I was at that time. I was helping move my mom from the West Bank to the Northshore. We were packing and not even paying attention until it was quite clear that Katrina was indeed coming. At that point what were we going to do? Leave her new house and all her belongings sitting....waiting for a huge storm to wage war? We stayed. We stayed and we were okay. I still hear the random voices of people calling in to WWL and telling Garland Robinette where they were and that the water was rising. I can still see the images toys and clothes left on the high-rise by the Dome. I remember the destruction I saw all along the entire gulf coast as I drove from my mom's house in Covington to my apartment in Texas and then to my sister in Pensacola. And every time I go to the Convention Center my heart still hurts. Yeah, Katrina was a doozy and did a number on all of us. 

I moved home immediately (Rita just happened to follow my mom and I to Texas so we kind of had to return to south Louisiana) and took a job working as an executive assistant. I floated between jobs for a bit until I got an offer from an old friend for a great opportunity in DC. 

DC was supposed to be a three year plan to gain experience and knowledge. I was moving to DC! How cool is that? I planned to bring all that knowledge and experience home to New Orleans and make a difference here. But it turns out leaving home for a place so far away from my family was truly one of the hardest things I've ever done in life and I hit bottom for a bit in DC. Talk about depression! AND in DC they don't give hugs and it's cold so there was no combatting it....

Eventually I got back up on my feet and learned to LOVE our Nation's capital. Working for the DoD I did some pretty neat things and learned so much about myself! I lived right up the street from the Capital and Supreme Court...who is not going to love that! But I still wanted to go home eventually and turns out getting a job at home wasn't so easy. DC turned into 6 years and a husband. 

At that point I took what I could get and hated it! I was working on contracts and budgets...that was interaction with the outside world at all. I took a long, hard look at myself, and thought about all of my previous positions and what I liked or did not like about each them. 

  • I'm a people person;
  • I love helping other people; 
  • I love making things happen;
  • I love happy people and good times; 
  • I like communications;
  • I like being creative;
  • I like managing and executing projects;
  • I like planning....

I finally began to see a light....

I brainstormed and dreamed and asked myself "what would I do if I could not fail?" I slowly whittled my thoughts down from communications and public relations to project management and then finally to wedding planning and coordination. And I thought about how important a person's wedding day truly is and how much money we spend on it....and It's Your Time Events was born. 

It's definitely not easy being a business owner and trying to make a living. In fact, it's hard as heck! When I first opened the biz, I had a full-time job then at one point I was able to do the business full-time, and then eventually went back to a full-time job with benefits and that could pay ALL of the bills (not just some of them). Talk about trying times! Am I a failure because my business hasn't been steady? Heck no! I'll get there eventually! 

Life's a journey people. We're all going to do some form of falling down or choking on tests and getting depressed, but what is important is getting back up! We all have to make that decision for ourselves. Without going into details, I've been through some pretty tough situations and experiences. Things nobody thinks they will ever experience. And then you do experience them and you wonder if you'll make it back up...if you'll ever see hope again. I had to actively make that decision of whether to get up or stay down. I chose to get up. I might not be "30 flirty and thriving" (in fact I struggle quite a bit), but I am happy and I did choose hope over all the things that hadn't gone quite right in life. It's up to you to make your choice. What will you do? 

30something....things I'd tell my teenage self...

If you're 30 something (like me) you're not quite Generation X and you're definitely not a millennial or a what are you? Who knows? And that's just about how it feels at 30 something sometimes. Who are we and what the heck are we doing? 

Nobody says or tells you to live at home if you can during college so you can save money and pay for school. I went to LSU. It was the only school I even considered going to...I didn't even apply anywhere else. I wanted to be there and do everything I possibly could. So I did. Coming out of college I had $60,000 in student loan debt. Yup....I said SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS (and that's with me working part time jobs throughout all 7 years). I've been paying on it for about 10 years....and hadn't made a dent on it until I moved in with my mom (yes, at 30something, I'm living with my mom). Regarding student loans, nobody says take out as little as possible so you're not strapped with huge amounts of debt when you get out. They just don't say it....or maybe they did and we didn't listen or maybe they didn't then but they are now. Who knows....just listen when you can. 

When we're in school nobody says, you really should prepare for your future (and I am talking LONG term here), but looking back, I'm thinking they should have told us about that. Think about how that student loan debt is going to affect you once you get out (it's basically a mortgage payment for YEARS)....think about what kind of jobs you can get with that Master of Liberal Arts degree.... or General Studies bachelors. No, I'm pretty sure they didn't say those things when I was in school....they said enjoy it! Go out! Have fun! Take advantage of everything they have to offer! College only happens once (but they didn't tell you that you'd be paying for it for a long time to come and your choices then can very much affect you throughout the rest of your life). Nobody says those things...or maybe they did...and we didn't listen. It's been so long I honestly don't remember.  

Nobody really says "it's okay to NOT know what you are going to do with the rest of your life." They don't really say take it slow and get some experience in different areas so you have an idea of what you actually could see yourself doing for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Nobody tells you (or maybe they did and we didn't listen), it might be better to start at a Community College instead of the four year college costing you tons of money and time only to not have any idea of what you're going to major in (because who really knows what they want to do FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE at the age of 18 or 23?). We may think we know, but we don't. It's taken me years to even come close to figuring out the jobs I can tolerate and those I can't and those I love. Nobody really tells you those things....or maybe they did and we didn't listen. 

Then we get out of school and we think we'll get our dream job because we were raised to think "having a degree means I can get a good job." But that's not exactly how it works. Nobody really prepares you for how HARD it will be to get a job and in the field you want. Instead most of the time, there is this HUGE stop sign with the question: DO YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE? And on top of experience, employers want specific skills and knowledge that aren't necessarily taught in college (yes, they are paying attention to your personality and Googling you). Where do we learn how to have customer service or be organized in an office setting? Maybe LSU offered "Office Etiquette 101", but I'm thinking it wasn't a priority because nobody said THIS IS IMPORTANT). They don't teach those things in school....that kind of knowledge comes through experience and jobs. Nobody says while you're actually in school you should be doing this or that so you can at least try to learn those desired skills, or maybe they did and we didn't listen. I came out of grad school making $1,000 a think that's going to pay off a $60,000 student loan debt? 

Now you have a job and you're buying a home and getting married. Married? Really? That is definitely one subject they don't give you the details's HARD. You love this person and yet at times you may actually want to punch the living crap out of them. What happens to them, happens to that fair? Not sure, but it happens. You feel their pain and vice verse. Sometimes it just plain stinks. You're buying a house and cars and setting up family and building more debt (you know, on top of your student loans because those aren't paid off yet). Student loans, house mortgages, car loans, business loans, they all add up. We weren't even married 2 years and we were in debt up to our eyeballs. But it's marriage and you have your best friend and you're going through it together. Nobody tells you the other side of their marriage...and there is another side to it :) It's just not something everyone talks about....

It's amazing how fast that time goes by....and how much we change and learn and grow throughout all of it. Growing up is hard and if we're not careful we can make it harder than it has to be.We did....and now we're working our way to a better day.

Lessons I learned along the way that I will definitely share with my hypothetical children and PRAY they will listen better than I did: 

  1. Listen. Don't listen to respond but really listen...and if after hearing what the other person has to say you still feel the same way, by all means proceed with your plans :) 
  2. You know those pesky things your parents used to bug you about (responsibility, jobs, saving, etc.)? Yeah, they may actually know something so take the time to listen occasionally. 
  3. Slow down. You will never have another moment like the one you are living at this very moment. 
  4. Get a job even if it's part time. It teaches time management and so many other non-teachable skills that are necessary in the business world today (like customer service and a work ethic).
  5. Pay for as much of college as you can and take out as little as you can. It's okay if you don't go to that private school your parents went to. It's okay to start at a CC and see what subjects you actually like before spending the big money on a four year degree you hate. 
  6. SAVE! Always think about your future. Even if it's $50 a month until you can afford more, SAVE!! Paying with cash is so much better than living in debt all the time.
  7. (AGAIN) SLOW DOWN. You do not have to get married, buy a house, buy cars, and have kids all at the same time. Plan a little helps significantly!
  8. Marry your best friend. Yes, the college quarterback or cheerleader is hot and fun and stuff, but is he/she your best friend? Can you tell him/her anything? Are they going to be there for you no matter what....are they going to see past your defects and love you anyway? If you have any doubt to any of these questions....SLOW DOWN and figure it out. 
  9. Don't be afraid to take chances. Life is short and if you don't like something, you should definitely do something about it. 

What are some life lessons you would tell your younger self? 

I can & I will. Watch me make it happen

So many people ask me how I can always be so positive and why I started my business and how I got here and where do I see it going. It's ongoing. And I love it! I love sharing my adventures with people who want to know. So I figured why not do it officially....

This blog is not just about weddings and planning, it's also a part of me and who I am and what I do. So I'm starting to document my adventures as an individual and as an entrepreneur....self-employed....and all the nuts and bolts and feelings and craziness that can go along with it.

We're going to talk about staying positive and things I do to stay on my own path (others can use it as an example, but ultimately we each create our own path). We will cover starting a business in Louisiana (whether it is in the wedding industry or not, we all pretty much start in the same place). And we'll talk about business plans and setting goals and being focused and moving forward. We'll research and review how to go about doing business in New Orleans, and get specific with wedding items like Second Line permits and escorts. With each lesson I learn, I'm going to post the story on here (both for myself and for anyone who needs it).

If you have a particular topic you'd like to hear about, let me know! I'm an open book!