We’re coming up on our sixth business anniversary this month and because we are in the celebratory spirit, we thought we would kick off our anniversary month by sharing the “story” behind Storybook.
By the way, this is Nicole Hensley writing.
Hi! And thank you so much for being a supporter of Storybook Weddings and Events. This business of mine is a literal part of who I am. I am so absolutely grateful for your love of Storybook too. Without you, I wouldn’t be here writing this today.
My journey into the event world began in 2013 when I started working for one of Chicago’s premier catering companies. I was quickly tossed into a fast paced environment – which was perfect for an enneagram type 1 like myself. I worked closely with corporate clients and couples looking for food and beverage to impress their guests. On any given day, you could find me at my desk creating menus and proposals or working with the chefs to find appropriate protein and starch combos and the perfect sauces and seasonal substitutions.
In the evenings, I would head to networking events to expand my relationships with other industry professionals and it was on one of these evenings that I met Lisa Jaroscak.
You may have seen a lot of the two of us over the years. And that is because, Lisa and I have been in this together – since before the first day Storybook was launched.
In the fall of 2014, Lisa Jaroscak was working for an Entertainment Booking Agency. She had snagged a ticket for an Event Planner Association Meeting. These were intimate group gatherings where we would talk about “how to become event planners” and other important trends and information about the industry. I happened to attend that same evening. Lisa and I ended up sitting on the same couch together and talked for hours. If I remember correctly, we were still chatting hours after the event ended. We connected on our passion of fast paced work and our excitement for the hectic-ness that wedding days bring. But most of all we connected on the love we had for our couples and the ideas we had on how to make the engagement experience that much more memorable for them.
Over the coming months we became fast friends spending time together at other networking events and hanging out outside of work – Which meant that the friendship was real right? 🙂
We also started referring each other and worked our first event together as collaborating vendors (I, the catering Manager and her, the entertainment agent) in December.
What stuck out most to me that evening was that Lisa was such instrumental help at this corporate event.
In my experience, the Entertainment Agent literally books the event and confirms with me the week-of that the entertainment will arrive and when. Lisa was ACTUALLY THERE at the event. She was on top of ladders helping the client hang her DIY decor and stayed late with me to make sure the entertainment was exceeding expectations.
I made a note that Lisa was someone I wanted to work with on all my events in the future.
Around December of 2014 I started talking to Lisa about my idea of opening up a business. I wanted to manage my own time, take on a new and exciting challenge and jump head on into wedding planning. I asked her if she was interested in joining me as my first hire and by the end of the conversation, Storybook didn’t have a website…but it had a wedding planning team.
It was on my mom’s living room couch that Lisa and I agreed on our first logo. It was made by a friend and by another friend, our first team pictures were taken.
The next few weeks and months were a whirlwind. I gave a two weeks notice to my boss, which was received with a request for me to stay on a little longer and was given her blessing to start my company at the same time. – Honestly, I need to give the biggest shoutout to Carlyn Berghoff because I am not sure many other business owners who would be so gracious to allow an employee to do the same.
By February, we were booking events for the summer and needed another planner. And we found the most perfect match. Her name is Lindsay Gaeta and although she has moved on to growing another wedding planning company, we will be so forever grateful to have had her on our team.
It was also around this time that we realized our logo was not attracting the right clients. Being so new to business ownership, we didn’t understand the impact of the visuals of our logo. We began a new branding process and came out with a new logo that much better represented our brand.
Rather than Storybook being looked at as “Once upon a time” type weddings, we wanted to reflect that we are helping our couples “write their wedding story”.
Little Side Note: To my business friends who know me best, they know that I lead with brand. It is the visual representation of who you are and in a world where people make decisions on instagram before giving us the chance for a meaningful conversation, this is where we’ve invested most into the business.
In early 2020, we did a full rebrand to even further pinpoint our message to clients and this one we feel is just as timeless as our mission. It was designed by Katherine Joachim of Creme Brands
It also showcases our sister brand, Storybook Abroad which was conceptualized and built by Lisa. Lisa is our sole Destination Planner providing our couples local to Chicago, the opportunity to plan a wedding abroad. We have a Storybook Team member, Lucy Rugby who is our onsite planner in Italy to help us create a seamless experience for our couples when we are so many miles apart.
You can find more about Storybook Abroad by visiting our website here.
It was in these early years that we learned so much. We took on weddings at too low of a cost, booked so many that it was hard to keep up with – although we never showed it to our clients. Lisa and I are these two unique souls that simply cannot sleep if we don’t feel that we’ve done our best. So although we were overworked – we still pushed on.
Since then, we reworked our business model to give us greater balance of our equal passions of work and life. We no longer book until the calendar is full. Instead, we take on a limited number of weddings a year which benefits back to our clients with an even more in depth and detailed wedding planning experience and we have an incredible dedicated Wedding Coordinator, Joni Taylor.
It’s been six years since Storybook opened and we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Together we’ve planned and worked hundreds of weddings. We’ve tested the boundaries, taken risks and have always come back to realize that the priorities and passions we began this company with are the same that ring true today.
Storybook was built upon our passion of beautiful weddings, the love we have for our couples and the integrity of or work. These values remain true and radiate just as strong, today.
Thank you so much for being a part of our journey as we enter year seven together. 2020 was a year for the books. So many lessons and so much growth. We look forward to being your wedding planning team for years to come.
With so much love,
Nicole and Lisa!