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Exploring Life & Business with Kristin Catter

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Catter.

Hi Kristin, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I have always been a planner, as a kid I had more fun setting up and organizing my Barbie’s house, accessories, and outfits than actually playing with them. While attending the University of Texas at Austin, I took two event planning and project management courses that solidified event planning as the path for me. I quickly found an internship and started down my dream career path. After college, I signed on with a firm and immediately began taking on events. After a few years I started to question my decision to pursue a career in event planning after missing holidays with my family and two of my closest friends’ weddings; burnt out and frustrated, I decided to walk away from my blossoming career and the event industry as a whole.

I took a marketing job at a commercial real estate firm and thought I had put the events world behind me. Not even four months into the job a friend from college got engaged, she knew I was no longer in the industry but that I still had all the connections and knowledge around Austin. With her mom out of state and no one else to help her plan, she begged and begged for me to come back and help keep her organized during her wedding planning process, eventually I caved and remembered all the positives that came with event planning. After her wedding, one of her sorority sisters got engaged and asked me to plan her wedding as well and the rest is history. I quickly started getting referral after referral for weddings and decided I wanted to officially set up my own shop. I dove headfirst into creating my business on my own terms-at 25 years old, everyone thought I was crazy and there was no way that I would survive my first year. Ten years later, after several ups and downs, including a pandemic, I am going strong with a team of three planners. This past year has taught me that nothing is ever guaranteed and as a business owner staying creative, nimble and trusting your instincts in an unsure market are the keys to being successful.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
When you start a new business even in an industry that you know, the amount of unknowns will surprise you. While I knew the Austin market, vendors, venues and had several contacts, people still knew me as an employee of someone else. Those first few years I had to prove myself and show my colleagues who Kristin Catter is and what to expect when working together under my own company umbrella. I think that is the most important thing when you start a business, you have to remain true to yourself and your own methods. While I am so grateful for that first job and the door into the event industry, I learned what worked for me and what didn’t and knew that when I had my own company, I wanted to do things differently.

While there are always ups and downs in life, nothing could have prepared us for COVID. In an industry that thrives on people coming together in large groups, our world was rocked when the pandemic hit and no one knew what to expect. We went from a Spring schedule stacked with events every weekend to absolutely nothing. We had to postpone 20 weddings within a matter of days and completely restructure client contracts moving forward. As an industry we really leaned on each other to consult with other vendors and an attorney to try and figure out what was the accepted protocol. Should we charge a fee to move the date? What would the fee be? When do we even postpone the wedding? When will it be safe again? There were so many questions in the air with no concrete answers. The one thing that I absolutely knew was that I had people relying on me to not only provide those answers, but also a team needing to be able to pay their bills. I adjusted all of our postponed events to a new payment structure so that even though we weren’t hosting their events, I could continue to pay my planners and hopefully alleviate some of the financial stress of our clients as well. As Spring quickly turned to Summer and then into Fall, I learned that no matter what happened, we had to move forward and shift to the new reality we were faced with.

We started to introduce smaller packages for elopements and intimate weddings and offered discounted rates and consultations for new and existing clients to re-plan, re-strategize, and figure out how to navigate our new world. We created virtual events and happy hours for our existing clients to come together and vent, we wanted them to know that they felt supported and that they weren’t alone. I continued to reach out to venues and vendors to let them know that we were not giving up and offered incentives for their clients to continue to work with us. It became a time for me to throw out the rule book and create a new one and to make sure Kristin Catter Events continued to be a name that was heard around Austin. As of today, we have postponed 58 weddings and counting. We have a new structure to our process, new COVID policies and procedures, and a determination to continue creating events and celebrations for our clients in an ever-evolving world.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am an event planner; I specialize in weddings, but we do corporate, social, non-profit, and charity events. I started my business because of my passion for creating an experience for people. I want to tell someone’s story and share that with other people and truly love the process of bringing together so many details in order to create those special moments. That is what an event is for, for people to come together and to celebrate something. I always tell our clients that we aren’t just planning a party or a wedding; we are telling their story. Every detail has a meaning and we want your guests to have a full experience so that when they leave, they will say I not only had a blast, but remember “X”. X is that something special that sets us apart, we do not create conveyor belt events that could be hosted by any and everyone. We pull out our client’s specific personalities and preferences in their events because it’s a reflection of that person, that couple, or that organization we are commemorating.

My business is different from others because of our customer service. We truly care and value each and every one of our clients, we never take for granted the role we get to play in such a special moment in someone’s life. We want it to be perfect for that client because they deserve it. My favorite response that I get from other vendors and clients alike is when they know and truly recognize that I care and really want to make this happen and am focused on the final product. It isn’t just another event to add to your portfolio, but a milestone in someone’s life.

How do you define success?
Most people define success as how much money they have in the bank or how many “things” they have. I think success is measured differently, I am successful because I have built something from nothing. I have a team of strong independent women that trust and believe in me. I am successful because I have found a niche in the event market where I can be myself and work with some of the most amazing clients and people while loving what I do.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Vanessa Smith Photography Two Pair Paige Vaughn Photography Ailin Rachael Hyde Photography

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