What can wedding photographers learn from Lara Casey, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Southern Wedding Magazine and founder of Making Things Happen and Making Brands Happen? Plenty!
While I'm no cook, I know a great recipe when I see it. Take Lara Casey: One part aggressive, three parts business minded, four parts inspirationalist, two parts high style, a few parts brand master, one part teamleader, add equal dashes of beauty, grace and freckled charm. And there you have it, Lara's recipe for super success. We caught up with this busy entrepreneur mid-stride to ask her a few questions. We are delighted to share what inspires her, what keeps her grounded and what gets her all fired up! —Leigh Caraccioli
Adorama: What did you want to be when you were a little girl? What would advice would that little Lara offer up to you now?
Lara Casey: An architect, a geologist, a singer, a painter. A lot of things! I always loved being creative. I never imagined I’d be in publishing, media or branding, but I love my path so much and wouldn’t change a single thing. The advice I think my young self would give to me now is to play more! Be creative—which I get the joy of doing every day in my work—but, be creative just for the joy of it. I’m excited to do that more with my soon-to-be daughter who is due in November!
Adorama: As Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings® magazine, founder of Making Things Happen and Making Brands Happen, Branding expert and luxury wedding marketing consultant of Lara Casey Reps and soon-to-be-new-mother, what on earth to you answer to the cocktail party question "So, what do you do?"
Lara Casey: Haha! This question makes me laugh! I generally succumb to the simple answer of “I publish a wedding magazine.” It’s too hard to explain to someone what I do in full. My real answer is “I do what I love every single day with people I love and for people I love.” I don’t think that’s too digestible in dinner-party context.
Adorama: Tell us about what lured you in to the luxury wedding market?
Lara Casey: My mother is a French chef, so I caught the entertaining/wedding bug from her. My grandmother was also a florist, so it runs in the family. I started an event planning company about 8 years ago and, long story short, the magazine was born out of that. I always wanted a place to showcase what fired me up. This all started when we launched the Southern Weddings daily blog in 2007. It was a place for me to share what I loved in weddings, what was inspiring me and to show Southern brides that there was more to telling their unique love story than tulle and stuffed chicken. The blog caught on like wildfire, and people got so excited about a modern look at weddings in the South. The print magazine was born out of the incredible feedback from the blog.
I am so grateful for the work we do because our job is to tell these authentic love stories. I love my “work.” We’re not corporate or owned by some big publishing house. We do the layout, write the editorial, organize the advertising – and everything else – ourselves. We are self-published, which is a rarity nowadays. We’re really, really small. We never want to grow to the point where we can’t give personal attention to what matters most. We are really grateful for that. Out of my work with Southern Weddings, I started Making Things Happen and Lara Casey Reps, which is where I spend the majority of my time now. I love working with luxury wedding professionals to build authentic profitable businesses.
Adorama: Your long list of business accomplishments are something to marvel at but what's most admirable, is your commitment to helping others succeed and grow. What inspires you to be devoted to inspiring others?
Lara Casey: God. The true meaning behind marriage. When a wedding celebrates real love, it shows in every moment. You can feel it. It changes people. There is nothing better than that! The golden question in the SW office: How do we connect great vendors to the right brides to give them the experience of a lifetime on their big day? My gut reaction answer is always: educate brides and build better businesses! Great matchmaking and powerful experiences start at the core.
My mission is to change the wedding industry for the better from the inside out. Building authentic, flourishing businesses gets me fired up! When a brand message is crystal clear, you attract the ideal clients who understand your true value. When a company has built a remarkable client experience and brand culture based on that core brand message, fireworks happen! That's what I want for brides. Fireworks! The kind that are so brilliant and big that your parents didn't want you to light them on your own when you were a kid. Life-long memories and unforgettable experiences. True authentic love to the power of infinity! Oh, Heavens, don't get me started! I. love. this. work. All of my companies are centered around that core mission.
Adorama: Tell us about the game-changing Making Things Happen intensive, its original seed of inspiration and what has been most surprising about this 2011 tour?
Lara Casey: The Making Things Happen intensive all started when I went out on a limb and wrote this blog post. I recognized, based on the flood of phenomenal feedback and emails I got from that post, that these simple principles needed to be taught. Fear is the biggest thing holding creative business owners back from realizing their full potential. It can be crippling. I hated seeing such potential and talent get stifled.
I will let the attendees tell you more themselves. You can read about their experiences and what they have done here. We’ve had almost 500 people go through the intensive in the last year and a half in more than 30 cities across the US. It’s been the best part of my journey, by far!
Making Things Happen is pretty simple. If you want to make things happen in your life, you have to DO something about it. In order to do the right things you have to know WHY you are doing them. In order to find out the heart of why you do what you do, you have to face your fears and let go of what holds you back. We have a tumblr and twitter account where we share daily inspiration.
Adorama: You seem to go in a thousand exciting directions, how do you maintain focus and resolve to head in the right direction?
Lara Casey: Three things: 1. God. When my eye is on the right prize, everything else falls away. Life is easier with the right focus. 2. I have an incredible team of women I work with who really make it all happen. My team knows the core mission of why we do what we do and that makes everything run smoothly. I don’t make all the decisions. We make them together based on our clear core brand mission. It wasn’t always this way. I think in the last year I am really starting to actively see our strategy taking wing. It takes constant devotion to the heartbeat of the company. 3. I work really hard to keep my life and business de-cluttered. It’s easy to stay focused and produce quality work when you hone in on distractions that are keeping you from true focus. It’s a daily journey to refine our companies, but I’m so proud of where we are right now!
Adorama: With all you have poking in the fire between business and family I suspect you have unveiled a scientific method for stopping time for master productivity. How do you do it all?
Lara Casey: Haha! If you figure out how to stop time, fill me in, friend! I did recently write a series of posts about how I do what I do entitled, The Challenge.
Adorama: How has your pregnancy changed your perspective? What plans do you have for integrating your little bundle into your busy business life?
Lara Casey: I marvel at the fact that I may be carrying this baby, but I genuinely have to do very little to make it grow. It’s remarkable. I don’t have to sculpt her nose or craft her perfect little baby skin or engineer her fingers. I just have to surrender to what my body is doing and take great care of myself and her in the process. That’s exactly how God is teaching me to approach motherhood and business. I expect it will be the most challenging wonderful new beginning in our lives, but I just have to trust that God will present me the perfect path to take through it all.
I will make mistakes and I can’t wait. I can’t wait to grow in this and be changed. I don’t have all the answers yet and I don’t think I’m supposed to. For now, I’m just focusing on refining my heart. Motherhood is going to be hard at times, no doubt, and I am—more and more—so ready to make sacrifices. Pregnancy has completely changed how I view my business. I want more quality work that fuels my heart and glorifies God in all things. I want to keep working hard to get rid of anything else in my life that doesn’t directly help that mission.
Over the last two months as a company, we’ve already started to make significant changes. My number one priority is my family and after that my work. To me, it’s not really work. I love what I do. I am so grateful to build other’s up and get the honor of seeing other’s succeed. I know it’s work I’m supposed to be doing and that, if it’s God’s will, I’ll be able to keep doing it in whatever way is possible. I’m so ready for what’s ahead!
Keep an eye on this amazing woman as she takes on working motherhood later this year. We are indeed grateful to Lara for taking time out of her very well orchestrated day to enlighten us. Don't forget how much we love hearing from you and welcome your thoughts, questions and blog comments.