Michelle Norwood is the founder of Michelle Norwood Events, a bespoke planning and design company based in New Orleans. Three years ago, Michelle’s business began to grow quickly as she found success with her target clients (well-traveled, multicultural, destination wedding couples who love a great party) and her brand values and mission (intentional planning and design with a New Orleans personality). “What makes us different and unique is also what makes us beautiful,” she says. “I founded Michelle Norwood Events on a passion for discovery and those ideals.” Read on to learn more about how Michelle launched and grew her brand, plus a few pro tips.
Business Name: Michelle Norwood Events, New Orleans, LA
IG Handle: @michellenorwoodevents (and all things personal @themichellenorwood)
Years In Business: 5 (Founded in 2015)
Job Before This One: Accountant in a corporate office
Reason for Doing What You Do: I’m drawn to the party!
Target Clients: “Our clients are young, multicultural, independent, and they know what they want. They are professionals. They are foodies. They are world-travelers. They’re just all-around fun people. And just like me, they love a good party!”
Her Brand Mission: Planning With Purpose
“It’s planning and design with purpose,” Michelle says of her brand mission. “The work we do is truly collaborative with our clients because it’s so important that each and every detail holds meaning and is a true reflection of the client and their backgrounds. Planning with intention really means that even though it looks effortless, every detail is intentional,” she adds. For example, for one of her upcoming weddings, the groom is Mexican and the bride is Indian. Michelle is designing their wedding day using deep yellow and red hues in honor of their heritages. “The wedding day details may look effortless, but they hold deep meaning for my couple.”
Photo featured above: To surprise guests, Michelle arranged for a New Orleans police escort and the Preservation Hall Brass Band, playing traditional NOLA music, to lead the couple and their guests on a second-line parade through the French Quarter. As their guests were ushered into the Pharmacy Museum (their venue), the Hot 8 Brass band played modern New Orleans brass music. Photo by Nancy Ebert
On Building A Wedding Brand and Business: Invest In Your Relationships
“In the beginning, it felt like I just needed to get my name out there,” Michelle says.
Because she had been in the corporate world, exposed to marketing budgets and strategy decks, she says she felt like that’s what she was supposed to do. She spent the first two years building her business and getting her name out through advertising and marketing (and continues to do so). “But it wasn’t until I really started networking and meeting the right people that my brand started to take off,” she says.
Big Game Changers for Your Business: Putting My Name On the Door
There are pros and cons to using your name as your business name. But for Michelle, a name change was key. “One of the biggest defining moments for me was when I changed the name of my business to my name,” she says. “All of a sudden, everything about my business was personal and I felt connected to the work and my clients in a totally new way.”
On Goal Setting: Skip The Goals, Set Mile-Markers
“I don’t set goals. I have mile-markers,” Michelle says of business goal setting. “The minute you set a goal with a hard number attached to it, there’s all this pressure. Then when you don’t hit it, it’s tough to bounce back.” Instead, she sets milestones for herself. For example, one milestone was to get published in a national magazine. Another was to save up enough money to attend Engage! Summits. “I set milestones that I want to hit and I stay the course,” she says. “I do the work. I keep networking and I keep the blinders on because I know I’m going to get there.”
Michelle’s Top 5 Takeaways for Wedding Pros
1. Trust Your Gut and Know Where You Want to Go
Michelle says that when she was first starting her business, she cared and listened too much to what others thought her business should look like. “It wasn’t until I stopped listening to the rest of the world and trusting my gut that it really started to click.” That strong sense of trust in herself as well as a vision for what she wanted it to look like was key. “In the end, it’s about who you are, what you’re selling and who your ideal client really is,” she says.
2. Stay the Course, Do the Work
With a strong vision for your business, you also have to have a strong work ethic, she notes. “Don’t pay attention to what other people are doing, don’t look at other people’s Instagram feeds. Looking around and seeing what others are doing can make you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. Instead, put your blinders on. If you know what your goals are and you stay on track, you’re going to see results.”
3. Invest in Relationships and Continuing Education
From conferences to webinars, networking groups and more, Michelle approaches education and networking like it’s part of her job–not an after-thought. “Continuing education and networking has been the biggest part of my marketing budget every year since year three and I attribute a lot of my success to investing my time and resources there,” she says. “Education is not just a one-time deal. It’s something you will always have to do in this industry because it’s always changing.”
4. Be Comfortable and Confident With Your Price Point
Whether you’re selling volume or luxury, Michelle has found that you have to be confident in your pricing. “I really want to encourage others to be comfortable with their price points and where they stand at the moment. Your pricing shouldn’t be about what anyone else is doing and selling. It’s about what you’re offering and whatever that number is, you should be confident when you go to sell it.”
5. Don’t Get Caught Up In the Hype
“It’s very easy to get caught up in the hype,” she says. Blame it on her accounting background but Michelle is a huge proponent of having cash savings on hand and it has served her well. “In our industry, cash savings matters. Don’t wear your money or feel like you have to put it out there for others to see. Instead, use it to invest in your network, your marketing efforts–like your website, social media and SEO–and continuous education.“
Follow Michelle on Instagram at @michellenorwoodevents
About the author: Anja Winikka is the former editor of TheKnot.com and The Knot Magazines turned educator and contributing editor @WeddingPro. She’s on a mission to help creatives, community leaders, and wedding businesses own their stories and tell the world about it (follow along via Instagram @editorinchiefmedia).