Your Name: Erica Taylor (My business partners are Liz Castelli & Adette Contreras)

Business Name: Tinsel & Twine, an event planning and design service

Type of Business: Wedding and Event Design

Business Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Twitter @tinseltwine

Reason for starting
When Liz married a few years ago, she and her now-hubby maximized their budget by handling a lot of the decor and design themselves (with the help of a few very talented friends and family members). The result was a special and very memorable wedding where guests really got to know the couple of individuals and as a unit. After attending too many cookie-cutter weddings, it felt so refreshing to go to such a well intentioned, well designed celebration. The three of us came together to bring that same level of personalization to other brides and grooms on their way down the aisle. Liz’s background as a floral designer and metal worker, Adette’s background as a graphic designer and artist, and Erica’s background in marketing and project management became the foundation for our happy growing business, Tinsel & Twine.

How do you define success?
While it would be easy to define our success by our volume of business or contract values, our definitions for success aren’t as simply quantifiable. We define our successes by two key benchmarks. First, we like to make sure that we are always pushing ourselves to do something new and inspired. In the past year, that has meant architecting chandeliers out of ostrich feathers, hammering guest names into distressed sheets of metal to create escort cards, and making stuffed armadillos look like chic centerpieces. Our second metric for success is our clients’ praise. Ultimately, we are in this business to help our clients create truly unique, personal celebrations. One of our earliest clients called us “comprehensive, consistent, creative, caring, and collaborative.” We are only successful if all of our clients can make the same glowing claims.

Biggest Success
Our biggest success so far has been placing second place (out of nearly 500 teams) in the Brooklyn Public Library’s Small Business competition. We were thrilled and honored to have been awarded with small business grant package. While the cash prize will go a long way, the real “win” was working together for months to craft a thorough, well thought out business plan. Writing our business plan confirmed that we were all on the same page in terms of our business’s direction, priorities, and financial projections. The blessing from the impressive panel of judges — all local business advisory board members and bank executives — reinforced our confident belief that our small business will be a big success.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Our biggest challenge is always the lack of time and energy. My business partners and I have so many ideas for how to grow the business, but there never seems to be enough hours in the day or days in the week. We realized early on that we simply can’t do everything ourselves. We solved this problem by bringing on a dedicated team of talented artists, designers, and DIYers to help with special projects. We call them our “Tinsel Angels” because they’re always ready and willing to help by adding an extra dimension of skill and style. And our opportunity to mentor these talented ladies is invaluably rewarding to us.

Who is your most important role model?
One of our favorite quotes says that an entrepreneur is someone who lives a few years the way most people won’t so that they may live a life the way most people can’t. We admire anyone who has made that kind of sacrifice to turn their dreams and passions into a reality. That being said, our role models are savvy businesswomen who make it a point to support other women in business: Grace Bonney, Tory Burch, Kate Brosnahan Spade, Sibella Court, and Martha Stewart.