DREAM CATCHER: HEATHER CRABTREE
Business strategist Heather Crabtree wanted to be an attorney for most of her life. She earned a business management degree before heading to law school as she had always planned. But when her father died of cardiac arrest during her third year of law school, her world turned upside down. She completed her degree and worked for a firm for about a year, but she had lost her passion for the law. She gave her two weeks notice and opened a wedding planning company in Arizona, despite no prior knowledge or experience in weddings or events. Within four years she’d sold half of the business to a partner, and by the time they celebrated their 10-year anniversary in 2014, they had added ten additional planners and had expanded their business to include coaching other wedding coordinators about how to run their businesses more efficiently. Two years ago, pregnant with her second child, Heather felt ready for a change. She completed Marie Forleo’s B-School program and was inspired to launch a new business helping other creative business owners succeed. She and her partner sold Outstanding Occasions in late 2014 to one of their senior planners and she is now using her expertise to help other creatives develop strategies and systems for their businesses. She says she’s on a mission to help others run their businesses without running themselves crazy!
When did you know you wanted to pursue your business or venture? I’ve known that I wanted to own my own business since I was in high school, but I always thought it would be a law firm.
Did your former career prepare you for running your own business? My legal education and brief legal career and my ten years of running a wedding planning business absolutely prepared me for running my current business. My experiences have taught me so many things: teamwork, delegation, hiring and firing a teammate, establishing boundaries, how to say NO, marketing, bookkeeping, social media, organization, leadership, encouraging others, standing up for myself and the company, managing others, the importance of a good website and graphic design, working with other companies…the list goes on and on.
Did your original business plan change along the way or are you doing exactly what you set out to do? If it changed, how so? I had no idea that I would ultimately own a business coaching company when I started. I don’t think there is anyone who can say their business plan stayed exactly the same for the duration of their business. We must all adapt or make changes. We all grow and hopefully get better each day, each month, each year.
What makes you different from your competition? I don’t really consider anyone my competition. I don’t say that with an ego, but instead believe that we all have something great to offer and no two people or companies are exactly the same. I really think it comes down to personality and whether the client and I are a good fit for one another.
How did you fund your dream? I never took out a loan or had any financial backing. I just made both companies grow little by little by working my butt off. I hit the ground running and never looked back.
How do you organize your day to best optimize your time? Describe a day in your life. My life runs by Google Calendar, Basecamp, and this year I added The Day Designer by Whitney English. I have two young children, so I only have a limited amount of time each day to get all of my work done. Every minute counts! I try to choose three things I will be able to accomplish each day for my business. If I accomplish more, great! But I set a goal of completing at least those three things.
What three factors have most contributed to your success in business and in life? My determination, my nurturing and loving “Mama Bear” personality, and my appreciation of the fact that life is short and that we should be grateful for every day.
If you could have a one-on-one meeting with any woman, who would it be and why? What’s the first thing you would you ask her? Michelle Obama. I would ask her: Who are the top five women you lean on for support and what is the biggest piece of advice they have each given you?
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… A back-up dancer. OK, maybe not really, but I do love to dance!
I wish someone had told me… That you can do anything, but not everything. I was always told I could do anything, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I couldn’t do it all at once.
My biggest challenge is… Finding time to just relax and rejuvenate. Luckily I have people in my life who remind me to slow down and just breathe.
If I had to do it all over I would… Not do anything differently. It is all about the journey.
The most important thing I have learned so far is… To give encouragement and support to others, but also realize that it is OK to ask for help for myself, too.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
The three words that best describe me are… Fiercely motivated, determined, and loving.
My favorite place to go on vacation is… Paris (I also love Cinque Terra, Switzerland, and Munich, Germany.) I really like sunny beaches, too. Hawaii sounds nice right about now!
While on vacation I always… Find non-touristy things to do with my husband. We like to meet locals and ask about things that a typical tourist wouldn’t do.
My favorite scent is… Currently Viva la Juicy by Juicy Couture.
My favorite TV shows are… New Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black, The Amazing Race and True Detective.
On my playlist right now… Anything by Sam Smith or Ed Sheeran or Beyoncé.
My favorite type of workout is… Weights, elliptical machine, Zumba, and hip hop dance class.
I rejuvenate by… Going to one of the many amazing spas here in Arizona or getting a mani/pedi or just taking a bath and reading a book.
Who is a teacher or boss who inspired you and why? My first grade teacher (Mrs. Zerr), my fourth grade teacher (Mrs. King), my high school Calculus teacher (Mr. Murphy), and two college professors (Prof. Puia and Prof. Douglas) have all encouraged me and inspired me to keep reaching for my dreams. I will never forget any of them.
Being a mom and an entrepreneur means… Juggling a lot and having a purse that is full of books, business stuff, diapers, and boogie wipes.
A woman who inspires me is… Only one? Nope, can’t do it. There are of course the superstars like Oprah, Ellen, and Michelle Obama, but I also love seeing other ladies that I have had the privilege to meet who are rocking their businesses, such as Mica May, Hilary Rushford, Kim Stoegbauer, Amber Housley, Lara Casey, Heidi Bartlett (who is also my sister!), Jess Lively, Rhiannon Bossie, Jackie Hernandez, Lauren Grove, Ashley Malone, Leah Kalamakis, Farideh Ceaser, and my former business partner, Jennifer Thinnes. Just to name a few!
One thing I hope to pass along to my children is… Love and to remember to work hard and hug harder.
Lately I’m inspired by… Everything: business people, interiors, graphic design, websites, nature, color, calligraphy and hand drawing, and more.