We're Elevate

What started as a side hustle for two creative, driven sisters has now become one of the Midwest’s premier event planning and design firms. At Elevate, we find pure, unbridled joy in celebrating all aspects of life - big moments, small gatherings and anything in between.

Elevate Events: Celebrating 6 Years

It’s hard to believe it, but over the weekend, we celebrated our SIXTH business anniversary! (Actually, celebrate is an overstatement – because of Mallory’s 4 month old twins and busy-body toddler, COVID, and Kirstie’s enormous furbaby in tow, it was more of a “grill at home, take a few small sips of champagne, grab a quick photo and down your burger before another meltdown begins” but hey, it’s the intention behind it, right?!)

Anyway, as a way to commemorate the occasion and look back at just how far we’ve come in our six short years in the industry, we went back to our team and challenged them to ask the two of us a question regarding Elevate and its evolution. Six questions, six answers, to celebrate six years! Here’s to six(ty) more!

Q: What did Elevate look like when you first started?

Mallory: To be honest, we were absolutely flying by the seat of our pants. We didn’t really have much of a business plan or very solid goals, we mostly just wanted to launch and make the two or three existing clients we already had lined up more “official.” We built our own (very basic) website, created a Facebook page, and scheduled as many coffee dates with other industry folks as we could possibly manage, and never looked back! Both of us were working full time and answering emails/taking calls during lunch breaks and after work, and both of us handled all of the things. Looking back, it’s amazing that we didn’t feel the very real “burnout” faster, especially as the weddings and events started to pick up, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re passionate about something, right??

Q: How has Elevate grown over the past six years?

Mallory: Ohhh growth, how does one actually measure such a thing? There is the objective growth: we’ve gone from just the two of us to an incredible team of thirteen, increased our contracted events nearly eight-fold (whoa!), and have successfully transformed a side hustle into a six-figure business. But there is also the growth you can’t really measure: slowly but surely finding ways to build a team and use each of our individual strengths to make Elevate run more efficiently, very intentionally scheduling our events so that not one planner feels overwhelmed, and being able to take small breaks from work here and there to focus on our partners and families. There is still so much work that needs to be done here, but looking back and seeing how far we’ve come is incredibly encouraging.

Q: Where do you see Elevate continuing to grow in the future? 

Kirstie: I see a couple of things for us! 🙂 One (maybe) obvious vision I have is to continue to grow our team of planners along with the roles within our leadership team. We have such an incredible group of talented ladies and it has always been a passion of mine to see others doing the jobs they love most. We crave new, innovative ideas around here and our team certainly keeps us on our toes in the best way. Additionally, I see us expanding our services and offerings outside of the event sphere. Mallory and I are always talking about, “okay, what’s next?!” We’ve discussed a few different projects but I’ll keep those on the down-low for a little while longer. 😉

Q: If you could give those two lovely gals advice starting out, knowing what you know now, what would it be?

Kirstie: Feel empowered to ask for help and delegate roles and responsibilities, especially ones that are not your strong suit. Creating and launching your own business feels very much like having your own baby – you want to hold on so tight and not let go of control, even though you know that leaning on others is exactly what you need to do. It took me a few years to be able to do that (and also learn how to effectively communicate!) and now that I have loosened up a bit, I have seen incredible strides in the direction of growth and employee satisfaction. 

Mallory: Know the value of yourself and your time! When we started Elevate, I was newly married with only a cute dog and lots of free time, but I also majorly undervalued the cost of my time and how much work went into each project. As time has gone on, I’ve expanded my knowledge and network tremendously and have learned to work more efficiently, but I have also been forced to take a good hard look at what my personal time is worth, therefore pricing our collections accordingly and learning how to delegate as needed.

Q: What’s a moment you’re each proud of? Or, what is a stand out moment for each of you over the last 6 years?

Mallory: I always enjoy taking a step back at each of our events and soaking in the culmination of all of our efforts and hard work. Some of our largest weddings and events have taken literally thousands of hours of preparation and require SO many logistical conversations, that once it all comes together, it is the MOST rewarding feeling to just stop and remember that we helped make it happen! I had a major “proud mama” moment at a particularly logistically-heavy tented celebration a couple of years back that still brings me joy to think about!

Kirstie: Leaving the corporate world and pursuing self-employed life! Wow, I honestly did not think that would be my reality but here we are, a little over 2 years into it and I have learned, and continue to learn so, so much. Don’t get me wrong, it was a huge leap of faith and it’s not as cushy or comfortable as my 9-5 used to be, but it has been necessary and super rewarding.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a business over the past 6 years?

Kirstie: As a small company, there are lots of ups and downs. One challenge that we have faced is the switch over from working IN our business to working ON our business. We are continuing to work on it (and it has gotten significantly better – thanks, team!!) but it has been a slow process to remove ourselves from the nitty gritty and free up our brain space for the big picture pieces. While “flying by the seat of our pants”, as Mallory mentioned above, was once a reality for us, it is no longer an option and so, setting the foundation, planning the next steps and staying grounded and secure has been a tough, but important lesson for us.

Elevate Events: Celebrating 6 Years

To have a chuckle at where we were one year in, check out this blog post!

Photos by Hailey Amber Photography and Jake Anderson Photography