Maggie + Newton

Stephanie Cook

The Creative Planners

www.thecreativeplanners.com

 

Everyone has a unique story they want to share, whether it’s at a wedding, social event or through corporate entertaining. The Creative Planners will capture your vision to create a distinctive and memorable event for you and your guests.

 

 

LFLBC: What was the inspiration behind starting The Creative Planners?

Stephanie Cook:  I had an event planning background--I had worked for an off-premise caterer in Miami Beach. When I moved here, my kids were extremely young, so I took a few years off.  Then I started back working doing events at a nonprofit in town called LEAD—Linking Efforts Against Drugs.  I did all their events and fundraising. Then, the executive director’s daughter was getting married and she hired me for the event. So, I did that wedding and then from that I got another one and a 50th birthday and more. I was doing events and working for LEAD, and I realized you cannot do two things well.  I had an eye-opening experience on New Years that year as I was talking with our kids about our resolutions. When it came to me, I said ‘I'm going to build my website and build my business.’ My son said, not sarcastically, ‘ you said that last year.’ And it just hit home that I had been talking about it, but I hadn't done anything. And I said, ’  You’re right.’ It really sat with me, and a month later I left LEAD and I started my own company. It [event planning is something that I really enjoy. It's my passion and my joy. I wake up every day going to work thinking it is a privilege versus a job. So that's how I started!

 

LFLBC: What is your business vision?

SC: It is going!  My vision is to grow, but to stay personal enough that my clients feel like I'm never too busy for them to reach out to me and for them to know that my team and I are there for them handling all the details. So, to build it smartly and be very conscious of my client’s needs.

 

I’ve built my business on my reputation and referrals. To me, all events are so important--especially weddings, and I do a lot of them--that I really am very thoughtful of realizing that I've been trusted to take their most special day and bring it to life. We put a lot of love and caring into that and we take a lot of pride in making sure that when they walk in they say, ‘It’s beyond what I expected!’

 

LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about The Creative Planners?
SC: Our goal is to be able to bring somebody’s vision to life. We don't make it our vision. We don't make it about what I think I would do. Of course, we give our opinions and input, but I really try to get into the heads of my clients. Whether it's a wedding, an intimate gathering, a big gala or a corporate event we focus on what they're trying to do and really bring that to the event in all aspects from planning to the logistics to the special touches you do to the stories that they have.  Everybody has a story, whether it's a company telling a story or a bride and groom. Anybody can throw a lavish event, but to go away remembering that event is really the personal touches. So, I really try to bring not just their vision, but their story, to life.

 

LFLBC: What has been your greatest business initiative?

SC: Probably my website. I almost lost a client because they were looking at my old website, but my new site was launching in a few days! As soon as she saw my new site, she said, ‘Done,’ and they hired me.

It’s an investment, but it’s a smart one because it’s your calling card. And now I’ve actually gotten business just from people searching online.

 

LFLBC: What other local businesses do you work with?

SC: Well, I work with many! Deer Path Inn, Flowers by Katie Ford, White Dress Bridal, Lake Forest Flowers, Heller Catering, Francesca’s Intimo, I do a lot at Elawa, Market House, the Gorton Center, Glen Rowan House at Lake Forest College. I always try to refer local.

 

LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

SC: I used to be really involved in the community. If there was a board, I was on it, especially with the schools. I was on Spirit, I was President of the APT. I was a volunteer at the Church of the Holy Spirit, and I ran the Spring Fair for years. Right now, I'm helping them with a dinner in October. I used to do most of my charity work based on where my kids were. Then when they left the high school my business started to take off, but now I need to find ways to get more involved again. There was a time I volunteered so much that my girlfriends bought me a bag as a birthday gift that said,” Stop her before she volunteers again!”

 

LFLBC: Anything else that you’d like to share?

SC: I have built a great team…Kate Burke, Michele Alex and another employee coming on soon. Bringing them on has allowed me to be even more professional and that's been a godsend. I couldn't grow as I do without them on my team.