Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mayra Castillo and Xochitl Gonzalez > www.alwaysabridesmaid.us

Mayra Castillo and Xochitl Gonzalez Founders Always A Bridesmaid

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
First, we believe you have to have a strong vision of what you want and secondly, a desire to really do what you want, without fear of failure or too much concern with immediate sacrifice. It's the road less traveled for a reason!

What did inspire you to start your business?
Truthfully, a bad boss! We had jobs that we loved, in function, planning corporate events. But the office climate took the joy out of work. We wanted to create a company where there was room to enjoy the kind of work we do- which is basically to create celebrations for people.

How did you finance it?
Poorly! In the beginning, it was financed with our last commission checks from our day job! It wasn't much. We used credit financing for the first year until we could qualify for bank loans and just tried to be really strategic with our dollars. We spent a ton of time and energy pursuing publicity for the business.

Being Hispanic ...Does it have any influence on your business?
We have an impossibly strong work ethic, which for us, feels cultural.

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
We don't want "real" jobs.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Always financing. Like a lot women-owned businesses, we face problems with financing particularly during stages of growth.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
I think we both wish it wasn't so tied to us, personally. We'd like to create more distance between our personalities and the service we offer.

What was your childhood ambition?
Mayra: I wanted to be an agricultural engineer.
Xochitl: I wanted to be a talk show host.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Andrea MacDonald. She owns an outdoor media company called MacDonald Media and was a client of ours. She taught us so much about enjoying life and work.
Two more famous names would be Martha Stewart and Coco Chanel.

For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Dinner meetings. We need to be able to have people relaxed with us.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
Everything. We really spent time away from family, friends and money while we invested our love and time in this business.

What is your favorite quote?
"In order to be Irreplaceable, one must always be different"- Coco Chanel

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
No, that isn't difficult. Either you are or you aren't. I think it's in your nature.

Biggest mistake made?
Undervaluing our services and promising perfection. We now sell expertise and problem solving skills, not fantasy.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Yes. We've never believed that the success of the wedding is about just the day. It's about the process. We've designed all of our services to enhance the enjoyment of getting married, not just the few hours that the reception is going on.

Always A Bridesmaid was founded in 2003 by Xochitl Gonzalez and Mayra Castillo after these two former corporate event planners were tapped endlessly by friends and friends of friends for event tips and wedding planning help. They have since become one of the city's most sought after planners, and the "Go-To" company for couples planning events in unique or untraditional venues such as lofts, tents, or historic venues.

Contact Mayra and Xochitl at www.alwaysabridesmaid.us

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