“I just want a lot of flowers.”
For Shay Brown, taking a vague idea and turning it into a breathtaking event is nothing new. In fact, it’s her specialty. Shay, an Asheville event planner and coordinator, loves taking a concept and turning it into a magical night. While weddings are what you may know Shay Brown Events for, Shay and her staff also manage four venues and organize events from teas and balls to baby showers and luncheons. With 19 years of experience behind her, Shay Brown is a name you’ll want to know.
However, she wasn’t always making magic happen for brides-to-be. Before her career in event planning, Shay was a lobbyist in D.C., learning what she wanted in a career—and what she didn’t. Upon reflection, she realized she loved planning Governor’s balls and itineraries and that she was really good at it, too.
“It’s something you have to believe in and love,” she says.
It’s not all bouquets and blushing brides, though. As is with any job, no matter how much you love it, there are frustrating moments. For Shay, it was realizing she couldn’t accept every client request. After bending over backward to make every detail perfect, she realized it was OK to say no to some people and send them to someone who may be able to support them better.
“For me, the determining moment in my life was realizing I don’t have to please everyone," she says. "As a business owner, you feel like you have to say yes to everything. It’s not just in saying no; it’s OK to put limits on the requests. I’d rather say no to someone than have a client I know I’ll never make happy. When I realized that the power is in me, that changed my life. I control the end decisions of everything that happens to me; it resides within me.”
Shay also learned two valuable life lessons in her lobbying years.
“Two things in life: When you turn 50, if you have three true friends you can depend your life on, you’ll be lucky. And the biggest thing in life you have to learn is that you can say no. You don’t have to please everybody.”
It took years for her to take it to heart, but once she did, her life and business changed for the better.
For Shay and her staff, the most fun they have when planning events is when there is no expectation, just an idea.
“We did a wedding for a big YouTube celebrity who just said, ‘We want lots of flowers,’ so that’s what we had to go off of, and it was so much fun. We have images of her with her hands over her face gasping and crying when she saw the space we created.”
“When you turn 50, if you have three true friends you can depend your life on, you’ll be lucky. And the biggest thing in life you have to learn is that you can say no. You don’t have to please everybody.”