Around the Way Mom is pleased to feature another #mompreneur who is blazing her own trail in the world of event planning, teaching, skill development and mentoring. Earlier in the year I was contacted by Ashley Johnson of ANJPR Consulting, LLC who suggested I meet her amazing client to learn more about her…and I said yes! Throughout the interview I gained insight into who she is and understood the philosophies she applies to her work and to her personal life as a woman, wife, mother and mentor. Meet Jon’ll Boyd, CEO of Completely Yours Events, LLC, creator of The Planners Suite Conference, teacher, trainer, mentor and more!
We are often motivated to ‘take a leap of faith’ when a major life event happens. While the ideas are there and the groundwork has been laid, we could find ourselves being too comfortable in the space we’re in to truly fulfill our hopes and dreams. Jon’ll was in that very space in 2011 when, after gaining success in the corporate world for six years, she moved to the DMV to begin a career that was practically created just for her, only to get a phone call saying that day would be her last day. You read right. Jon’ll relocated from Florida, where she had just taken a position with the same company six months prior, only to move to Virginia, gain traction in the new position for 3 months, to hear that company restructuring and she was being terminated. Hearing this made me take a pause and think about how devastating that was for her. As much as she is an upbeat, forward thinking, the glass is half full because I’m connected to the source that supplies my water kind of woman, this rocked her world. And it was her husband, of 9 years, who said perhaps this was the catalyst she needed to begin grinding it out for herself. So that is what she did and Completely Yours Events was born.
Getting started in the industry
Unlike other event planners, Jon’ll did not come to the profession after planning her own wedding or being sought after by family and friends because of her skills; she came to it in a different kind of way. After thinking long and hard about what she enjoyed and excelled in in her corporate work, she determined it was working closely with communities to plan and execute large scale events; so it only made sense that she would begin a business doing the very things she enjoyed and was good at doing. So what did she do first? Research, plan and set goals. Jon’ll started with seeking out advice from some of the biggest names in the event planning world in the DMV at that time. She told me about making calls and asking if the planners had internship or shadowing opportunities. While we all know that hands-on experience is essential, unfortunately the people she called were not in the business of sharing industry best practices or even letting her shadow events. One planner even responded to her request by saying, “…oh so let me understand, you want me to teach you how to be my competition?…no thank you” and hung up. Instead of being defeated, Jon’ll used that experience to fuel her passion for helping others learn about the industry and she set 2 real goals for herself. The first was around education- she knew there were things she did not know about the industry that she had to learn in order to be successful. After taking a course, she quickly realized there were additional components she needed to know. Yes, she knew how to arrange table linens correctly and how to manage multiple vendors, but what about how to create a timeline to keep clients on track or creating a marketing plan for her business? Jon’ll saw the ‘holes’ in the education offered for event planners and she had a plan for that. The second goal she set was to offer an internship experience. She wanted to ensure other new planners did not go through what she experienced.
After Completely Yours got up and running, Jon’ll quickly saw that the business was growing, and she needed help. Interns could provide her with the support she needed to execute the client’s vision and they could gain real-time experience learning from her; it was a win-win for everyone. “Teaching has always been, in some form or fashion, a part of my career, even before I entered the corporate field, it has always shown up in what I do.” So it was not long before Jon’ll began teaching a class at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) through the Hospitality Management program. From the internship to the class at NOVA, people started coming to her to gain additional insight and ask more questions. So, with her initial goals in mind, Jon’ll created Eventagious- an online event planning course that started with a handful of people and grew to about 20+ people in a class. From 2014 to 2019 Jon’ll shared trade secrets, lessons learned, and plenty of how-to’s with participants who were in the first five years of their event planning business. What she did was help propel them forward in learning how to build a sustainable business the right way along with confidence to take their business to the next level.
According to the 2018 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, over the past 11 years, women of color have been the driving force behind the growth of women-owned businesses. Jon’ll sees her work as bigger than just herself. Being led by her faith, she knows the gifts and talents she possesses are not for her. Jon’ll believes it is her responsibility to live with an abundance mentality instead of thinking with a scarcity mindset. “I don’t have to live with a scarcity mindset because I know where my gifts come from, so if He gave me that [my gifts and talents] He’ll give me another…it’s not mine to keep. He gave it to me because He wanted me to use it for the good of other people.” Jon’ll’s thoughts about her way of thinking led us to have an ‘off the record’ conversation for a few minutes about this. We agreed there seems to be a lack of true empowerment and abundance behaviors amongst Black women entrepreneurs. Like others, I’ve heard about women’s empowerment more and more over the years, but what does it actually look like? For Jon’ll it certainly wasn’t the unreturned calls or the no she was told when she set out to learn about the event planning industry. Simply put- empowerment looks like helping others. That’s it. True empowerment takes more than lip service; it requires time and effort. And this is something Jon’ll has invested throughout her journey. “I have people say, “What if somebody is just using you [to get what they want]?” Her response? “Well then that is something they have to live with, that is not on me. I still have to do my part. Whatever their motive and motivation is, that is not for me to figure out, that’s not for me to judge and that’s not for me to resolve. He’ll deal with that.” And Jon’ll leaves it at that- abundance over scarcity.
Moving her business forward
The 2018 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report reported women of color, even if employed, turned to entrepreneurship in far greater numbers to make ends meet (between 2007-2018). For Jon’ll the reason she sought out entrepreneurship wasn’t close the gap financially, but a few years into her business she decided to return to the corporate world for that added security. “I was very comfortable with those benefits…and that direct deposit. I thought, ‘I don’t think this is a good time [to leave my job],’ but on the flip side I could see myself getting stressed out from the fact that I was literally burning the candle at both ends.” Yes, contracts were coming in and she was enjoying the work, but fear held her from reaching her full potential at that time. “I was fearful because it [event planning] was something new and it was something I felt a lot of responsibility around making a success.” Jon’ll had her husband and their soon-to-be family to think about. It wasn’t until she was 2.5 years back in the corporate world and maternity leave was soon ending that she was faced with a big decision. Send her firstborn infant son to daycare or stay home to work for herself full-time and be at WAHM. Jon’ll decided to dive head, and heart first, into her business and the rest is history. As she reflected on this time in her life with me, she did so with a confident assurance in her faith and it made me pause. Jon’ll was not afraid to acknowledge her beliefs and credit those beliefs, along with her supportive husband, mother, close friends and CYE team for getting her through.
Balancing it all
So how does this business owner, wife and mom of two boys under the age of six balance all of responsibilities? It’s quite simple- “Everything I do is on my calendar…everything- from taking the boys to school, to getting them up and getting them dressed, from working out- everything has to be on my calendar.” Jon’ll was honest about this practice taking her time to develop, but now that it has, it has stuck, and she swears by it. She saw herself beginning to wear thin trying to be all things for all people at all times, leaving little for Jon’ll. For her, self-care looks like being intentionally well-planned along with incorporating positive thinking, prayer and daily meditation. “I have learned that if I have not put down the things I desire to do and that I need to do and then protect them with all my might, the same way I do with my clients, then it will not happen.” After learning this lesson the hard way, Jon’ll makes it a point to encourage her staff to remember their own self-care in this line of work. This includes instructions to not return emails after hours or on days the office is closed. Sunday is Jon’ll’s day to close herself off from work and open herself up to be fed spiritually at church, physically with a good meal and emotionally with her children and husband and this practice is essential.
Lessons learned as an entrepreneur, woman, wife, mother
This journey has taught Jon’ll quite a few important lessons that she has learned- here they are:
As an entrepreneur- “Trust yourself. Trust your gut. Trust your intuition. As entrepreneurs we spend so much time second guessing our thoughts and our ideas and thinking we’re not good enough and thinking nobody wants what we have, there’s just so much negativity that we bring into our own world. Second, [understand] the power of community and how important it is to engage yourself and surround yourself around people who can truly and genuinely be there for you for different reasons. It can be for guidance, coaching, mentoring, praise because you are going to need someone who can inspire you. If you don’t have the community, you find yourself frustrated because you can’t do all of this by yourself.”
As a wife- “Self-awareness! Sometimes our tendency is to point the finger at the spouse. I was expecting my husband to understand what I needed from him w/o communicating what I needed from him and stepping up and asking him to step up. As soon as I communicated it to him [my needs], he started doing them. It was just that simple! I thought that was all I had to do?!”
As a mother- “Communication. For me, really understanding that my kids (2 and 5), are smart little boys and they understand way more than I give them credit for. As soon as I started realizing that it was ok for me to have mature conversations with them about mommy’s work it changed everything. Your kids are way much more resilient and way smarter and adaptive than you give them credit for.”
It is evident to me that Jon’ll Boyd uses her faith and the power of reflection to guide her each day. While she is at the helm of an award-winning business and thriving household, she makes time to give back to others and that is commendable. Jon’ll Boyd is a an Around the Way Mom on the move!
To learn more about Jon’ll Boyd, Completely Yours Events & Designs, The Planners Suite Conference and Business Jewels with Jon’ll Boyd click the links below:
Completely Yours Events & Designs-for your next event (personal or corporate)
The Planner’s Suite Conference 2020– in Northern Virginia- January 26-28, 2020