We Tie The Knots co-founder Christyn Wilkins thrives on the rewarding feeling of "creating something out of nothing."
The desire to be a pioneer--the first to do something and break traditional boundaries--were early indicators that this Georgia-raised entrepreneur with a knack for entertaining, would one day launch a business of her own.
After graduating with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Theatre from Pepperdine University in 2007, Christyn pursued a career in sports broadcasting in Los Angeles, California before relocating with her husband and college sweetheart to Denver, Colorado in 2009. With the lack of media career opportunities outside of LA, Christyn had the realization that in order to keep the freedoms of being self-employed while expressing her creativity, she'd have to take matters into her own hands.
Better known as the girl who everyone could count on to put the finishing touch on a party, Christyn co-founded WTTK in 2011 with her younger sister, Callie.
Upon graduating from Auburn University in 2010, Callie worked as a production assistant, writer and photographer before quickly realizing her desire to have the freedoms associated with being self-employed. Along with her older sister Christyn, Callie decided to break free from a traditional career path, and in 2011, began their franchised wedding planning service, We Tie The Knots.
Offering services from 'month-of planning' to 'full-service planning,' We Tie The Knots helps couples narrow in on a special vision for their big day.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
A huge part of what motivated and taught us to become the leaders we are today, would be our parents. Our dad is a serial entrepreneur and has been able to give us some of the best business advice anyone could ask for. He has been an extraordinary leader throughout his entire career, and we are so lucky to have someone like him influence us.
How did your previous employment experience aided your position at We Tie The Knots?
We were both involved in the production industry prior to launching We Tie The Knots, but have always had a passion for the wedding industry. I would say experiencing the day-to-day schedule of average workplace really motivated us to follow our dream in order to create the lifestyle we strived to have one day.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at We Tie The Knots?
The highlight of growing our business so far has been being able to empower others to follow their dreams and help lead them to become the best wedding planner in their market. We also enjoy impacting the wedding industry with innovative ideas. Nobody has ever done what we have with our wedding planning company. It is a very unregulated industry and we believe we can help set standards for brides, and spend more time focusing on the business management while our planners excel with their brides.
One of the biggest challenges of our business model would be maintaining our brand so brides have the same experience, no matter which planner they hire. We knew this would be a challenge from the beginning, so we have taken extra precautions to really emphasize the importance of our brand throughout our training process and ongoing meetings with our planners.
What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
Be sure you have an excellent mentor who is willing to help you along the way. You will be amazed at some of the hurdles you'll have to overcome. With every great business, comes many challenges, but being able to conquer those challenges and never give up is what will make you successful. Put all of your effort into starting your business, don't take short cuts. If you treat it like a hobby, it will pay you like a hobby; if you treat it like a career, it will pay you like a career.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Working from home, this is always a challenge as well as the two of us residing in different time zones. But we have really started holding each other accountable and being more respectful of the time difference to step away from your computer and emails after 6 p.m. This helps us focus on our families and not feel like we have to be responsive immediately. The moment I realized my to-do list will actually never be complete, but it will still be there tomorrow, is when I really started enjoying the balance much more. Owning your own business, there will always be some longer days than others, but thankfully our husbands are very understanding of this and see the value of what we have created. Part of launching this business was to demonstrate that women can have a business and a healthy work/life balance so we try to be the best example of that for our planners and partners.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
One of the biggest issues for women in the workplace is they are still being paid less than their male counterparts that hold the same position. I am sure some of this is because employers see the risk of many women having to take maternity leave, but that should not be the case.
I believe a large issue for women is believing in the value they have to offer. Many women are hesitant to ask for promotions or a schedule change, but the truth is you should make yourself so valuable that employers can't afford to loose you.
In addition, I think not enough women have the confidence to take the leap of courage to follow their dream and start their own business or to make that risky career change.
What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I believe women's work-life balance is always going to be a struggle and controversy in the workplace. This is one of the major reasons we started franchising our company, because we found a career that allowed us to take charge of our own career path and enjoy spending time with family. Now having the opportunity to offer this to other women with the same struggle, is so rewarding!
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Marissa Mayer - CEO of Yahoo. She has proven a successful work-life balance with her family and new son. We believe it's so important to keep your priorities in line, otherwise you will get wrapped up in your career and neglect your family and faith, which ultimately is more important that running a business.
Coco Chanel - She was an extraordinary fashion designer that was extremely driven and business savvy. We use her quotes all the time for motivation purposes! She's an excellent example of highlighting the difference between being a female and being a lady. There is a difference.
What are your hopes for the future of We Tie The Knots?
We hope to continue attracting women with the same passion we have, and leading them to become exceptional business owners of We Tie The Knots. Our goal is to have 50 or more planners in different cities across the country within the next few years. We want to continue leading our franchise owners and employees to always follow their dreams and take advantage of the time freedom we try to create in this opportunity.