Being a wedding pro means you are in the business of helping people tell their stories. From how they met and where they are going to stories rooted in family histories, a wedding is really a celebration of how all those storylines intersect. But, when you are pouring into building your own business, sometimes you forget that you’re writing your own story along the way. That is the legacy you will leave behind—the why you did it, how you did it, and impact you had on those around you. And today, we are excited to introduce you to Keanna of Honey+Vinyl. A musician, storyteller, and wedding pro helping people celebrate all the special moments with sound. Read on to learn about her road from school administrator to American Idol and the biggest lesson she’s learned along the way!
Tell us a little bit about your company.
Honey+Vinyl designs custom music experiences and bespoke sonic branding. Our signature Sonic Sommelier™ approach enhances gatherings, as we mindfully pair music with the menu, the aesthetic design, and the occasion using the science of sound.
Is there a particular moment or story about why you decided that being in the wedding industry was what you wanted to do?
I always knew I’d work in music. I didn’t know it would lead me to the wedding industry. I was working as an administrator for a performing arts high school, encouraging my students to pursue their dreams and, after a painful breakup, I decided to follow my own advice. I auditioned for American Idol, and after a short run on the show, I returned to New York, had a few flirtations with Broadway, and my path in music was pretty much confirmed. I knew that I wanted to bring music to the world in a way where I could feel the impact it was having. And, working in weddings has helped me to do just that.
Looking back, what was the most important thing you did in your first year that ended up setting you up for success? And, what has been the thing that has helped you level up since? The most important thing I did in my first year was to carefully craft our mission and vision statement. Although I’ve revisited and reappraised each of them, they continue to be major guideposts for our brand. Find your ‘why’ and support it with your ‘how.’ It has helped us to level up to understand the problem we are solving and what sets us apart.
What do you know now that you wish you did when you started? I wish I knew that it takes time to build a viable business. I’m always learning, always refining, always growing in business. Patience is as valuable a skill in business as it is in other areas of our lives. It leaves room for things to happen organically.
Once you’ve reached a goal, how do you decide what goals to set next?
When I reach a goal, I don’t decide what goals to set next. The challenges usually present themselves and I rise to the challenge. I do have aspirations, but life has taught me that things can change. So, I focus more on my readiness for what may come so that I can count it as a success.
Tell us about a pivotal moment you have had in the last year. What was the impact it had on you and your business?
I think we all have had a pivotal moment this year! The world came to a complete standstill and we were all left to find our way. This hard reset has put so much in perspective for me personally and professionally. And, although we were already creating and serving our clients from a place of mindfulness, we’ve had the opportunity to dive deeper into that intentionality. This looks like setting a cap on the number of weddings we score each year to ensure that we are always providing quality. This looks like connecting with our clients as though they are part of our family and not just people who are paying for a service. This looks like prioritizing our physical and mental health. So, although we may be uncertain about what the future holds, we are fine tuning and tapping in to what’s really important.
I stand for…living with integrity and intentionality.
My clients are…my family.
If I could…I would eat potato chips for every meal.
One time I…conquered a big fear by self-publishing a children’s book. It’s called ”I Love Me From My Head To My Feet” and you can purchase it here!
Tell us about a time you actually did a happy dance!
I did a happy dance when I learned that our team received funding from iFundWomen and Visa to further the work we are doing with Sonic Sommelier™.
Is there someone who has mentored you (formally or without knowing)? How have they impacted you and what is the biggest lesson you learned from them?
I’ve learned so much from so many of my industry peers that it’s too challenging to narrow it down to one person or even a few people. What I have learned from them all is that relationships are paramount to building a thriving business. I’ve been lucky to collaborate with so many talented event pros. But, knowing that I can count on them as friends has impacted me the most.
What is your favorite part of working with your clients during the planning process? On wedding day?
My favorite part of working with clients is the intro call. I enjoy hearing about how a couple met and how they envision their special day so I can begin to conceptualize how we can enhance it. On the wedding day, being a part of helping that vision come to life through music is such a natural high. My favorite part of the day is the ceremony. Bearing witness to the couple and the joining of their families. Being able to score that moment is such a privilege!
The most important investment I have made in my business is…
Attending Engage! Summits has been one of the most important investments I’ve made. It afforded me the opportunity to foster and maintain meaningful relationships with fellow event professionals who have contributed to the growth of my business in immeasurable ways.
If you could do something to encourage diversity in our industry, what would you do?
I would encourage the founders to take the 15% pledge and to ask themselves their staff, their vendor partners, and any advisory board committees they serve are at least 15% Black or Brown people. And if not, to do the work to ensure that they are actively diversifying, including, and offering equity to Black and Brown event professionals.
5 years from now, where do you hope to be?
Five years from now I hope to see more Sonic Sommelier™brand partnerships. But, more importantly, I’d like to see that we have contributed to creating a culture around mindful sound. I hope to be consulting full-time with other entertainment companies to help ensure that they are more intentional with how they bring music to gatherings.
Make sure you follow Keanna on Instagram at @honeyandvinyl to listen to the amazing music she and her team enhance events with!
Featured Photo Credit: Marshall Jones