À Votre Service Events® / Women Owned Business
Meet Marie Danielle Vil-Young., CEO and founder of À Votre Service Events®, LLC
Tell us a little about yourself and your childhood.
My name is Marie Danielle Vil-Young. I grew up an only-child mainly in the suburbs of NY. I moved overseas for a few years and returned to the US for college after high school. I graduated undergrad with a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from SUNY Stony Brook. Immediately following graduation, I was fortunate to land a job as a research scientist working on Human Genome project. I later worked for ImClone Systems for a number of years as a Scientist doing work focused on antibody engineering focused on oncology research. During my time at ImClone, I also earned my Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences at St. John’s University.
When did you decide you wanted to start your own company?
I started À Votre Service Events®, LLC on August 08, 2008 and so we just celebrated 10 year anniversary.
Was there a specific moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do?
I was working as a Scientist for many years, but I knew I wanted to do “more”. I wanted to explore other areas besides working in the lab and so when I planned my own wedding 2007/2008, I discovered the wedding / event industry and that was it! I knew then I wanted to work in that industry, but with no experience other than planning my own wedding, I somehow thought it made sense to start my own venture.
How did you fund this project?
I had a full time job as a scientist when I started my business and therefore I was able to fund my venture from my job at the time.
What were the hardest hurdles?
Because I specialize in more high-end, luxury weddings and events, I find we struggle with booking volume. Having said that it makes sense to me that we are not booking big volume of events as that is a very niche market.
After you made the decisions, what steps did you take?
Once I made the decision to start my own business, I reached out to the only people I knew who wouldn’t think I was crazy, and that was my wedding photographer and videographer. These women were instrumental in helping me. They provided much needed guidance about everything. How to create a website, where to purchase domain, and so many more questions I had at the time. Once I had the above on the way, I really focused on accumulating as much information and knowledge as I could about the industry- from knowing all the venues and managers, to vendors in all category so I would be better prepared for my clients. Coming from a world of science, I understood the importance of intellectual property and the importance of publication. So I made it a point to also learn more about different editors and to meet them. I attended many functions as a way to network and learn. I realized early on, being an unknown, I couldn’t rely on word-of-mouth and so I invested in advertising and learning how to market my business. From all doing all of the above (simultaneously it seems), I started to book clients.
À Votre Service Events®, LLC
Was there any life lessons you learned along the way?
Happiness comes in many forms. There is no exact path to happiness and to discovering what we were meant to become. I started out as a Scientist, following the path that one would think would sure lead to financial security, happiness, etc. Today I run my own business in the wedding / event industry. I plan luxury weddings and events for clients from all walks of life, cultures, religions, etc. I am fierce floral designer obsessed with flowers and plans. My floral design work has featured every season in prestigious magazines such a New York Magazine Weddings, and more. And, I have learned that in the pursuit of happiness, doing work that I love so much, I never feel like I am working. Even on my toughest days, I would never want to give this up.
What is the happiest memory from this journey?
I have had too many to count, but aside from seeing my clients’ faces knowing each time I have exceeded their expectations, seeing my daughter Micaele, who is 6 year old, tell me my work is gorgeous brings me much joy. Hearing her talk about my business, my events, watching her take flowers and trying to design bouquets bring me much joy.
Did you have a mentor?
I admire many in my industry and otherwise. There were many already in business who were generous with their time and answered my questions. However, I did not have a mentor.
At any point did you want to give up?
Never! I wake up still every day, excited to see how much I can accomplish, how far can I take my company.
What made you keep going?
I love what I do and through this work, I keep discovering talents I never knew I possess- such as floral design. I discovered my talents for designing flowers by accident in 2013, and now it brings about 40-50% of my company revenue.
How long did it take to become profitable?
The way I structured my business, I was profitable right away, but it always goes right back into the business to continue its growth. Profitability also means to me, whatever I need to sustain the business, pay myself, have revenue for miscellaneous situations that may arise, I must recover 3.5x that amount.
What was the best thing you did to grow your business?
Discovering my talents in floral design adding to my work as a Wedding / Event planner has been a game-changer. Being able to not only conceptualize but execute all aspect of designing our weddings and events has set up apart and has attracted much of my desired clientele.
Do you feel it was more difficult because you are a women?
I am not sure. I have always been extremely independent and much of a go-getter. There has been rare moments where I question someone treatment of me, but overall, I continue to stand my ground based on my values, beliefs in my self-worth.
Do you think social media is important?
Yes. Recently, I have been focused more on social media, Instagram in particular and I have noticed a change for the best in terms of clients reaching out to us, their feedback, interaction, following, etc.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
I am working on expanding internationally and also offering floral design workshops & seminars nationwide and overseas.
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