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#20ONTHERISE: Top Event Planners Share Advice to Their Younger Selves

The time has finally come! We’re thrilled to announce the winners from our 20 on the Rise partnership with Rising Tide, Honeybook, and Gusto. Earlier this summer we called upon the creative economy to nominate someone making waves in their industry. We were blown away by the outpour of nominations embodying the true spirit of #communityovercompetition. After much deliberation, we’re excited to share the 20 event planning pros we believe should be recognized for their creativity, hard work, and dedication to their craft.

Take a look at the 20 winners who are making waves in their industry and the advice they’d tell their younger selves.


Check out the top #20ONTHERISE Event Professionals

1. Praise Santos, Founder of Ethical Wedding Movement

More about Praise:  Hi, I’m Praise. I like Tuesdays, organic gummy bears, and making Google Map lists of my favorite Victorian homes around my city of San Francisco.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: I’ve been a pretty Type A personality my whole life (like I organized my closet for fun as a kid) and am only now learning the immense benefits of chill vibes so I would simply say to younger me: be easy on yourself. Sparkle.

Connect with Praise on Instagram



2. Justine Broughal, Founder & Lead Event Planner of Together Events

More about Justine: Lover of bursting charcuterie boards, colorful textured floral arrangements, and giant balloons, I have been planning and designing events since 2009. I am the Founder and Lead Planner of Together Events, a wedding and event planning company with a social impact. Together Events specializes in beautifully curated, people-centered gatherings that celebrate partnership, not patriarchy, and donates 10% of all sales to community organizations.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: Growth takes time; keep going. Trust your gut, stay true to your vision and values, keep creating, keep fighting for love and justice, and your ideal clients will find you. Don’t be afraid to take risks and create something that doesn’t exist yet.

Connect with Justine on Instagram



3. Erica Cote, Owner, Beauty Stylist at Silver Immersion

More about Erica: I’m a mom, wife, friend, supporter, and business owner. My mission is to bring beauty to women while living the values of Silver Immersion (Equality, Diversity, Individuality, Courage, and Confidence). I strive to grow and be more of the change I hope to blossom in others with love and empowerment!

Advice I’d tell my younger self: Don’t stress. None of it is that important. Just be the best version of yourself today, and you’ll be A-OK. It’s all a lesson and will make you stronger and full of wisdom to share.

Connect with Erica on Instagram


4. Renee Dalo, Wedding Planner & Designer of Moxie Bright Events

More about Renee: Renee Dalo has been called “the no-nonsense Mary Poppins of Wedding Planning”, and it’s a moniker she loves. A SoCal based Wedding Planner & Designer with her company Moxie Bright Events, Renee is also the host of the popular podcast, Rock Your Wedding Biz, and a coach for new and aspiring Wedding Planners looking to cast aside fear and step out into their business with confidence and, well…moxie.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: Don’t wait until everything is perfect to get started. Start before you’re ready, and the universe will rise up to meet you.

Connect with Renee on Instagram  



5. Masha Evans, Owner DJ Maasha Events

More about Masha: I was born in Russia and grew up mostly in Brooklyn, N.Y., and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in psychology.  I run a DJ business in Los Angeles and am pursuing my Master’s in Clinical Psychology. Music, language, and connection have always been passions of mine; I speak English, Russian, Spanish, and French.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: I don’t find it weird, but it’s delightfully unexpected that I get to play and call it an adult job. In the right conditions, people of all ages will become kids again on the dance floor. I experience this every day whether it’s leading an air guitar flash mob with eight-year-olds or mixing 90’s hip-hop for a bride and groom. Facilitating creativity, spontaneity, and joy is the backbone of my business, and it continues to amaze me.

Connect with Masha on Instagram



6. Kimberly Gomez, Makeup Artist at Kim Baker Beauty

More about Kimberly: Early childhood educator by day, makeup artist on nights and weekends, plant and self-care obsessed 100% of the time. I love connecting with people to help them feel good and be the best version of themselves no matter their age.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: It’s not going to work out the way you want, but it’ll be better- so relax!

Connect with Kimberly on Instagram   



7. Eddie Guillen, C.E.O Magic Uplighting, Inc.

More about Eddie:  Eddie Guillen is the founder and C.E.O of Magic Uplighting, Inc., a company that specializes in lighting concepts and provides Photo-booths, Drapery, Dance floors and Event furniture. Loves to travel with his wife Jessica and two maltese puppies, Benji and Bella.

Advice I’d tell my younger self:I would say, “Pack and prepare as many home cook meals for the road before events because eating out and buying fast food will make you gain an extra 40 pounds”

Connect with Eddie on Instagram     



8. Kelsey Harrison, CEO, Creative Director at Oh Happy Day Booth

More about Kelsey: I started Oh Happy Day Booth in 2015 and have grown the business to specialize in weddings and corporate events. I am originally from Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and have a public relations degree from Texas State University in San Marcos. My favorite events are swanky downtown weddings and fun greek events. I live in Austin with my husband Peter and rescue pup Bailey.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: You’re not too weird, or too ‘small’ or too much of a nobody to introduce yourself to someone you appreciate and look up to. Just get over it and do the dang thing. (Still telling myself this.)

Connect with Kelsey on Instagram    


9. Inger McDowell, Owner of With Love From PDX

More about Inger: With Love, From PDX is a gifting company and service based in Portland, Oregon. We curate custom gift collections with locally-sourced, handmade goods for busy professionals, corporations, and everyday customers looking for a beautiful, personalized gift.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: I think I’d tell my younger self to not be afraid of failure it’s a natural part of growth.

Connect with Inger on Instagram    


10. Sarah Mullins, Owner of A LA CRATE Rentals

More about Sarah: Sarah Mullins is the owner of A LA CRATE Rentals and A LA MADE goods. Through her passion for people and products with meaning, Sarah is challenging the way people think about the event rental industry. She is a sincere Midwest girl who lives for meeting strangers, making “something from nothing” and rummage sales.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: I would tell my younger self to “let go”.  Let the water (aka: life) guide you. Plan on running into branches and cobwebs. The process will not be smooth. Life is messy. But also know that you won’t get anywhere unless you take a chance and let go. It’s so exciting to think about what is around the bend and you’ll never get there unless you take a deep breath and float.

Connect with Sarah on Instagram    


11. Sarah Pete Rizzi, Owner of Sincerely Pete, Co-Founder Wanderlust Wedding Co

More about Sarah: A 16 year veteran of the hospitality, wedding & events industry, Sarah Pete has worked in numerous capacities including working in luxury hotels, opening & designing high-end event venues in Washington DC. She is the owner of Sincerely Pete where she plans weddings for equality and modern-minded couples and the co-founder of Wanderlust Wedding Co, planning weddings & elopements around the globe.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: It’s never the end. There’s always an opportunity if you choose to seize it. Failure isn’t the worst thing to ever happen, not learning from it is.

Connect with Sarah on Instagram  



12. Andrew Roby,  Event/Wedding Planner of Andrew Roby Events

More about Andrew: I am a Army Veteran who decided to leave the military to create an opportunity where I told the stories of my clients through the wedding and events they have allowed me to be a part of. These stories range from charitable organizations to those with life-threatening illness. It’s been my pleasure to use event planning as a way to inform my community.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: I would say hey younger me, be fearless. Don’t focus too much on what others say you cannot do and go out and do it anyway. If you fail at doing something, learn from it and find a better way to get the job done. Always remind yourself that you are more than enough and that you belong in any room that you walk in. Stay encouraged and never too prideful that you cannot help others on their journey.

Connect with Andrew on Instagram



13. Phylicia Bernard, Personal Stylist at Style IngeNEWity

More about Phylicia: Phylicia Bernard is a Personal Stylist and Style Blogger. She empowers women in creating an unforgettable style and unstoppable confidence!

Advice I’d tell my younger self: Anything you feel even the slightest bit possible in your heart, IS ACTUALLY POSSIBLE! You just need to go for it! It will all be OK, even when no one around you gets it and you feel alone, it will still be OK, they will catch up later. Just have faith and leap!

Connect with Phylicia on Instagram



14. Nubian Simmons, President or The Pink Bakery, Inc

More about Nubian: I am a Milwaukee native who now calls Memphis home. I consider myself the uncrowned queen of inclusion! As the owner of The Pink Bakery, Inc. which is TN’s 1st Big 8 Allergen Free Bakery, I am driven by the belief that, no one should be excluded from life’s celebratory moments because of a food allergy.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: You are stronger than you think, trust & follow the spiritual guidance you are receiving and you will meet all of the people you worked sooo hard for, but never knew.

Connect with Nubian on Instagram     



15. Elise Smith, Owner + Pastry Chef WinniE’s Bakery

More about Elise: Elise Smith is the owner of WinniE’s Bakery, an accomplished pastry chef and published recipe developer & food writer. WinniE’s Bakery is a bake to order and small batch producer of artisanal baked goods, in Columbia, MD. Along with her entrepreneurial endeavors, Elise is committed to being actively engaged with charitable and advocacy work. She does such by working with organizations like No Kid Hungry and Black Girls Cook.

Advice I’d tell my younger self:  “You are more than enough.” To fiercely claim whatever gives your soul peace. “Oh, and you’re not confused, you’re definitely NOT straight — you’re Queer kid!” 

Connect with Elise on Instagram    


16. Teresa Stas, Director of  Sponsorships and Founder of Green Cactus

More about Teresa: I’m an Oklahoma native living in California by way of Oregon! I spent almost 8 years working in promotions and events in the radio industry, left that to manage marketing and sponsorships for a large non-profit country music festival in Oregon, and then left that after almost 7 years to create Green Cactus in order to assist more events with sponsorships.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: Be your biggest fan! I wish my younger self didn’t worry so much about what others would think about what I went after or what dreams I had. I learned the hard way that if I didn’t champion and support myself, there was no reason for anyone else to do so. I know that if I’m going to go after something, then I have to put it out there and do the work.

Connect with Teresa on Instagram    


17. Shean Strong, Floral Designer SHEAN STRONG DESIGN

More about Shean: A true romantic who believes in beautiful ideas, moments, + designs. I am a wedding designer + event florist based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Advice I’d tell my younger self: “Its ok if you decide not to go to medical school.”

Connect with Shean on Instagram  


18. Rica Sunga-Kwan, Owner of Churn Urban Creamery

More about Rica:  I’m a mother, wife, and an ice cream maker!  I combined my design background and love of food to create my own, made from scratch ice cream brand that I serve at pop ups and events.

Advice I’d tell my younger self:  To think big picture and to remember that everything comes in seasons.

Connect with Rica on Instagram  


19. Natasha Thom, Founder of Clearwater Events & Weddings

More about Natasha:  I’m a West Coast girl born and raised, which is why my love for the Pacific Northwest started from such a young age.  My core values are community and connection, and it’s the thread that binds everything I do. I strive to foster community wherever possible and create moments of connection where it may not necessarily be expected.  I want people to get outside their comfort zone have real meaningful conversations again!

Advice I’d tell my younger self: Don’t worry about knowing the trajectory of your career right out of high school.  Our education system puts so much unneeded pressure on post-secondary; it’s 1000% okay to thrive in an experiential learning environment instead of the traditional.  Take the time to explore your interests and figure out what you’re passionate about. Is that more than one thing? Then maybe you’re a multipotentialite and that’s awesome!  

Connect with Natasha on Instagram  


20. Daniela VillaRamos, Love Storyteller and Wedding Officiant at Once Upon A Vow

More about Daniela:  Daniela VillaRamos is a Love Storyteller and Wedding Officiant for adventurous non-traditional couples who want to kickstart their wedding with a kickass ceremony. Her mission is simple: spread love, laugh lots, and breathe heartfelt fun into wedding ceremonies one love story at a time! Crafted with the personal touch of a close friend, Daniela’s ceremonies are full of heart, laughter, and happy tears.

Advice I’d tell my younger self:

Dear Younger Self,

Hear me out for a sec and try not to roll your eyes. Ya gotta stop, chica! Stop stifling your magic. Stop doubting your awesomeness. Stop questioning your self-worth, dulling your creativity, shrinking yourself to fit into whatever boring box you think you “should” fit into. Just stop! Stop all the negative self-talk and start loving the ins and outs of yourself!

I know it’s hard! It’s hard to see yourself as enough. It’s hard to feel worthy when the world has taught you to feel less than. But you’re not alone. Far from it! You have a community of sisters, of creatives, of oddballs who color outside the lines, and even when you struggle to feel like you belong – you inspire others by simply being yourself.

Use your voice, share your ideas, be brave, stay inspired, trust yourself, and push through the challenges. You’ve got this!

Lots of love. xoxo, Future You

Connect with Daniela on Instagram


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