Smart Chicks... {The Importance of Education + Experience}

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
— Mahatma Gandhi

The point of that quote is this... Pink Floyd was wrong.  Boy were they wrong.. 

We are taught from an early age that education is important.  It's the one thing in your life that once attained, can not be taken away from you.  However, in the creative world, there is a common misconception as to how  we are educated and how talents evolve.  One can pick up a camera, read the manual cover to cover learning everything there is to the mechanics, but it takes the eye to make it beautiful.  Thanks to Pinterest, and don't get me wrong.. this girl LOVES Pinterest, but we all now believe that we can plan, dress, decorate and craft anything that you throw at us.  Well, Pinterest Fails would disagree..

It's not about education or experience.. It's about education and experience..

Creative individuals are born with talent, and while sometimes it may take a little while for that creativity to blossom... it is still an inherent trait that can't be taught.  Education is important because it helps you gain real world experience through internships and shadowing that you might not get right out of the gate as an entrepreneur and self starter.  It opens up doors, pads résumés and builds confidence, but it isn't what gets us there...

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

I’ve taken my years of successes and failures and created a well-oiled machine with a team of creative professionals that are the heartbeat of the entire operation. Our staff collectively has a background in event planning and design, wedding planning, catering, visual design sales, marketing and criminal justice.
— Lesleigh Smith

There's that word.. Failures.  The word that no one likes to hear.. We don't advertise our failures, brag about them or post them on our websites and blogs for everyone to see, but they are important.  They are who we are, what we are and how we have gotten there.  No one ever made it to the top without a few scrapes and bruises.. They are our education, and they are our experience.  We learn what works and what doesn't, what ideas will succeed and which ones will not and what not to do again... ever.  This is something that no amount of time spent in a classroom can teach you.  

In a very short amount of time, Lesleigh has taken The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch from a small glimmer of a dream to the very top.  Built with nothing but her blood, sweat and tears, The Barn is now one of the top wedding and event venues in Central Arkansas.  

Listen folks, she didn't get there by twiddling her thumbs and relying on others to do for her.

Lesleigh, a Texan at heart, got her degree in graphic design from Baylor University in Waco. She then went on to work in the event planning business for several years before moving back home to chase her dreams.  She has been in the business for over 15 years, and trust me when I say.. She knows her stuff.   

I have learned all of my event planning the hard way. Now that colleges offer event planning degrees, it is a great bonus! Getting real-world, hands on experience is invaluable. Specifically for me, I think the experience I have rather than the “degree” I have play a pivotal role in the success of The Barn.
— Lesleigh Smith

She didn't just wake up one day thinking "I'm going to be a wedding planner, I'm going to open up my own venue and it's going to be a huge success"  then POOF!  It happened.. There is so much more that goes into this business.  Knowing what people want and will respond positively to is a huge plus in this industry.  That knowledge, what Lesleigh calls the "recipe" for success and flawless events, is what makes an experienced planner so vital.

Event planning isn't all about picking out flowers and DIY-ing your little heart out.  One thing that all of our Barn Brides have said is that The Barn Crew thinks of everything.. Every little detail that brings your big day together, they have it covered - even things that the to-do list crazed brides-to-be never even thought of.  That's experience, folks.. 

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

While education cannot teach us creativity, and while hands on experience is invaluable.. we do take away many positive attributes from the formal classroom setting.  Knowledge of the business side of a creative industry is a must.  Whether it be brushing up on your tax knowledge, learning how to legally establish a business in your community or how to protect yourself from liability... that education is priceless.  

And can sometimes save your booty.. 

Most of our Barn Planners are pursuing degrees that will only better them in the business. Victoria Hudson has been with The Barn for over 2 years now, and she is also a senior at Arkansas Tech University majoring in Hospitality. As a new wife, an almost college graduate and a super busy Barn Wedding Planner - this girl has a lot on her plate.

The importance of education in the event planning business is learning the legal boundaries that you must follow in this industry. As an event planner, hands on experiences is such a huge part of the learning process.
— Victoria Hudson, Event Planner
Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Hailey Vigil is the new kid on the block and a student at Arkansas Tech University.  She is majoring in Journalism with an emphasis in PR, and event planning is her favorite aspect of PR. Even though Hailey hasn't decided on what path she will take after graduation, she does know that her education has been the gateway to all of the opportunities that she has been blessed with.  ATU has allowed her real-world experience, such as interning at The Barn.. Hailey knows that none of this would have been possible if she didn't go to college.

At Tech, I’ve had the opportunity to get real-world experience while taking classes. I never would have had the opportunities that I’ve had, including interning at The Barn, if I didn’t go to college. It’s hard work, but I know that it’s important to reach all of my goals.. even the goals I haven’t figured out yet!
— Hailey Vigil, Barn Intern
Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

The wedding day is potentially one of the most important events that a girl will experience in her lifetime, and thus it is super important to make sure that you not only hire an event planner, but that you do your research and hire one with a positive reputation.  

And as reputations go, they don't get much better than The Barn.

A wedding is kind of like your grandma's apple pie recipe.. It takes the perfect combination of several very key ingredients to make it come out of the oven smellin' like a little piece of heaven.  It is the perfect mixture of knowledge, creativity, fun-loving and laid-backness all rolled into one.  And while we realize that even Picasso started at the bottom, a 200 guest count wedding isn't the time to let your crazy Aunt Mable take a swing at planning.  You spent countless hours trying to find the dress, why wouldn't you put the same amount of heart into finding the planner to make all of your dreams come true?

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Oh, I almost forgot.. Hashtag has her Master's Degree in looking cute and evening napping from BATOR right here in Dardanelle.. She's kind of a big deal.

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Happy Wedding Weekend to Emily + Mark... We are so excited to be such an important part of your Big Day!  Emily, you are going to be such a stunning bride.. 

Check back soon for some awesome images from Kaleena + Spencer's big day.. We hope your first week of marriage was pure bliss.

Image Courtesy of J. Millwood Photography.

Image Courtesy of J. Millwood Photography.

Until next time...

Ashley

Check out our website for more!  We are also on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.. Come show us some love!

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography

Rustic Farm Styled Shoot Photographed by Melissa McCrotty Photography