An Interview with Steele Magnolias

This week we are showcasing an interview with Sherri of Steele Magnolias (@steelemagnolias5 on instagram). Steele Magnolias is an event and floral design company that creates charming and unique vibes with romantic touches. Recently, Bonfire Heart was featured in a styled shoot that Sherri brought to life!

*you can browse more pictures of the styled shoot in the gallery found here

How did you discover your love for event planning and creating/what inspired you to start?

My folks are most definitely my inspiration! They were ALWAYS hosting a party!! I had a pretty strict bedtime as a kid, so I would sneak out of bed to spy on them! Sometimes I would get to stay a while if I got caught. Definitely not one to miss a party- even now!

I know that planning events takes lots of work and various elements- How long did it take you to feel confident in your skills?

Truthfully- when I look at all the talented people in this industry, I can feel a bit insecure. But once I start to work on something- I am absolutely in my element- and there is no doubt in my mind I am doing what I should be doing!

What elements go into event planning that most people wouldn’t think of? Anything that really surprised you?

Nothing has really surprised me- not yet anyway. I think one thing that exhausts me and the people around me- is the attention to detail I HAVE to give. I’m a “leave no stone unturned” kind. So my work is never done. That leaves a lot to be surprised about. But it’s so dang satisfying!!

Describe the process of planning a styled shoot or event. Do you sketch out and plan designs or let them develop as you go?

My favorite way to design is to let it evolve! It can be scary and exhilarating at the same time- but that’s when I’m at my best! I will say, I always start with inspiration from the client. I like to get to know them and really understand the vibe they want to create.

In regards to our recent shoot. The inspiration was the color rust, antlers, and amber glass, (basically my childhood) I drove around salt lake, and Utah county for the perfect foliage for the occasion. I love to see how it comes together. But I can get distracted by all the beauty. So I do have to keep focused to create the vibe I wanted for that shoot.

Who do you book and contact first?

For a styled shoot definitely the photographer! But getting great models and others to collaborate is essential. A great photographer is key to making your work look it’s absolute best!

If I were answering as an event planner I would say first thing is to always make your guest list. Everything revolves around the guest list. And after that caterer is the first booking. Everyone remembers the food! And I’m a BIG fan of food.

Do your events ever come out way different than you envisioned? Does this frustrate you?

Most often things turn out a bit different than I imagined. But that’s sort of the beauty of it! One reason for that- is in floral- you must buy what’s beautiful. Sometimes we have are hearts set on something that just doesn’t look great. We can have what we want or we can have something better haha. But on a whole the vibe and content is there. (Hopefully clients are confidant enough in my abilities that they are flexible with the outcome). With the styled shoot we did recently- I had planned to do one set, but couldn’t deny there was more that needed to be unleashed haha. So I styled two! There were just so many talented people that came to mind, that the whole thing sort of snowballed. I had a good friend who throws pottery and I really wanted to showcase his work! And then there is the talented Shelby! I knew I could trust her to create a masterpiece- and she did! We had a jeweler and a fabulous baker that needed recognition. Also, a friend of a friend, started a tulle skirt co. so I reached out to her last minute. I’m sort of a “go big or go home” type, so things can get bigger than me real fast. But I love a challenge. And I LOVE to design!

What do you do to work through a creative block?

To work through a creative block I will clear my schedule and make time to surround myself with beauty. It sounds cheesy- but if I can be alone and browse shops and explore the beauty around me, my creative juices start to flow.

What is a brand you’ve worked with that you’re most proud of? How has working with them changed your business?

I wish I had a better answer for this- but I feel so honored to have worked with so many talented people and companies. It’s hard to pick one! But I do know, it is through encouraging one another that we are successful. Wether that means sharing on social media or hiring someone who can make your vision a reality. It’s important to see that we all have a place and something to offer!

What is your favorite event that you’ve ever planned?

I might have to plead the fifth. My daughters would be so sad if they thought it wasn’t their wedding haha. But I did love planning my first grandsons baby reveal. Probably because myself and the mother in law were the only ones who knew the sex. I am never the first to know anything- so that was sweeeet!!

Which celebrity/influencer would you be most happy to plan an event for?!

Oh boy! These questions always stump me. Maybe someone who is really really sad? And needs a party something fierce. Vincent Van Goh?? He suffered for his sanity right? I mean if he were alive, we could do a rad starry starry night themed party with paint guns! No- but seriously, I would love to do a party for the queen of England. Because a) England ;) and b) I’ve always thought I should have been born in that time period. Corsets and ball gowns etc etc. That would be a rad!

What is the most important piece of advice you have for creatives trying to build their brand?

I think you just have to be true to yourself. For me it’s feeling what I’m creating. Everyone really and truly has the innate ability to create. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder! So if what you do is similar or totally different from others- just do it!! Whatever that looks like! Don’t compare- comparison is the thief of joy. We do what we love because it brings us joy!

Where do you see Steele Magnolias in 5 years?

I’m not sure- but I doubt we’ll be here in the Rocky Mountains sadly. It’s just a hunch. I will however, never abandoned what we’ve started. Steele Magnolias will always come second to family and religion though, so that leaves a lot to be determined. I don’t have any intention on making it my life’s purpose. But no matter where I am, I’ll be creating beautiful spaces for people to make lasting memories in! It’s just part of who I am!

You can follow Sheri with Steele Magnolia on Instagram @steelemagnolias5

*all images via Steele Magnolia on instagram & Jen Anderson Photography

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