Our next featured vendor as we count down the list in anticipation to our 10th anniversary party is the lovely Ashley Sawtelle, photographer.
Ashley Sawtelle is a film photographer based in Boulder, CO specializing in weddings, lifestyle and editorial photography. She combines documentary and editorial styles to tell many stories with her beloved, medium format camera. Ashley’s work has been featured on Style Me Pretty, Belle Lumiére, Wedding Chicks, 100 Layer Cake, CoutureColorado and in print for WEDDINGS magazine of the UK.
A note from Ashley:
I’m thrilled to be apart of Calluna’s 10th Anniversary Party to celebrate the milestones and successes they have worked so hard for over the years. As a Boulder based photographer, Heather Dwight and team have been a source of inspiration and are lead visionaries in the Colorado (and beyond!) wedding & event community. I cannot wait to reunite with Colorado’s best wedding vendors on April 10th and to photograph all the Marie Antoinette inspired costumes. You can find me in the tall pink wig with a camera in hand at the party!
I was never that girl that dreamed about starting my own business. I didn’t take business classes, get a marketing degree or go to a prestigious Ivy League business school. The closest thing to a business class I took in college while I obtaining a B.S. in Geology was Statistics. I didn’t think I had an entrepreneurial bone in my body. There are staggering numbers out there that most businesses fail within the first year. Eight out of ten entrepreneurs fail within the first 18 months (Bloomberg). Scary. Who would sign up for that? If you would have told me I’d have a thriving wedding & event planning business and we’d be celebrating our 10th year in business this year, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet here we are!
During college I helped a few friends plan their weddings (one in only 6 weeks) and got immersed in the world of events while planning a black tie fundraiser for a local non-profit organization. We raised $60,000 for the local community…I was hooked! I thrived on the organization, the creativity and seeing all my hard work pay off on the day of the event. Fast forward through a move to Boulder, Colorado, six years as the Development Director & Event Coordinator at a non-profit organization, and helping several more friends plan their weddings.
In March of 2004, I realized I needed a change. While out for drinks with two girlfriends, one suggested I should just start my own event planning company. If you knew my friend you’d know she has a trait of just telling someone to do something as if it’s completely attainable, even if it’s outside the realm of reality. She told me I’d “be so good at it and I should totally do it”. Just like that. Like I could just go and make a business happen. But a switch flipped and it was as if I just needed the permission to create something of my own. I remember not sleeping that night but going over and over in my head how I was going to tell my parents that I was going to quit my job and put all my savings into becoming a wedding planner. Did I tell you I didn’t go to business school?
I didn’t know the first thing about writing a business plan. But Boulder is an amazing place to be an entrepreneur. We have more start-ups, small businesses and independent contractors than likely anywhere. We also have an incredible Small Business Center through the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. I signed up for a 13-week course on how to start a small business. It was like getting an MBA in 13 weeks – or at least that’s how I felt. I wrote a business and marketing plan, consulted with attorneys and accountants and also signed up for the Professional Bridal Consultant Course through the Association of Bridal Consultants. I also conducted my own version of market research and through that booked my first five clients – three weddings and two corporate events for the fall of 2004!!
On July 19, 2004, just four months after deciding to start a business, I officially incorporated as Calluna Events, LLC.
Spice Jones joined Calluna in 2006 and Gabbie Sarbaugh in 2007 and we hired our first full time employee in January of 2013. Since our start, Calluna Events has architected and coordinated over 250 events including weddings of all styles across the Front Range, in mountain towns of Colorado, in urban settings such as New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and international locations like Ireland, Costa Rica and Mexico. We have also planned annual dinners in destination cities, small intimate parties with VIP guests, large corporate events and exquisite galas with a sophisticated sense of style and creativity.
I am deeply indebted to so many people for helping Calluna Events get to where we are today. Many colleagues in the Colorado wedding & event community, friends and family have supported Calluna Events, by helping us grow and thrive, by referring clients our way, providing resources, contributing services and donating to styled shoots.
Thank you Rachael Harp for suggesting I start my own company AND for designing my first logo, business card and website.
Thank you Kathy Vaughn for being the first wedding planner in Boulder I spoke to and for giving me encouragement and advice (and for being the matriarch wedding planner in Colorado).
Thank you Erin Cox for allowing me to use your images on my first website, taking my first headshots and for walking through owning your own business at the same time as me. Happy 10th to you!
Thank you Spice Jones and Gabbie Sarbaugh for joining the Calluna Events team and for being so loyal all these years. Your support, dedication, loyalty and friendship have gotten Calluna to where we are today!
Thank you Bia + John and Amy + Sander for letting me help with your wedding planning all those years ago. It was the seed that got planted!
Thank you David Rubin from A Spice of Life who was one of the speakers at the 13-week business course I took and is a personal inspiration of someone building a great business from the ground up.
Thank you Sabina & Heath Mackay for letting your wedding be my first official Calluna Events wedding.
Thank you Meg Blum and Lauren Maggio for allowing me to work for you at the Envelope Please while my business was in its infancy. I learned so much about stationery and how to run a business.
Thank you to Kristina Sutcliffe for allowing me to work at the European Flower Shop, where I learned the ins and outs of wedding flowers. Now I know how to make a bouquet and boutonniere on the spot!
Thank you also to Kristina for hosting the Calluna Events Grand Opening party at the shop and to Spice of Life for catering and Cary Jobe for taking photos.
Thank you to all the Calluna Events interns and assistants who have worked endless hours and tirelessly just for the experience. You are an integral part of the success of Calluna!
Thank you to Trish Thomas for being my business coach, advocate and encouraging greatness!
Thank you to Jennifer Zimmerman, my business attorney but also a friend. I met Jen because she decided to hire Calluna Events to help plan her wedding.
Thank you to Liz Finkelstein of Mile High Style for creating a lovely and inviting space for the Calluna Events studio office. We love going to work every day!
Thank you to each and every client we’ve ever had; for entrusting us with your special day. We are deeply honored, humbled and indebted to you for enabling Calluna Events to grow each year. You are the reason we are around and why we love what we do each and every day!
Thank you to Jolene Peterson for getting married, hiring Calluna Events and then calling us two years later to see if we were hiringt. As Callunas’ newest employee, who helped us through our biggest year yet (and my most challenging personally). You are my rock and I’m beyond grateful you are in my life. Calluna Events is a better company because you are part of it.
Thank you to Anthem Branding for giving our brand a face lift by creating our new logo and fabulous new website.
And thank you in advance to all the incredible vendors who are participating in the Calluna Events 10th anniversary party and styled shoot on April 10th. We are lucky gals to have such a wealth of talent all around us who want to contribute to our party: SWEET Letterpress, Tess Pace Photography, Maggie Evans Design, Lana’s Shop, Kelle McCarter / Design Girl, Perfect Petal, LMD Productions, La Tavola, Frances Photography, Catering By Design, Lucky’s Bakehouse, Sugarlicious, Eclectic Hive, Peak Beverage, Event Rents, Andy Mendoza, Alchemy Mineral Blends, Todd Reed, and more!
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog posts which will feature all the amazing vendors participating in the Calluna Events 10th anniversary Modern Marie party on April 10th! We can’t wait to celebrate our 10th year in business with you!
xx, Heather Dwight, Calluna Events Owner
Here are some images from some of our favorite weddings over the past 10 years!