Using Illustrations to Differentiate Your Business with @RitzyBee + @KellySeizert

Friday, May 30, 2014

Today's guest experts are Maria Baer and Kelly Seizert of Ritzy Bee Events in Washington DC. 

Custom bar rendering

For those who may not have met you yet, can you share a bit of your background?
Before we launched Ritzy Bee Events in Washington, DC, planning weddings and other social events, we each started our careers in the event planning arena immediately following college and both gained very valuable experience. Maria worked for over seven years in the world of corporate event planning in DC managing hundreds of events like trade shows, conferences, golf tournaments, and charity events which established a necessary foundation for learning the ins and outs of detailed organization and logistical execution. Kelly worked out of Boston for a planning firm that focused on high end social events, celebrations and weddings which provided her with fabulous creative planning skills and attention to production detail like no other. When we met it was an instant connection and friendship, both of us bringing different but important strengths to the table that helped us build a strong and successful brand.

Escort card table

You've started personally sketching and painting your design concepts for client presentations. What motivated you to switch to this model?
We feel couples should want to hire us for more than just our ability to recommend vendors, plan wedding weekend timelines and make sure their day runs flawlessly. Although Pinterest, blogs and magazines are extremely helpful to inspire and give ideas, we wanted our clients to have their own unique ideas that fit their wedding sense, setting and style. Creating custom design boards with illustrations and sketches let us give visual representation and tell the story of what the wedding day will be like. It’s also very helpful for other wedding vendors on the team to see the concepts as well everyone is on the same page on design direction and visual execution.

Reception tablescape

Many designers run into tension when collaborating creatively with clients. As we know, millennials have a deeply-rooted value of collaboration and don't expect nor want to fully delegate everything when wedding planning. How do you balance the give and take of creative collaboration without losing your mind as the true expert?
We have definitely experienced a shift working with millennials and do appreciate the importance of client collaboration! The challenge can certainly be feeling as if your expertise is not as highly regarded as you would want it to be, but we also understand that putting total trust in someone you have not worked with before isn’t always easy. From the moment we first meet with a potential client, of any generation, we stress to them how necessary and important it is to understand and believe in our process, trusting us as we guide them during planning to make it the best working relationship possible. Short of always being respectful of client ideas and wishes, we certainly are not afraid to educate clients on why certain ideas might not be the best idea and provide alternative suggestions. It’s important to us to always stick to our business core values and branding guidelines and we’re never willing to risk our reputation.

You frequently go up against competitors outside of your local market for weddings happening in your market. How do you feel having a specific design "voice" has helped elevate you to a different level?
We feel lucky, especially in our local market, to hear from clients and other vendors that we were the first to offer such detailed designs to clients. It’s always so nice to know you are offering a niche service and it helped validate being able to call ourselves both designer and planner. Even though it was never our intention, we do feel it has also given us the ability to compete with planners outside of our market and has opened so many doors to places we would have never dreamed of working!

Restroom tent design

As designers, you're both passionate about design concepts being original and believe that pulling other people's work from Pinterest to present in an inspiration board is not design. I agree with you. What three pieces of advice would you give to people who want to present their own designs to clients but aren't sure how to make that leap?

1. Don’t be scared to sketch or illustrate general concepts to the best of your ability! If you don’t have artistic skills yourself hire someone to your team who does, or work with a freelancer who can help you for those projects.

2. It’s not a bad idea to use Pinterest for inspiration, but be sure if you are presenting an idea to your clients you are making it as unique as possible. Sketching a photo that already exists on Pinterest or in a magazine does not count as unique.

 3. The verbiage you include to explain the images you are creating is just as important as the image itself, so be sure to caption each idea with specific details on colors, textures, and materials that will be used to make it really come to life and help build excitement with your clients.

RITZY BEE EVENTS is a nationally recognized event design, planning and production firm specializing in completely custom wedding experiences. With over fourteen years of event experience behind them, owners Maria Baer and Kelly Seizert, along with their team, bring focus, fresh perspective, creativity and detailed planning attention to each of their weddings. Their elegant, understated style and refined aesthetic is signature of both their company and the Washington, DC area where their studio is based. Maria and Kelly are authors of The Southern Living Wedding Planner and their work regularly appears in national and local publications including Martha Stewart Weddings, BRIDES, Southern Living, Town & Country Weddings, Washingtonian and many other esteemed online media outlets.

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