Megan AllenMegan AllenThe job: Owner
The businesses: One of my businesses, Soiree Event Designs, which focuses on wedding planning, is based in an office out of my new Brookside retail store, Bella Bridesmaid. Bella Bridesmaid was founded in San Francisco in 2000 and franchised in 2006. Our independently owned and operated shop opened here in Kansas City in October.

My role: The job is multifaceted. My co-owner and I keep busy with bridesmaid appointments, but also are busy with buying, bookkeeping and the wedding planning that operates out of the back of the store. We both wear many hats.

How long have you been in this position?
We’ve began operating Soiree Event Designs out of our homes since 2006.

Why did you decide to establish your own business?
First and foremost, I never saw myself not working, but I also want to have a family. I felt that if I started my own business at a young age, I could create the groundwork to make my life a lot more flexible when kids do come into the picture.
Although there is a ton of responsibility, long hours and dedication that goes into owning your own business — sometimes even more so than working for someone else — it is that much easier because you are doing something that you created. Plus, the successes of the company are so much more enjoyable when you can directly attribute them to the hard work you yourself put in.

How did you find your business partner?
Danielle Suarez, and I met in college and started our wedding planning company together based on both of our loves of entertaining. Also, we have very similar work ethics and goals.

Were there any organizations particularly helpful to you in starting this business?
Yes, the Small Business Administration Web site — — was very helpful in terms of writing our business plan and the business development center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City offered us in-person guidance, which was nice.

What did you have to consider before starting this venture?
Too many things to count. Was it a good idea; was Kansas City a good fit for this concept; how would I come up with the capital needed to start; where would I put the shop; is this something I can see myself doing for many, many years to come; can I make money doing this; do I know enough about business to run my own company? The business plan helped answer a lot of those questions.

Are there any low points as a small business owner?
There are many days I get extremely frustrated and discouraged because there is a lot of “figuring it out.” Before, when I worked for someone else, if something didn’t go right or I didn’t know how to do something, there was always someone to go to and ask for guidance or help. Now it’s up to me and Danielle.
However, you overcome those low points by taking a step back, thinking through it logically and taking the time to do it right. Plus, there are always other small business owners out there that I can consult. They may not do the exact same thing I do, but I’m sure they’ve been in a relatable situation.

What is your advice for others wanting to start their own businesses?
Go for it! Honestly, that sounds corny, but I think you can sometimes be your own worst enemy by talking yourself out of something. However, don’t rush into it. You’ve got to do the groundwork to give your business a successful foundation. Do your research, write a business plan and have multiple people read it and make many revisions to it, and work really, really hard.

What is your educational and work experience?
I have my bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Kansas (May 2003). My work experience is in private and corporate event planning. My first career job was working for Kansas City’s The Catering Co., now called Inspired Occasions. Then I worked as catering manager for Restaurant Associates in Chicago. I also have been an account manager for Barkley advertising in Kansas City.

How does this retail store fit into your long-term career plans?
I plan to always be in this industry, however, my businesses give me the desire to always seek new business opportunities.
| Sue Dye Babson, special to The Star