I had the chance to talk with Christina Farrow, founder of Aisle Planner, a few weeks ago about her past life as a wedding planner and the lessons she learned from selling a wedding business. After doing so, she got the idea to launch a project management tool for wedding planners, which eventually led to Aisle Planner. Here’s a little bit more about her journey.

Michelle: In 2013, there were a few other planning tools being marketed to wedding planners. But – Aisle Planner definitely brought a superior product to the table.

What led you to launch Aisle Planner in 2013?

Christina: As a small business owner with a thriving [wedding planning] business, even with all my experience and a road map for success, I quickly found myself increasingly overwhelmed with all that needed to be done. I had tried every possible solution over the years to streamline my planning and design process, and it frustrated me to no end knowing that even the best offline AND online planning tools on the market were not supporting my desire to be more, do more and live a more balanced life. What started as a simple desire to make my own planning process easier and more enjoyable became a full-blown obsession to help small business owners in the wedding industry who all seemed to share the same sentiment. That’s where the idea of Aisle Planner was born.

This was when technology hardly existed for the small business owner. What was that like?

I look back and realize how far technology has come in such a short time. While today’s technology didn’t exist back then, there were still plenty of great tools that helped my team and I get our work done. We built a solid business with those tools and created our own processes and our own systems with them. We had perfectly organized binders filled with custom worksheets and questionnaires I created using Microsoft Word. We had folders for every client on our computers. We created custom Microsoft Excel workbooks embedded with far too complicated formulas that helped us create and manage everything from the budget to a timeline.

We used these same programs to create and send contracts and invoices, and track prospective new clients. We had saved client emails that we kept in folders in our email program to use as templates that we would copy and paste into new emails to help us save time. We would pencil sketch our layouts on paper and beg our rental companies to recreate them using their CAD programs. We would wait for days – sometimes a week or longer for them to turn it around – only to find that our designs wouldn’t fit in the space we had to work with – forcing us to start the layout design process all over again.

Looking back, I realize how inefficient this cobbled-together process was but, at the time, it not only worked but worked REALLY WELL and I felt completely organized.  In fact, vendors and brides would compliment me on how organized I was!  When you don’t know there’s a better way (and your way is working just fine), it’s easy to feel complacent in your process of getting the job done.

What are you most proud of with Aisle Planner?

It hasn’t been an easy road, especially coming from a non-technical background but the support of our pros has been incredible. I can’t help but be inspired by our customers and the small business owners in the events industry who are faced with the same, very real challenges I was facing. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t share with me how Aisle Planner has impacted their business for the better. It makes me so proud to know that the online tools my team and I are working to build will empower them to make things happen for their businesses so they can ultimately focus on what matters most in their lives.

What is the future of Aisle Planner? Can you share about any updates we might be able to look forward to? {wink wink}

While we launched Aisle Planner with just planning and project management tools to help pros manage each event or project after it was booked, it was just as important for us to be able to support our professional community with tools that helped them get those events booked in the first place.

That said, we centered the last year around adding features that would seamlessly link powerful marketing tools – our business listings and publishing platform – and client management features including lead tracking, online proposals, contracts, invoices and online payment features to our cornerstone planning and project management tools. We rounded out the year with the addition of one of the most in-demand features since our inception, Layout Design and Seating. With many new additions to our platform like these, you’re finally catching a glimpse of the full ecosystem we had envisioned from the start.

The coming year will bring many new things. We’re excited to reveal the brand re-fresh we’ve been working on behind the scenes to better reflect who we are as a company. We’re looking forward to welcoming fresh new faces to Team AP to better support our growing global community. And, we’re even more excited for all that we planned in the way of new features and enhancements that better connect all of our tools, fill the gaps and further support our mission to empower any event pro (not just wedding planners!) to create positive change for their business.

Thanks so much Christina!

Want to move your wedding business in the right direction? Check out The Action Plan.