We started Crooked Willow with a desire to work for ourselves and create greater opportunity for our family to spend time together. It hasn’t been easy; but we wouldn’t trade this adventure for anything!
Q: How was the transition between corporate life and wedding venue life?
A: I (Jody) was still working my corporate job the first couple years we owned Crooked Willow. It was quite the challenge, commuting two hours for work while Derek was running things back home. I would get back from work on the weekends and help continue to run the venue in my free time.
Working in the corporate world did help prepare us for running our own business. We stepped into this new venture with a solid knowledge base about how successful businesses should operate. There is a lot of work to be done. And we mean, A LOT! Not long after starting Crooked Willow, we quickly developed a new respect for our old bosses. We are the ones responsible for putting out all of the fires! But we also have the freedom to make executive changes whenever we see the need.
Q: How do we manage rest/vacations/separation from work?
A: One lesson we quickly learned was the importance of rest and separation from our work. We literally lay our heads down to sleep on the same plot of land that our business operates on. This makes it very difficult to separate ourselves from the job. Sleep is number one! Derek is just fine operating on a few hours of sleep; but If I don’t get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, I very quickly start to lose my edge (and nobody wants that!). We also try to keep the beginning of each week somewhat open for rest and time with the whole family. We’re in full wedding mode from Thursday-Saturday, so our “weekends” (if you can even call them that) fall at the beginning of the week. There is a never ending list of work to be done around the property so we sometimes have a hard time actually taking a break!
Q: Do you have any tips for running a venue?
A: There is no secret formula to running a successful wedding venue. It simply takes a lot of work! But we always prioritize honesty with our clients and respect with our vendors. It’s the people that matter most!
We’re always learning, always adjusting to new seasons of life. There are plenty of challenges when running a business; but it doesn’t compare to the reward of working for ourselves, creating a beautiful space for others to enjoy, and spending more time with our family! We are excited for the future, for learning and growing together for years to come! Thank you for coming along on this journey with us!
Derek and Jody