Parie Donaldson, Owner of Parie Designs, is absolutely passionate about flowers and weddings! She's been in this crazy industry for over 30 years and still feels like an 8-year-old on Christmas morning when her studio receives a box of flowers. She's a breast cancer survivor learning to navigate her new normal, and is a proud member of the Chapel Designers, a collective of badass floral designers. Keep reading to learn about Parie's adventure into the world of flowers and how Aisle Planner helps her deliver a remarkable client experience!
What inspired you to enter the wedding industry?
I moved to Seattle in the 80s to pursue a career in dance and choreography but soon realized that I'd need money to survive, so I got a job in a cute little flower shop on Capitol Hill. Soon after I started working for the greatest bosses ever, Chris and Scott. Chris was diagnosed with HIV, and at that time, this was a death sentence. So they sold the shop to me and their friend Ken! And thus, with zero knowledge of owning a business and only a few months of floral knowledge, I was part owner of a flower shop!
I truly was passionate about flowers and design immediately and had a wonderful mentor to show me the ropes of design, so I just jumped in full force. In 1992 I moved back to my hometown of Amarillo, TX and started a small shop that turned into a wonderful business for the past 28 years! Weddings became the main aspect of the floral business which I absolutely adored. Although I ran a retail business as well, in 2015 I transitioned to only doing weddings and events. Now, as 2020 begins, I find myself in a new transition, a shift towards sharing my many, many years of experience with other industry professionals as a Virtual Design Assistant and Coach.
Why did you start Parie Designs?
I started Parie Designs on a whim, a "well, not sure what else to do with my dance degree and six years in the floral Industry." But it quickly became who I am and what keeps me going. I'm crazy passionate about the state of the wedding and floral industry and excited to be able to share some of the "stuff between my ears" as I go forward.
If you could change one thing about the weddings and special events industry, what would it be?
It would definitely be that the general public would just inherently completely understand our value and for the big players in the industry to stop publishing non-sensical stats on what to pay for each category.
How does using Aisle Planner help you deliver the client experience you want to?
This is such a huge question, but here you go! I actually won a large grant to develop software (much like Aisle Planner with Details Flowers combined) in 2015. I was on my way to bringing that to market when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That kinda put a new spin on what things I needed to focus my attention on, and I decided to let that dream fade in order to concentrate on my health. All this to say, I've always embraced technology and it's ability to make our lives as creatives and entrepreneurs easier. It's been really fun watching the engagement of my clients over the last five years, as the first few years using Aisle Planner only a few brides really dived in. But the last two years have been amazing! This era of couples has definitely embraced technology.
What's your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
Not a fair question! There are so many features that I love, but if I had to just choose one…probably the checklist. It just drives the entire process!
If you weren't the Owner of Parie Designs, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
I think I would be teaching dance in the forests of the Pacific Northwest!
What are three things you never show up without on event day?
Glue Dashes, iPhone, and grace!
What’s your personal philosophy on becoming a great wedding and event planner?
What a great question…patience is a virtue, really. Give yourself time to really learn the industry, intern, and work behind the scenes for awhile before you really decide if this is your cup of tea. Most young aspiring planners have no idea what this looks like. Such as never having weekends to do "normal" things. And so much of what we do is truly hard, back-breaking work. It's not all about the pretty, but it's extremely rewarding once you see the efforts of all that hard work.
What’s your trademark in the client or event experience?
I always lead off the line dances at a wedding!
Is there anything you're particularly excited about working on this year?
One of my last big events that I'll have planned/designed is coming up on Jan 22nd! It's a corporate event with a company I love working with. They've always trusted me to create something wonderful and have always valued what I can do. Then I jump right in to promoting my new service of Virtual Design Assistant.
Just for fun
Three things you wouldn't board a plane without?
iPad, Cashmere Wrap, and chocolate.
I’m dying to take a trip to…
Ireland! I've always been enamored by the Celtic culture and have recently found that I'm predominately of English/Scottish/Irish descent!
Dogs or cats?
Both, but dogs for sure! I have two crazy (I mean really crazy!) Shiba Inu's, Yuuki and Kenji.
If you owned a restaurant, what food would it serve?
Healthy fast food and coffee.
What skill would you like to master?
Pottery and Excel Spreadsheets—satisfying both sides of my brain.
What’s your go to casino game?
What song do you know every word to?
Man in the Mirror (I know, totally shows my age!)
Favorite book of all time?
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Non-work related hobbies?
Seriously?! I didn't know there was such a thing…
On my days off you can find me…
On my patio with my husband and puppies.
If you catch me out and about I’m always wearing…
Want to see more from Parie? Check out her website pariedesigns.com!
Hero photo courtesy Joanna Robertson Photo