Before becoming a sought-after event planner, Marie Danielle Vil-Young, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, was a seasoned researcher who loved plants and flower design. And she would still be cloning DNA if it hadn’t been for her wedding, when she realized her true calling was event planning – from designing flowers to coordinating the details. going through the execution of his vision – and decided to do something about it. Soon after, she left behind her impressive scientific career and launched A Your Service Events, a wedding design service offering luxury event planning and floral design services. With her scientific background as a secret sauce to her success (she can tell you precisely when the flowers will bloom down to the minute), she was named one of the world’s best wedding planners by Harper’s Bazaar, featured and cited in numerous magazines and newspapers, and is in demand for speaking engagements and television engagements. And while this past year has been tough for someone whose business relies on parties and group gatherings, that hasn’t stopped Marie Danielle from building her brand. We caught up with this Franklin Park mom to talk about how she kept her business alive and prosperous during the pandemic, why she brings her daughter to work with her whenever possible, and one of the best beaches to relax on the Jersey Shore.
Photo credit featured: Sage Studios Photography
Tell us a bit about your family and background.
My husband, Jabari, and I just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary and we live in Franklin Park with our 9 year old daughter, Micaele Taylor. I have a master’s degree in biochemistry and pharmaceutical sciences. Although I may no longer work in a lab, I take my science training with me every day into my family life and career with the way I think, tackle issues and solve The problems. Growing up I loved plants and flowers – I even had my own garden when I was 5 – but in college I turned to a field where I knew I could find a job. Then in 2008, as I was planning my wedding, I fell in love with what I was doing and knew I could start a business. I haven’t looked back since.
Since events have diminished, how have you pivoted your business during the pandemic?
With weddings called off and things so uncertain to begin with, I had to think outside the box to help my business survive. I didn’t think my virtual workshops would be enough, and I know flowers are always in demand, so we started putting bouquets in beautiful boxes to sell online and ship nationwide. When things first closed I set up a website that I created in late 2019 and within a month we were good to go. The pandemic made me realize how to look at my floral work and see different ways to monetize it. People still needed something to do on birthdays and anniversaries to show their love and let others know they were thinking of them.
I also opened a pop-up store for a few months in the Short Hills Mall to get more attention on my current product. And like everything I do, my pop-up store had to be very special. Besides the flowers and plants, we also had some lifestyle items including some beautiful floral wood jigsaw puzzles that I designed. I developed and negotiated a pop-up store in Nordstrom before Mother’s Day, and it was such a success, we’re doing it again for Father’s Day. And Anthropologie also invited us to collaborate in their store. This whole boutique that I ended up doing organically is snowballing and turning my business into a multi-faceted brand, which is very exciting.
Does your daughter already help you at work? If so, what are you making him do?
Since she was a baby, Micaele has helped me as much as possible. I believe this made her more responsible and aware of the many different aspects of running a business. Over the years, she handed out bouquets or cards to brides, went to the flower market with me, and helped me clean and carry buckets of flowers. And as she gets older, her responsibilities grow too: last summer she worked for me a few hours a few days a week, and this summer she will too.
What do you hope she learns from you as you run your own business?
I hope she learns that whatever she chooses to do, she should be fully immersed in it, work the hardest, and aim to be one of the best in her field. Whenever possible, I have always made it a point to bring my daughter to my speaking engagements so that she sees what it looks like when the women are in charge and kill him.
While most of the events you plan are huge lavish affairs, can you share the secret to having a successful gathering?
When entertaining friends and family, remember that it’s not about you, it’s about your guests. Think a lot about their likes and dislikes. Think about what would be fun or exciting for them to do or have or experience, then focus on the details to bring that vision to life. People feel good knowing that you have thought of them and how they will experience your event.
What are some of your must-see local businesses?
We are big food lovers, so we like to try different restaurants all the time. We’re big fans of Mistral in Princeton for burger and drinks and Salt and The Frog & The Peach in New Brunswick. All of them have great food, stellar staff, and an atmosphere that lends itself to a great experience.
Please share your favorite “family spots” in the NJ.
Point Pleasant is a family favorite. It is more spacious than most of the other beaches and is the perfect place to relax. Also, my daughter loves to code and play, just like my husband, so every once in a while they’ll go explore all the great arcades in our state. And we go a lot to Six Flags Great Adventure, impossible not to have fun there!
A beautiful flower arrangement designed by Vil-Young and used as a visual for one of his beautiful wooden puzzles. Photo credit: Giselle Cornwell
What’s the best piece of advice you can share with another new mom-taker?
As entrepreneurs, our career path allows us to create the environment we want. Most women in the corporate world don’t have the luxury of doing this. Before I had my daughter, I ran into a woman speaking at a conference and saw that her baby was in the back of the room with a babysitter. When my daughter was born, I made a conscious decision to do the same when appropriate. Yes, it takes a very strong person to do this shamelessly, but if everyone around you is clear about your expectations and your limits, you have the power to choose the way you do business.
For more information on Marie Danielle Vil-Young and A Your Service Events, see the website, the Facebook and Instagram pages.
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