Loyal followers of our blog, have you ever wondered how KEP came about? The story behind the brand? For the first time in seven years, owner and principal planner, Shannon Kennedy, has agreed to break the mould and share her story and the special meaning behind the new studio office space of Kennedy Event Planning.
I remember fondly the day I decided to create Kennedy Event Planning, I was sitting at my dining room table weighing the pros and cons of leaving my full time job to start my own company. I was both terrified and excited at the idea of becoming my own boss and creating something that I could call my own. The reality was, I was 27 years old with a job I hated in an industry that I loved. My friends and colleagues had been encouraging me for months to branch out on my own and I finally realized it was about time that I listened to them and take the leap.
In July 2010, KEP was created. It was both frightening and liberating when the pay checks from my pervious job stopped and I was left with only my work to ensure that bills got paid and I could keep food on the table. There was little guarantee that KEP would take off, but I knew one thing for sure: failure was not an option. In fact, the fear of failure became my biggest motivator.
The first few years were a whirlwind of blog posts, sales calls (before social media was the main method of connecting with other vendors), networking events, and hard, hard work. I hustled. I hustled hard and got my first client. Then another, and another. Before I knew it, KEP was a brand and was starting to get public recognition. I hired my first assistant and was hand picked to be a part of a unique collective of creative professionals in a coveted Byward Market office space. I was on the path to greatness and I felt invincible.
As the 90‘s saying goes, “reality bites” and in June 2013 I had a huge chunk taken out of mine. In a matter of weeks my reality, as I had known it, was over: my ten year romantic relationship ended, my first assistant and I split ways over contract disputes, and I was unceremoniously voted off the island and out of my cooperative office. My new reality was this: I was 30 years old, with nowhere to live, $65 in my chequing account, and a full wedding season ahead of me. What was I to do? Exactly what anyone else would do – I found a friend’s futon to sleep on and got very, very drunk.
When the dust settled and the tears dried, I found myself with two choices: start over and rebuild or give up. The idea of walking away from it all was tempting but I knew that giving up was not an option. KEP would not close and I would not fail.
Little by little I started to rebuild my private life while maintaining my professional one. I got a small “single girl’s” apartment, hired new assistants, and made some amazing new friends. I made jokes that I had gone from student poor, to intern poor, to entrepreneur poor. But the truth was there were days that I had to ration the food in my pantry, go on really bad dates to make sure I could eat, or juggle bills to ensure my team got paid. These were small sacrifices that I was more than happy to make because I knew that it was all for the right cause in the long run. KEP became my life raft and my entire life. I worked tirelessly to ensure the company would continue to grow and succeed.
After three years of rebuilding, one ‘Eat-Pray-Love’-esque backpack journey around the world under the hashtag #shanvsthewild, I had gotten my mojo back and 2016 turned out to be KEP’s best season yet. With a rock solid team, our busiest wedding season to date, two massive corporate accounts, an international television premiere, and our first celebrity client – I can say whole-heartedly, KEP killed it!
In September 2016 I signed the lease for KEP’s new office: a bright and sunny space in a historic Centretown brownstone. I spent my days working on my client accounts and my evenings painting walls and building furniture. Several cans of gold spray paint and a few Ikea hacks later, the space was ready and our doors officially opened in January 2017.
This space, our space, means so much to me. It is much more than four walls that house a desk and a computer. This space symbolizes seven years of hard work and dedication; sacrifices both personal and professional; and of course, the massive quantities of wine consumed in the process!
Creating this space for KEP symbolizes my love for the company, my love for my team, my love for my clients, and my love for myself and the person I have become. When I welcome you into our office, know that I am welcoming you into my life, inviting you to be a part of my story, and offering you a seat on the crazy journey of everything that is to come.
Now tell me, are you ready for an adventure?
Thank you Laura of Laura Kelly Photography for taking these images of our beautiful office space. Want to see more? Contact us and come by for a visit – we’ll happily share a bottle of Rosé with you!