Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Thompson.
Hi Erin, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always loved to design anything and everything. A Los Angeles native, I was lucky to be raised around a myriad of cultures and creative influences, including my parents, who were also designers. In my early 20s, I started creating flower arrangements and bouquets for my friends’ weddings, which quickly turned into an obsession with all things wedding related.
Before I knew it, I was helping friends design their entire events, taking engagement photos, designing invitations, and so on. At the time, I wasn’t confident enough to start my own business, so I continued to help friends for fun while pursuing a career as a production artist at large ad agencies around Los Angeles, but I wasn’t fulfilled. At age 36, I planned my own wedding. During the process, I used in-depth vision boards to help me edit my ideas and explain them to vendors. Vision boards for weddings weren’t as prevalent then as they are now, and my vendors were thrilled to have them. That’s when I realized how helpful they could be for all types of wedding professionals. Once I received my wedding photos, I had a portfolio of my work I could send to planners I admired. I put together a booklet of images, my design board, and my resume and sent them to my top 10 planners in California. I remember getting a package ready for Lisa Vorce (who is the queen) and saying to myself, “I’m never going to hear back from her.” Luckily, that statement was ignored by the universe.
A few weeks later, Lisa and her business partner (and sister) Gina called me. I was so nervous that they had to reach out to me twice before I returned their call. I just didn’t think I had what it took. They were amazing from the beginning and believed in me so much that it completely transformed my work ethic and who I am today. I started freelancing for them as a graphic designer and worked beside Lisa to get her visions on paper. Once I had a handle on the process, I started my business, Aepret (a portmanteau word blending aesthetic and interpretation), and left the world of advertising for good. I recently started working for Lisa Vorce Co. full time, and to say it’s a dream come true is an understatement.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I was my biggest enemy. Had I believed in myself and started sooner, my career would likely be more established, but it also might be completely different. Although I never enjoyed it, I gained a lot of knowledge working at ad agencies, and I believe that knowledge put me in a good position. Also, as a freelancer, I didn’t always have full-time work. When the world shut down during COVID, events weren’t happening at all, and that made working difficult. Fortunately, a lot of people decided to rebrand during that time, and I had enough work to maintain a steady income. One of my major accomplishments during COVID was a rebranding for Micaela Erlanger and Christian Oth, two huge names in the industry. My most recent hurdle has been trying not to lose my love of weddings while going through a divorce. It’s been a wild few years, but I am grateful for the things that make me stronger in life.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
When working on vision boards, I like to learn about preferences and the finer details of the project, from tone to location. Afterward, I will develop a collection of images that reflect diligent research and the curation of stylistic inspiration. Imagery, furniture pulls, color stories, cultural references, and more can be pulled for each event or project. The boards can include anything, such as event needs, renderings of invitation suites, and individual branded elements like crests and stamps, as well as photoshopped spaces for production, furniture/rental pulls, florals, floor plans, and so on. I revel in the opportunity to hunt for any location, culture, vendor, product, pattern, or decor, often sourcing those hard-to-find treasures that make an event truly spectacular.
I’m proud to be a lesbian in a wedding world that’s mostly hetero. I love seeing the LGBTQIA+ community represented in my field. When creating boards, it is important to me to show diversity and represent all people. Although it’s getting better, weddings are still mostly represented by straight, white couples.
I think what sets me apart is my taste, point of view, and the way I interpret things. I try to stay away from trends and pick timeless images. I love getting to know people’s preferences and tying their unique stories into their days.
Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
Life is short, so do what you love. There is nothing better than feeling fulfilled at work. There’s a quote I love by Mark Twain that says, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” If you don’t know where to start, follow your passion. For me it started with persuading friends to give me small flower budgets. I worked for free for a long time, but I was doing what I loved and learning skills that eventually got me where I wanted to be. Believe in yourself and you will be amazed at the doors that open up for you.