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Meet Alesha De La Cruz of De la Planning

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alesha De La Cruz.

Alesha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
“Of course you got the job, you’re cute!”. These were the first words I heard from my business teacher in high school after getting my first job. This was something that always stuck with me because it didn’t sit right with me even at sixteen. He was wrong then and even now I refuse to be put in that box.

I am the youngest of three siblings and the first of my family to go to college. Going through middle school and even high school it wasn’t an expectation that my education would continue because it wasn’t the norm. I was always active and ready to do more: from dance to soccer, to swimming, softball, volleyball, cheer and even VP of my senior class, I never stopped… It’s funny because thinking about how much I was always doing definitely foreshadowed a career in events.

I actually don’t even remember why I wanted to go away to college so bad or what even influenced me to do so. Even though I was only seventeen when getting ready to be the first person of my family to move away and attend college, I was ready, excited and always supported to do so.

I attended UCSB for my first two years of college and UCI for my final two years. It was a blast to say the least. I actually had too much fun the first two years and I saw my grades drop significantly but that never worried me for my future success. Coming from a background where not many people I knew went to college or focused on school, it wasn’t always my main priority. Yes, I’m saying education wasn’t my main priority and while this may sound bad to some, I am thankful for this perspective.

Hard work, grit and determination were the traits I saw in those that were successful around me. I knew that regardless of my path, I would do whatever it took to make myself happy and find success in whatever I wanted to do.

Going to college was amazing and I’m blessed to have been able to do so. I met some of my best friends, gained life skills, and graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. But as many business owners know, nothing fully prepares you for the reality of starting a business.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been an easy road but you know as they say, “nothing worth having comes easy.” It is an especially tough time right now in the world so it’s quite ironic that I find myself answering this question during a time of great struggle.

When starting my business, I was really scared to take that initial jump into fully owning the fact that I AM a business owner. I would find myself saying things like “I just started something for fun” or “I do this on the side”, however it is so true that until you start acting like a business owner you will find yourself struggling with imposter syndrome.

I knew I had what it took to plan, execute and coordinate a beautiful event. Logistics and details have always been my strength and the care I have for my clients goes unmatched. However, the “business” portion of running a company was something I wasn’t familiar with.

Being the sole owner and representation for an entire company is a big responsibility but the best part is that we are given the agency to make the best decisions that align with our beliefs and values. Not only do you want to think about the representation of your brand, I’ve always wanted to make sure that I am being authentic in that representation.

This was definitely something I struggled with in the beginning. I come from a background in hospitality, where you learn specific verbiage to use and values to portray so it was hard to immediately separate myself from that. I am thankful for this experience because it’s provided me the ability to work with all levels of clientele and also kept my standard for service at a 5 star level. However, I wanted to be sure when seeing my brand and company you can feel who I am through and through.

Once I realized that personality isn’t something that compromises my professionalism, I finally began to represent my brand in an authentic way. My motto, “Professional with Personality” is something I continue to return to as a reminder to myself that they go hand in hand.

Along with the struggles of branding and finding my voice came learning curves with accounting, graphic designing, and even website building. I personally want to be a business owner who can do all of the tasks it takes to be successful, or at least be knowledgeable/understand them. If the time comes to outsource work, I will absolutely do that but knowing that I understand the importance of that task matters to me.

Right now, especially many small businesses are suffering, including myself being a part of an industry that strives of human contact. I am trying to remember that this particular part of the road might be a struggle but there are smooth roads ahead.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about De la Planning – what should we know?
De la Planning is a full-service wedding and event planning company with a passion for bringing people together through celebration. We specialize in weddings for couples who are madly in love and ready to party. My goal is always to relieve stress from others to enjoy the moment.

We offer different levels of assistance dependent on how much help is needed by the couples. Everything from full-service event planning to coordination packages. I am known for executing stress-free and on-time events that are logistically planned to a T.

I am truly proud of the strong relationships I have built since joining the wedding industry with the couples I have assisted as well as with other vendors. I believe my ability and passion for cultivating relationships with not only my clients but other vendors truly sets me apart.

This past year in addition to focusing on the core of my business (wedding planning), I have created a workshop series for small business owners where we gather once a quarter to educate ourselves on a new topic that is beneficial to our businesses. My goal was to create a sense of community through education and networking. Information about my workshops can be found on my Instagram.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
While I do believe that motivation specifically comes from within, I’ve always been very appreciative of the support I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by.

My entire life my parents have been a huge support in anything I wanted to do and along the way. They mainly do this from a far since we don’t live in the same city but I’ve never felt alone in my journey. I’ve also been blessed enough to meet people along the way who have made a huge impact and influenced my success.

More specifically, there is another event planner who I see as a mentor and inspiration. Jeannie Young-Savage is the owner of a large and very successful event planning company and I have had the opportunity to learn and work with her for the past 5+ years. When I had originally reached out to her to offer my assistance, I was in college and had never been in the industry but was ready to learn any aspect and she really took a chance on me. I’ve been able to continue to learn and grow while working large luxury weddings which in this industry hands on experience is everything.

Throughout the years, my support circle has continued to grow and I believe that has come in return of me supporting others as well. I will always believe in community over competition because at the end of the day lifting one another up goes past the importance of business. From a friend that helped me come up with my business name to friends that help me choose an Instagram photo or even those that just like or comment on my photos, I appreciate all those in my life that take time to support my dream of being a successful event planner.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Savannah Rae Photography; Holly Sigafoos Photography

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