Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Garcia.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Ashley. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
THREAD was honestly born from a jumbled place of confusion and hope, like most small businesses, I would imagine. I had spent some years in catering and then in event planning and discovered that there was really a lack of upward mobility within various jobs in the event world. I found myself wanting to have a more active role in helping people throughout a process that seemed incredibly stressful, which has always been my ultimate motivational force: how do I help someone organize their chaos? Let’s just say that a fun Saturday to me involves making lots of lists. As a result of the general life mayhem I’ve experienced, I’ve learned many coping strategies that have proven very useful in running a business, but also in managing a highly emotional moment in someone else’s life. I find problem-solving for others incredibly healing to my own well-being and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing two or more communities come together to celebrate all that is good.
Wedding event production (at least for us) sits at the intersection of organized chaos, design, feminist praxis, and hospitality. Most folks understand three of those foundations, but usually are unsure as to how feminist praxis fits within the framework of the wedding industrial complex. When I first started THREAD, I had also made the decision to go back to school and finish my degree. I ended up taking many Womxn’s Studies courses and learning about intersectional feminism at the same time that I was getting THREAD off the ground. This was pivotal in how we operate today. The wedding industry is made up of predominantly women – most of the vendors or small businesses we get the opportunity to put in front of clients are owned and operated by women, so that is extremely powerful. It’s actually difficult to think of another industry that has that type of representation. Looking beyond the behind-the-scenes aspect, most of our couples are feminists as well, whether they identify as LGBTQ or simply have a strong woman or very involved groom at the helm of decision making. The women we work with are often navigating complex familial/friend relationships that can place an exorbitant amount of pressure on brides to conform to a celebration that may not be their vision. We always attempt to balance the traditions that matter and incorporate them with the oftentimes non-traditional identities of our couples while creating a celebration that is unique to them. It’s about being able to hold multiple identities and roles within your community as you celebrate your journey into creating family. THREAD didn’t always start there but it’s certainly where we have grown to.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road was not smooth by any means, even despite all of the help I received from vendors I’m now lucky enough to call friends. As with anything worth doing, there are always challenges and it’s of course, how you meet those challenges that matter. I’m a perfectionist, which is difficult as a business owner because not only will the project you are working on inevitably have hiccups, but with running the operations, sales, social media, “all the things!” on top of that, there isn’t much space to be perfect. Sometimes you just need to get through the day with being good and let go of the rest. Wedding production days are also unique in that there is no do-over so if you make a mistake, there isn’t really a turning back point. I remember having panic attacks, very high levels of anxiety the night before a wedding to the point where I couldn’t sleep. Imposter syndrome is very real. Eventually, I worked on ways to help balance anxiety with the level of care I have for our couples and the work. I still feel jitters before wedding days, but they’re healthy happy jitters.
I also took several breaks in THREAD’s early years to understand whether this world was truly for me. I had to grapple with where someone like me, a political advocate of human rights, the environment, and someone who grew up teetering between poverty and middle class, fit within the world of luxury wedding production. I would try various other avenues but would always come back to my wedding work because it was the best way I could help people. And as I got to know and work with my clients (most of whom cared about the same principles themselves) I forged an understanding of weddings as a community practice rooted in hospitality, but it took me a while to arrive at that realization.
Please tell us about THREAD Events.
THREAD is a wedding planning and design studio based in Southern California. Our small business is predominantly comprised of two lead coordinators, the lovely Chelsea Wan and myself. We also work with several wonderful women who operate as our support team on wedding production days. We specialize in a radically intentional approach; that is, “radically” as defined by Angela Davis, meaning from the root. We aim to help couples navigate a complex and oftentimes exhausting process of organizing the largest gathering they will likely ever host. With that comes many challenges and we are here to help our couples get through them while feeling supported. We also enjoy creating pretty environments that help folks to feel a sense of calm throughout the day and tell the story of the couples with whom we work.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memories were always baking with my mother. She worked long hours, often bringing work home with her, so being able to slow down for an hour or two was magical for young Ashley. She merely used boxed brownie mix because she didn’t have the time or money to make brownies from scratch, but they tasted amazing nonetheless – mostly because it was my mom sharing love with me – that’s what food does. I guess you could say that was really what shaped my love of gathering. Being able to share love with others is transformative.
- Website: THREADeventsco.com
- Phone: 562.444.5034
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/threadevents/
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/THREADeventsco/
Headshot – Joey Espina; Event photos – Ashley Garcia