When Chante Gulley and her husband bought a house a few hours away from her corporate job, she knew it was time for a change. Not only a different line of work, but a new way of living. Two years ago, the HoneyBook member took her event-planning business full-time, and it’s still one of the best career decisions she’s ever made. “I wanted a better quality of life for our family. I wanted to be home more. November 11, 2016 was the last day I worked for someone else, and I never looked back,” Chante said. Here she shares how she took her side-hustle full time, the biggest challenge she faced early on in her business, and the story behind her company name.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hey! My name is Chante Gulley, and I am the Owner and Lead Planner of Forever Taeken Weddings and Events located in sunny Socal. The business name Forever Taeken Weddings & Events comes from my name “Tae” (Chante) and my husband’s name “Ken” (Kenneth). In college, all of our friends and family called us Taeken. We wrote our wedding vows and each of our last words were “And now we are forever taeken” because marriage lasts forever! 🙂 Naturally, this became the business name.
I have been in the events industry for over 12 years and decided to start my own company in 2016. Best decision ever! If I’m not working, you can find my hubby and I off on a road trip! We love hiking, camping, and all things outdoors. We even have a hiking insta (@taekenaway).
Have you always been a wedding and events planner? If not, what where you doing before and what convinced you to make the jump to pursue your passion full time?
Before my company, I worked at the Torrance Marriott in various event and sales positions. While I was working at the Marriott, I was also pursuing my master’s degree in social work. I was a therapist for a few years and loved working with children, but I knew I wanted to do something on a bigger level. Little did I know that I would be co-founding a non-profit to help homeless children in India! This is actually pretty recent 🙂
My hubby and I bought a house a few hours from my job, and I knew I needed to change jobs, but something inside of me wanted something else. I wanted to change the way we were living. I wanted a better quality of life for our family. I wanted to be home more. My hubby and I both agreed that I should take my company full-time, and Nov. 11, 2016 was the last day I worked for someone else and I never looked back.
What was the biggest challenge you faced early on in your business? How did you deal with it? Were there any tools you used?
In the beginning, the biggest challenge I faced was finding my voice. It was so easy to look to see what others were doing and try to mimic them or try to be a crowd pleaser. I soon realized that my company didn’t feel like “me.” With a lot of soul searching, heart-to-heart conversations and taking a 6-month group coaching course (Wedding Business Academy), I finally found my voice!
What’s your favorite HoneyBook feature?
What do you do to get inspiration?
Get out and do things that make me forget about my phone. When I am out in nature, on a walk or hiking that is when I feel most free to dream. I also love traveling and getting immersed in different cultures, which naturally draws my inspiration.
What’s one quirky thing you do while working?
On wedding days or while I’m working away from home, I try to find a boba place because I LOVE BOBA!! Omg, it’s so yummy! If I meeting people (business friends) and there’s no boba place around me, I will even go as far as asking them to bring me boba. (Thanks, Faria Munmun!)
Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever worked?
One of my couples hired my hubby to be their photographer. They wanted to take their engagement photos in Joshua Tree because they love the outdoors (just like us!). He actually proposed to her in Arches National Park. My hubby and I took this opportunity to make a little trip out of it, and we rented an awesome 70s retro Airbnb in Joshua Tree. We woke up early that morning (like 4 a.m. early) for the sunrise shoot. It was freezing but oh so beautiful. While my hubby was taking photos I was busy styling and posing the couple. This was one of my fave shoots in one of my fave places with my favorite person! I learned that you can make an adventure out of anything. 🙂
What’s your favorite part about being a wedding and events planner?
I always dreamed of a company where everyone felt valued, especially our clients. Wedding planning is such an emotional experience, and I want to create a warm atmosphere so that all of our couples feel comfortable and cared for. Along the journey, I knew that giving back would be a huge part of this company, and I am humbled to say that each wedding booked saves homeless children in India.
Do you have a motto you apply to your life/business?
“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
I want to be mindful and intentional with every person I come across in life.
What’s a trend that you’re noticing in the wedding and events industry that you’re really enjoying?
One trend I’m seeing is that couples want to attend their cocktail hour and spend more time with loved ones. They want to have a small bridal party with a more intimate wedding guest list, while paying attention to the little details that set the tone for a laid back and relaxed atmosphere. This trend can stay forever!
What advice would you give yourself at the start of your career?
If I could give myself advice in the beginning, it would be to not compare someone else’s middle to my beginning.
How has HoneyBook impacted your business?
Once I set everything up, I fell in love with HoneyBook. Now, I must say, HoneyBook is worth every penny! It’s life changing.
I use Honeybook for online contracts, payments, the contact form on my website, corresponding with clients using the email templates (I have a template for everything!) and my favorite is using the workflow tool. Once a client signs the contract and the the retainer is processed, each couple begins a 4-series onboarding process. Each day the couple receives an email with information about my company and the process. One tip is to use the workflow tool to its full potential, and whatever you can automate, do it! I am actually taking my own advice and will be creating an off-boarding series next.
Learn more about the top 3 HoneyBook tools
Chante used to book more clients than ever.
(Photos 2, 3 & 5: Meiwen Wang Photography; Photos 1 & 4: Kayla Illies Photography)