Oh So Inspired: The Founders

Oh So Inspired was founded in 2014 by Nancy Liu Chin, Kelly Dolata, and Mary Phan. As leaders in the wedding and event industry, they recognized an ever-growing gap within their businesses. Feeling burnt out, lonely, and un-inspired, they knew that they needed to find a way to reignite the spark they once had for creating innovate work.

Oh So Inspired retreat in Sonoma | asavvylifestyle.com {kevin chin}

It was during one of Mary’s sketch classes, The Sketchbook Series, that Kelly, Mary, and Nancy had a light bulb moment. Kelly reflects, “Being a business owner can be very lonely, but to feel lonely in an industry with so many dynamic, smart and creative people was torturous. So we thought, “why can't we bring all of these incredibly talented people together so we don't feel alone?””

Prior to the sketch class, Nancy found herself worn down both creatively and professionally, and was struggling to maintain a high level of service to her clients while still creating fresh designs. She remembers, “I felt surprisingly refueled and excited about my business after the sketch class. I know, it was just two days, but being able to forget the daily grind and focus on a new skill allowed my other skills to sharpen; removing myself from the day-to-day workload helped clear my mind.”

Oh So Inspired retreat in Sonoma | asavvylifestyle.com {kevin chin}
Oh So Inspired retreat in Sonoma | asavvylifestyle.com {kevin chin}

After the class, Nancy, Mary, and Kelly headed up Union Street in San Francisco and stopped at the first bar they found. It was over drinks and appetizers that the ideas started flowing.

Mary says, “We came up with this idea to bring creatives together offering hands-on learning in the form of a creative retreat. We wanted attendees to wind down and come together to collaborate in an inspiring space. We wanted a space for creatives to come and learn, get re-inspired after a busy season, and cultivate meaningful friendships.”

From Kelly: “I wish I still had that piece of paper we were writing on, trying to come up with a name! If you have ever been in a room with me, Nance and Mary it is like fireworks.... so many ideas, and not enough words to get them all out!!! It's magical!”

Oh So Inspired retreat in Sonoma | asavvylifestyle.com {kevin chin}
Oh So Inspired retreat in Sonoma | asavvylifestyle.com {kevin chin}

Yesterday, I shared a little bit about my experience at OSI – it really is a magical place full of networking and collaboration. To have the opportunity to attend an event with the nation’s leaders in the wedding and event industry is extremely inspiring. Many speakers return year after year, but each OSI is very different from the next.

“Even though I put on this retreat, I learn something new year after year. I meet new people, I see familiar faces and the relationships have grown into something so much more and bigger then just the conference. I love to see people’s businesses grow and to see OSI attendees work together on projects after the conference! That is probably one of the most fulfilling aspects.” -Kelly

Oh So Inspired retreat in Sonoma | asavvylifestyle.com {kevin chin}

In an industry that continues to develop and change, it’s imperative for wedding and event professionals to immerse themselves in the learning process to elevate their career path, and keep them on the road to personal success; however, working in such a fast paced industry rarely allows for business owners to do that. Free time is a luxury that is most likely dedicated to family and friends, and business owners can call themselves lucky if they’ve had the chance to step back and evaluate their business’ path.

From Nancy: “We don't always get to invest in our education, or step back from our day-to-day responsibilities. Do you remember the last time you did that?  We hardly ever get a chance to understand our career objectives or goals. Few have the chance to analyze and re-examine their career path and business direction.  When does a small business owner have the time to reset those goals or directions if it’s on the wrong path?  It's also key to build and strengthen industry relationships. They are the hallmark and foundation of a thriving and growing business.”

Oh So Inspired retreat in Sonoma | asavvylifestyle.com {kevin chin}

Spending time learning with like-minded individuals not only fuels the drive to continue developing your creative business, but it also cultivates relationships within the industry that allow for collaboration and growth. Knowing that you have someone who get’s it when a client oversteps boundaries, or a vendor contract falls through – those are the friendships that keep you going.

From Kelly, “We created OSI to inspire, re-inspire, and build relationships! It's a place to gather, learn, and grow; whether that is personally or professionally. There is so much to take away, the sky is the limit!!”

Since starting Oh So Inspired, Kelly, Mary, and Nancy have caused a ripple in the industry. Gently encouraging their peers to lift each other up by listening, helping, and collaborating.

“I love when I hear of attendees taking lessons and applying them within their lives.  It gives me a great sense of pride when I see various businesses come together. And the support, it's overwhelming. So overwhelming, that I cry sometimes when I think about all those who tell us, ‘keep doing this. Don't stop!’”

Oh So Inspired retreat in Sonoma | asavvylifestyle.com {kevin chin}

As an attendee at Oh So Inspired, you can expect to build lasting relationships with other like-minded business owners, and learn from industry professionals. The team has worked hard at scheduling an incredible speaker lineup this year, including Marcy Blum, Sean Lowe, Kirsten Ley, and much more. You will have the opportunity to evaluate your businesses' path, and you will leave feeling inspired to take it to the next level, because as Kelly said, the sky is the limit!


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Photos courtesy of Kevin Chin