2020 has been a surprising year to say the least and dubbed as a time when ‘anything can happen and I wouldn’t be shocked’ except for when your friend leaves their job in education which they have been training in for years and tells you that they’re setting up an events planning business at the start of a global pandemic, that’s exactly what Katie Skellon did.
Community Assistant Pete Rogers spent some virtual time with Katie to find out some of the finer details.
Looking back the path to events planning for Katie is perhaps not as surprising as it seems at first glance. By her own admittance Katie knew all of her friends used to look forward to occasions like her birthday because they were going to be having “A Katie Party”. This was taken to a whole new level when Katie decide to host her own wedding party, festival style in a field.
9pm the night before the wedding and Katie was in a field still arranging furniture and setting up lighting arrangements whilst the groomsmen and bridesmaids were busy honouring the time honoured traditions of having a drink before a day of drinking but for Katie she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The seed had clearly been planted for Katie but if you had spoken to her a year ago she was determined to become a head teacher, even taking up a job as far away as Manchester in order to receive the best training and experience so that she could come home and advance her career. This was all set against the decision that her daughter Molly who was 13 wouldn’t need her as much and Katie would have time to concentrate on herself, things worked out a bit differently.
“So me thinking that Molly was 13, didn’t need many more was actually the complete opposite. She actually needed me more than ever” – Katie
Realising she wanted to put family first and acknowledging that she held a lucky position in life where her husband was willing to support her, Katie told the school’s head that she would be handing her notice in despite not having another job to go to. Then the Coronavirus found it’s way to the UK and school became so busy with 700 pupils dealing with the complications of Covid that by the time Katie had worked her notice, no definitive career plan was in place.
” Some days I thought I was being so super brave and other days I was like, oh my goodness, what on earth have I done?” – Katie
Katie’s big picture plan is to bring the rest of the world to North Wales for wedding getaways that will be using local tourism and hospitality experiences to give families relaxing long day weekends where they could be exploring a castle one day, braving a zip wire the next and sitting down to a luxury restaurant meal to relax the night before the wedding itself. Where on the day Katie and her team will be handling everything that could cause stress and allowing the guests to have the best wedding ever.
By her own admittance despite being a great teacher setting up an events company essentially meant Katie was going back to square one and having to retrain, learning completely new skills. Which in another odd turn of events has meant that Covid has actually been a strange silver lining as it provided Katie time to really throw herself into learning, using programmes like Startup Club to develop her skills and even had fellow hub member Em Creative design Katie’s website.
So when you’ve left a full time job and you’re setting up a brand new business from scratch at the start of a potentially year(s) long pandemic, what is the reality? In Katie’s case it’s one a remarkably positive reality, when asked what surprised her the most it’s that ” So many people are willing to help and be kind”.
Katie points to the surprise that well established business owners like Hannah Saunders of Toddle seemed intimidating and far removed before attending an online webinar in which Hannah gave down to earth, practical advice and spent time one on one with participants talking them through their ideas.
This generosity is reflected in Katie’s own business plans moving forward as she mentions the hard hit entertainment business and is hoping to launch virtual parties for the likes of Money penny so that she can use great local DJ’s like Shaun Carr and give back to a community that gave so much before Covid.
Despite the big picture not being a possibility yet that hasn’t stopped Katie from jumping in and getting creative when it comes to building a community and a brand for herself. Katie’s been creating party boxes for each season that companies or small groups can buy to enjoy a shared experience together, the Halloween boxes and party cauldrons went down a treat (with a few tricks) and through November Katie is delivering a series of Pizza themed party boxes whilst gearing up for the Christmas season. As well as finding time to squeeze in a ghost hunt for the local community!
When asked about her advice for anybody else who is thinking of setting up a business Katie describes that she is still surprised at how much support there was available just in Wrexham alone, from workshops and courses that would cost a fortune elsewhere to the amount of business owners who spent time either helping to mentor her or generously helping with supplies.
“It sounds really cheesy, but if you do something that you really love, then you’re going to love doing it anyway. So all the hard work is, is going to be worth it because now I love every minute, I am actually living my best life. I find joy in doing something all the time now” – Katie
With Christmas just around the corner and the uncertainty of where and when new lockdowns will be happening we’re certain that Katie will continue to find new and creative ways to bring some much needed fun into peoples lives, so be sure to check out her socials, catch up on the story so far and get ready for the next chapters!