Ayesha Reynolds and Kelly Brown never planned to start a party-planning business.
But when Southern Living Weddings featured Reynolds' 2010 wedding, which the two planned together, they realized they should listen to all the people who were saying they had something different to offer.
"So that's how we got into doing it, when everyone we knew was like 'you guys have got to do this.' So we took all the advice and praise and combined our talents," Reynolds said.
Thus, Homespun Parties + Events was born.
The two women, who are both 31 and from Collegedale, have been close friends since preschool. And they have been throwing parties almost as long.
"We would throw a party for any excuse we could find," said Brown. "Knowing each other so well, knowing how we both work, what makes us so successful in this endeavor is that we know each other's strengths and we know each other's weaknesses."
Neither have a background in event planning, but their skills complement one another. Reynolds has a background in fine art, photography and graphic design, and Brown holds a business management degree. Both are creative and business-minded, they say, but each brings a strength that complements the other.
"Ayesha's strengths are really her creativity and her ideas as far as thinking outside the box," Brown said.
And Reynolds touted Brown's ability to work with numbers.
"Kelly can take a budget and totally take it off your hands," Reynolds said. "We're full service and a la carte. She can make anything with numbers work. We really pride ourselves on not turning people away who have a small budget, but working with them and figuring out how we can help them."
The process of planning, they said, involves discussing a client's dream event (devoid of budget or restrictions), learning the "feeling" the client wishes to have, and then trying to accomplish that feeling within reason.
So if a client were to dream of a wedding in an ice castle on a snow-covered mountain with a horse drawn carriage, that would signal a fairy tale party, Brown said.
"We try to take that and scale it down to something they can do, then we figure out what kind of involvement they want from us. ... we can be involved as much or as little as they want us to be."
There is no set price list for a party plan; cost depends on clients' budgets and the sort of services they require.
Their "coming out party" was an event titled "It Ain't Your Mama's Wedding & Party Expo," showcasing local vendors and do-it-yourself craft stations.
"There are no rules," said Reynolds, whose own wedding, at the Chattanooga Nature Center, featured entirely handmade decor. "You don't have to have roses, you don't have to have a white dress, you don't have to walk down the aisle to 'The Wedding March.' You can kind of do anything you want. You can personalize it to you."
The two are wedding and event planners, but, they said, they want their company to have a co-op feel to it.
"We've gotten to know a lot of people in Chattanooga," Reynolds said, "so now if someone comes to us and says 'who's a great photographer,' we can recommend them to someone (they might not know of)."
A goal, Brown said, is to "perfect the art of bartering." So if a bride is a graphic designer, for example, they might suggest the idea of offering to create menus for a catering company in exchange for discounted food selections.
"It doesn't hurt to ask," she pointed out. "The worst thing they can say is no."
The two are also working on a line of handmade goods, to be debuted in June.
The most important thing to bear in mind when planning a celebration, Reynolds said, is that creativity is more important than a big budget.
"If they can work with friends and outsource, they can have their dream wedding. They might have to be creative with how they make it happen, but they can make it happen."
Contact Holly Leber at email@example.com or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber. Fan her on Facebook at facebook.com/leber.holly.