We had the good fortune of connecting with Amber Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amber, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I am a planner by nature and finding an excuse to bring people together in celebration has always brought me so much joy. After a few years in college of planning events for my sorority, I decided that I loved it enough to go to graduate school for Student Affairs in Higher Education at the University of Arkansas (woo pig!). Since then, I’ve spent my time as a professional working in the education industry for a number of different institutions planning events from 8 people to 4,000 people. Then, in 2019 my husband proposed and I had the opportunity to plan my own wedding. Set aside the stress of planning around a pandemic – I had the absolute time of my life putting it all together! The ability to be creative and find sneaky little ways to tie the “story of us” into our wedding day was incredibly important but also really exciting to brainstorm. With wedding planning, I finally had the ability to manage the details I’m most comfortable with while also tapping into a creative side that I didn’t realize came so naturally. I didn’t hire a planner for my wedding, so I did what I do best and made six billion spreadsheets. Okay, not really, but I did have a NUMBER of spreadsheets with all of the details for just about everything under the sun. After our wedding, we had quite a few people compliment the organization of it all; a couple of folks even asked if wedding planning was something I’d ever considered making a full time job… and here we are! About a month later, I decided to make the leap and work toward the career of my dreams that I never knew I’d been waiting to find!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Out West Events offers full service wedding planning and design with options for partial planning packages and also month of coordination. One of my favorite pillars of this business is the focus on helping couples find unique ways to tie their love story into their wedding day. I am all about a good traditional wedding, but identifying opportunities for couples to authentically tell their story in whatever manner feels natural to them is my sweet spot. Non-traditional takes lead to unexpected and unforgettable moments that stick with folks forever, and my opinion is that nothing makes a wedding day more special. Another piece that Out West Events emphasizes is ensuring that the couple in celebration is having FUN planning their wedding. There are so many couples who look at planning and just feel (understandably) overwhelmed – it’s a lot of work! But, it can also be so much fun – I mean, who doesn’t love a good cake or dessert tasting? A lot of times the fun memory-making stuff gets lost in the stress of just trying to make decisions. Folks start searching for vendors and find 100 different options in the Denver Metro Area alone for just about everything. It is truly amazing that we have so many talented creatives in the area, but I can also understand how finding that perfect vendor for one particular couple can feel staggering. My job is to build relationships with my couples, learn their style and their needs, then narrow down their options so that it doesn’t feel like so much work. They get to focus on the fun stuff while I take care of the filtering and sorting. Building this business wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t! As much as I feel like I have been doing this particular work for years, it really has only been a few months, which is wild to think about! I have so much to learn and lots of room for growth. However, as I had mentioned before, there are so many talented people working in this industry, and in my experience everyone wants to see their “competitors” succeed – so much so that I don’t even consider other planners competitors, rather as amazing colleagues. It’s beyond refreshing to work in this type of environment and to experience the support of this community. It is the type space that promotes the growth and consistent business development that I am constantly seeking for myself. I classify myself a lifelong learner and the wedding industry has proven itself to be the perfect place for that type of personality. The biggest lesson I have learned along the way is to practice patience. Anyone who knows me knows that I am the kind of gal who likes to make things happen, and I like for those things to happen immediately (waiting the full 2 days for an Amazon Prime shipment is practically torture, just to give you a feel for what I mean by “immediate”). Success in business is not going to happen overnight and I will not wake up tomorrow morning with a fully booked calendar for 2021, it just doesn’t work that way. As much as I know that, I am learning to accept it. I have so much work to do as it relates to networking and getting the Out West Events name recognized. Knowing that this isn’t an overnight transformation gives me all sorts of motivation and drive to move the needle for my business forward every single day. I have short term and long term goals for how I want this business to grow and I work on those goals daily. Seeing the growth of Out West Events in just five shorts months makes me beyond excited to see where things are headed over the next year, five years, ten years, and beyond!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my absolute favorite things about Denver is that there is always something new and fun happening in the city, making it super easy to entertain folks who want to visit more frequently. However, when I have friends or family come to visit for the first time, there are a number of “must-see” places on my list to take them. This way, we can successfully eat and drink our way through the city in a way that will *hopefully* persuade them to come back and want to visit more often! The perfect day in Denver always begins with a fresh-air morning workout at Red Rocks, followed by a quick stop at The Highlands Farmers Market on 32nd street in the summer, and is rounded out with a delicious brunch. My go-to spot is ALWAYS Bacon Social House, and I think I might be physically incapable of entering that establishment without ordering a flight of bacon and a breakfast shot. Ideally, some sort of artisan market is happening while friends are in town (and there almost always is). The Big Wonderful is always a fan favorite, but nothing brings me more joy than the Denver Holiday Bazaar in the winter. If nothing of the sort is available, I can always get a good random shopping fix in with mandatory stops at The Perfect Petal and Wordshop Denver. Dinner is always the hardest decision, and I almost always spend a full hour trying to decide between pizza at Blue Pan, the best wings of my life at Fire on the Mountain, and delicious happy hour margs and appetizers at The Matador. If there’s room for dessert, a stop at Sweet Cow is unavoidable. Finishing out a great night typically involves a fun rooftop drink at Avanti… and always in bed by 11PM. Can you tell I have an affinity to The Highlands yet? I lived there with some of my best friends for a few years and it is my absolute favorite part of town. Other must-visit spots around town include Olde Town Arvada, the Denver Milk Market, a day trip to Golden, and of course – a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park (always a hit, especially with my midwestern friends who have only ever spent time in the Smoky Mountains).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
At the very beginning, before my business was even a business, I started reaching out to other planners in the industry seeking advice about how and where to begin. Literally every single person I spoke with recommended Nicole Renee Coaching. Nicole is a business coach who specializes in helping creatives in the wedding industry elevate their business. I reached out to see if her services were a good fit for what I needed, decided to hire her for some one on one coaching sessions, and she has absolutely been the best investment I ever could have made for Out West Events. Having her as my coach from day one has really been a blessing. There are so many facets to starting your own business, and working with someone who can walk you through the process and provide a roadmap to success makes it much less daunting. I look back to where I was in October, when I decided to make this dream job a reality, and I am in awe of all that I have accomplished in such a short period of time. I know that without the direction and encouragement I’ve received from Nicole, I would be nowhere near where I am today. All of that said, I also could not get away without mentioning how supportive my family has been of this decision as well. Starting your own business is a huge risk and can be a little terrifying; you never know if it will be a success, or if it will be worth the investment of your time or money, and putting yourself out there requires a level of vulnerability I am not accustomed to. However, when I told my husband this was what I wanted to do, he didn’t bat an eye. He has been nothing but supportive and encouraging with my work, and for that I am so grateful.
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