Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristine Cholakian Cooke.
Kristine, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m originally from New York City but grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta. I attended UGA (Go Dawgs!) and ended up finding my passion in events by majoring in Fashion Merchandising. I was heavily involved in the Student Merchandising Association, directing the annual charity fashion show and serving as Vice President of the club. I felt challenged and invigorated by organizing events and knew that it was a path I wanted to pursue. As a fashion student, there was no better choice for me than to graduate and move straight to Manhattan. I hit the ground running as a public relations intern for two fashion houses and eventually moved up to assistant positions. I got my first taste of photo shoots, styling, market week, and Fashion Week. It was exhilarating but also a struggle to find my niche in such a saturated market. How many girls “move to NYC to work in fashion” each year? A LOT.
After 4 years in the city, I found myself having veered in a different direction than I imagined. I was still working in fashion events but on the sales side. I wasn’t excited about my job and was contemplating a change. By chance, I had the opportunity to help coordinate the last several months of a wedding. Never one to even consider the wedding industry, I was head over heels in love with it all. I was able to use my creativity, flex my organizational muscles, and produce such a personal event that was going to be remembered forever. It wasn’t without little bumps here and there, but the couple was thrilled and I felt a satisfaction that I hadn’t experience with the fashion industry whose focus is always on the next thing.
I packed up my boxes of Vogue, my chihuahua, and my mostly black New York closet and moved back to Atlanta in the summer of 2010. I dove head first into the wedding industry: networking, shadowing, assisting, and business plan-writing on a mission to start a planning company. In a few short months, I met my future business partner and co-founder of Simply Charming Socials, Danielle Copeland. We merged our existing companies and joined forces fatefully to find that our talents and strengths complemented each other. Our first year as a business proved to be a success: over 25 weddings, various features including most humbly Martha Stewart Weddings, and a confidence to carve our name into Atlanta’s bridal market.
In 2014, I rebranded Simply Charming Socials with the iconic swan, taking the helm as soul owner, event planner and designer. With several years of experience under my belt, strong relationships with the most inspiring creatives and vendors, and the drive to continue to produce beautiful, magical events, I have proudly continued to grow my brand.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Life is full of challenges and launching, running, and growing a business is no different. Once I finally took the leap to switch career paths and pursue my passion, I was faced with some of the standard hurdles such as the financial, emotional, and logistical chances one takes when starting a company. There have surely been ups and downs over the years, but luckily way more peaks than pits.
By far, my biggest challenge in business has also been my life’s greatest joy: the birth of my daughter. Like so many new mamas, I had to learn how to balance working full time, being the face of my brand, and taking on my biggest life role yet as a mother. There have been many days and nights where, like so many moms, I struggled with the guilt on both ends. As a creative and business owner, I feel as though Simply Charming Socials is my baby, too. It needs attention, nurturing, and a routine to thrive. But my daughter and family have my whole heart. It’s hard.
As my baby girl has grown right before my eyes, I have relearned my day-to-day routine. I have persisted in making the sacrifices I have found necessary for my family and my business. I have found peace and balance in moments spent at home with her as we navigate toddlerhood together, and I have become a more productive boss in the times I’m focused on work. 2018 has shown me that we’re all better for it, proving to be one of Simply Charming Socials’ most successful years yet.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Simply Charming Socials is a full-service event planning and design company, specializing in weddings and social events. Each package is tailored to meet the needs and style of the individual client.
Our main focus is the details. We work side-by-side with our clients to uncover their vision and bring it to life. And when you take a closer look, it’s the details that shine. We think of everything, we style to the tee, and we always go one step further to create events that are personal, beautiful, and magical.
From the moment a prospective client inquiries, we’re interested in their story. Each event, whether it be a wedding, social, shower, vow renewal, elopement or otherwise, is significant and unique. As our capabilities range from Coordination to Full-Service Planning and Design and everything in between, our packages are completely customized per client. From logistical planning to creative direction, we bring both sides of the spectrum, ensuring each event is exceptionally executed and styled. What makes us unique? In addition to being a well-balanced planning and design firm, we offer stellar services such as custom décor creation where we dream up and build those special touches ranging from signage to hanging installations.
We’ve recently launched Charm School, tips and advice for the newly engaged. This by-email education series walks couples through wedding planning, design, and etiquette topics with expert advice, inspiration, and so much more. We’re excited to cut through the noise and provide no-nonsense advice to those planning weddings everywhere.
What were you like growing up?
I have always been interested in art. From making up dances to singing (not very well) to draw, I was happiest doing something creative. It wasn’t until becoming an adult and recently a mom, that I really started to notice trends in my life and personality. I thrive on organization but always have a little messiness in the background. I am a collector through and through. Ask my dad who helped move those boxes of Vogue and Martha Stewart Living from UGA to NYC, to 4 different apartments in the city, and back to Georgia again.
As we watch our daughter grow, my husband and I often wonder what she’ll be like. I hope she isn’t quite as bossy with her future siblings as I was to my sister — but that she’ll know that being a strong woman will help her always. I hope she collects something, even if she treasures rocks or old stamps so that she loves the little things. I hope she discovers that who she is deep down can fuel her in her career and her adult life.
My sentimental side has given me such an appreciation of weddings. My urge to rearrange my bedroom furniture growing up has helped me to imagine intricate floor plans. My half-and-half right and left brains have allowed me to be creative and analytical, a combo that provides my clients with uniquely personalized events and very detailed timelines to keep it all together. I was destined to do what I love.
- Website: www.simplycharmingsocials.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/simplycharmingsocials
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SimplyCharmingSocials/
Sawyer Baird, For the Love of Juneau, Four Corners Photography, Kathryn McCrary, Heidi Geldhauser, Lance Nicoll, Haley Sheffield