Imagine arriving at a baby shower and instantly feeling the overwhelming joy of a new life entering the world, or as the doors slowly open to witness matrimony, arriving to pure euphoria.
Décor and aesthetic designing have a huge influence on the emotional connection to a milestone celebration. Event styling has an everlasting effect on the romanticism, memorability and success of the event. Detroit entrepreneur Coralee Hawkins has made it her mission to produce any dream and fulfill any fantasy her client envisions. She begins by researching her clients to see what their interests are and how she can sculpt a creation without any assistance, as all clients love her slogan, “All you have to do is show up.”
Hawkins spent most of her early career as a telemarketer for a charity. She spent day in and day out cold-calling and persuading strangers to donate to the organization. Before long, Hawkins landed a spot in the top tier of her department. However, creativity always stayed in the forefront of her leisure as she enjoyed photography, baking, makeup application and event styling. It wasn’t long before she volunteered to help a friend with her wedding and began to receive rave reviews about the décor.
The questions “Who decorated?” “Can we have their contact?” spread wildly throughout the wedding party. Hawkins began growing a contact list based on word of mouth for a business that was to come.
Hawkins’ love for photography began when she noticed her pictures weren’t appealing due to layout flaws. She started out charging a modest $50 for a photo shoot and makeup application and helping her friend pull off extravagant events.
“Each year my business took a step,” she said.
This past April marked her third year in business and she’s landed some heavy bids, including Cass Technical High School’s prom and senior pinning ceremony, bids Hawkins is grateful for. Cass Tech’s Harlem Nights prom was a hit with her flare, hosting over 1,000 students and guests.
As Hawkins pursues her passion as an event stylist she notes, “My specialty is baby showers, they are over the top!”
One of Hawkins’ favorite showers was developed from an outpouring of support on Instagram. Fauna Burks, author of “Beautiful Hustle Confessions of a D Girl,” put a call out for the “baddest” event stylist and Coralee Hawkins picked up the phone. Burks gave her free range to do take full control of the event’s styling with no budget restrictions. After Hawkins’ research she orchestrated a Moroccan paradise fit for a royal palace. The “diaper party” hosted 250 guest and her clients arrived saying. “All I did was show up.”
Coralee Hawkins’ diaper parties come complete with a deejay, up lighting, pipe and draping, and nifty ideas. One of her creative ideas for Burks included providing every guest with a small bottle of champagne to open once the “main guest” arrived. She is in the midst of birthing a re-brand, formerly known as Coralee Sweets Factory, stemming from a previous venture in gourmet baking.
To date, her business is worth over a half million dollars. As is the case with many entrepreneurs, Coralee Hawkins developed her side business while still employed. She recently quit her job to build her business full time. Her business practice includes booking complete days and hammering out event after event with grace and style. “I’ll do triples and doubles, for example two event on Saturday and three events on Sunday,” she said. There are times when Hawkins is mistaken for an event planner, which isn’t hard to do since she has all of the elements to pull an event together. However, her main focus is the vision and how by design all the elements come together for an ultimate event. Hawkins does not plan to slow down anytime soon. She recently received her accreditation as an event and wedding specialist, from the Institute of Wedding and Event Design (IWED Global), which she plans to use to train her staff and acquire new clients.
How did Hawkins come to the halfway mark to building a million dollar empire?
“I have my own everything,” she said. “I started buying and investing in my business” She passes on the cost savings to her clients, where normally renting props and linen can add up quickly in a budget. She also built a solid team to get into event styling formation. “My biggest challenge was building a solid team,” she said. “I went through so many people and they could not make the cut, work ethics weren’t there.” Coralee Lux Events A-Team consists of “young hard-working, motivated and dedicated individuals just like me,” she said.
The next steps for Coralee Luxe Events include finding a place to call home. She envisioned the space will hold at least 80 people, has good parking and includes an office and storage space. The perfect spot will allow her to host her own events, adding another source of income.
Coralee Luxe Events is expanding the brand to cover weddings, taking her business to the next level. “It’s the intro to wedding season, so this is the kickoff,” said Hawkins. Her first bride requested a Winter Wonderland at Andiamo in Dearborn. Now that she has her accreditation, Coralee Hawkins plans to do all of the draperies herself and is even bringing in a snow machine.
For more about Coralee Luxe Events visit http:// http://www.coraleeluxeevents. com/