Gourmet Girl redefines "Junk"!

One of my favorite parts of being a wedding guest… a guest at any event really… is experiencing the food. And with my enormous sweet tooth, you can guess which course I look forward to most! There are tons of new trends (cupcake towers, pies, doughnuts, ice cream bar, you name it) that are putting a twist on the classic wedding dessert. But, I for one, am a HUGE fan of cake! So when I interviewed our newest vendor, Adenike Mosley-Brown of Gourmet Girl, I was floored by the creations she has made for her clients.

She is a (fittingly) self proclaimed “Architect of Gourmet Art”, and truly makes dessert into something that could be showcased at the Cleveland Museum of Art. (I mean, honestly, if they had a display of stunning cake designs, who wouldn’t want to go to that?!) And Gourmet Girl’s “junk cakes” (please see photo and gasp) would be a featured exhibit! What is even more special, is her history and why she fell in love with baking to begin with.

All Events Planned: Describe how baking came into your life; when did it become a passion for you?

Gourmet Girl: Gourmet Girl Custom Cakes came to be as the result of switching career paths. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with all intentions to attend Medical School. However, after the unfortunate death of my mother, I began Gourmet Girl Custom Cakes to cope with my grief and to feel connected to fond memories of baking with my mother growing up.

Baking calmed me, allowed me an escape from my sadness; I was able to share the joy that stemmed from my Gourmies (fans of Gourmet Girl Custom Cakes) seeing and enjoying their gorgeously gourmet cake. Cake afforded me a way to channel my energy, and I’ve since found a true joy in the creation process that leads to the production of positive, visually pleasing, and delicious products.

I never would have thought that I would take a path from biology to baking, doing something that allows me to use my creativity to bring others joy. In many ways God and my business delivered me from a very low point of my life, and thus Gourmet Girl Custom Cakes was born.

AEP: How did you come up with the concept for Gourmet Girl? How would you describe the brand?

GG: I am Gourmet Girl, and I consider myself to be a connoisseur of fine food. The concept for Gourmet Girl Custom Cakes stemmed from wanting to provide a product that is not only an elite culinary experience, but one that is as equally stunning to the eye. Gourmet Girl is young and fun, presenting new twists classic flavors using only the best ingredients.

AEP: What is your favorite product to share with potential customers?

GG: I absolutely love making my signature ‘Junk Cakes’ for my Gourmies! What is a junk cake you ask?  A Junk Cake is what it sounds like, junky! It incorporates custom candy pieces, fresh floral, edible images all to tell the story of who the cake is for, reflecting what the Gourmie loves, occupation or passions or things that makes them unique.  A junk cake is perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, engagement or bridal showers or even weddings to showcase the couple’s story!

AEP: What have been some of your favorite orders that you’ve worked on?

GG: I can’t say that I have any one order that I love most, because I love them all! However, I have a special place in my heart for Gourmies who order with me for every life event. I have multiple couples who have ‘invited’ Gourmet Girl to every celebrated milestone:  birthdays, wedding, baby shower and everything in between. I love experiencing the joys of life with my customers, allowing me the honor of telling a continued cake story, which for my is priceless!

AEP: If you had a client with endless funds for their event, what is one thing you offer that you would suggest they splurge on?

GG: Individual mini cakes for their guests at each place setting, either as wedding favors or as their serving of wedding cake after the couple cuts their cake. This would be even sweeter of each individual cake is a Junk Cake which is then customized to tell the cake story of each guest!

AEP: How do you come up with the ideas for your creations (or designs of your cakes)?

GG: In addition to being a connoisseur of fine food, I have a great appreciate art and rich cultural experiences. I draw upon these areas, as well as nature; and it is not uncommon for me to see something random and see it as cake. With my visual inspiration I am further inspired by my customers, taking care to design edible art that represents them to the fullest and encompasses every cake goal.  

AEP: What do you think is the biggest misconception about your industry?

GG: Often, I find that people disregard the importance of the cake for their wedding. Cake is thought to just be a cake, and it sometimes is grouped with the last things planned for the event. Cake should be thought to be the main centerpiece of a wedding. It should represent and reflect the couple and should be admired until the last possible moment. The wedding cake and its cutting by the newlyweds is significant as it is the first official task of the couple after the ‘I do’s’. The wedding cake signifies the sweetness of their love; the nurturing of their souls that have been unified as one; and the mutual sharing of their love through the sharing of the cake with family and friends! Long story short, the wedding cake is important, and should be approached with excitement and care to allow the cake to reflect the couple beautifully.

AEP: What do you think sets you apart from other bakers?

GG: With flavors such as Lemon Honeybee or Oreo Inception, Gourmet Girl Custom Cakes are a culinary experience, but in addition to this, I am an artist whose medium is cake and I tell my Gourmies story with Cake! From the planning stages to deep consideration of a customer’s ‘wow’ moment during their cake first look and first bite, I incorporate what makes them special into their cake design to show the world how unique and wonderful they are!

Hold on… wiping away a tear. Not only did Adenike’s personal story resonate with me, but her cakes (check out her Facebook page or over on IG: @gourmetgirlcustomcakes to see more pictures!!) are enough to make you want to cry. Her passion and creativity are nothing short of spectacular, and so evident in ALL of her desserts. Not to mention that I am drooling at the Oreo Inception flavor…

Thank you, Gourmet Girl! The next time I need dessert for an event (or just a Saturday night at home), I know exactly who to call. :-)

Brandi Hamerstone
Schooling us in Calligraphy

SO excited to have another amazing vendor to feature this week! This industry may seem saturated, but with so many couples who plan various types of events, each with a unique style and vision in mind, there is plenty of room for emerging artists to make their mark. And that is precisely what Tasha Pennington has done! Her company, Pennmanship, offers clients everything from custom signage to beautifully addressed envelopes. Tasha is a former teacher, and her creativity and attention to detail are noticeably standout. Plus, she is so sweet and personable!

AEP: How did you get started with calligraphy?

Tasha Pennington: I started practicing calligraphy as a therapeutic release after long days of teaching middle school students. I promised myself an hour a day of calligraphy which in turn improved my skills. When I realized I was pretty good at this, I took a calligraphy class to improve on the skills I'd learned from reading, watching, and practicing.

AEP: How would you describe your personal brand?

TP: penn•manship is personal! Everything is hand lettered in love and in lower case :) penn•manship exist to bring together elements of the clients' style, personality and color scheme to create unforgettable envelopes, place cards, wedding signs and more.  

AEP: Who is your ideal client?

TP: The ideal client should understand calligraphy is beautiful and also a luxury.  There's a shared responsibility between myself and the engaged couple to simply form a bond with each other. This allows us to share the love for the creative process and enjoy the end results.

AEP: What has been some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

TP: My favorite projects are always on chalkboards! I LOVE the contrast of the black background. Recently I've used black canvases for signage and they've been amazing as well.

AEP: If you had a client with endless funds, what is one thing you offer that you would suggest they splurge on?

TP: Place/escort cards! I believe engaged couples should provide some form of personalization for each of their guest. Even as adults, we all love to see our names beautifully scribed. However, we feel a sense of appreciate when they're not computer generated. Guest want to know you thought about them in your planning. 

AEP: Are there any emerging trends that seem great in theory, but clients should avoid?

TP: OH MY GOODNESS!! Place card walls. I understand I JUST said everyone should have place cards but whew, don't build them onto a wall. They are gorgeous because someone with the skill has designed and constructed this wall. Without proper management guest will pick up the wrong cards and incorrectly put it back, or not at all. If, you're one of the last guest to get your card I'm not sure it will still be from a beautiful wall. 

AEP: What do you think is the biggest misconception about your industry?

TP: "I can have a Pinterest wedding" Pinterest is great for gathering ideas however Pinterest rarely has pictures from a real wedding. Trying to remake everything you've seen on Pinterest will never truly show your authentic personality. Besides, we've all seen Pinterest show your guest something they have not seen.

AEP: What do you think sets you apart from other designers?

TP: As a former teacher, I have a tremendous level of patience but more importantly I am always looking for ways to continue to support educational efforts. I hadn't shared until now but I guess the secret is out. I am using a percentage of my profits to support a middle school science classroom to fund experiments. Working with me serves the engaged couple, shows appreciation to their guest and also supports the efforts of teachers who are working hard to reform urban education.

Tasha, there is so much to admire about what you’re doing. Continually working on your craft, creating beautiful designs, and supporting the community. Her work is gorgeous; her patience really does shine through. Give her website, https://pennmanship.squarespace.com, a click and see for yourself! We certainly hope we get the privilege of working with Tasha in the future!

Brandi Hamerstone
The *Keys* to our musical hearts

If you are a music lover, you may have heard the term, “dueling pianos”. For those who haven’t, dueling pianos is almost exactly what it sounds like: two entertainers, playing piano and singing, laced with some comedy and audience participation. If you’ve witnessed this entertainment phenomenon, you know how hard it is NOT to dance, sway, or tap to the beat. It’s as if it awakens something in your soul and brings out your inner funk. Needless to say, I 100% recommend checking out a dueling piano bar this Saturday night; or better yet, BOOK one for your next event! Greg Coffey, owner of the Cleveland Keys, walked into a dueling piano bar in Nashville (The Big Bang Dueling Pianos) and was inspired to bring that soul to the heart of Cleveland. For this post, I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg about his business, what got him started, and the common misconceptions about the entertainment industry.

All Events Planned: How did you get started in the wedding/event industry?

Greg Coffey: It was kind of one of those things that just happened. I had a request to play a wedding here in Cleveland for a really great couple. After we played that first wedding, I just knew we had something incredibly special that we needed to share.

AEP: How you describe your style and/or your brand?

GC: It's tough to put down everything you want your brand to be in just a few words, but I like to describe our brand as taking the engaging features of Dueling Pianos that I fell in love with in Nashville, and pairing that with a high-level customer/guest experience. Customer/guest experience is everything to us, and I really think that is what our brand represents.


AEP: What questions should couples be sure to ask when selecting a DJ/band for their wedding?

GC: I don't know that I would focus on specific questions as much as I would the personality and demeanor of the company/vendor. Your vendor is going to be involved with nearly every part of your day, so it's so important that you connect with them on a different level. Choose your wedding entertainment as you would a good friend.

AEP: Who is your ideal client?

GC: We are lucky enough to be at a point where we can be relatively selective with who we work with. Although, I am always amazed that the majority of couples looking for something unique like our product, always seem to be incredibly kind, thoughtful, and have a "guest-centered" mindset. That is my ideal client.

AEP: What was your most memorable event that you were part of?

GC: Tough question! Every event has been memorable for me in some way. However, we did a wedding not too long ago at Cleveland City Hall Rotunda - and I happen to spot out of the corner of my eye an elderly couple head out to the dance floor for a dance. Those are the moments you really embrace what you do, and WHY you do it. I love that we could help provide that moment for two people that have been in love for a very long time.

AEP: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them?

GC: I've always loved sparklers at the wedding - definitely not a budget breaker by any means, but makes for great pictures!

AEP: What is the biggest misconception about the entertainment industry?

GC: I think a big misconception for couples looking for entertainment is that they are stuck with only two options: DJ or cover band. We are lucky enough to find the couples that want to break out of the mold and provide their guests an experience instead of an obligation.

AEP: What is something you wish all of your clients knew, or a certain thing you wish all of your clients would do to make working with them easier?

GC: We have been fortunate enough to work with the best people. And I don't mean in terms of the product interaction itself. I mean really great people at their core - they are people that genuinely care about others and folks that I would be excited to know outside of the business world. We have yet to have a client that wasn't incredibly easy and fun to work with.

Thank you Greg, for sharing your story and perspective with us. And thank you for bringing such a unique experience to Cleveland. As the weather changes, it gets colder and dark earlier, I think listening to some awesome music (while laughing) is a great way to make the most of “hibernation”. I can pretty much guarantee it is worth your time!

Check out https://www.clekeys.com/ for more information about the Cleveland Keys and how to book them for your next event. Be sure to watch some of the videos on their website to really see how much fun they are!

Brandi Hamerstone
More Than Calligraphy

I absolutely love getting to know vendors in this industry. You always learn something new. Even when interviewing a dear friend, owner of Loose Leaf Creative, I discovered things I never would have known. It reminds me of the importance of personal connection and sharing your story with others. I love to hear what others are passionate about, and Kim Adams is nothing if not incredibly passionate. I hope you enjoy her insights as much as I did.

AEP: How did you get started with calligraphy?

Kim Adams: I've always had an interest in handwriting and penmanship. I'd change my handwriting style all the time (as evidenced by my collection of diaries and journals), and I was the girl who, after school, would go home and rewrite ALL my notes from class so they'd look nice. About five years ago I came across the Instagram account of a hand-lettering artist and thought it was fascinating. I thought, hey, I could do this! So I started doodling and teaching myself how to use a traditional pointed pen and ink. Eventually I shared my doodles and hand-lettered designs on Instagram and got a lot of positive feedback; people were actually interested in hiring me to create prints and hand-lettered quotes. I never thought I'd actually make money from doing something I love, but here we are!

AEP: How would you describe your personal brand?

KA: Free-spirited, bold, edgy. Not afraid to tell it like it is.

I used to think I had to be like every other wedding professional on social media, ooh-ing and aah-ing over all things wedding and writing superficial, fluffy captions. It felt really yucky and inauthentic, and I realized I just needed to do me. So much of my personal brand overlaps into Loose Leaf, and I'm grateful for that because it means I can connect with my ideal clients, speak my truth, and feel comfortable and confident in what I share.

AEP: Who is your ideal client?

KA: I love working with people who want to be different and break "the rules." When it comes to wedding stationery and day-of signage and paper goods, so much of what brides want comes from ideas found on Pinterest. There's nothing wrong with that, but I like when clients recognize that they don't have to use super formal language on their invitations. Or that they don't NEED to have a specifically-worded welcome sign.

Of course, it's always great working with someone who trusts my creative vision, but I always make sure their voice is heard, too, and that they feel comfortable providing honest feedback so we can ultimately create exactly what they want.

AEP: What have been some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

KA: One of my favorites was lettering the lyrics to "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran on a large, 3-panel wooden sign for a bridal shower. The sign was so big and heavy that it had to stay in my garage, but it was in the springtime so I remember being able to enjoy the weather while working (and sipping on a good beer!).

I also love any project that is deeply personal for the client. For example, I had a client who reached out to me a year after her wedding, asking me to write out a poem her grandmother had written for her on her wedding day. She was going to frame it as a first anniversary gift for her husband.

AEP: If you had a client with endless funds, what is one thing you offer that you would suggest they splurge on?


KA:
I've been obsessed with wax seals lately, and I love the idea of a custom monogrammed wax seal for their invitations. I'm also a sucker for handmade paper and letterpress, so either of those options (but preferably both).

AEP: What do you think is the biggest misconception about your industry?

KA: I know I speak for a lot of calligraphers when I say a HUGE misconception is that we can replicate any style a client likes. The truth is, there are so many different styles of calligraphy, from modern to very formal script. It's so important that anyone who is looking for a calligrapher do their research and see how that calligrapher's style compares to others.

Beyond calligraphy, I think a misconception in the wedding industry is that things can be turned around quickly. Whether you're a florist, a photographer, a wedding planner or stationery designer, a LOT goes into what we do, which is also why these services aren't always cheap.

AEP: What do you think sets you apart from other calligraphers?

KA: I think it's my practicality; I'm all about doing what makes the most sense, especially when it saves the client money. Also, like I said before, I'm very much an advocate for breaking the rules. Not because I'm some sort of wedding rebel, but because I believe in making your wedding day as much about YOU as possible. I like to stress to my clients that there's no wedding playbook when it comes to the details. we're all making it up as we go and basically stealing ideas from other weddings. It's important to remember that it's only one day, so enjoy it, be present, don't sweat the small stuff, and do what makes you happy.

Kim, thank you so much for sharing your heart and keeping it real with us. Please head over to loose-leaf-creative.com to see more of her beautiful work, read her helpful tips (she has an amazing post about how to work from home and stay productive), and truly get to know her story. Kim is an amazing advocate for mental health; something that is so important and often gets a bad reputation in our culture. And, if you are looking for someone to help with event signage, invitations, design, or you just want a friend to grab a craft beer with, HIT HER UP. :)

Brandi Hamerstone