Who is A Beautiful Occasion?
Coming together is a beginning,
Staying together is progress,
and working together is success.
When you look at a business from the outside, you see the business, but you never fully understand it and really, we as customers are not supposed too. When you look at A Beautiful Occasion, you might see the people that work in the business, people that work for them, the people that have given up everything to make this business grow, their husbands, their kids, the end result such as styled weddings and events and the general dealings of the business; but what you don’t see are humble beginnings, the late nights and early mornings, the love they have, the passion and drive, the need for constant improvement, the stress and the constant questioning.
I’ve watched Amy and Sara throughout the years from the outside looking in. I’ve seen them grow up in a small town; heard about their lives from their parents through my parents; heard about them meeting their now husbands; heard about jobs and careers; businesses sold; moves made; when they were pregnant and what they had; what their husbands and they are up to and just general bits about their lives. This is one of the things that comes with growing up in a town where everyone knows everyone, sometimes you can’t hide!
About 7 years ago there was word about a new business that had started up styling children’s parties around Port Stephens, called A Beautiful Occasion. So, I did a little investigation, and being a small town, found out it was Amy and Sara. Knowing what they had done on an individual level, I knew that when they came together, there was about to be some big things happen for them.
Having the eye for styling is something not everyone has. One person could place a vase on a table and it looks just like that; a vase on the table. While the next, insert Amy and Sara, place the vase on the table and it looks like something out of a homewares magazine. Then they add in perfectly matched blooms and contrasting textures, the end result is always something that is unique but beautiful.
A Beautiful Occasion’s owners Amy Mahony and Sara Gambrill have spoken of how their business has grown and adapted to the ever-changing landscape of design, styling and staging of weddings and events. From humble beginnings in Nelson Bay, collecting wares in their garages at home, which their husbands just had to tolerate, to the crime scene warehouse storage shed with no power or running water, to now being housed in a large industrial premises, the business is now the “go to” name within the region.
Amy Mahony allows her passion for floristry to take over, collaborating with brides to design and put together breathtaking arrangements, bouquets and centerpieces. I’ve seen her in action in the middle of peak wedding season; she had put together 6 buttonholes for a groom and groomsmen before I even had a chance to sip my coffee. A big part of weddings is now the flowers where there has been a significant shift from them just being something that the bride carried down the aisle, to now being the link between colours, textures and theming. This allows A Beautiful Occasion to showcase an important part of their business with Amy, a florist by trade, having completed her training with Peter Herd in Newcastle, before opening her own florist store front many years ago. As times change and life moves on, Amy and her husband wanted to start a family. Being a first time Mum is scary enough without the pressures of trying to run a successful floristry business, so she decided to sell her renowned shop in Nelson Bay, and take on the full-time role of being a Mum. Today, Amy is a Mum to three kids between 12 and 5 years, but has shown that you can be a wife, Mum and family member all while running a business. Yes, it’s all about time management, but it is achievable.
Sara Gambrill uses her years as a function coordinator to allow a concept that clients are trying to achieve, to become a reality. She loves the transformation of a venue from a blank canvas to a vision that has been captured in a bride’s brain for years. It took Sara a few years to discover her passion. Like many of us, she changed careers in the hope of discovering something she truly loved, but there was always a hunger and thirst for something more sitting just below the surface. Working as the Weddings and Functions Coordinator at a local Port Stephens resort, she loved the trill and excitement of the hospitality industry. Sara and her husband, decided to chase their dreams to Queensland many years ago, where they ran a restaurant and conference centre. 12 months into the role, they welcomed their first daughter and, like Amy, her priorities changed with becoming a Mum. After a move back to Nelson Bay, two more children, and a few years of being a staying at home to watch the kids grow, the itch of getting back into the work place became very real.
Over many coffee’s, and perhaps some champagne, discussing how they would get their idea of staging children’s parties to a reality, A Beautiful Occasion was born. What started as a hobby, Amy and Sara have grown the business to what it is today; a brand synonymous with effortless style and impeccable design. Between the two of them, they really are a strong partnership. They have said openly that they don’t fight, don’t disagree and don’t annoy each other. This is a true testament to their work, where you can see cohesion and clarity. They each work to their strengths, both taking part in the consulting, design and execution phases and are learning from one another constantly which has led A Beautiful Occasion to gain the reputation that some businesses can only dream of.
But, and this can be a big one, for every up there is a down, and they have explained the harder times when they kept thinking ‘what have we done?’; when doors where shut in their face; when they thought they were drowning in the business. For every new venture, this feeling is something that keeps you awake at night and something that has the potential to bring you, and the little business you’ve created down. I was there during some of the darker times, and to say that they had to dig deep is an understatement. But, true to their style, Amy and Sara really did pull it all back together by leaning on each other, they got relevant advice from their strong support network; put an amazing team in place and powered forward. Fast forward to today, and the business is employing a team of permanent and casual staff, have over 70 weddings in the pipeline and their relationship with each other is still strong.
Amy and Sara are strong supporters in building local relationships; buying local coffee; supporting those that support them and they have a passion for empowering local people. But most of all, the girls are like most of us Mum’s, just trying to get through the day without a meltdown, either from them, their kids or sometimes their husbands. Family comes first, which can be a tricky task to obtain as that elusive work life balance can sometimes only seem like a dream, but they have it under control.
Amy and Sara have been kind enough to give me a glimpse of A Beautiful Occasion from the inside out, and for all the things we don’t see, the one thing everyone can see is passion and love for what they do.