There is a list of things that fire Lara Casey up, but one thing that stands out is her passion for building up women through her professional brands.
October 11, 2016
Chapel Hill Wedding and Publishing Entrepreneur Lara Casey Designs for Purposeful Lives
A sold out October conference aims to equip attendees with tools to move forward and make big things happen
“Everything we do is for the purpose of encouraging, empowering and equipping women to lead intentional lives,” Casey says.
Next week, on October 17 and 18, Casey will host her seventh sold-out Making Things Happen conference in a row at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. This intensive is the 51st conference that Casey has hosted.
“The Making Things Happen conference is about sifting through the noise and uncovering good goals,” says Casey. “We focus on things that hold you back and also find tactical skills you can use. It is not a one size fits all solution, nor a prescribed life. For us it is about cultivating what matters in every situation. We want all attendees to leave with a greater sense of purpose.”
A 2009 blog post Casey wrote answering the question, “How do you make things happen?” spurred the conference’s development. After receiving a large number of responses to the blog, and even consulting requests, Casey planned the first Making Things Happen intensive tour for 13 cities. The intensive later evolved into the two-day conference it is today, which occurs twice a year.
The October panel of speakers includes familiar faces from past intensives, as well as local business owners like husband and wife photographer team William and Nancy Ray, Carrie Grace of The Kindness Box, Randi Smith of Sugar Euphoria and Maghon Taylor of All She Wrote Notes. Casey insists that All Making Things Happen speakers must be alumni.
Taylor, a first time speaker at the conference, is a 2014 Making Things Happen alumna. She had just started her calligraphy business when she decided to attend. Taylor says attending the conference improved her life personally and professionally.
“I felt lighter when I walked out of those doors, like I deserved the happy life that I was going to build for myself. Attending absolutely improved my current business, but more than that, it truly made my life better,” says Taylor.
The Making Things Happen intensive is limited to 75 attendees to keep breakout sessions small. According to Casey, repeat attendance is common. The process Casey and her team teaches attendees, she highlights, is what people come for, and sometimes what they are focusing on changes, so they come back.
Beyond the fact that she had worked from home since Southern Weddings started, Casey decided to renovate her home in 2015 for the office instead of renting a corporate workspace because she wanted to build a culture where she and her team members felt comfortable.
“There is a magic to this,” Casey says as she looks around a section of the office, “A homeyness that reminds us that we are small. Our culture is built on what matters most.”
Casey also pointed out that she encourages her employees to live out their brand outside the office. One way this is done is by setting aside a portion of her company’s budget to pay for her employees’ date nights once a month.
Casey extends this culture to her followers by sharing stories like the transformation of her home, behind the scenes in the office and date nights on her blogs and social channels. She began hosting weekly Facebook Live sessions this summer to talk over various subjects with those who attend. Her last session included a goal setting encouragement session.
Over the past ten years, Casey attributes her growth as a business woman to her faith and knowing her “why.”
“In a business, you have to have a why, and your number one why can’t be dollar signs. Our passion for women is our compass, without it, we wouldn’t know where to go.” says Casey.
Casey and her team say that they strive to create content and products that are encouraging and help guide their audience to “live well.”
“The heart behind what we do is that everyone has a story, and through our products and encouragement, we want to uncover and help them tell their story,” says Lara Casey Shop Customer Delight Manager Jess Metcalf. “Whatever your season of life, we meet the needs of women.”
Casey laughs when asked about mentors, admitting that it probably would have been easier than doing what she calls the “Google and ask a lot of dumb questions,” method. She did credit Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries as a woman she admires and respects for how she runs her business.
Casey says she feels the most gratitude for the hard times. Like many entrepreneurs, Casey experienced letdowns, roadblocks (the first name she chose for her magazine was labeled as a trademark infringement and she was forced to pull it after it had already gone to print) and tough decisions that she now appreciates.
“Our challenges have been more fruitful than successes,” says Casey. “I hope they have inspired people.”
Casey and her team are preparing for a new season of fresh products and new content. At the office, space is being cleared for the next issue of the magazine, which the team is calling V9 — launching November 10. They are also expecting a shipment of the 2017 version of their best selling goal setting product, the PowerSheets, that will be available for preorders November 1.
Casey’s first book, Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live on Purpose, she admits was one of the hardest things she has done. The book outlines her personal, business and faith journey.
Her second book titled Cultivate, goes to press in May of 2017. Casey says this book continues where Make it Happen left off. An important point covered in her new book is making little by little, imperfect progress on life goals, according to Casey.
Additionally, the Lara Casey team decided to refresh her personal website aesthetic and shop name. The changes will be revealed on Thursday this week.
Looking back, Casey says that everything that has happened is surprising, but she wouldn’t change it. She says that if her work can change just one life, it will all be worth it.