For this weeks edition of the Lunch Break Interview Series, I interviewed Erin Rugula. Erin and I crossed paths several years ago when she purchased a few hair accessories from my Etsy shop for her daughter! We have stayed in contact ever since!
Erin is a working mom of 3 children who are 8, 6, and 4 years old. She is a wife of 9 years, though she has been with her husband for 15 years altogether.
Erin is an event planner by trade and has been for about 16 years. The last few years she has scaled back on event planning full time and has started a career as a Catering Sale Director for a start-up restaurant group that owns and operates 4 restaurants throughout Northern California and Seattle.
“I love being an event planner; that is my passion and my calling. That is how I identify myself. With that being said, the amount of time, long days, nights, and weekends that go into being an event planner is more than I am willing to commit to at this time due to my young children so for now, I have my “day job” and operated my own business on the side taking on a few events each year as it fits into my schedule. Although we do have a full-time nanny due to work schedules and traveling for work, I am a very involved mom. I attend every practice, every game, and every school activity. I spend a tremendous amount of time with my kids whether that’s just playing at home, baking in the kitchen, or going on fun adventures. Raising my kids to be good people is very important to me and I put a lot of effort into that.” – Erin
In addition to Erin’s job, being a wife, and a mom, she loves to cook and bake! Along with sewing, selling handmade items in an Etsy shop, and completing DIY home projects and decorating.
I got my first job as a weekend receptionist at a private country club when I was 15 years old. I LOVED seeing all of the events come together on the weekends; watching the set-up, watching vendors come in and out setting up rentals, florals, etc. I loved watching the kitchen staff preparing the meals and plating the food. It was all so fascinating to me! I was given the opportunity to help out the Director of Events with small tasks at first, like setting out seating cards, arranging guest book tables – things like that. I quickly realized that I loved being a part of the event world! From there they allowed me to grow and take on new positions like the Directors assistant, then they made a Manager position for me, then I got to take over for the Director while she was out on her maternity leave for 8 months. I remember being so sad when she came back because I didn’t want to leave that role!
Do you have any grand plans for your event planning career? Would you ever consider owning your own company?
I always have big grand plans! I do own my own company and I would love for it to some day be my full time job and sole means of income since that is where my passion lies. I have been an Event Planner for so long and have worked at so many great venues planning events but at the end of the day, the goal is to run my own business exclusively.
Has it been hard to travel from your home to Seattle for work?
I was traveling 5-10 days a month to Seattle and though it wasn’t hard, really, it required me to be even more organized than I already am. I was fortunate to have an apartment in Seattle which allowed me to feel more at home and even take Poppy for 10 days over summer! There were some trips that were more difficult than others mostly due to timing and missing out on things at home with the kids but we all adapted to that part of my job requirements.
How do you stay organized with everything? How did Poppy like the trip to Seattle?
I am obsessive about organization in all aspects of life. Whether I am using 12 containers to organize a closet or I am taking daily notes in my notebook that I always carry with me or detailing every single thing on our family calendar – I have to stay organized! I am a firm believer in creating checklists and listing out every single task that has to get done that day through the upcoming week. Just like in school, I find that writing things down helps me remember even if I don’t necessarily refer to the list – it’s like cementing it in my brain by putting it down on paper… if that makes sense. Poppy LOVED our trip to Seattle. She and I spent 10 days up there just the two of us which was a first for us. As a matter of fact, there were so many firsts that trip! That was just her second time she has ever flown (second to a quick 45 minute flight to Disneyland), her first mommy & me trip, her first time in Seattle, her first (of many) Uber rides, her first time going running with me (which became our morning routine while there) and her first time feeling like a pretty important little girl with so much attention just for her. We had a blast site-seeing throughout Seattle, going to my work at the time so that she could see what I did, and spending all day ever day together! It was definitely a great experience for she and I both.
I admire the effort that you put into raising your children! How do you balance family life while being so busy?
My children always take priority over everything. I do my very best to ensure I am at every sports practice, game, school function, or whatever it might be. My husband feels the same way. We knew going into parenthood that we had to give up any selfishness we may have had in our youth because the moment we welcomed our first child, Poppy, into the world – it was all about family. Brian and I work really well as a team and if work calls for one of us to be out of town or miss something, we make sure the other parent is able to be present. Outside of being parents we are also husband & wife and find it equally as important to spend time just he and I – or socializing with friends – to make sure that we maintain our connection and communication, also. At the end of the day, our family is the most important thing to us and we choose to be very involved and make it a priority over anything else.
I absolutely love following your home projects. How do you accomplish so much?
I don’t sleep and I drink a lot of coffee! I’d like to tell you that I am kidding – but it’s the truth. I naturally have a lot of energy and rarely sit down during the day especially if I am at home. I like to keep busy and I thrive on productivity. I always have a list of projects that I would like to get it done and I just slowly but surely chip away at it. I prioritize what projects needs to get done as soon as possible and from there, which projects are the easiest to get done. I am very hands on and thanks to my dad being a contractor of 30+ years – he has taught me a great deal and continues to teach me things on a regular basis. Just recently I got so impatient waiting for our baseboard to be installed that I had my brother show me how to use my dads chop-saw which he had left in my garage and after one quick lesson (lasting just a few minutes and consistently mostly of “DO NOT CUT YOUR FINGERS OFF”) I taught myself how to measure and cut all of the angles myself and figured out how to use my dads nail gun to install it. I installed all of the baseboard in the downstairs part of our house all by myself in about a weekend! I am determined and I hate relying on anyone else to get things accomplished and I think those are major factors in my level of productivity!
Wow! That’s impressive! What does your husband think of these projects? What does he think of you accomplishing them yourself?
My husband thinks I am crazy! But seriously. After 15 years together he is still in awe of the amount of energy that I have and my determination, also. He is my biggest support and constantly praises me for all that I do and continues to be impressed by skills that he doesn’t know that I have.
What inspired you to sell handmade items?
It’s funny – that was never my plan! I started making these really great, super cute, and durable custom burp cloths for my oldest daughter when she was born because she spit up ALL. THE. TIME. It was gross! All of the burp cloths I found in the store were so thin and not very absorbent and after a few washes they’d be a mess, so I decided to make my own. After that I got so many complements and inquiries about them that I started making them as baby gifts to give to friends and they quickly gained popularity and became many friends’ go-to gifts for other friends. I didn’t intend to sell on Etsy but at one point I got inundated with orders and couldn’t keep track so I opened up a shop on Etsy to just help me keep track of the orders I had in my que. And then it took off. I’ve made some really fun ones based on peoples specific requests and I have shipped them all over the world, too! It’s crazy to think that people in Germany and South Africa are using the burp cloths that I made!! I still love making them – it’s just another creative outlet for me and satisfies my love of fabric, design, and my sewing hobby!
I love that you’re so creative! What plans do you have for the next 10 years of your life?
I plan on taking over the Event World! Well, maybe that’s a big aspiration… But I definitely plan on making a huge impact in the Event industry and making a name for myself as a major Event Planner with a steady clientele that keeps me busy and successful and thriving. I hope to grow my company to the point of hiring Event Planners/Managers to work for me so that I can have multiple events going on at once. In the next 10 years I plan on making myself a house-hold name through my blog & website that I am trying very hard to dedicate time to and really push. If I could be the next Martha Stewart – that would be my ultimate 10 year plan! The way that she has evolved as a household name and covers everything from cooking & baking recipes to DIY crafts to gardening tips to wedding planning – that is my ultimate goal. That is my 10 year plan – to be a household name like Martha Stewart and be the go-to-person for all of these things!
Do your hobbies and interests inspire your children? Do they like to help you with your projects?
Oh yes! All 3 of my kids love to cook, bake, and sew just like mommy. They love watching me and learning from me and constantly ask to do projects with me. They ask if I can give them lessons and teach their friends, too. When I am doing a home project like painting they all want to paint. They love helping and want to do whatever it is that I am doing. Somehow I need to capitalize on this in regards to cleaning…
I had a great time interviewing Erin! I love seeing all of her home projects come together and watching her kids grow!