Back in August we had the pleasure of doing an interview with the lovely and oh so sweet Lydia of Ever Ours. Lydia was kind enough to share all the details behind the For Japan, With Love effort as well as her passion for giving back in general. Since there was another half to the massive fund raising effort, we wanted to get their take on it also. I am thrilled to introduce you all to Henny and Lucia of Utterly Engaged. These ladies are a power house team of talent and if you’ve browsed the pages of their gorgeous e-zine, you know exactly what I mean. Besides working hard to fill our eyes with all things lovely, these two women have incredibly huge hearts.
Via Troy Grover Photography- when the ladies received the Shining Star Award from Wish Upon a Wedding
First, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, any fun personal bits, how you got started in the wedding world…
Lucia: Oh gosh. Where do we start. Henny and I met in college through a community service organization back in 1998. She was the President and I was just a member. But our friendship grew from designing events through the club. Our friendship grew from there. We had similar paths. We both majored in graphic design and we loved designing events thus we wanted to be a part of the events industry somehow. So we started designing wedding and events invitations which led to designing brand identities in the industry… and the rest is history.
We know you were the other half of the For Japan, With Love effort, tell us why you wanted to help and why you decided to enlist Lydia’s help to promote it online?
Lucia: When it happened I was so glued to the television. Three days after it happened I got fed up of myself for just being so glued and that I needed to do something. At that time I didn’t have very much to give. Henny and I have always wanted to incorporate philanthropy in our business so I instantly thought, why don’t we do a one day fund drive called Bloggers Days of Silence to raise money with my blogger friends. That way we can help more people as a whole. I called her, she instantly loved it. She was in charge of doing research to find a donation site that was trustworthy. My next mission was to figure out who we should donate to. I don’t know but my instincts told me to call Lydia because we’ve done volunteer work together. I knew her heart would be in the right place. I called her and it was right then and there that I kinda knew we were on to something. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Went straight home and designed a logo and website and the next day we launched! So instead of doing one day it ended up being a month!
Henny: As I sat there watching these horrific images from Japan of people losing their loved ones and their homes, I couldn’t help but think about how I would feel if it happened to me. I couldn’t bear imagining how I would survive if I had lost my husband and kids. I felt so grateful when Lucy called me about her idea of doing the fund drive to raise money for this, because for once, I didn’t feel so helpless and that I could do my part to help.
How did being involved with such a successful fundraiser change or impact your business?
Lucia: Wow. Tremendously. We started to really understand the concept of … for all the good that’s been given, the bigger the responsibility it is for us to give it right back. It’s definitely clarified our core values as a business. It was the first time we ever witness how much change we can create or how many people we can help. As long as the intention is there anything is possible. It’s impacted us so much that we’re actually launching something that’s going to continue what we’ve done.
What was the most memorable thing for you about For Japan, With Love?
Lucia: Getting an email from a girl from Japan. FROM JAPAN! That’s how far we reached. I was in shock too. She was deeply moved by what we were doing to help her country. I couldn’t stop crying.
Henny: Seeing how the wedding and blogger community come together for one purpose of reaching out to help those in need, people they have never met and probably will never meet. It was very moving.
Have you ever started a fund raiser in the past?
Lucia: I’ve always been a part of fund raiser, but I’ve never started one that was so grassroots as ours.
What other causes are you passionate about?
Lucia: Women and girls. I truly believe that if we all uplift each other we can really make a difference. It’s always been one of my goals to create a home that’s a safe place for abused and abandoned women and girls. To give a girl security, respect, love and the encouragement that she can do anything – she can change the world!
Henny: Ditto. I feel very strongly about women and the future of our girls. There are so many negative thoughts and ideas involving our image in the media that girls are getting exposed to at a younger and younger age. I want to counter that with positive and empowering messages to help them love themselves so that they can be their best self.
How would you advise other business owners on incorporating their passion for helping others into their businesses?
Lucia: Just do it! Don’t care what people think. I still struggle with that everyday, but everyday my doubts gets quieter and quieter. And if you heart says it, it’s your truth. I promise you, you will be guided to some pretty amazing places that you have never been before.
Henny: Embrace the opportunity. There’s always a way to incorporate your love for helping others into your business, whether partnering up with another non-profit to do an event, or collecting canned goods for donation, or rallying your industry friends to help out. The possibilities are endless!
What would you say is the biggest benefit both to your business and personally that comes from giving back?
Lucia: For business and for myself, it’s given me the knowing that I have a bigger purpose in life. We all do.
Henny: I think sometimes in business, I get so involved in my own issues and dealings that I forget there’s other more important things outside my world. What giving back does to me is it takes me out of my own worries and problems, and makes me look around and realize how blessed I really am.
Any thing else you want to share about helping others…
Lucia: Come from a place of an open heart. The more you help, more abundance will come your way. But remember, it always has to come from a place of love.
Henny: Do what you feel is right and stand up for it. Don’t worry about what people say or how people perceive you because at the end of it all, if you can see yourself in the mirror and know that you’ve done all that you can, you will feel at peace.
Feature Image via Utterly Engaged, vendor credits.