By Scott Elpers - Photographed by Madison Ham
Ashley Moore still smiles when she thinks of how much her business has accomplished in just six short years.
Once a boutique wedding planning business, Events & Design By Ashley has grown to include 15 staff members, the management of two Wichita venue spaces and her newest endeavor, an incubator that will help five local entrepreneurs launch their own businesses.
“I never dreamed it would turn into a career like this,” Moore said.
Despite a love for design, Moore never intended to get into the event planning business. In college, she wanted to study broadcast journalism with the dream of being a news anchor, but her passion for helping others guided her toward case management for foster children.
“I have a huge passion for helping others. I always have. Social work is all about helping those who need it most,” she said. “I also remember constantly redecorating my room as a kid. I just loved design. Event planning brought those two together.”
The Collective, located at 924 E. Douglas where downtown Wichita and Old Town intersect, showcases Moore’s passion for helping others. She originally purchased the space to house and move event décor and host smaller events. Five entrepreneurs will also have access to the space to help their businesses grow.
“This becomes a tangible address and office space for them. When I first started, I met people in coffee shops,” she said. “It didn’t hinder me necessarily, but I always felt like if I had an office space, it would feel more professional.”
With its positive impact on aspiring entrepreneurs, Moore considers The Collective her most significant professional accomplishment.
“As we were building and dreaming and thinking, it became so much more,” Moore said. “We were a tiny business at one point. I want to help out those who are just getting started and give them an opportunity and platform to be successful and grow.”
Moore, who is a member of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the city’s close-knit business community helps foster relationships between owners. Wichita entrepreneur Crystal McDonald, who co- owns Xclusive Events, is someone who Moore considers a mentor.
“She is someone who has pushed me as a female entrepreneur and she’s someone I really look up to,” Moore said. “The Wichita business community is extremely supportive like that. So many business owners are involved in the community like that. We like to be involved and help each other toward a common goal.”
In a service-based industry, like event planning, Moore has watched her business bloom off referrals.
“When I first started, I thought I’d do one or two weddings a year for family and close friends. Being in the business prior, I had built some rapport with the vendors previously. They heard that I was starting my own business. It’s always about word of mouth and referrals and relationship building.”
On top of The Collective, Moore has taken on management at Venue One 11 and shared management with McDonald at Studio 420. More plans are in the works, she said.
“We do a lot of corporate events and weddings. We’re getting into smaller events, like birthday parties and showers and things like that. We have really broadened what we can do. We have some great opportunities coming up,” she said. “I didn’t go to school to be a business owner or an event planner. When you have a dream, you learn as you go and adapt. It’s been an incredible ride.”