Here we go again, it’s time to introduce you to a new ‘Girl in Focus’ and we’re so pleased to announce that this season’s ‘Girl in Focus’ is Aly Armstrong!
Aly is the Principal Planner, Event Designer and overall Boss Babe of her own event planning and design company, Aly Armstrong Events. Aly is also routinely featured on CTV Morning Live where she discusses all things events and teaches all us how to make things more beautiful. Her events have been featured in People Magazine, Real Weddings, Style Me Pretty and WedLuxe Magazine…just to name a few. Remember Jillian Harris’ adorable baby shower? Yeah, that was her and her talented group of friends.
A lover of all things beautiful and luxurious – it’s a lifestyle for Aly, it’s her modus operandi and we’re excited to follow along as she explores winter style.
CeeCee: Hi Aly, welcome to the Coquitlam Centre family! We’re so excited to be working with you! I know you’re a busy lady so let’s get right down to it. What is your biggest strength?
Aly: I’m a professional multi-tasker. When I’m in the office, I work on two computers simultaneously so as one email is sending, I can move on to another task.
CeeCee: Haha, I am also a two-computer kind of girl. What are your goals for 2017?
Aly: I look forward to growth in my professional career and my focus in the next year is to take on events that inspire me and allow me to get creative. I’m always looking to raise the bar, it’s a fun personal challenge.
CeeCee: That’s what I love about working in a creative field, there’s always room for growth. What’s your next big life goal?
Aly: My next big life goal is to create a bit more balance. I know this is a common focus for most people, and I do believe you should be aware and mindful of creating your own environment. A few focuses for me are: disconnecting from technology more often; going on stay-cations or vacations with my two boys and husband on a regular basis to connect and create memories; implement work/life boundaries such as not checking emails late in the evening or on weekends when I don’t have events.
CeeCee: I am definitely guilty of checking emails when I’m “off”. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Aly: In ten years, I hope to still be in the event industry; with a focus on signature events. I do foresee having a large focus on charity as well and creating events that raise significant funds for those in need.
CeeCee: That’s a great goal! I’m privileged enough to get to work on events for non-profits (albeit on a small scale) and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do. Speaking of good things, what was the best thing that happened to you this past year?
Aly: Signing a contract with the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver Hotel which has allowed me to plan and produce a new luxury wedding show, FLEUR. This will take place January 21, 2018.
CeeCee: That’s exciting!! What is the best piece of personal advice you’ve ever received?
Aly: You are defined by what you say no to.
CeeCee: Oh I like that. Ok, so what’s the best part of your job?
Aly: I get to create beautiful and notable events for my clients. I love watching their reaction when they see the final vision come to life.
CeeCee: What made you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in Event Planning and Design?
Aly: I used to be in the entertainment industry. I worked as an actress for several years and attended some fun and outrageous events. That was my initial inspiration. I then saw a documentary on a famous event planner and decided to enroll in the Art Institute of Vancouver in the Event Management program.
CeeCee: What made you decide to go in to business for yourself?
Aly: It was a decision that came easily to me as I like to work at my own pace and had a dream to pursue, my own dream. Being an entrepreneur has allowed me to create my own path.
CeeCee: Where do you hope your business will be in five years?
Aly: I do hope to focus more on signature events; events that are perhaps annual and engage and inspire certain communities.
CeeCee: What’s next for Aly Armstrong Events?
Aly: FLEUR! The luxury wedding show and forum at the new JW Marriott Parq Vancouver Hotel on January 21, 2018.
CeeCee: I know that a big part of your business is Personal events like weddings and showers, but you also do Corporate events. What are the some of challenges and some of the benefits of being a Planner that does both Corporate and Personal events?
Aly: I love both equally but it’s a nice mix to work in both the wedding industry and within the professional community. It also allows me to have a consistent workflow throughout the year.
CeeCee: What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in this industry?
Aly: Volunteer and get involved with the event community. Engage on social media and perhaps offer to take an expert out for coffee. Styled shoots are also a great way to show what you can do. Have it photographed and submit to a publication for a feature – it’s a great way to get exposure and showcase your talents.
CeeCee: Let’s talk about getting involved with the community. It looks like you’ve done some collaborations with other planners. How was that?
Aly: I’ve partnered with Monika Hibbs on a couple of events. Her attention to detail is beyond. Monika always amazes me with her creativity, talent and original ideas. We recently collaborated on a long table dinner in support of the City Dream Centre. We created a glamorous space at a rustic venue. I loved the juxtaposition. $80,000 was raised over dinner. It was an honour to be involved.
CeeCee: Amazing! What one misconception about the “Wedding” industry do you want to set straight?
Aly: That being a wedding planner is an easy job. It is both physically and mentally demanding. Yes, we do get to create glamorous affairs, but a lot of time, sweat and skill go in to every event.
CeeCee: Haha! Tell us how your role with CTV Morning Live came about?
Aly: A friend of mine works in PR and recommended me to a CTV Morning Live producer almost two years ago. I’ve been a regular contributor ever since.
CeeCee: What do you hope that viewers take away from your CTV segments?
Aly: As a lifestyle contributor, I like to show viewers how they can personalize their holiday, event or home with a little extra effort. And that doesn’t always mean cost. I showcase DIY’s or life hacks that anyone can replicate. My goal is to make life as beautiful as I can for others, and myself.
CeeCee: Biggest piece of advice for the DIY Bride/Event Host?
Aly: A little extra effort goes a long way! Focus on the details.
CeeCee: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Aly: Elegant and romantic.
CeeCee: What are your top tips for creating a beautiful table?
Aly: Start with a beautiful centerpiece and work around it. Don’t skip the details – a nicely folded napkin, a full-set of cutlery and nice glassware is key. Add personalized touches – a place card or gift on each place setting.
CeeCee: Alright, let’s move on to your style! How would you describe your style?
Aly: Minimal chic.
CeeCee: Who is your favourite Coquitlam Centre retailer?
Aly: Privilege Clothing Boutique.
CeeCee: What are your top tricks for making any outfit look polished?
Aly: A great bag and accessories!
CeeCee: Who are some of your “favourites” on social media? Who do you follow for inspiration?
CeeCee: What’s your ideal night out?
Aly: A great dinner with my hubby and friends. Maybe a stop at the casino on the way home.
CeeCee: What’s your idea night in?
Aly: Popcorn and a movie and margaritas! We have the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville and it gets a lot of use!
CeeCee: What song gets you up on your feet?
Aly: Billy Jean by Michael Jackson
CeeCee: What’s your favourite West Coast outing?
Aly: Whistler! We do an annual trip every year. It’s such a great and fun escape.
CeeCee: Three things if your bag you can’t live without?
Aly: Cell phone, credit card and lipstick.
CeeCee: What’s your favourite food?
Aly: Chicken piccata.
CeeCee: Favourite dessert?
Aly: Baskin Robbins Chocolate Mousse Royale Ice Cream
CeeCee: Favourite restaurant?
Aly: Cactus Club!
CeeCee: Favourite way to exercise?
Aly: I belong to a workout group and we have so much fun while we workout. I am not big on working out solo – I get bored easily.
CeeCee: That’s cool! Best way to decompress?
Aly: At the spa! A great massage and a nice glass of wine.
CeeCee: What’s your guilty pleasure?
Aly: Watching “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”.
CeeCee: Haha. What’s your secret talent?
Aly: I can do a mean James Brown Impression.
CeeCee: What!! Hahaha. Ok, on to the serious stuff…What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a mom?
Aly: The power of patience.
CeeCee: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your boys?
Aly: Love. True unconditional love. It’s next level!
CeeCee: How do you manage a family life when your business most definitely isn’t 9 to 5?
Aly: I have a wonderful and supportive husband. His work schedule is flexible and we’re a great team at home. There are no pink or blue jobs, they’re all “purple” jobs as we say. We share the workload and school pick-ups/drop-offs.
CeeCee: Purple jobs, I like that! Talk to us about the important of a support system.
Aly: This is key! It does take a village to raise a family, especially when there are two working parents involved. My husband is beyond supportive and takes initiative when needed. During my busiest season(s), he is there when I can’t be. Our parents are lovely and very involved as well.
CeeCee: What advice would you give other working moms?
Aly: Don’t feel guilty about working. We do it to provide for our family and build a future for our children. But when we’re with the family, be present. It’s impossible to be good at everything, all the time.
CeeCee: Tips or techniques for “turning off” when you’re with your family?
Aly: This is an ever-growing challenge. I have only recently (like in the last 3-4 months) realized that it’s ok to not answer emails at night or on weekends when I don’t have events. I used to be “on” all the time and available to my clients. It’s so important to have those work/life boundaries. I avoid checking email around dinnertime and post dinnertime until the kids are in bed. If I look at my email, game over – I’ll want to respond. I also keep my phone on silent on the weekends which helps eliminate some of the noise.
Connect with Aly!
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Instagram: @eventsbyaly