Meet Allison

Allison is a Pittsburgh, PA and Raleigh, NC based floral designer, event stylist and planner. 

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Journey to Designer and Entrepreneur

Personal

August 28, 2017

Where to begin… I guess at the beginning!!

I’m Allison Duncan Brooks. I grew up in a small town in central North Carolina.

As a young child in school I quickly discovered that I enjoyed any assignment or project in class that would let me create a visual aid. I was fortunate enough that my parents let me explore a lot of extracurricular activities while I was in school. I started taking dance at a young age, both classical and jazz, and continued to take lessons all the way through high school. Outside of school I would often spend time with my mother (who loved to sew) taking trips to fabric stores or with my grandmother who loved hunting for finds at second hand stores and estate sales.

I am not really sure when my passion for design began. I do have this really strong memory of watching episodes of Trading Spaces on HGTV and just being in awe of the design process and how it enabled you to transform a space. I would dream along with the designers on the show to transform spaces from bland to extraordinary.  

I had lived in the same house my entire life before leaving to attend college at North Carolina State University (Go Pack!). I really wanted to go to school for Graphic Design but due to NC State’s world renowned Design school being so small I didn’t get past the in-person interview process so I had to adjust my focus and my intended major. After some time I discovered that the College of Textiles was where I fit best and I spent my time in college studying fashion design and development.

Fast forward 5 years later, yes I did the 5 year plan instead of 4 years.

NC State Graduation family photo

After graduating from college I did what most normal college graduates do and I applied for full time positions. It was hard due to the economy but I was able to find a job opportunity working at a small boutique, Opulence of Southern Pines, that sold luxury linens and home goods. While there I got to learn a lot from the owner about running a small business as well as how to help clients find merchandise that would suit their needs and style.

Fast forward about 6 months and I had decided to make a huge life decision, see while at NC State I had met this boy, Justin Brooks. Well after we had graduated he got a job working for a company in Newport News, VA so after we tried the long distance thing I decided to move to VA to be close to him. It was something I never thought I would do, I couldn’t see myself living outside of NC but I took a leap of faith.

While living in VA I was fortunate enough to get a job as an Assistant Visual Merchandiser at Busch Gardens. Even though we had to wear a uniform that consisted of these horrible pleated shorts and pants that went all the way up to your belly button it was an amazing experience and one I will never forget. It helped me refine my design skills and my eye. Not to mention I got to work on some really amazing projects and transformations like when we got to turn a store into a Pirate ship for Howl-O-Scream.

Pirate ship store design for Busch gardens Howl-O-Scream

About two years later, after a lot of glue gun blisters and skills learned I hit another huge life milestone. I got married to the boy who I had met at NC State.  We decided on a winter wedding but planning and designing the wedding from a state away was not an easy task. With the help of our friends and family we were able to say I Do in the same church I got baptized in and was able to have a wonderful party after to celebrate with all of friends and family who helped along the way. Using the experiences I had gained while working with visual merchandising and what my mother described as “having an eye for color and design” I was able to truly transform and customized the renovated barn where we had our wedding reception. The space was filled with shades of champagne, gold and white that had small pops of red in the centerpieces.

Picture by Amanda Castle Photography

 

I created the design and executed it for our reception space. I remember I would go out in the woods where there were holly bushes and clip holly to be used for the centerpieces. Then my mother and her friends helped me create a wax paper backdrop. My father in law helped Justin and I build this backdrop for the cake using doors and a lattice. It was truly a family effort. But it all paid off and I was extremely flattered with the number of people that approached me after our wedding about how it truly was such an amazing night and about how amazing the barn looked. I learned once again something I had learned while working at Busch Gardens that paying attention to the details while creating a truly unique and personalized atmosphere helped me create a night my guests would never forget (they still talk about it now about three years later).

After I got our pictures back from our amazing photographer, Amanda Castle Photography, (seriously she photographed our wedding at 9 months pregnant). I was approached by a few friends who were getting married and had seen what I did for our own wedding and they needed help figuring out what to do with their venue space. They didn’t know where to begin in the design process and didn’t have time to spend hours researching different design ideas just to get more confused on how they would tie everything together.

About a year went by while I was working on coming up with a system and way to help my friends with their struggles designing for their own wedding and I started to discover I was extremely passionate about creating and executing a space for events and weddings, not just retail spaces where I had worked previously as a visual merchandiser. My friends were having these huge milestones in their lives and I wanted to help them with the process. So I signed up for Kat Schoymer’s On the Road to Full Time course so I could learn how to build my business while still working a full-time job and my business was born. Hello Allison Brooks Events, LLC!!

At the beginning I just focused on how I would help clients with the beginning steps of their design process by creating a book for them filled with inspiration images to give them an idea of what would look good in their venue space but I had signed up to take a floral crown course from Courtney Inghram for fun and was quickly reminded of how much I truly loved working with florals. To see more pictures of the fun we had you can do so by viewing the post Courtney wrote about the class here.  So, I decided that I wanted to be able to offer a full service design and execution package to my offerings.

floral crown design class

Photo by Yours Truly Portraiture

 

Not long after the class my husband Justin had been offered a new job and we made the decision to move from VA to Pittsburgh, PA. Since moving Justin and I have made the decision that I would focus on my business full time and since all of our family is still back in North Carolina I am super excited about getting to service clients in both Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

I have been blessed since starting my business to be able to helps some of our closest friends and family with their weddings and can’t wait to meet new clients! To see the sweet words my previous clients have shared please click here.

 

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