HomeRule BreakersNancy Barkley: Crafting Unforgettable Events with 25 Years of Expertise

Nancy Barkley: Crafting Unforgettable Events with 25 Years of Expertise

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As part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who encourage and do incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Barkley.

With over 25 years of experience in the travel and event planning industry, Nancy Barkley is a distinguished professional who took the entrepreneurial leap in 2005. She founded Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways, a Philadelphia-based agency that prides itself on crafting unique and memorable weddings and events across the globe. Nancy’s commitment to delivering exceptional, personalized experiences has earned her a reputation for excellence.

Nancy’s profound impact on the industry has garnered recognition from prestigious directories such as Marquis Who’s Who. Her expertise and insights have been sought after by major media outlets, including Forbes, The New York Times, CNN, and MSN, where she has shared her knowledge and experience.

As an international speaker and moderator, Nancy’s reach extends beyond the confines of event planning. She engages with diverse audiences, from wedding planners and travel agents to consumers and fellow industry professionals. Her presentations delve into a variety of topics, all aimed at connecting with her audience on a deeper level, providing valuable insights, and inspiring them with her innovative approach.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Nancy is deeply invested in philanthropy. She actively supports causes that advance education, healthcare, environmental conservation, and human rights. Her ability to build strong relationships with clients and colleagues alike ignites her creativity and drives her success. This collaborative spirit has been a key factor in her ability to continuously innovate and adapt in the dynamic world of event planning.

Here’s what we found out about Nancy’s daily routine, followed by an exclusive Q+A.

Can you share the story behind your journey as an entrepreneur? What inspired you to start your own business?  

In 2005, I found myself at a crossroads. My career in corporate America was steeped in a culture of rigidity, which posed a significant challenge for me as a working mother of three boys. The relentless demands of the corporate world left little space for the work-life harmony I yearned for.

This realization sparked a transformative decision. I chose to step away from the predictability of a 9-to-5 job to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure with Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways. It was a bold step, driven by the desire to master my schedule and create a nurturing environment for my family.

My venture into entrepreneurship wasn’t just about personal fulfillment—it was about crafting a service that resonates with the dreams of couples across the globe. Specializing in tailor-made weddings, honeymoons, elopements, and vow renewals, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways stands as a testament to the power of passion and perseverance, offering bespoke experiences that celebrate love without borders.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the business world, and how have you overcome them?

Throughout my career, I’ve navigated through a myriad of conventional, male-dominated paradigms. With unwavering grace and a perpetual smile, I’ve confronted these norms directly. My approach has always been to maintain the highest degree of respect and professionalism. I am a staunch advocate of the principle that true competence is defined by one’s knowledge and the adept execution of tasks, all of which are firmly rooted in diligent work and rich experience. This, I believe, is the quintessential ‘style’ that transcends all others.”

How do you balance your professional and personal life as an entrepreneur?

Striking the perfect equilibrium between professional endeavors and personal life is an art form, particularly as an entrepreneur. The mantra ‘family first’ resonates deeply with me and was a pivotal reason behind the inception of my own enterprise. Establishing clear boundaries and carving out moments of solitude are essential steps on this journey. As both a mother and a business proprietor, I’ve learned that to serve others effectively, I must first replenish my own reserves. It’s imperative to pause and rejuvenate, for running on empty benefits no one. Self-care is not just a luxury; it is a necessity that empowers me to be my best self for those around me.

What strategies have you found most effective for networking and building connections in your industry?

As a professional dedicated to the global event planning industry, I’ve discovered that actively participating in international conferences and speaking engagements offers unparalleled opportunities for building meaningful connections. These interactions are the cornerstone of my business, providing valuable collaborations and insights.

Nevertheless, I recognize that networking isn’t confined to physical events alone. Platforms like LinkedIn have been instrumental in expanding my professional network, offering a plethora of business connections. Additionally, I actively seek out virtual events that present opportunities for engagement and collaboration, ensuring a diverse and robust professional network.

How do you approach mentorship and seeking guidance in your entrepreneurial journey?

When I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey in 2005, I brought with me a wealth of experience in corporate travel and event planning. However, it’s crucial to understand that expertise in a field doesn’t necessarily equate to business acumen. Recognizing this, I pursued small business education and sought mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs. This foundational step was instrumental in my success.

Today, I find myself in the privileged position of being a mentor. I have the honor of guiding aspiring entrepreneurs through the intricacies of starting their own ventures and navigating the entrepreneurial landscape. It’s a role I embrace with the same fervor I had when I first began.

Can you talk about a specific setback or failure you’ve experienced in your business, and how you bounced back from it?

Reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey, one notable challenge I encountered was the rapid expansion of my business, which I affectionately term ‘growing pains.’ Launching with zero clientele and building from the ground up, I was unprepared for the swift surge in growth that soon followed. This necessitated a swift pivot to scaling operations.

The learning curve was steep as I navigated the complexities of assembling a team. It was imperative to find individuals who not only shared my dedication and work ethic but also resonated with my vision for the company. The turning point came when I successfully formed a cohesive team committed to fostering our collective growth.

In what ways do you prioritize diversity and inclusion within your company or startup?

My business specializes in orchestrating global events and destination weddings. I am an avid speaker on cultural fluency and write about how destination wedding are a magical blend of love and local traditions, offering couples a chance to honor the cultural heritage of their wedding locale. My expertise lies in celebrating the union of love and culture within the enchanting realm of destination weddings, which is a hallmark of my professional portfolio.

How do you stay motivated and resilient during tough times in your business?

Resilience is the cornerstone of success in the travel and event industry. In the face of adversity, it’s essential to maintain a positive outlook, embrace innovative thinking, and continue to advance. The ability to adapt and evolve with the ever-changing landscape is paramount, as is learning the art of the strategic pivot to navigate through challenging times

What advice would you give to other aspiring women entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey is an exhilarating endeavor, and the cornerstone of this venture is undoubtedly a robust business plan. Crafting a comprehensive business plan is not just a step; it’s a strategic blueprint that guides your path forward.

Even if you’re a seasoned expert in your field, running a business is a different ballgame. I strongly recommend enrolling in business courses to bridge any gaps in your entrepreneurial skill set. In the nascent stages of your business, it’s essential to have a grasp on various facets of the trade—from marketing and sales to business development, social media strategies, insurance, licensing, and the intricacies of incorporating your company.

Moreover, seek out a mentor who resonates with your vision. A mentor’s wisdom can illuminate your path, and their experience can help you navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; curiosity is the fuel for learning and growth.

Can you share a memorable success or milestone that you’ve achieved in your entrepreneurial career?

One of the most memorable milestones in my career occurred 15 years ago when I was invited to speak publicly in New York City. Addressing a large audience for the first time was a daunting prospect, and I was incredibly nervous. Despite my extensive knowledge on “How to Plan a Successful Destination Wedding,” public speaking was uncharted territory for me.

Determined to succeed, I diligently prepared and practiced, ultimately taking a leap of faith. The session turned out to be a resounding success. Not only did it lead to new business opportunities, but it also paved the way for my career as a global public speaker.

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