CERA SINGLEY EVENTS

AKA CERA HARROLD

Ash + Oak Floral WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Hello! My name is Cera, owner of Cera Singley Events – a wedding and event planning company that serves the Bay Area and beyond. 

 

I started my company back in 2010 after graduating with a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, concentrating in special events.  I realized after graduation that I really didn’t want to work for anyone else except myself. My dream as a child was to be a stay-at-home mom and what better way to do that and pull in some additional funds than running my small business from home.

 

Knowing it was going to take time to build up a name for myself, I took on a variety of jobs in different sectors to round out my knowledge base. I worked in the corporate world for the longest duration of time at a tradeshow event house. It was a good experience learning the ins and outs of tradeshows firsthand. They put me on the event management team and I strongly believe that this job alone helped me finesse my ability to think quick on my feet and make something happen from nothing – all with a cool and calm demeanor. There was literally no time for me to freak out or stress.

Ash + Oak Floral

 

Fast forward a few years and after being forced out of a full time job, I landed on my feet running hard after my dreams of running my business full time. My first year out I got pregnant with my firstborn and ran a nutty year of 26 weddings. I double and even triple booked weddings on weekends. It was nuts, I ended up with unhappy clients because I had to split my time to run another rehearsal halfway across the bay (roughly 1-2 hours drive, one way) and missed either the ceremony or most of the reception, leaving my lead assistant in charge. I’m not as young as I was back then and today, I only book one wedding a weekend so I make sure I focus on one client at a time.

 

Because my two boys (2 years in March, and 3 months) thrive on structure and routine, my weeks tend to run together and look much the same! Mornings are usually my time to get the boys up, fed and down for a nap. During that time, I do a short workout routine, start a load of laundry, do the dishes, shower and do my morning devotional. Before I realize it, it’s lunchtime and I usually am able to get a few afternoon hours in answering emails, working on a wedding design, finishing up a timeline or editing a floor plan. Dinner rolls around and, lucky for me, my oldest goes down for bed around 7pm so I have a bit of time in the evenings to take phone calls or do more design work. Weekends are usually reserved for site visits, client meetings or down time with family and friends. Sounds busy, but praying and diffusing essential oils throughout the day seriously help to keep the stress and insanity at bay! That and some poppy or country tunes!

Ash + Oak Floral

 

Wedding planning is certainly a fun business endeavor, but it also comes with some hurdles. Two words… tax season. Being a creative, the business side of my company is my biggest stressor. It seriously makes me so sick to my stomach to see the amount of taxes the government takes each year, especially when I view those dollars as diapers for my kids! This is my biggest struggle as a business owner. I hire a tax guy to do our taxes each year, but other than that, all accounting is run by yours truly and I loathe doing it every month.

 

Looking into the future, I know weddings and events will always be a part of who I am at my core. I’d love to do a wedding at Haiku Mill in Kauai. If you don’t know about the venue drop everything (after reading this) and go check it out! It’s seriously one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen!

 

If I could give one piece of advice to someone interested in diving into the industry – just be you. People buy from who they like, even the quirky, silly parts of you. Don’t be afraid to be yourself! I’ve learned to take my core values and pour them into my work. I’m not after the money. I’m after helping my clients create their dream wedding/event come to life in ways they never dreamed possible. I naturally have a servant heart and I view each event as an opportunity to help them have just the best day ever and we do whatever we need to to make sure that happens!





Ash + Oak Floral WOMEN IN BUSINESS

 

My two specific questions to answer are:

 

1. How do you deal with mom life and work life?

Nap time. Enough said. It’s glorious when your toddler and baby nap at the same time, but when they don’t, multitasking is clutch. There are times where the emails just have to wait because my babies are more important. Weekends and evenings are when my husband is home to take care of the kids, so that’s when I take a lot of my calls and schedule in person meetings. It’s been a fun ride and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world!

 

2. What outfit/style do your regret the most from your teenage years?

Oh gee… this brings back some “fun” memories!

I had this pair of capri pants that with a zipper on the side. They had vertical stripes in about ten different colors and let’s just say I thought I was hot stuff when I wore them. Looking back at photos now, boy was I largely mistaken! They did nothing for any part of my bottom half. No wonder I didn’t have a high school boyfriends!

MTHR COLLECTIVE

Ash + Oak Floral


When did you start your business or career? We started MTHR Collective in January, 2017

What do you do? We are co-founders of MTHR Collective, an all-inclusive retreat for the every mom who craves fresh air & inspiration

Who inspired you or what inspires you? Our mutual struggles to find a mom community that was cohesive with our creative identities was our true inspiration behind MTHR Collective. We were craving connections with other likeminded mothers, but we couldn't find many resources that would link us together, and we saw the need for something like this at that point.

Ash + Oak Floral


A struggle you face in your business? Getting our brand new passion project off the ground was definitely our biggest, initial struggle. For our launch year, we were passionate about promoting self-care in relation to motherhood, and wanted other mothers to take a leap of faith into the experience we worked so hard to curate, but it's definitely challenging when you have essentially nothing to show for it yet. Our first year was a major success, and we attribute that to having the first year of business officially completed, and with a ton of original content and genuine testimonials to show for it

Have you stay true to your brand (career) or have you changed it throughout the years? With this being year two for us, we are still very much interested in staying on-brand and maintaining our objective. Our retreat will always offer new and original experiences, but our mission statement will remain the same: To always be creating the space for mothers to share, learn, and feed their creative passions.

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Something that scares you? Failure likes to linger around the top of our "Biggest fears" list, and sadly, we're learning that doesn't go away with age! Inspirational quotes regarding failure is basically our go-to Google image search when we're feeling really self-doubt-y.

Who would you like to work with someday? Collaboration or Ideal Company There are so many women-led brands out there that inspire us every day and share the same value and ideals as MTHR. We'd like to reach out to companies like Dove and Old Navy, and Lulu Lemon's ambassador program to find available opportunities to work together.

Ash + Oak Women in Business

How did you come up with your business name? It came to co-founder, Danielle, IN A DREAM. True story!

What type of music do you listen to? Everything in between Fleetwood Mac and Drake?

What’s your morning or work week look like? FUELED BY COFFEE. We both have toddlers around the same age and so much of our day oscillates between singing remixes of Wheels On The Bus, changing diapers, and then switching gears during nap time and answering emails/editing photos/working on design projects. Beyond our MTHR business, we both are freelancers (Danielle is a wedding photographer and Liz is a designer), so nap time is everything for us (and our workload!).

What do you do to keep your sanity? Ah, the million dollar question! Enlisting help (i.e. babysitter, family, friends, etc.) definitely gives us a chance to breathe...or sleep. We are also both night owls and CLING to the hours of 8:00 pm-12 am just so we feel like we have some semblance of "me" time.

Ash + Oak Floral

Give one tip or advice to someone who maybe interested in your biz? We love this quote when encouraging mothers to choose self-care: "By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacation-less class".

Things you learned the hard way. That it is not our job to manage other peoples expectations of us.

Do pay for accounting and other admin work? No, but will likely hire someone soon for this!

Ash + Oak Floral

What do you see your future self telling your kids about picking a career? We cling to this one piece of advice we heard from a Jim Carey Commencement speech forever ago: "You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love". We will always root for our kids to go after what they love in their careers.

If you could only eat pizza for a whole year what would be on it? Pepperoni, pineapple, jalapeno! Savory, sweet, AND spicy!

Ash + Oak Floral

WHERE TO FIND THESE LADIES:

WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

SIERRA LEWIS

AKA RENNE COSMETICS CONSULTING, FLORAL & FAUNA, GOOD JUU JUU

ASH + OAK WOMEN IN BUSINESS


When did you start your business or career?

Marion Henson and myself started Flora & Fauna about a year ago (March 2018) and Good Juu Juu in October of 2018

What do you do?

Product development. I help businesses identify reliable manufacturers and raw material suppliers, validating quality by testing products for safety and efficacy before launch, matching branding with products, etc. My day-to-day involves a lot of research and development, strategizing, and networking with other small business owners to cross promote our services and products.

Ash + Oak Floral

Who inspired you or what inspires you?

My parents inspire me, they spent so much time making a conscious effort to ensure I’d be in positions to excel. My business partner inspires me, she is the only person who always encourages and assists with my crazy ideas. I am also inspired by anyone who lives their passions and encourages others to do the same.

A struggle you face in your business?

Funding. We are self-funded 100% and it’s a challenge sometimes to juggle all the expenses that come along with running a business! I urge every small business owner to be diligent about managing finances and be cautious about overspending, especially if it can be avoided!

Ash + Oak Floral

Have you stay true to your brand (career) or have you changed it throughout the years?

When I started out, I intended to be a one-woman-show, 100% product development focused. As our businesses have developed, so has my focus. Now I record Youtube videos, identify brand partners and attend all kinds of networking events and pop-up shopping events.

Something that scares you?

Fear is something I am working to eliminate from my vocabulary and life. I realize fears do nothing other than set limitations. I am working everyday to become a more fearless woman.

Who would you like to work with someday? Collaboration or Ideal Company

We would love to work with motivational writers, speakers and poets.One of our favorites is Marianne Williamson! We are really excited about a collaboration we have in progress right now with a very talented illustrator! Keep your eyes peeled for some awesome content!

Ash + Oak Floral

What type of music do you listen to?

A lot of Toro Y Moi lately, my boyfriend introduced me to his music almost a year ago and ever since it’s been on HEAVY rotation for me. I really like listening to jazz instrumentals or meditation frequencies in the morning.

What’s your morning or work week look like?

Every morning before I do any work, I try to get in my selfcare. For me, this means making my fruit & veggie smoothie, meditating, and yoga if I have time. I operate multiple businesses, so I often split my daily tasks between priorities for each one. It’s easy to get overwhelmed so I try to take frequent breaks, and be sure to get outside to walk my dog. I like to use productivity tools to keep track of what I’m accomplishing.

What do you do to keep your sanity?

I love doing oracle cards and journaling when I’m feeling really batty. Spending time with my crystals always helps. Meditating is also a go-to.

Give one tip or advice to someone who maybe interested in your biz?

Focus on your vision and set goals!

Ash + Oak Floral

Things you learned the hard way.

The importance of vetting potential business associates prior to deciding to work with them. I’ve fallen into the trap of trusting other people with too much responsibility too quickly, only to be disappointed to learn they were not suited for the task. Learning your colleagues and partners is essential to forming healthy and productive business relationships.


What is your studio situation?

I have a spare bedroom in our apartment that serves as an office/shipping and receiving space for the time being.


Do pay for accounting and other admin work?

Yes. I have used 1-800 Accountants in the past, but the service wasn’t great. Now I’m using a service called Complete Controller and I really like it! Tell them I referred you! :)

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SIERRA’S 2 QUESTIONS:

Do you find it hard to be A young business owner? PLUS, Do older people judge you or your product based on your age?

YES, Often times my credibility is questioned just because of my age and appearance. But when people take the time to examine the quality of the products they definitely have respect and appreciation for the fruits of my labor! Results are undeniable.


Craziest first date?

Meeting my current boyfriend after Tinder swiping each other and building a connection through a few silly phone calls was the most exciting date of 2018.

Ash + Oak Floral






WHERE TO FIND SIERRA:

WEBSITE (RENNE) (FLORA) (JUU JUU)

INSTAGRAM (RENEE) (FLORA) (JUU JUU)

AMAZON

LUV MARTHA SWIM

Ash + Oak Women in Business


When did you start your business or career?

I started my little biz 4ish years ago. 

What do you do?

I make custom swimsuits, exclusively. I don’t believe in bikini bodies. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to fashion and in standardizing sizing. I don’t think you only get to be comfortable and feel incredible on the beach if you’re one specific body type that most the swimsuit industry is making them for. I want everyone to feel good and do whatever they want to do in my suits, whether that’s lounge in the beach or swim or surf or hike to waterfalls or river raft, etc. every size body should be able to be comfortable while they play. 

Who inspired you or what inspires you?

I studied Community Activism/ Social and Economics justice in college and feel consistently influenced by what I learned. Because of that I’d say I’m inspired by tons of activists (intersectional feminists mostly) in my mission and work, but stylistically I’m influenced by 30s, 40s, and 50s women’s fashion and vintage workwear.  

A struggle you face in your business?

I struggle to stay organized. I live and work in a school bus that’s on the road half the year, so I’m constantly pressed for space and time .... in addition to just being a cliche creative who would rather make things then work on excel sheets 




Have you stay true to your brand or have you changed it throughout the years?

I believe I have stayed true. If anything I have become more honest about it. I think I was afraid to say super political things on social media (like: “the patriarchy loves diet culture, because it’s hard to tear down decrepit power structures when you’re just really very hungry”) , but I think my feminist agenda is an integral part of what I’m doing and making.... so I guess I have refined my brand

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Something that scares you?

I’m afraid I’m not pulling it off. I feel like I’m constantly breaking even, so there is a real fear that if anything breaks down everything else will crumble

Ash + Oak Women in Business


Who would you like to work with someday? Collaboration or Ideal Company

I dream of getting my fabric printed with the artwork of my sister @mimimeghan and my friend @tuttifruttialice 



How did you come up with your business name?

My business name was a bit of an accident... it started as a bunch of things I would make for friends and family and would label/sign “luv, Martha” and then it caught on and I felt like I couldn’t change it!

What type of music do you listen to?

Oh so many types but my go to music is Otis Redding or Billie Holiday




What’s your morning or work week look like?

Great question!! It’s different every week and definitely changes quite a bit in my peak seasons (spring/summer) but basically: 

   — emails and admin stuff over morning coffee (I tend to sleep in soooo ‘morning’ is more of a mindset’)

   —.sewing sewing sewing

   — if needed: afternoons spent in cafes drinking tea and/or a beer and working on website stuff/ meeting with clients

  — some evenings and weekends spent doing Speaker series, podcasts, zines, events, etc 

It’s a lot to keep track of and a lot of bouncing from administrative to maker to public speaker but I keep my day planner on me constantly and have lists everywhere to keep it all straight! 

Ash + Oak Women in Business

What do you do to keep your sanity?

I listen to oh so many podcasts and audiobooks while I work. It helps me feel like I’m learning, I'm engaged and I’m constantly growing... I think I’d lose my mind if I didn’t feel like I was connected to the world around me and informed on the happenings—- being a full time maker can be incredibly isolating so audiobooks and podcasts have become my biggest allies 


Give one tip or advice to someone who maybe interested in your biz?

Be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to show people who you really are through your brand. I was told to keep politics out of my business, I was told to use “real models”, I was told to do so many thing that didn’t feel right for me and in the end I am SO glad I didn’t listen. And also try to trade your goods for as much as you possibly can! 

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Things you learned the hard way.

Ahhhh so many things!! But primarily to ask for help with anything you don’t know (in my case website building and tax/administrative stuff). AND that it’s okay to be afraid and unsure... I am still afraid of failing and I’ve been doing this passion project full time for years now. I was hard on myself for my fear and that’s ultimately just detrimental. Accept the fear and do it anyway!


What is your studio situation?

My studio consists of half my school bus: a huge industrial sewing machine, a few back up machine, vintage school lockers stuffed with fabric and hanging bins bolted to the ceiling that I refer to as the “shipping and receiving office” 



Do pay for accounting and other admin work?

I actually just hired a super sweet friend (for trade!) to make me all the spreadsheets I’ve been desperately avoiding... and set up my quick books!

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Where to find Luv Martha

Website

Instagram

DESIREE

DESIREE BARRERA

HAIRSTYLIST + BARBER

Ash + Oak Women in Business

When did you start your business or career?

Age 19. Going 9 years strong.

What do you do?

Licensed hairstylist and licensed barber. Making people the best of themselves.

Who inspired you or what inspires you?

Fashion, music, strong independent women.

Ash + Oak Women in Business

A struggle you face in your business?

The price rises of the Bay Area have increased salon rent. Also how underrated hairstylist are to the state and community. I have a 4 page resume of education, however this field does not come with sick pay, vacation pay, or retirement.


Have you stay true to your brand (career) or have you changed it throughout the years?

Stayed true %100 and never looked back.

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Something that scares you?

Growing old. Being a hairstylist is a physical job. I use every part of my body.

What do you do to keep your sanity?

Yoga

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Give one tip or advice to someone who maybe interested in your biz?

Success doesn’t happen over night.


Would you own your own studio? If so, what's holding you back right now?

Yes! That is the dream. San Francisco has become to high is housing rent, that a salon rent on top of that is very complicated. The question I ask myself is, -is San Francisco holding me back?



What was your worst hair cut as a kid?

 
5th grade! I have curly hair. When I went home and washed it, I went to school the next day looking like a mushroom top with straggly ends

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Book an appointment at DesireeBarrera.com

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PRACTICE PRACTICE

Becoming a floral designer was not easy and I am still learning tricks. One of my favorite thing to do is practice in my studio by myself. Just me and the flowers. When I have the opportunity to play at home I discover new shapes and techniques. Plus, I follow so many amazing floral designer and we all love sharing our little discoveries to make life easier. So practice and keep learning because no matter what you can always improve.

Or join us for one of our amazing workshops! We will be popping up at Gather and Mill in Grass Valley April 14th for an Easter Centerpiece workshop! It’s only $45 which is a steal of a deal for a workshop! We usually charge $150 but want to meet more people in our community. Find details on our shop!

Ash + Oak Floral







Established 2014 in Oakland, California