How This Kick-Ass Mompreneur Created a Successful Business


There’s something really special about meeting a complete stranger in an airport (or on a flight) and ending up in hours and hours of convo with them, don’t you think? Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me a few times in my life and each time those people have come to be […]

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There’s something really special about meeting a complete stranger in an airport (or on a flight) and ending up in hours and hours of convo with them, don’t you think? Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me a few times in my life and each time those people have come to be incredibly good friends—even if they live on the opposite coast. Tory Smith is one of those people for me. And I know she’d give me her guest bedroom if I showed up at her doorstep tomorrow. Together, we experienced what might have been one of the longest delayed flights ever, turned canceled, turned operation find-any-flight-to-get-us-there. It was one of the longest 24 hours of my life, but I got to do it with one of the best babes I’ve met, making it a blessing in disguise.

So, what does this cool girl do? She’s a kick-ass Event Planner and Owner of Smith + James, mama to two beautiful boys (who are just a year apart) and because mompreneur blood runs through her veins, she also writes for her new lifestyle blog, “hey tory smith!”. Although she might be modest about her skills at times, she’s hands down, AMAZING and someone I knew would inspire you with her boss lady spark… whether you’re a mom who is working a side hustle or a full-time biz, have a dream of becoming an event planner, or simply want to know what’s the best music to play at a party. Tory is your girl and she’s spilling all kinds of juicy details in this week’s Haven Maven interview. Did I mention she’s one of our fab Entertaining Experts on The List? Grab your morning coffee or your evening bubbly and let’s dive in!

Featured Image: Jose Villa

When did you know you wanted to be an event planner and how did Smith + James come to life?

It probably sounds ridiculous, but I think I was born into it… I think you have to have a certain amount of crazy to work in events and you have to really love it in order to survive in this industry because it’s incredibly hard work. I had a whole other life in the music industry before I became an event planner, but I have wanted to be a wedding planner since I was a little girl. The music industry was a cutthroat industry and I was never out for blood, so it just wasn’t a great fit (read: I was too nice, haha). Eventually, I was brave enough to jump ship, follow my childhood dream, and start working for an event planning firm here in Los Angeles. I loved it. After working under some of the top event planners in the country, I started my own business, smith + james, and have never looked back.

What do you love most about your job?

I love fancy parties. I always have, I always will. I love seeing my clients’ eyes light up when they first walk into their own event. I love the wonder and merriment of it all, especially because it’s ephemeral: here today, gone tomorrow. It’s such magic and I get to be the one to create it.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in getting Smith + James to where it is now?

Believe in yourself! Learning to trust my gut and have confidence in my abilities has been the most important thing to creating a successful business, without question. If you can do that, you can LITERALLY DO ANYTHING.

You’re a mom to two sweet boys (who are impossibly adorable and both under 2!). Any advice for other Mompreneurs out there on balancing a biz and babes?

Oh man, I have endless advice for working mamas with young bambinos! I was baptized by fire in the mompreneur world. My boys are 12 months apart and at the same time that I began my journey of being perpetually pregnant, my business really started to take off. Needless to say I had a lot on my plate and had to figure it all out really quickly. My best advice to mompreneurs is to hustle! Like, get up and GO GET IT GIRL. That’s the only way to keep up with the demands of your clients, you children, your husband, and whoever else needs you attention. Also helpful: create a schedule and stick to it but also be quick to forgive yourself if everything isn’t perfect 100% of the time. Those two are hard ones for me but I try to stay both on schedule and ever-forgiving. It’s HARD to run a successful business, be constantly available to my clients, and also find time to be a wife and mother. I think if you can keep up with the amount of energy it takes to do all those things, no one can stop you. Oh, and if that doesn’t work: coffee.

My best advice to mompreneurs is to hustle! Like, get up and GO GET IT GIRL.

What is a typical day in the life for Tory Smith?

My oldest wakes up around 5:30am and my angel husband gets him out of bed. I feed the baby and follow them into the living room. I make breakfast for everyone. My husband leaves for work and I get to be with my kids from 7-10am. Then I either have client meetings or spend my day answering emails or tracking down a specific double-faced velvet ribbon I really want or figuring out how to hand-dye a table runner. I make sure my team has their marching orders for the day. I spend a lot of time in my car visiting clients, venues, florists, rental houses, or linen showrooms. I spend a fair amount of time on the phone discussing which plates are prettiest (and I love that part of my job!) I try to be home in time to help get my kids in bed. Then either me or my husband cooks dinner, we eat, and I try really hard not to continue to answer emails while we binge-watch Netflix until we go to bed.

If you could invite ANY kick ass boss lady to your party, who would it be and why?

Wow this question is so hard because I want to invite them all (I’m looking at you, Sheryl Sandberg and Beyonce!) but at the end of the day for me, it will always be Martha Stewart. She’s an icon and she’s what inspired me to do what I do.

Any exciting new things coming up for you this year?

I’m launching a lifestyle blog called “hey tory smith!” for mompreneurs to encourage other boss women to follow their dreams, be the best mom they can be, but also take care of themselves and not get lost in the to-do lists. I’ve had so many relationships with women where I’ve gotten to be their cheerleader and encourager, so instead of becoming a life coach (Everyone asks me to but I don’t have time) I’m going to share my story and hope my words can help other women reach their goals.

Best hack/tips for throwing a last-minute party:

My home is always stocked with plenty of good champagne and rosé… and I always have enough linen napkins for whoever might crash a dinner party. Also, the record player never fails us.

When you’re not assisting babies or brides, how do you treat yourself?

We make sure to prioritize making time to laugh a lot with our friends.

Three must haves for any type of event:

Great music, a graceful host, and a killer cheese plate

Best beats for a casual dinner party:

Jazz, or I love music from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s

Instagram account(s) you’re currently crushing on:

@accidentallywesanderson @pleasehatethesethings

Apps you can’t live without:

The Baby Connect app!, Spotify, and Instagram

Favorite inspirational book or podcast of the moment:

“Girl Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis!

Featured Photo Shoot Credits: Event Planning & Design: Smith + James | Photography: Sally Pinera | Event Styling: Kelly Oshiro | Floral Design: Heirloom Design House | Calligraphy: Plume Calligraphy | Linen Rentals: La Tavola | Rentals: The Tent Merchant | Tabletop: The Ark | Ribbon: Silk & Willow | Rentals: Elan Event Rentals | Candles: Creative Candles

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