A Year in the Life – Windsor Weddings, Blues and Entrepreneurship

Reprinted with permission – Women on Top Ezine – Bonnie Evans Editor – November December 2010 Issue

A Year in the Life of a Wedding Publisher, Festival Organizer and Entrepreneur, Sheryl Davies

Sheryl Davies Publisher

Sheryl Davies Publisher

The past year has been one of great growth for me. As the owner and publisher of The Wedding Guide Windsor/Essex County (20 years) and one of the organizers of Bluesfest International (now in its 17th year) and the 10th largest blues venue in North America, my days are varied and busy, and the diversity of my work keeps me constantly motivated.

What is the best word I can use to describe the past year? BUSY is the word that describes it perfectly. New associates, new ideas and new experi-ences have kept my brain running in high gear.

I have spent this year working in tandem with our CTO, Stuart Liedtke, on a new, real-time website for the Wedding Guide (www.bridaltalk.theweddingguide.ca).  Stuart is a brilliant analyst and is an independent developer who uses Gigya technology, a prominent and well-respected company in the social media world. Currently there are over 300 million monthly users of their services across various networks.

They have listed four of our websites on their site, as examples of how businesses will use social media to its fullest capacity in the future. This was an amazing feat and my hat is off to Stuart for his Internet capability and the recognition he has attracted for all of our work.

My clients are all wonderful people with classy businesses that do things the way I would want them done if I were getting married. They are inspirational and, as we share dialogue, they are learning weddingisms from me and sharing their bridal successes with me.

During the year, I visited four bridal shows and two wedding workshops, to find the emerging trends for 2010 and beyond. The Wedding Workshop is an opportunity for me to talk di-rectly to hundreds of brides and cre-ate a dialogue that encompasses all of their questions and concerns. For me, it is both inspiring and informa-tive. After hearing their dreams and visions for a perfect wedding day, I am better able to help them to achieve their goals.

Sheryl with UK Bob and the Stilt Guys

Sheryl with UK Bob and the Stilt Guys

This past Spring, The Wedding Guide promoted a hugely successful new contest called Bridal Idol. This involved asking the prospective bride, or a stand-in, to sing for a $20,000 prize package. This seven week contest was held in several local clubs. On the final night, we hosted 400 guests, while ten brides sang in the finals! It was exciting fulfilling and it felt wonderful to present that one lucky bride with her prize package. We changed the winning couple‘s lives and we loved doing it!

I will have published two Wedding Guides by year-end of 128 pages, two bi-annual, bridal trend columns and I have spent a great deal of time watching bridal trends online. My biggest success was nailing the latest trends bang-on from last year‘s predictions! Take my word for it – this is no easy feat!

During the spring, I was honoured to be asked to sit on the board of the Wedding Industry Survey Network via EwedNews. I am the only Canadian involved in this New York-based group of prestig-ious wedding experts from across North America. They are hip, well versed and a pleasure to work with. It is a true pleasure to work together as we un-cover wedding data and stories that will have a direct impact on everything – weddings‖. My expertise with this group lies in my experience in publications, media and, of course, 20 years of bridal expertise. For the first time in all my years in this business, there is now a non-biased association that puts out accurate statistics about the industry and I am truly grateful to have formed this valuable alliance.

Bluesfest started to ramp up in April with a Blues-fest Idol contest that mimicked the Bridal Idol contest. The winner of BI received $1000 and a ½ day recording session with a local studio, SLR, and mastering of the ses-sion was achieved using one of the best set of ears in the world, Nick Blagona, www.nickblagona.com. The finals were held on the big stage at the festival and it was a happening!

The festival itself sees over 30,000 people walk through our gates during its three day run. It is all about the music, meeting old friends and having a summer evening on the riverfront. The weather was perfect and the crowds were ecstatic. Our headliners this year were, Foghat, Southside Johnny and The Ashbury Jukes, (think Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey sound, Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles, Tab Benoit, a Louisiana boy with a heart for environmental issues on the Bayou and Janiva Magness, an energetic and upcom-ing blues diva. Secondary acts proved to be just as powerful as the main line-up.

As in the past, I had the opportunity of meeting all the performers, and they are a vital part of the crea-tive class that promote the importance of the arts in any community in which they perform.

Bluesfest International Logo - Windsor Ontario

Bluesfest International - Windsor Ontario

One of the best parts of being a Bluesfest organizer is my job as publi-cist: ensuring the festival is listed on prominent blues sites across the globe and promoting it on Facebook and other social networks. It is a huge responsibility, but as you may have guessed from this and past WOT-mag articles, I thrive on the outcome and was especially privileged this year that our venue and experience was named the #1 blues festi-val to attend this past summer, by About.com, a huge and well-known website! It was awesome to see it in print online.

Speaking of the arts, I have written six columns this year for our local business magazine, Biz X, called Art Matters and six profiles of local area artists. The thrust of the col-umn is about art and business and how they form a symbiotic relationship. Art needs the monetary re-sources and business requires the networking and face in the community. It has been a year of great challenge as the economy in this trading area has been in a slump, but the reaction has been excellent and has focused my thoughts on thinking outside-the-box with my writing.

On the agency side of our business, we have built six websites for very different sort of client require-ments. One is www.stiltguys.com, a duo with fine arts degrees, that walk on stilts, juggle or act, all in theme costumes! These two perform at corporate events, trade shows, product launches and festivals. Each of them brings his own unique talent to their gigs and they are guaranteed to make any special event even more special. Remember, you heard it here!

One of my favourite website design projects this year was to launch a new food product line, Lean Mean Gourmet Cuisine www.thelmgc.com. The proprietor is our own local and award-winning chef and friend, Angela Olivito. Her lifestyle meals are freshly-prepared, properly portioned and priced reasonably: all available for daily pick-up. There are no chemi-cals or preservatives and each meal is a truly gour-met experience. It‘s an online business with distribu-tion points throughout Essex County and is fully sup-ported by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

As a promotional and informative support system for Angela‘s product line, I am now writing a monthly newsletter, which is sent to all of her clients. I also ensure that her social media sites are maintained and updated on a regular basis. This has been a great ex-perience for me, as I have been involved in healthy living for over 35 years and working with thelmgc and Angela represents a natural progression in the development of my own daily life.

To add a little added excitement to my life, in late August, my husband John threw his name into the ring for the Municipal Election! This was the start of a whirlwind of planning, campaigning and organiz-ing – a new and uncharted project for the two of us! It was a learning experience and we met many new and wonderful people as we approached the October 25th election date. Although, John couldn‘t unseat the 16-year incumbent, it was rewarding to see a campaign come together with social media and hard work in our ward. We will continue to strive to make our neighbourhood a better place in which to reside, something we have been doing for the last twenty years.

There are areas in my business day that are always a given, including customer service, procuring new business and general administrative tasks that have to be accomplished. The days are long, but enrich-ing, as I work with clients and can experience with them, firsthand, their success stories.

I usually wake-up at about 5:30 am every day and begin my day online and then, chart out the tasks that need to be accomplished in a time-management pri-ority for the day. Bedtime is usually around midnight after I read any pertinent e-mails that I printed out during the day.

During the day, many clients stop by and my 22-year old son, Jonathon, who is still at home while he fin-ishes his last year at the University of Windsor, helps me with the business. He is my only child and is as aspiring, inquisitive and concerned about life as his father and I.

My mind is always awash with new ideas and inno-vative ways to better my businesses and the business of my valued customers, because that is what it‘s all about! I am 100% involved in everything that I do and I am thankful that, as I approach the big 60 that I seem to have the same drive and energy as I did 30 years ago!

It‘s been a busy year and one that has blessed me with additional new friends, good health and great challenges that allow me to grow and be prosperous. And by prosperous, I don‘t just mean by paying the bills, but one that has also been filled with authentic experiences that in my youth I would never have dreamed possible. I welcome it all with with open arms!

Windsor Wedding Planning Graphic

Windsor Wedding Trends & Planning

It‘s always been about the people in my life and if I can assist, mentor or just listen to the concerns of others and add to their ideas, I know it‘s been a good day!

Writing for WOT mag was a new and exciting ex-perience for me this year! The articles were well-received and I made a new friend, Bonni Evans, who is another one of what I call the ―worker bees‖ who puts her heart and soul into this unique publication for women 50+

Sheryl Davies

Publisher:  The Wedding Guide Windsor/Essex County

Organizer/Publicist: Bluesfest International

President: DMS Communications – Canada

Freelance Writer: Biz X Magazine, Windsor, Ontario www.bizxmagazine.com