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Meet Alianne Valladares-Prieto of Ad Astra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alianne Valladares-Prieto.

Alianne, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
About four years ago, I was almost set to graduate from undergrad with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, a minor in Legal Studies. I was hell-bent on going to law school. It was what I had decided years before, what I had envisioned vividly. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. But you know what they say: life can only be lived forward and understood backward.

It wasn’t until I was plotting, scheming, designing, organizing, and telling people what to do in the midst of coordinating my best friend’s 21st birthday that my friend’s mother turned to me and asked the question that really did change my life. She asked, “have you ever considered getting into event planning?” I hesitated to answer because, yes, maybe the thought had occurred to me in passing, but it wasn’t “realistic.” I was eighteen years old when I chose my major, after all. The fear of the unknown paralyzed me and black and white seemed to be my only option.

That day in my best friend’s backyard, when I stopped to consider how often I found myself in those same circumstances – finding any excuse to be as festive as possible, thriving in the hustle and bustle, channeling my creative energies, working to make something perfect for somebody else – I realized maybe I was wrong. Maybe there was another way to channel my humanitarian nature. Maybe there was a way to nurture my creativity in my career, which otherwise would have been suppressed had I chosen the road more often traveled.

From that moment onward, I began to entertain the idea. I began to do my research. I stuck my foot in many doors and was rejected the majority of the time I did. It took one event coordinator to give me a chance later that year. The stars aligned, she needed an assistant, and I was eager and ready to commit to the role. The rest is history. I learned the in’s and out’s of the events industry. I observed, listened, soaked it all up. Before I knew it, I was given opportunity after opportunity to network and grow. I decided shortly thereafter that I would never stop pushing myself in this field.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?Absolutely not. But nothing that’s worth it is ever easy, right? Working as a coordinator’s assistant for two years had its perks, but in order to effectively gain the experiential learning needed to thrive in this business, there were sacrifices that needed to be made. In order to be available at the drop of a hat, I couldn’t take on a full time “filler” job. I needed to dedicate all my time and energy to very specific things. For this reason, I have been “freelancing” since graduating. I have worked a number of jobs in hospitality, writing, communication, and events. Why? Because of the way I see it, the more multi-faceted I am, the more I have to offer. But there’s a catch here. With never having settled into one long-term corporate job, I have made my life as a business owner more difficult, financially speaking. There have been many times when I have been tempted to spiral and doubt myself and my past decisions, cursing myself for not having “made as much money as possible” in the last three years, as if that would have solved anything. Every small business owner I have had the pleasure of working with and networking with in the last few years came into the business world after having worked a number of years in a company, in another career, etc. It was very easy for me to fall into the comparison game, putting myself down in the process.

Would it have been easier to invest in my business if I had more money in my savings? Yes. Societal norms and expectations of twenty-somethings did not make it any easier. My family watched me disapprovingly for years, fearing that I was making the wrong choices. But despite all the stresses and hindrances, I have had the pleasure of being surrounded by a sturdy support system. Despite the bumps on the road, I have made a road trip out of it.

Ad Astra – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Ad Astra Co. is a wedding and event coordinating company that specializes in anything and everything that entails gathering friends and loved ones for a few laughs and yummy bites. Throw in a little champagne and you’re golden! Our name comes from the Latin phrase “per Aspera ad Astra,” which means “through adversity, to the stars.” The way I see it, life can get hard, but despite the curveballs and stresses, it’s nothing short of a series of festivities that, one event at a time, lighten up our weeks, months, and years.

While weddings are what tend to bring most clients in, I love finding an excuse to be festive, to decorate, and to go the extra mile for my clients. I love candid pictures and moments, but most importantly, I love telling a story through my projects and events. Every person, couple, or family’s story is unique, so the goal at Ad Astra Co. is to help clients tell theirs in a way that will captivate them and their guests for years to come. My approach is simple: go above and beyond, to the stars and back.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Generally, I gain fulfillment through helping people or, at the very least, making things easier for them. I consider a wedding or event a “success” once I see my clients’ reactions. Once I see their smiles or that they’re completely at ease, that is where I feel successful.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Masson Liang Photography, Michelle Gonzalez Photography, Sara Lobla Photo

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