When Pittsburgh families celebrate their happiest moments–bridal showers, baby showers, their child’s first birthday, grandma’s 90th – they rely on Encore Event Design. Encore seamlessly organizes their event and designs décor that their guests will love. In addition to creating these special occasions for families, Stacey Barlow-Hill’s full-service event planning company designs the annual Pittsburgh Business Show and partners with other venues to throw unforgettable events.
Located in the West End, Encore rents out its studio space for small events and offers linen rentals, event planning, balloon designs, center piece, backdrops, lighting, and draping for all of the events they design and plan, in and outside of their studio. In their studio, Encore hosts many bridal and baby showers, and is known for providing the best event experience for families celebrating these special moments. For some, Encore has helped plan their weddings, baby showers, and their children’s birthday parties and has become a special and reliable service for them.
At the helm, Stacey manages a strong team of twelve in order to plan and execute the services of Encore’s three sub companies—Encore Junior, Encore Balloon Boutique, and Encore Hope Initiative—that specialize in children’s parties and balloon delivery and give back to the Pittsburgh community. When Stacey’s teenage daughters were young, they urged their mom to plan kids’ birthday parties, and since then, Encore’s designers have come up with creative themes for their very young clients, including circus themes and winter wonderlands, and parties based on the classic Uno card game. Through their balloon boutique, Encore also makes it easy for customers to order and receive balloon deliveries and creates all kinds of balloon arches and columns, bouquets, and backdrops for their events. In the future, Stacey hopes to establish Encore Hope Initiative as its own 501(c)(3) organization, which currently supports nonprofits by helping them use their under-utilized venue spaces, sponsoring events, and hosting events.
Since 2010, Encore Event Design has grown from a one-woman operation to a regionally recognized event planning company that serviced over 200 events in 2019. Stacey’s entrepreneurial life began when she discovered, unexpectedly, that she was pregnant with her twin daughters and left her job as an H&M visual merchandiser to care for her newborns. While at home, Stacey started baking cakes for family and friends’ birthday parties, who increasingly requested that Stacey also create centerpieces and decorations, and eventually, plan their entire event. Stacey then took the leap to become a certified event planner, and while she was building her robust portfolio, Encore Event Design was born.
For the first five years, Encore Event Design operated out of Stacey’s home, but when decorations began taking over her garage, Stacey moved her business to the West End studio. As both the proudest and scariest moment for her business, Stacey navigated uncharted territory to secure an expansion loan, do build outs, and negotiate leases. As a solopreneur, Stacey worked every weekend and handled all business operations to build her company and keep it afloat in her new studio.
“It was like I had to start all over again, even though I already had five successful years behind me. But I had to put in that work in order to grow the company and build a team so that I could step back from it and not work every weekend and not work crazy long hours anymore.”Stacey Barlow-Hill, founder of Enocre Event Design
In 2016, Stacey joined her eforever group. Just a year earlier, she had moved her business into the studio and struggled to maintain overhead costs and worried about staying in that space. In her group, Stacey learned how to separate her business into studio events, outside events, and venue management and get a grasp on what was and was not working her business.
After getting a hold of finances and her studio space, Stacey planned her expansion of Encore Junior and the Balloon Boutique. As she thought about how to make her studio more profitable and cover overhead costs with these other company divisions, she recalls that her peers also helped give her clarity on how to manage the business’s growing pains.
In her current eforever group, Stacey uses her experience in growing her business and building her team to give advice to her peers but also keeps learning about how to successfully run her business.
“A couple of meetings ago I had an ‘aha’ moment when another business owner was explaining how she pays her contractors. I realized, ‘Oh, this is why it wasn’t working for me.’ Even though I may be at a different level as a business owner now, I’m always learning and growing, which is why I love coming to these meetings. There’s also something refreshing about being around other business owners and hearing that other people want to pull their hair out just like me or that other people had a bad month even though they’ve also been in business for many years. Listening to their stories and knowing that I’m not alone is powerful.”Stacey Barlow-Hill, founder of Encover Event Design
In 2019, Stacey renewed her studio contract and will remain in the West End until 2024. Encore Event Design continues to grow and gained a new administrative coordinator in 2019. In the future, Stacey is also taking exciting new steps towards leadership and lifestyle coaching, and will be a speaker at the Women Who Embrace Life Conference in 2020.
To contact Encore Event Design about planning or designing your event, visit encoreeventdesign.com/contact-us. If you’re a nonprofit that would like the Encore Hope Initiative to assist you with managing a venue, click here.