Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Stefany Allongo. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Stefany , thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today One of the most important things small businesses can do, in our view, is to serve underserved communities that are ignored by giant corporations who often are just creating mass-market, one-size-fits-all solutions. Talk to us about how you serve an underserved community.
Married in Palm Beach was launched on the premise of serving an underserved community. When I started as a wedding planner in the Palm Beaches in 2009, the national wedding publications focused their efforts on South Florida as a whole – clumping together Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, and the Keys into one category. However, couples getting married in Palm Beach are completely different than those in Miami or the Keys. Each location has it’s own unique feel and flair. So if you were a couple looking for a local wedding vendor, you had to really search hard to find that. In turn, vendors that wanted to serve those specific couples weren’t necessarily reaching them.
After 10 years as a wedding planner, I still hadn’t seen a change in the publications. So I decided to launch a wedding publication that was solely dedicated to the Palm Beaches. Giving couples wanting to get married locally a place to find all the best, local vendors. Also, giving vendors access to a niche and targeted market of couples looking to get married in the area.
Since inception the response has been phenomenal, proving that we serving a market that was untapped and underserved.
Stefany , before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I started my career as a part of the event team for the 2007 Tony Awards in NYC. From there I moved to RunDisney and was a part of the event team for the 2008-2009 race season. After that, I decided to start my event planning company which naturally led into weddings.
In weddings, I found my sweet spot. The mega events taught me how to manage and execute a plan while staying nimble when the inevitable hiccup occurred. My education in Marketing and Business (MS and MBA) allowed me to infuse branding and marketing techniques into the event design.
When I saw the need for a wedding publication locally, I fought the urge to launch one for years. It wasn’t until my husband encouraged me to take the plunge that I actually made the leap. My experience as a planner drives the content on the website while my marketing background allows me to support the incredible vendors that partner with us.
I’m so proud to have designed, cultivated, and grown Married in Palm Beach into one of the top resources for couples looking to get married in our slice of paradise, garnering over 10k website visits per month. Plus, I have had the privilege of being featured in publications like Palm Beach Illustrated, Modern Luxury Weddings, and Palm Beach Post and as a regular contributor to Discover the Palm Beaches.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
The pivot from event planner to wedding publication was something that had been on my mind for years prior to actually launching Married in Palm Beach. But there was a very specific moment that was the impetus for the change and it was quite personal.
When I got pregnant with my first child in the fall of 2015, I was in the middle of my busiest planning season ever – working on designing, planning, and executing over 30 events. My scheduled was packed with events almost every weekend til my due date in addition to a few events in the weeks immediately following the due date. It was overwhelming, but doable. I had a wonderful team in place to help me.
Balancing work calls between bouts of morning sickness, scheduling venue visits around OBGYN appointments, and booking massages after event days where I would spent 15+ hours on my feet became the norm. The more I pushed, the more I questioned if it was all worth it. But as quickly as those thoughts entered my mind, they would exit as I needed to keep going.
Then at 29 weeks I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia with pregnancy induced hypertension at 29 weeks. I was immediately hospitalized, placed on complete bedrest, and given a plethora of medications to try to subdue the symptoms. Both my life and my baby’s life were in danger and work had to take a back seat.
After a week of trying to control my symptoms, my beautiful baby girl was born 10 weeks early at only 2lbs. She was immediately rushed to the NICU. I wouldn’t be able to see her for 48 hours while I recovered. My husband and I would spend our days sitting by her incubator, only allowed to place our hands gently on her as we couldn’t hold her for fear of overwhelming under under developed nervous system. We watched as our girl fought through all the adversity and began to thrive. As she grew, we cheered on all the milestones.
Since I still had a full calendar of events, I was splitting my time between the NICU and working with my clients. There were events I had to work while my daughter was still in the hospital – my body still sore from the emergency c-section. Toting my breast pump, I would find a bathroom or private corner to try and pump without my clients noticing my absence.
It was in these moments I realized this wasn’t sustainable. My family needed to come first and that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want to miss my daughter’s soccer games or her music recital or the chance for a lazy Saturday brunch. So following my daughter’s release from the NICU, I stopped accepting new planning clients and began planning the launch of Married in Palm Beach.
This pivot allowed me to remain in the industry I loved while also attending to my family obligations. It truly is the best of both worlds!
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
I think it’s been my ability to be authentically myself. I’ve always been an open book to those willing to take the time to reach out. So whether someone needs help with strategizing their marketing, to hear a voice of reason, or even a shoulder to cry on, I’m available. It’s that personal touch that sets my apart.
- Website: www.marriedinpalmbeach.com
- Instagram: @marriedinpalmbeach
- Facebook: @marriedinpalmbeach
- Other: www.pinterest.com/marriedinPB
Dennis Kwan Photography, Elizabeth Haase Photography, Organic Moments Photography