Monday, January 28, 2013

Guest Blogging: Fun, Funny, Passionate & PURE

The first time I met Raylene, I liked her.  She had a straight forward honest attitude and a work ethic that I understood.  I am sure there are times she doesn't have a smile on her face but it doesn't last, her cheeful attitude always returns.  Now I know Romance Parties might not be your thing, but go ahead, enjoy this read and then decide. I didn't have the best opinion until I met her and talked to her about her business.  I've seen how she connects to women, and really does more than just sell stuff.  I think that is one reason why I really think she is the best at what she does.  It isn't about what she is selling, it is more about educating and then selling.  Anyways, if you want to host a party (free to do) then contact Raylene after finishing the blog.  Grab a bottle or a dozen of your favorite wines, go pot luck style or create your own meal and invite your girl friends over for an evening of laughter.  These make a great starter to a bachelorette party night.  :) 
So you’ve never heard of a Pure Romance party, or maybe you have but you’ve wondered why would someone do that? Here’s a glimpse into my job, Pure Romance Consultant Extraordinaire. I’m RayleneTaskoski and I’ve been a Pure Romance Consultant for almost 6 years. Prior to becoming a Pure Romance consultant I’d worked in many different fields: day care, secretary, bingo hall worker, secretary, cocktail waitress, secretary, poker dealer, secretary, valet driver, secretary, waitress, and, oh yeah, administrator assistant (secretary). I had also tried my hand at Direct Sales: Avon (age 18), Tupperware (19), Mary Kay (20), and Amway (25). I am also a Born Again Christian since the age of 9 with a minister father (TV/Radio/Races, not pulpit) and a wicked prude mom who is a nurse. I also have three children, all girls, currently aged 13, 21 & 25, not that you’d know it by looking at me, I barely look over thirty. [just let me keep believing it and we’ll be friends.]


So, how did I wind up a Pure Romance consultant? I went to a party. I had attended a ‘sex toy’ party when I was 26 that was absolutely disgusting, vulgar, nasty *shudder* gross, at least to me. It was another 12 years before I would go to one of ‘those parties’ again. Well, I was bribed with Rum Runners to attend that party but that’s neither here nor there. It wasn’t Pure Romance but it was a damned site classier than the first one and I actually learned  some things! It got me thinking. I went home and told my husband, ‘what if a woman could be educated about how her body works and why it works that way and how and why to use these products without it being awkward or uncomfortable? I mean, it should be fun and funny but not vulgar, right?’ and he said, ‘mumble mumble mumble go find a company that does that if you think you want to do it.’ That was a lot more than I thought that I’d get out of him! I went searching on the internet for companies that and I fond Pure Romance and I knew immediately that this is what I wanted to do.

People call us because they know that Pure Romance parties are designed to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. We strive to entertain and educate you and your friends and hopefully that will empower you to take that knowledge home with you and add some spice to your intimate relationship … NOT to shock and awe you and have you rushing home to grab a shower to get the ick off you! (like that first party I went to!) Honestly, a properly done Pure Romance party should be appropriate for the hostess, the hostess’s little sister (over 18, natch), the hostess’ mother, mother-in-law, all her friends and feisty grandmother.

My favorite part of being a consultant is the ‘aha!’ moments that people have (and share, whether you want them to or not), and when girls realize that they are not the only one who has this particular issue! This keeps things fun, and funny…. most of the time. Sometimes there are moments when you hit a nerve and a woman will have an immediate reaction. I was talking once about our enhancement creams and talking about the things that will cause low libido (stress, heart & blood pressure medications, birth control pills, anti-depressants, etc.) and I looked right at this woman and there were tears in her eyes! I asked her if she was ok and she said ‘my doctor didn’t tell me that my blood pressure medication would cause low libido!’ and I jokingly said, ‘did you just think you didn’t love him anymore all of a sudden?’ and she started crying and said “YES!” That’s an ‘aha!’ moment that will I never forget.


At another party I met a woman who was just as stubborn as all get out. She wouldn’t fill out the door prize drawing form, wouldn’t try any of the products that I was passing around, sat with her arms folded throughout the entire party. Sucked the life right out of me, I tell you. When it came time to shop, she was the first one in the ordering room and I was not prepared for what happened. She came into the room, closed the door, leaned back on it and burst into tears. I was stunned. I had no idea what to do! Usually the shopping room is for fun! And laughter! And Shopping! She turns to me and said, “Six years ago, after I had my two boys, my husband decided that we were done having sex. He just wasn’t interested anymore, he didn’t want a divorce, he loves me and loves our family but he has no interest in sex. He moved into another bedroom and we’ve had a sexless marriage ever since.” I was at a loss for words. Certainly MY personality wouldn’t have stood for that!  She wanted a toy, but one that was super quiet because she didn’t want him to know. I told her, “If I were you I’d get the loudest biggest jackhammer toy I could find and look right at him as I was heading into the bedroom and say YOU might be done, but I’M not!’” She laughed and relaxed over the few minutes I had with her, but it made me realize how meaningful of job I have.


I’ve had many women contact me weeks after attending a party and thank me for saving their marriages. Just identifying an issue is enough to empower you to change it. Realizing you’re not alone, finding out that there are products to help, or just adding a little spice to a bland but otherwise satisfying sex life can make a huge difference!


There is no ‘best time’ to do a party but my favorite time of year to do Pure Romance parties is around February and March, because of Valentine’s Day and TAX RETURNS! My biggest per person sales are around tax time. I’ve had the craziest biggest orders during this time of year. I’m talking orders around $400 - $500. That’s some big time romance right there! There’s also no ‘best night of the week.’ Everyone wants a weekend party but truthfully my highest attended and highest sales parties are Monday’s and Thursday’s. I find on weekend parties people will find other things to do rather than show up to your party that you carefully planned, decorated and shopped for! [rude, right?!] But their boyfriend or hubby decides they want to go out and it’s ‘later’s baby’ to you!  


While food and decorations don’t have to be extravagant at a Pure Romance party, sometimes hostesses will go full on theme crazy! Phallic shaped balloons, candy, cookies, lollipops and, of course, cake. After one particular bachelorette party, the Maid of Honor cut me a specific part of the cake to take home…. Two perfectly round balls. I went home and set it on the counter and my husband came out and asked what I had there and I told him it was a piece of cake from the bachelorette party. He says, ‘that’s an awfully strange shaped cake…’ as he went to cut a slice. I said ‘well, honey, it was a bachelorette party … what part of the cake do you think that was?” As he realized what he was slicing into, the look on his face was priceless!


Ideally, it’s best to do a cocktail hour before the official start time to get your guests there and primed with some light snacks and a signature cocktail so that the consultant can get started right away. Keep the food in a separate area because barbecue chips and strawberry lube don’t taste that great together! Leave the bulk of your food until after the party to keep your guests busy while each person takes turns in the private shopping room. My favorite apps are veggies and dip and any hot cheese dip. Unfortunately, I’ve also recently discovered that I’m lactose intolerant so those dips are just torture for me now. Even just chips and salsa and a bottle of soda is sufficient. There’s no need to break the bank.


Themed cocktails run the gamete with “Pink Panty Droppers” being a popular choice (there are multiple ways to make it. As far as I can tell, if it’s pink, they’re calling it a pink panty dropper!) Anything with Gummy Vodka is popular too! I’ve got one hostess who always had a big bottle for the party and she sneaks a smaller bottle into my tote for me to take home. She knows I won’t drink at the party but I love me some Gummy Vodka, LOL. Keep it simple though and keep your guests hydrated! Having them drink too much too early can lead to some embarrassing moments! An overly inebriated guest might be funny (and, Oh Lord, I have seen some funny ones!)… but it nearly always leads to poor sales and less credit for the hostess.

If you’re looking for a great bachelorette get together or activity to do on a Girls Weekend, consider doing a Pure Romance party. Pure Romance party is the perfect excuse for you and your friends to relax, catch up, have a few laughs, and even act a little silly. Not only is a Pure Romance party is completely free but it’s a great way to get free product for your bachelorette to take on her honeymoon! And because you only have to be over 18 to attend, this is the perfect event for when part of your bridal party isn’t old enough for a pub crawl!


If you’re looking for a small intimate gathering for your bridal party (less than 5 attendees), a Pure Romance party may not be your best bet. Not that small parties can’t be fun, but with a Pure Romance party, the more the merrier. This is one time to let out all the stoppers when it comes to inviting … and encourage guests! Remember, the bachelorette is the big winner here. Not only will she get a percentage of the retail sales towards her own shopping spree, but a smart consultant will also let her friends buy her things from her wish list so she can use her hostess credit on the items she’s keeping secret! And be sure to make the Pure Romance party the main event or have it be much earlier in the day before a planned outing. Having everyone skip the shopping room to get ready for going out doesn’t mean much hostess credit for our bride!


So what does my family think?  My girls and husband have never had a problem with it. My dad, the minister, has always believed in what I do. After watching me do a presentation for the SECT Women’s Network he told me that he thought that this was my ministry. I agree. It took my mom a lot longer to come to grips with it. It was the day after my one year anniversary party, I told my mom she either had to come see what it is that I do or keep her mouth shut (she kept saying “that’s disgusting!” every time I would talk about my job). She came to the party and the next day I called my dad and asked what mom thought. He said “she said you give factual information in an amusing way and she’s really proud of you.” Well, what more could you ask for?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beyond Price

 Here I am sitting with a new couple and they hand me a print out, and ask if I can match this other "planners" price.  I looked over the short list of services and then went right to the price, smiled and said no.  I calmly stated that I provide more services for my day of and I wouldn't ever dream of not doing what I do on wedding day cause my experience has taught me better.  The couple proceeds to tell me how they found her on craigslist but can't find anything else about her.  I smiled again and said it might be cause this isn't her full time job or even 2nd job, it just might be a passion.  Nothing wrong with  passion but when you have someone else's day in your hands, you need a little bit more than passion.

The fact is that there are plenty of planners in the state and many of them are great and I would rather have a couple a planner they match with.  This is a person who needs to understand the things that stress you out, the things that calm you down and on wedding, can spend the whole day with couple.  If you don't match, you just don't.

I spoke with Carissa over at CR Socials about day of packages.  She said

 " I know I offer more than "day of" in my "day of package". I actually start about a

month before the wedding, plus emails and phone calls and meetings before that too"

As experienced planners, you know that there is a lot more than just showing up on the big day.  There is preparing and fulling understand the vision of the day ahead of you.  It is knowing that we can answer on behalf of the couple and know that we aren't just guessing. 

On wedding day, I easily put in 10+ hours and during the week prior, I am handing phone calls from the couple, their moms usually and at least one bridesmaid.  I get questioned by a best man every other wedding and then I am answering vendor questions.  Plus I know that if something was to happen, like if I got sick or had a death in the family or anything totally unexpected, my crew is ready to get the job done. I've had assistants who could take the whole event over and run it smoothly if need be and I have gotten rid of the ones that couldn't handle it.  Why, cause as the owner of ESTOccasions, I want my couples to be always at ease, no matter who is running the show. Last year at one event, I didn't feel good.  I had wedding after wedding and was fighting something off and once the event was running I had to sit down. The best thing was ESTOccasions didn't miss a beat.  My couple was happy and pleased with everything even though I personally sat down to catch my breath.

This is a topic we are going to discuss more and more but please as you start the process of picking wedding vendors, base your choice on more than just price.

Pick a photographer who's style you love, who provides what you want and need in a package and then fits your budget. 

Pick a florist who is going to give you the flowers you want, in a style that is YOU.  You can't compare orchids to carnations, you just can't.

Pick your catering because they know how to staff the size of your event, understanding your inner foodie and one that is willing to work with your budget. 

Pick a DJ who gets your guests dancing or maybe not dancing.  They shouldn't just be playing music because a GREAT DJ does so much more.

Of course working with a planner, they can direct you towards vendors who meet your style, budget and are a pleasure to work with.  If they don't fit your budget, a planner can show you ways to make cut backs and hopfully add those funds into getting the vendor you want.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Feeding the MONSTER

As you know, we reached out to our friends, and asked them to be guest bloggers.  Mr. David Field from Strawberry Road Creative stepped up right away.   We have enjoyed many creative moments with the master of Strawberry Road and I can easily say he is a joy to work with.  Enjoy his blog and then stay tuned for my comments:

Hello fans of ESTOccasions I'm your guest blogger today!  My name is Dave Field and I am Strawberry Road Creative, LLC, wedding photographer.  Kia has offered this space for me to talk about anything wedding that I want to!  So when I was offered the chance to post, I was mulling over topics and I came up with one that follows on the heels of her post yesterday.

There is a trend that I've noticed happening more and more.  This trend used to be exclusive to weddings without planners, but it's been creeping into weddings with planners.  I don't think it's the planner's fault either.  What I'm talking about is the "getting ready" monster.  Even the most well thought out "plan" can be destroyed by this insidious beast.  The life cycle of the monster is generally a few hours, but the damage it leaves behind is a schedule that has to be thrown out the window and sacrificing key elements you had your heart set on.  The place that the time that was lost getting ready generally comes from is pictures.

Let me explain how the monster is born.  It starts simple enough: maybe it's a late bridesmaid, or your "something blue" was left at your mom's house so you're 10 minutes late getting to hair and makeup and you're rushed.  It could also be the worst culprit of all, nobody is paying close attention to the clock, milling about between hotel rooms, texting, talking, you name it.  That last one is the one that leaves photographers and planners pulling their hair out and re-planning the day moment by moment.  Often times people end up blaming hair and makeup.  I can tell you honestly, I don't think it's ever been the fault of the people doing the hair and makeup, it's been the fault of the people getting their hair and makeup done.   The reason I think this is a terribly important thing to be aware of is that I have seen brides have to throw out an hour of post nuptials photography because they took too long getting ready or they had to throw out their "first look."  The monster stole the chance for me to make the images I wanted to give them.  Those images that are just a bit more than a snapshot.  Each of the pictures I've provided for this post were only possible because we had time.  Not a lot of time, but not rushed.  I understand that "things happen."  But please, don't feed the monster!

Now of course as a planner, I have to respond to this.  I know the monster and I've seen the monster and as a planner I do my best to avoid it.  I am always double checking and confirming details with our clients.  It is important that ALL of your vendors are on the same page when it comes to the plan of the day.  I don't like to use the word TIMELINE like other do, I tend to say GUIDELINE.  There are certain things that have to happen at a certain time and we make that happen.  We also make sure that when we have a little "free" time, we make up time where we lost it.  Having your vendors all on the same guideline is something that we thrive to do.  Your photographer, caterer, DJ, and videographer all need to work together and be working on YOUR schedule.  There are times that I can say I have redone a timeline 12 times to make sure everyone could do their job and everyone agreed for a prior wedding.  

The nice thing is that we, remind you about your something borrowed, something blue and on the off chance that you forgot it, we could go get it.  All of our planners come with assistants and this is one reason WHY.   You need to have people who are there working JUST for you. We also carry along the emerency something somethings!!!!

Thank you Mr. DAVID FIELD for stepping up and being our first guest.  As I end this post, I did ask Mr. Field what was his favorite time to shoot and he answered so perfectly, " Best time for photo is impossible to answer! Moments happen. Moments are better than staged for the most part."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guess who's coming to dinner, wait I mean to blog??

I want to be a better blogger. ( I would also like to spend  more time laughing with  kids, learn how to rock climb, drive a super fast car around a track, & the one thing I have always wanted but anyways)  I had this crazy idea last year to write for one whole week and while it was fun, it didn't lead to productive blogging for the rest of they year. 2012 was a year of transition, and while my personal life changed a bit, I found peace & comfort in my business, and I dove in, head first, all except the blogging part.   So in an effort to add content, and to be better I found a great resource: MY VENDOR FRIENDS.   Some of you may consider this cheating for blog content but I look at it as being a tiny bit creative, and realizing that if I reach out to them, it will cause me to blog.  See, I'm already doing it.  Stay tuned for new content from not only myself but amazing talent vendors throughout the state of Connecticut and maybe beyond. 

Who will be the first GB tomorrow, well you will have to come back here to see.