Meet Melissa Miville, Owner of Stylish Occasions in Mountville, PA

Tell us about your business.
I run a full service event planning business, planning everything from weddings to birthday parties and more!  I do both full service as well as day of planning (for a wedding where I would just coordinate the rehearsal and wedding day).  I love meeting and getting to know the couple or person that I am planning the event for so that I can incorporate aspects of their life into the wedding.  For example, I planned a wedding for a couple that liked to travel.  To incorporate this we made the place cards look like airplane tickets and the table names were different cities the couple had been to.  The guests then had to match these up.  It was a hit with the guests and people still talk about it to this day!  I love creating truly memorable events that will be remembered and talked about for years to come!

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
I originally became interested in event planning after helping friends with their weddings and then after planning my own wedding.  So in 2005 I decided to take courses at Education Direct.  Once I completed the courses starting my own business got put on hold as I was pregnant.  At the end of 2007 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  I ended up having to get a radical hysterectomy in February of 2008.  This made me realize that life is short and I needed to pursue my dreams.  So at the beginning of 2008 I decided to start my own business.  I had my first “official” wedding to plan for June of 2008.
Running my own business to me means freedom…to be my own boss…to work my own hours…to still be able to spend time with my 2 year old and my husband…and mainly to pursue my dreams after battling and surviving cancer. 

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
My greatest influence would probably have to be my husband.  He is also in the wedding industry as a photographer.  He has been doing this since we met in 2002.  He helped me to get through and beat the cancer and then encouraged me to start my business.  He has been very supportive through everything.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
My greatest professional accomplishment would probably be the fact that in the midst of planning my first “official” wedding for June 2008 I was diagnosed with a second cancer…thyroid cancer.  But while dealing with that I was still able to plan the wedding and things went smoothly!

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
The best advice would be to not give up.  It’s a lot of hard work starting up a business, but if you really love what you do and you stick to it, you can succeed!

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
The best marketing for my industry is definetly word of mouth.  Once I complete an event I always ask my client to write me a letter of recommendation to show to potential clients.  And I ask them to pass my name on to their friends and family.  People tend to listen to their friends more than they do ads.  So a happy client is the best way to market!
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
To not give up!  Be flexible to change with the times (and economy)!

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
One thing that has helped me is networking sites like Twitter.  I follow a lot of other planners from across the country and communicate with them to get advice on things and to see how they do their business.  It’s been a good learning tool.  Local libraries are full of resources also.  Most have a business center that can be very helpful.  And I’ve used SCORE ( ) for business advice.  You can get a free counselor from SCORE as well as sign up for business courses for a low fee.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Well, I love to travel!  Especially out west to Seattle.  And I love visiting our local vineyards for wine tastings with my husband and friends.  And of course spending time with my toddler.  I love seeing the world through her eyes!

What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
To continue growing my business and to work more with my husband in the weddings.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Mainly to just not give up.  If you have a passion in life…go for it.  You only live once.  Don’t wait for something like cancer to push you to pursue those dreams.
In addition to your website, how else can our readers connect with you online?

Facebook: Melissa Martin Miville

Twitter: @StylishO