Amanda Burrell founded White Ivy Events in March 2017 after an internship with an event planner in Minneapolis. Since graduating in 2018 with a BBA in Entrepreneurial Management, Burrell has continued to focus on growing her business.
White Ivy Events is an award-winning event planning and design company - specializing in crafting fresh, elegant, and fun events for clients all around the Midwest.

 

Why did you start White Ivy Events?

I always knew I wanted to to something different than a normal 9-5 job. After an internship with an event planner in Minneapolis, See Jane Plan, I realized events were a great fit for my skills. There are many moving parts to making an event happen and I love having my hand in each aspect. Event design has become one of my favorite parts of my job and I love being able to help each client I work with bring unique pieces of who they are into their wedding day. Most importantly, I thrive off building relationships with people. I knew I could never do a job where I would sell something to a person and then never speak to them again. Working with wedding clients allows me to get to know each couple on an individual level and work with them for a year or more to design and plan an event they will remember for the rest of their lives. 

What have you found beneficial from being involved in the Iowa JPEC programs?

I may not have started my business without the first $1,000 in seed funding I won at an Iowa JPEC pitch competition. I invested this “small” amount of money into my first ad which generated a little over $12,000 in business for me. 

What did you find most helpful from your entrepreneurship courses? 

Iowa JPEC has been helpful in supporting my entrepreneurial endeavors in so many ways, the main one being it showed me that starting a business didn’t have to be something I just thought about, but I could actually act on it. I remember when I was first thinking about starting my business and I mentioned my idea to Kimm Harris, my Entrepreneurial Strategy professor at the time. I told her I would start my business after I graduated. She asked me, “Would you be able to plan an event on your own right now?" I learned so much about event planning from my internship and I was confident I could do an event on my own. She then simply asked, “Well why can’t you start your business now? Get back to me in a week with your decision and I’ll do whatever I can to help you succeed.” 

The next week I came up with a business name, bought the domain www.whiteivyevents.com, and my little company was born. I had never had someone tell me to go for it before. The support from Kimm and the rest of the Iowa JPEC staff gave me confidence, excitement, and the push I needed to take the leap of being a business owner at the age of 20. 

What did you learn from Founders Club and how are you applying it to your business now? 

I didn’t know much about business before joining the Founders Club. I learned what a business model was, how to build a revenue model, how to invest money in a way that would lead to returns, and I was supported all along the way by incredible mentors. The Founders Club taught me the basics of business and invested time, money, and resources into teaching me to be a smart business owner. Although I did make mistakes, the Founders Club helped me navigate through many hard decisions in the growth of my business over the past year and a half.

The mentors were the most beneficial part about being in the Founders Club. They always encouraged me to follow my passion and always pushed me to get outside my comfort zone. 

What’s up next for your company?

I recently moved with Luxe Interiors to the Northside of Iowa City (281 N Linn St). My next step for my business is hiring for my new office. I am looking to add an event designer to my team and expand the business to more cities.

What’s one piece of advice you would offer to a new student interested in joining Founders Club (i.e. starting a business)? 

If your brain is wired for entrepreneurship, starting and running a business will be one of the most fun things you can do. Make sure to take advantage of all the benefits the Founders Club and Iowa JPEC have to offer. I wanted to quit many times when it was hard, but the support system of the Founders Club kept me going even when times were tough. Don’t give up!