The business behind planning a career

By Amanda Thorogood

There are countless reality shows that make her profession look like a dream job, and Kristin Rockhill has not only seen them, she has appeared on three herself.

Yet, standing before a class of future event planners and entrepreneurs last week, she served up a large dose of reality while exuding the same qualities she said were key to making it on your own terms.

“Kristin seems like she knows exactly what she wants,” said junior Suzie Chu, a public relations major. “She seems like a realist and you need realistic event planners that just won’t cater to outrageous needs.”

After going to school at Drexel University for fashion and design and moving to New York to pursue a career, Rockhill said that she didn’t feel satisfied and that life after college was not what she expected.

So instead, she decided to change her career altogether and now has her own business and plans to open a retail store.

A self-described “do it myself kind of person,” Rockhill spent the first year of managing her company planning and trying to learn as much as she could about being her own boss.

“To get started you have to be tactful,” she said. “No matter how much you plan, something will go wrong.”

With her own Web site and an eye for design, Rockhill officially opened Details of I Do, and her own wedding served as her first portfolio.

“Her most valuable advice was that any experience counts,” said Karen Doerfer, a junior journalism major. “Any part-time job or internship can only benefit students because at least future employers know we have experience.”

During her first year in business Rockhill said she booked just seven weddings. That jumped to 30 weddings the next year and that number is rapidly increasing this year. But unlike a reality show where the problem is solved before the last commercial break, Rockhill’s success took time.

Rockhill recalled meeting her first few clients in Starbucks to finalize plans and then converting the front room of her house into an office before ever getting a real office of her own. That was all in 2005. Now, she has plans to open a floral retail store as well as a Web site where stationary and invitations that she designed will be sold.

Early on in her career Rockhill decided that the best way to get publicity for Details of I Do was to get on TV as a wedding planner, and so that’s exactly what she did.

Rockhill has appeared on the Style Network’s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway twice and also on Married Away, where she planned a wedding in Austria.

But being on TV, Rockhill said, sometimes brought along the wrong clientele.

“You have to be careful about the business you want to attract,” she said. “Once you’re labeled one way you are going to have to stay that way.”

Rockhill said that even today she is still learning the ups and downs of having a business and being in charge of others.

“You have to understand that you don’t know everything the first day out,” she said. “If you don’t know anything, pretend you do and then figure it out later.”

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