My first desk in the Southern Weddings office was actually more like a nested side table situation in the corner by the closet. It had room for a computer and… that was it. Back then, we worked in Microsoft Publisher to create all of our graphics and real wedding posts. We hand wrote every single address for every single magazine that was ordered. Making Things Happen was on its first full year of touring, and Cultivate What Matters wasn’t even a phrase we said during our most eloquent of times. iPhones weren’t yet ubiquitous, y’all.
(2010: My first photo booth with the team when I was an intern in, and our annual holiday photo with Santa!)
A lot changes in seven years. My desk has prime office real estate now, we run two shops that have their own shipping team, Making Things Happen is now on its 53rd intensive, and our team has more than doubled (not counting all the babies that have been born!).
(2011: My first team photos! Millie Holloman took these — look how long my hair is!)
I’ve changed a lot over the past seven years, too. I started my internship at Southern Weddings as a college student with a long-distance boyfriend and heart eyes for weddings before heart-eyes were even a thing.
As the company went through its transformations and growing pains, so did I. We outgrew our office and started honing in on the South and on marriage. I broke up with my boyfriend and learned that dating well doesn’t mean blind commitment and hopefulness, but hard work and the confidence to find a partner who will work just as fervently as you will (and make life more fun in the process).
(2012: Shipping magazine orders out from our garage, and playing assistant at the first photo shoot I helped envision and organize.)
In 2012, I graduated from college and met my now-boyfriend, Taylor. The same year, the Lara Casey Shop was born out of a single, powerful sentiment.
(2013: I traveled to the National Stationery Show for the first time — a dream come true! Lara and I fed goats for our team photos the same year.)
In 2016, the Lara Casey Shop was transformed into Cultivate What Matters, and we took a deep dive into living more purposefully, more joyfully, and with a stronger community. At home, Taylor and I started working on passion projects, we got a puppy, and we started setting goals that we could both work on together.
We’ve been growing like really good, flowery weeds since then.
(2014: We frolicked in fields with ball gowns. Taylor made his modeling debut at our team BBQ.)
This year, as Cultivate and Southern Weddings learned to prioritize and focus on a long term vision, I did, too. Each conversation we had in the office, each magazine we made, and each iteration of the PowerSheets we created — those were all seeds that got planted in my personal life. They showed up when Taylor and I snuggled on the couch after a long day, when my friends were going through loss and change, when my sister got married, when my parents were sick. I found myself subconsciously weighing each decision I made: does this honor my value? Does this make other people feel empowered to live their best lives? Does this matter??
(2015: It doesn’t matter how big our team grows — we WILL fit into the photo booth! We had a dreamy day with Katelyn James for our team photo shoot. Jess and I met for the first time when she volunteered to pack PowerSheets!)
This company is a little seed that buries its roots in all parts of your brain and heart.
It changes everything.
(2016: The best squishy hug photo at the Gingerbread Barn Building Competition — favorite part of my legacy! We took the holidays pretty seriously with fruit-themed Halloween costumes. Amber, Jess and I became a terrific trio working on Cultivate What Matters.)
It is with no small amount of humility and gratitude that I say farewell to the team and you all this week to leap into new adventures in 2018! I’ll be freelancing full time while occasionally popping in to cheer on the Southern Weddings and Cultivate businesses.
(2017: Taylor’s and my first modeling debut inside the magazine! Silliness and laughs at our spring Team Summit.)
I’m looking forward to diving into a new season of helping other small businesses grow their design and visuals, but this transition has been both scary and rewarding. I am floored with gratitude that my coworkers are now some of my biggest cheerleaders. I can’t wait to see what they do in the next seven years. Most of all, I can’t wait to see how your lives might change for the better just by letting us be a part of your blog feeds, social feeds, and inboxes. Seven years from now, I hope you’re as blown away by the transformation as I am.