Listen to Your Gut Feeling. Always” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Katelyn McCullough, Founder of Elwynn + Cass. Elwynn + Cass has been featured on Fox 5, Foundr, and worked with Stagecoach, Nordstrom, NYDJ, Style Me Pretty, and much more.

Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?

Prior to starting Elwynn + Cass, I studied International Business at The University of San Diego. Six months after graduating I launched E+C based on something I myself had wanted. A personalized experience for beauty services. This originated from my growing up with my father as an attorney and he having clients with special events and galas. My mother and I wanted to get our hair and makeup professionally done and found it nearly impossible to find artists suited to the looks and styles we wanted. Elwynn + Cass was launched as a remedy to this problem.

Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Elwynn + Cass is a beauty concierge with a focus on luxury beauty planning. We work with weddings, brands, and photoshoots primarily, but also set up beauty services for all kinds of events throughout the world (nationally and destination).

What makes Elwynn + Cass stand out is the fact that we treat each every person and brand we work with as an individual, not a dollar sign. Every individual has different wants, and needs and deserves an experience entirely their own. We provide that experience to them as we match the artists best suited to their needs and handle all of the coordination, billing, etc. from start to finish.

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are lucky to always have some exciting projects in the works, but right now it is mostly focusing on events for the summer and fall and expanding into more destination work for clients.

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I have a few books that have had a great influence on my life, “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, “Trust Me, I’m Lying” by Ryan Holiday, and “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, to name a few. Though I can say I remember reading The 4-Hour Workweek about 5 years ago and it changed the way I thought about business and working smarter not harder. It really is all about finding what works best for you and capitalizing on that fact of what you do most effectively, and cutting out the other factors that don’t serve you (friends and relationships included).

Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

The 5 lessons I learned as a Twentysomething Founder are simple.

If you want something you have to be prepared to work for it. I won’t deny that in the beginning I didn’t work nearly as hard. I didn’t know where to start to build the business and it was slow to grow because of my lag.. However, after honing in on the areas I wanted to focus on (i.e. event planners/brands and building relationships), the business has been thriving.

The worst anyone is ever going to say is no. This is the motto I live by, as it is perfectly illustrated in every relationship I build. We actually got into Stagecoach because I emailed on a whim. The worst they could say is no, and the opposite happened.

Listen to your gut feeling. Always. There have been plenty of opportunities that have been presented to me, that my gut feeling was it was a bad idea, but I ignored it since it sounded great. Everything worked out okay (thankfully), but I would have avoided a lot of headache if I had listened to my gut feeling.

Don’t be afraid to work for free or trade. Working for trade or free sounds awful when you are trying to build a business that you are wanting to get paid for, but trust me, if you do a few things for free, it can really work out in your favor. In my case this means doing collaborations for styled shoot (weddings) and or corporate/brand events. By doing this events on a trade/collaborative basis, I am focusing on building relationships and getting to know the other vendors and in doing so builds trust, which then builds business.

Be patient. I know it sucks. I personally suffer from being impatient when it comes to business, but have come to learn that some relationships don’t pan out for months or years. I can make a business connection that may take 6 months to manifest or for them to refer me to a client. It has to be the right timing and you have to trust the process.

Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

I would love to sit with a few different people for different reasons. I personally love Tim Ferriss’s way of approaching business, working smarter not harder, and taking the advice from the best in the world (in their respective fields) and understanding that you can apply this to any business or facet of life.

Gary Vaynerchuk would be another one for his zest on life and no BS attitude. He’s commitment to the process of building a business and employing empathy and patience have given me a lot of perspective on the longevity of business and building life on your own terms at your own pace.

— Published on June 27, 2018