by Pam Chamberlain, submitted 2017
Whenever Joelle Johnson attended a music festival, wedding, or corporate event, she wondered, “Where did the inspiration for the theme come from? How did they affix that decoration to the ceiling? Who created the program?” As she pondered the myriad details that go into a function, she wondered what it might be like to be the one in charge of it all.
Joelle had known that she wanted to run her own business someday, which led her to enrol in Augustana’s management program. She gradually gravitated toward becoming a wedding planner—a role that would allow her to make the most of her outgoing personality and provide her with an avenue to express her creativity. “I marvelled at the idea of piecing things together and seeing the final product, the wedding, taking place and being in charge of its execution,” she says. “The challenge was exciting.”
Now a certified wedding planner, Joelle owns Hitched by Joelle based in Edmonton. Joelle works with couples over the course of many months to plan one of the biggest days of their lives. “I cannot put into words what an honour it is to have couples invite me along for the ride.”
“The best part,” she says, “is the moment you find me leaning against the wall at my clients’ reception with a big smile on my face as I take inventory of the setting and the vibe and see my clients and their families having the time of their lives. It’s an incredible feeling!”
Joelle credits Augustana with providing her with the tools necessary to run her own company. She chose Augustana because of the small-campus dynamic. “It was like having a second family because we would have coffee with our professors and hang out by the fireplaces in the forum.”
The management program gave her a strong foundation in commerce. “I received a fundamental understanding of how business works, which gave me the courage and know-how to start this venture,” she says.
However, it wasn’t just academics that set her on her path. She also learned skills like teamwork and communication. “University developed my character and gave me grit. My professors—Bill Foster, Neil Hepburn, Yvonne Becker, and Morton Asfeldt—challenged me with 'tough love' to dig deeper, work harder, and find my own answers. I learned to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, which has been helpful in every aspect of my work today.”
Joelle feels fortunate. She is not only running her own business, but she is doing so in a field she is passionate about. “I’ve been able to build a career for myself that plays up my strengths and will always bring new challenges,” she reflects. “I’ve definitely found my niche.”