If you know me, you know I love weddings and events. I love watching a group of people come together to celebrate someone or something special. I love watching a vision come to life. I love seeing all of the little details come to fruition along the way. Ultimately, I just love seeing the joy, excitement and love that fills a room – a moment in time for a group of people that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Therefore, I’m SUPER excited to feature this Girl Boss and event planner extraordinaire… Katie O’Malley Maloney or as most people know her as, Katie O! Katie is the owner of Katie O’ Weddings and Events and co-founder of With Grace Management, LLC, which operates the event space, The Kenmore Ballroom, in Albany, NY. She is enthusiastic, passionate and fabulous at what she does, and I am always so excited to see what fun and stunning events she has up her sleeve.
Name: Katie O’Malley Maloney
Business Name: Katie O’ Weddings & Events // The Kenmore Ballroom
Established: KOWE – 2009 // TKB -2020
Instagram: @katieoevents @thekenmoreballroom
Website: katieoevents.com thekenmoreballroom.com
Tell me more about YOU, the dedicated and hardworking Girl Boss behind the business.
Originally born and raised outside of Boston Massachusetts (go Red Sox!) I found my way to the Capital Region for my senior year in high school, by way of California.
I have officially lived here longer than anywhere else, so certainly consider it home. I earned my Associates Degree in Communications from the Sage Colleges, while working full-time in the field of marketing & events I went on to pursue my BS in Marketing Management from Siena College in 2006. I was lucky enough to work on some transformational revitalization projects within the City of Albany in the early 2000’s including the Hudson River Way, Palace Theater and the Albany Riverfront Park/Jenning’s Landing. This allowed me to grow confidence and experience in my industry. I always had a love for events & celebrations, but after experiencing weddings first hand as a Sales & Marketing manager at a local catering company I knew that was the field I wanted to specialize in. I worked alongside another planner for almost 2 years until I decided to take a leap and start my own firm in 2009.
I like to think of myself as an “accidental entrepreneur” as I never dreamed of owning and running my own business. It was definitely a big risk and I found comfort in knowing that even if I “failed,” I could always find a job. In addition to work and making little girls dreams come true, I love to travel–favorite spots include Paris, London, Napa Valley and Palm Springs. Spending time with Nate, my husband of almost 7 years and our children Grace (4) and Charlie (2) brings me the most joy. We also love to dine out and stay in and binge Netflix! I like to think we are well rounded!!
Tell us more about your business and how you became a Girl Boss.
Katie O’ Weddings & Events (KOWE) started out of necessity. I had been working for another planner and when the business started taking a different direction, I started thinking about what it was exactly I wanted to do. I took a “safe risk” and found a part-time event planning position at UAlbany to balance starting out on my own. This was the best path for me, allowing for a “safety net” with dedicated 20 hours of work and income, which allowed me to hustle the other 100+ hours a week to build KOWE. Thankfully, I was able to leave my part-time role within 2 years time and focus completely on KOWE.
My growth happened quickly but thankfully I had a tremendous amount of support from family and friends to help manage it all. My first year in business we coordinated 17 weddings and since then have averaged about 30 per year. Much of this success is thanks to my amazing Vice President of Sparkle and co-planner, Casey Benson. She started with KOWE when I was entering my 5th year as a business owner and has been with me now for 6 years. Her dedication to clients, her energy, outlook on life and eternal optimism keep me going. I have been fortunate to share this journey with her by my side and as a business owner it is one of my greatest accomplishments to have an employee as wonderful as she is. We focus on each client and truly are dedicated to providing the best and most personalized service for them.
In addition to KOWE, this year my husband Nate and I founded With Grace Management, LLC which operates the brand new wedding and event space The Kenmore Ballroom located in downtown Albany, NY. In 2018, Redburn Development approached us to take over the operations of the 12,000+ square foot space. We worked together to design, create and bring back to life a truly historic venue. At first it was scary, then exciting and now that we are in the midst of opening for business during a pandemic it is certainly proven to be one of the hardest moves professionally. We have embraced the change, are focused on smaller, intimate events and are looking forward to the future with hope. Our priority will always be sharing life’s celebrations with people, no matter how big or small.
What does it mean to you to be a #GIRLBOSS?
To me a #girlboss is about “owning your awesome,” you have to stay humble, yes, but ultimately you must believe that what you have to offer is special and worthwhile. You have to keep pushing ahead when you have hard days or feel insecure. There is a reason you are where you are and it is your strength, dedication and passion that keeps you there.
What do you love most about running your own business and being a Girl Boss?
I love making people happy and truly allowing them to enjoy their own celebrations. We treat each event as if it was our own, making sure that everyone feels well cared for and at ease when event day arrives. There is something special about the feeling I get at the end of a 12+ hour event day that is hard to describe, but if I had to I would use my own definition of sparkle to do so… “Sparkle is the state of being when you feel your best, confident, alluring, energized and optimistic”
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in being a business owner?
As a business owner for 12 years now it is safe to say that we haven’t always made the best decisions when “hiring clients.” Yes, as much as clients are hiring us, we do our best to attract the best clients as well. We have struggled on many occasions, with brides who don’t want to hear the truth even if it means the day will go more smoothly. We have dealt with Mother of the Brides who forgets that this day is truly about her daughter or son and not her.
We have found couples who simply don’t trust us, making it that much harder to produce the best day for them. Dealing with difficult personalities has certainly allowed us to grow and learn that not all business is good business.
Is there a moment during your career that stands out to you and validates your decision to become a Girl Boss?
When KOWE turned 5 years old I made the decision to host a party to honor this milestone. I thought hard about doing so, but knew that I wanted to celebrate all the people who helped me get to where I was. We held the celebration the actual week KOWE turned 5, which happens to be Thanksgiving week. I am always grateful for my support system, family, friends, friendors and past/current clients, but to see that room so full that evening really made me realize that this was me actually living my dream and making it happen.
I will continue to celebrate the small (and not so small) moments because this is what makes life worthwhile. The fact that I am able to do what I love each and everyday is something worth celebrating for sure!
What advice would you give to aspiring Girl Bosses?
Be willing to put the work in. Network as much as you can with leaders in the industry, not just your but the community as a whole. Get as much hands on experience as you can and learn from those you respect/admire. Read newspapers, stay informed. Exercise your body as much as your mind. Send handwritten thank you notes. Remember names and faces. Volunteer and give back to the community. Share your knowledge with someone just starting out. Be grateful and know your core values as an individual and a business owner.