We had the good fortune of connecting with Colleen Sutton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Colleen, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have been in the events industry for over 30 years. After the birth of my daughter, Ava Rose, in 2007, I became a SAHM. This was such a strange concept because so often I would have multiple jobs to fill up my days. I am uneasy when I am at rest. So when Ava was 2, my husband and I decided that we would not have any more children. Ava was a wonderful baby and very easy. I enjoyed being a mom full time but there was also something missing in my day to day activities. Being that I had been in the events industry for a number of years before her birth, I knew that if I stayed out of it, it would be difficult to re-establish myself again once Ava was in school full time. It was then that I decided to start my own wedding coordinating business, Ava Rose Event Design, LLC. I could choose the amount of time that I wanted to work and still have time to be a mom. It was the best of both worlds for me. After Ava started school full time, I was able to devote more time to the business and was becoming busy. It was then that I began thinking that almost every weekend was being filled with me being away and what could I do where I could spend more time at home yet still working in the industry that I love ~ that being wedding planning. So my husband and I thought of becoming wedding venue owners. The though was that couples looking to get married, would come to me, instead of vice versa. That was the thought process behind starting my own coordination business and then growing to become a wedding venue owner.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
RIchwood on the River allows you to be a guest at your own wedding. We rent our space for the entire weekend to our couples. They arrive at 12 noon on Friday and stay until 12 noon on Sunday. We can also accommodate up to 44 guest for those 2 nights. Couples get to have extended time with friends and family all weekend. We often say, “Its not just a UNION OF 2 ~ but a REUNION OF MANY!” I also believe that my extensive time in the events industry allows for a certain level of TRUST, that we will do all that we can to make their wedding what they have dreamed it could be. We are a higher dollar venue for our rural area, and the level of individual attention we direct to each couple, makes them certain that they are spending their wedding budget with the right vendors. I got to where I am today by knowing the business that I am in and understanding what couples are looking for and what they are willing to spend to get it. Service, service, service is so important. My staff know what we are responsible for but are not shy about stepping in when something needs our attention to make certain things will turn out well. It was not easy traveling this road to owning a wedding venue. I met with mentors, investors and business entrepreneurs. Spent many months polishing my business plan. Had a vision of what I wanted my venue and business to be and represent. Had set backs and major accomplishments. Success and failure along the way. Each making me more determined to find my path and be successful. The biggest challenge was when we found the right venue but lost our investor. I had to convince the previous owner that I was the right person to purchase the business and build it to what the bank needed to see to ensure the loan we needed. This was an unconventional purchase idea, but we had the right people on our team to make it happen. We are now in our 7th year of business and growing. The most important thing that I want people to know about my brand and story is that if your dreams don’t scare you, then you are not dreaming big enough! Richwood on the River embodies all aspects of who I am as a person and business owner, You may come onto my property as a guest, but you most certainly leave as a member of my family.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well of course they would be staying with me at Richwood on the River. Aside from being a destination wedding venue, we are also a full service Bed n Breakfast. Our main house is a historic structure from 1850 and on the National Historic Landmark Registry for the State of Kentucky. We are also so very lucky that we are only 2 miles from Main Street, Madison, Indiana. We are located along the shores of the Ohio River and Indiana is a quick 5 minute trip by car. Madison’s Main Street is a National Historic Landmark with 35 of its downtown blocks on that registry. Its a quaint little river town with a big town attitude. We would make sure we would visit as many of the mom and pop shops like, Muddy Fork Antiques & Collectibles. Wes Cox the owner is a wealth of knowledge about the who’s and what’s of Madison and would be a wonderful place to start our week long adventure as he would surely know what was going on. Other shops that are a must would be Betty Jeffries Women Clothing Store and Vintage Apparel, The Floating Cow as they have everything you need for all the quirky gifts you want to bring back home for family and friends. McWhiggins Wonder Emporium which is sooooo much more than your average Toy Store. Little Golden Fox to paint some pottery or a picture to remember the experience of the trip. We would check out The Trolley Barn as it is home to 5 unique storefronts including Elsie B Kid’s Boutique and The Jade Feather which sells beautiful plants and flowers. The Village Lights Book Store would be a great stop to catch up on some well deserved ME TIME and read on our week long vacation. We would also be able to catch some great nature views at Clifty Falls State Park and enjoy some hiking trails and maybe even a picnic. When we are hungry we have our choice of some great burger joints like Hinkle’s Sandwich Shop (established in 1933) its like stepping back in time when you mosey up to the counter and choose your round stool to sit on and order a double HInkle Burger and Classic Milkshake. There is Mad Love Eat & Drink, our Rock n Roll Restaurant for a more fine dining experience. Their back deck is the place to be during the warmer months. All of the REDS are a fine choice too. We have the Red Pepper Deli, The Red Pepperoni, Red on Main, The Red Peppermint and The Red Roaster. Sallie’s By The Shore for homemade – one of a kind – ice cream and gourmet hot dogs. Scoops for classic old fashion ice cream sodas or a hearty banana split. We can even take in the river views and some soft serve with a dipped cone at Chillbilly Treats. We are also right in the heart of Bourbon Country and can take a tour on the Bourbon Trail. Perhaps starting at Angel’s Envy in Louisville, KY and then making our way to Heaven Hill Distillery. However if we wanted to stay closer to home, we have Mad Paddle Brewstillery right in Madison, Hand crafted beers and moonshine. New Madison Brewing Company can also pour us a tall one. Beer not your forte, we have Lanthier Winery and Thomas Family Winery right in town where you can drink some sweet or dry wines and maybe even hear some local music. The Madison Music Movement or M3 is dedicated to providing live music experiences every night of the week. So The Red Bicycle Hall or Off Broadway Tavern might be the place to catch some lively music. Central Hotel or even the Lanier Mansion lawn! Maybe Madison Main Street Program has their Music in the Park happening and we can grab our lawn chairs and head to the Historic Broadway Fountain. I have no double that every morning, afternoon and evening will be filled with adventure and we will sleep soundly ever evening.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The people in my life that were and still are mentors to me and are deserving of praise for my success are:
Marie Jenkinson / Owner Lionsgate Center, Lafayette CO
Cecilia Rose / Former Chief Creative Chick at Eventurous Inc. / Special Projects Manager at Cincinnati Magazine
Ward Sutton / My Husband and Biggest Cheerleader