Jarrett Gaza Photography

Deanna Burks, owner of the multi-discipline design studio Deanna Burks Design shares with us her creative journey to becoming a creative director, designer, writer, florist, and more! In addition, she shares a few tips she uses to balance her family and work life. To learn more about her wedding services and education offerings, visit Deanna Burks Design.

Tell us a little about yourself & your business

I'm a native of Tennessee where I live with my husband Dane, my two little redheaded girls Aden and Marni. I'm a Creative Director, designer, writer, and artist, and a competitive weightlifter. My family, art, animals, and the sea are my passions.

I started my design business in 1998. Currently, I offer wedding day flowers for engaged couples, styling and design, branding for women business owners, and mentoring for creative entrepreneurs.

Did growing up with entrepreneurial parents make you want to be your own business owner?

Yes, funny enough, I wasn't really even aware that people worked for others until I was in high school. I thought everyone owned their own business. It was just a natural thing for me to want to work for myself.

Jordan & Alaina Photography

Were your parents in a creative business?

Yes and no. My father was a commercial and residential real estate broker. He was never visually creative, but he was a great dancer and taught me how to dance. My love of flowers and nature came from him as well. He taught me about the psychology of business and how to interact with clients to build trust — how to connect with them so they feel reassured that you understand their needs.

My mother wrote music and poetry. She was incredibly stylish (and beautiful). She provided interior design for my father's residential real estate by staging houses for him back in the 70s before people did this for a living. I think a lot of my creativity came from her and her nurturing my creative journey. I try to do this with my children now and encourage their creativity.

Deanna Burks

You mention that you have achieved a solid work-life balance that so many of us aspire to. Without giving away all the secrets you present in your mentorship program, can you give us a taste of how you have accomplished this.

As an entrepreneur, an essential part of achieving balance is to first identify what's most important to you and set aside time for that. Time is a commodity, and we only have so many hours available to us each day. You may have to gradually work toward balance until you become skilled at it daily. Look at your months, then weeks, then daily work toward it.

For example, for me spending time with my family and taking care of my spiritual, mental, and physical health are my top priorities aside from making a living. I know what works for me and I’ve established daily work boundaries and a schedule that allows me to get work done while still maintaining a sense of balance. Being fluid with my calendar helps me enforce those boundaries. Because my children are school-aged, I have time early in the morning and during school hours to work.

My rules include:

  • I have established business hours that I’m available to clients. My phone is set to automatically go into DND mode at 5pm until 9am. I never respond to business calls, texts, or emails after business hours. My children and husband deserve my undivided attention.  
  • Daily time with my family, exercise, and to take care of my mind.
  • I always let clients know what to expect up front regarding my availability.
  • At night, I avoid looking at my email or text messages because it might be something that's over-stimulating and then it will affect my rest. 
  • limit my number of meetings to no more than two per week. Over-scheduling my time can have a really negative impact. My mental health significantly affects my sense of overall wellness and balance. Without balance, my creativity is affected. I know that I'm a type-A, slightly social introvert and I need time to recharge my batteries, so this rule is significant.

Jordan & Alaina Photography

You’re a floral designer, an illustrator, a mentor, a stylist and much more… what is your favorite hat to wear? How did you develop these areas of your business?

Designing is my favorite part of any work — creating, whether with flowers, styling, watercolor. I’m like a butterfly going from one beautiful thing to the next and can’t help myself in that respect. I started out in fine art, then transitioned over to other visual arts and writing and eventually found that I loved the role of creative director because it allowed me to take all of the beautiful elements made by myself and others and put them together to create a delightful experience for someone. Something special. That’s important to create exceptional experiences.

Many of your mentorship packages and your online courses are focused on giving your clients exactly what they need to succeed. From your floral recipes to your complete portfolio development package you offer your clients tools that are unique and intentional. How did you get started in your mentoring?

Early on in my career, I learned quickly that having a process in place not only helped me but also reassured my client that they were working with the right person. As a result of my process, I’ve created an exceptional experience for them. I have a process in place for the creative and business side of my work, no matter what type of work I'm doing.

I helped my husband start his business back in 2003 and used the same principles that I apply in my own business. Even though his company is in fitness — a totally different industry — it helped him grow his business from $30k in the first year to $5 million in sales by the fourth year.

A little extra attention to detail goes a long way, and when you present your business to your clients with care, it makes an impression and shows them that you consider their project important. By mentoring other entrepreneurs, I'm able to help them create sustainable work that they love doing.

Jordan & Alaina Photography

What advice would you give to couples at the beginning of their wedding planning process?

That’s a long list, but there are three things I see that I think are really important.

First, the most important thing is to not lose sight of what the wedding day is really about. It's not a show. It’s about the love and the commitment that comes with that. Don't sweat the small stuff and be flexible.

Second, don’t copy a Pinterest wedding. Be authentic and focus on what’s really important to you. If you love to hike, you might really be happiest to have a beautiful outdoor setting. It's your wedding day. In my humble opinion, there are no real rules here.

And lastly, make your guest count reflect your social style and budget. That number is one you'll have to determine as a couple. If you prefer intimate gatherings, keep the count low and enjoy the perks of a smaller guest list like being able to afford more on the details. But if you love a big party and can budget for it, then a grande affair is going to be more your style.

Regardless of your preferences, if you keep your plans authentic, you'll have a great time!

What keeps you inspired?

I love to draw and paint. Nature is my biggest inspiration. I'm always looking up to see what beauty exists in the world. I listen. I look. I take it all in. Being present is one of the most inspiring things we can do even more now. Documenting isn't our real life. It’s important, but living it is the real deal. Live. Smell. See. Feel. Touch. Listen. That’s what life is about!