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Meet Didi Russell, VAWE Network CEO & Founder
I am the CEO & founder of VAWENetwork.com and WeddingIndustryInsider.com. My career background includes advertising, marketing and networking solutions for small business owners. I have a passion for small business success that began while working for the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. As the membership & events manager I had the pleasure of working with 1500 businesses of all sizes and industries. I led the Military Appreciation Committee, Holiday Lights Committee and managed multiple committees, fund raisers & special events. The largest event I managed had 8000 attendees, over 250 volunteers, military officials, politicians, CEO’s and prominent community leaders. This event created a great respect & in depth understanding of the incredible skill required for successful event management. I would use this knowledge later when starting my own business.
I moved to Virginia in 2004 to be closer to family and enjoy 4 distinct seasons. Having lived in Dallas and then Anchorage Alaska I was eager to enjoy less extreme conditions. I worked for La Prima Catering in Washington DC as the marketing manager and began to volunteer & participate in 8 local chambers of commerce. Networking and building relationships was essential for my career growth as a new professional in the region. I mastered the art of networking combined with the impact of social media to develop thousands of wedding industry relationships & resources. In 2012 After noticing a lack of opportunities, information and resources for wedding industry professionals I decided to dedicate my networking and mentoring experience to focus on the wedding industry and started VAWE Network. Since then I have toured over 400 wedding venues in Virginia documenting over 640 weddings. My goal is to compile real data and statistics that can be used to improve all aspects of the wedding industry.
I love helping wedding industry business owners learn practical & affordable ways to grow their business. I have worked tirelessly to make sure these business owners have access to fair, ethical & effective opportunities. I work 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I answer hundreds of emails weekly from brides, vendors & venues. I manage over 145 wedding industry social media pages and 4 wedding industry websites. I have my finger on the pulse of the wedding industry by monitoring what is happening before, during and after regional weddings. I believe strongly that change is overdue in the way we protect the investment of the brides & grooms. We need change in the way wedding vendors & venues work together, understand each other and respect each other.
Over the course of managing my career and starting a business I have had 6 children. I believe strongly that the same characteristics that help me manage a household of 8 has helped me succeed in business. A person with many responsibilities and an extreme workload must be well organized, flexible, dedicated and determined. I did not have funding, staffing or a team of support when I started my business. My favorite quote, “a naked woman learns to weave quickly”. That is just what I did, I learned everything I could about the wedding industry, my colleagues, clients and couples. As a result VAWE Network has expanded into 4 states, providing education and resources for wedding business owners and their staff. VAWE Network is a free resources for engaged couples who come to the site to gain access to more options for local vendors, tips, trends and advice. It is important to note that even though there are many huge wedding websites that have been around for years, couples are searching for better options. VAWE Network is dedicated to increasing the level of wedding industry performance to a universal system of recognized standards and practices. I am very proud to know so many incredible wedding industry business owners who strive for excellence. I learn something new every day and I am very pleased to have the ability to share this wedding industry intelligence with brides, grooms, venues and vendors.
I am proof that anyone can succeed no matter how many obstacles or challenges are in your way. If you are willing to work hard & determined to be excellent not just adequate then your small business has the ability to reach the levels of success you dreamed of. I hope to have to opportunity to support you in your journey.
1606 Hartwood Rd. Fredericksburg VA 22406