"A Jack of All Trades"
Newburyport Daily News - Business Spotlight Edition - October 2016
What do you get when you mix a wedding planner, event producer, interior designer, florist and wardrobe stylist together? Amy McLaughlin! The proper term for her profession (believe it or not, there actually is one!) is “Lifestyle Designer.” “Some say that I spent too much time in LA, where feng-shui specialists and dog therapists are normal everyday jobs,” McLaughlin said. “But I would like to think that my 12 years living there is what brought me to the realization that I could develop a business model around the areas of expertise that I was not only passionate about but apparently pretty good at!” McLaughlin holds a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, has been on the production team for countless movie premieres and red-carpet awards shows, and has dressed many of the “who’s who” in Hollywood. And the interior design ... well, that’s just in her blood.“When I was in my 20's, I was lucky enough to end up in a circle of friends that were all trying to ‘make it big’ in the entertainment industry,” she said. “Their image was everything to them, and throwing a below-average shindig or ending up on the worst dressed list could literally put an end to their budding careers. My girlfriends would ask me to go shopping with them to pick out the perfect outfit to wear to a premiere. Then they would want me to set their table for dinner parties and spruce up their surroundings while sticking within their day-job waitress budget.
“I did it all as favors for a long time because I loved it, and the perks included tickets to the Vanity Fair party, the Grammy's and VIP sections at the hottest nightclubs. I couldn’t complain!”It wasn’t until a few of these friends actually made it big that they started paying McLaughlin for her work. Then they told their friends, who were also industry success stories. It snowballed, and thus Amy McLaughlin Lifestyles was born!Since the company’s conception in 2002, McLaughlin has built an extensive clientele. Her West Coast “cult following” still lies her out for the occasional big job, but McLaughlin’s focus has now shifted to making her roots in Newburyport, which she calls “the most idyllic town she’s ever seen.”Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I actually live here,” she said. “Going for a run on the waterfront as the sun comes up or enjoying a date at Ceia ... this town is the perfect mix of Norman Rockwell and urban chic!” When she arrived in 2009, it was a bit of a wake-up call. “I ended up here because I fell head over heels for my husband, whom I had met randomly at a roulette table in Las Vegas,” she said. “He lived here, which wasn’t too far of a stretch for me since I had grown up just three hours west on the pike in the Berkshires. So there I was, knowing not a soul and having to start my company again from scratch.” Luckily for McLaughlin, things slowly came together with a lot of hard work and (so she thinks) a little luck mixed in.
“This past wedding season was when I knew that my company had finally turned the corner,” she said. “We were booked solid, and thank goodness I love what I do, because I’ve nearly killed myself this summer!” In fact, the company is doing so well that it is moving out of its home office on High Street to a large studio space at 23 Middle St. downtown.
“We will finally have our own space to meet with perspective clients, who can get a true feel for what we are all about: all things pretty and stylish mixed with a good dose of warmth and personality,” McLaughlin said. There are parties to be had in the new digs, for sure. There is already talk of “Botox and bubbly” nights, holiday centerpiece-making classes, and wedding planning workshops. “About 70 percent of our weddings are already using us for their floral design, and now we will have an actual temperature- controlled work space to create and store our florals instead of in my dining room,” McLaughlin said. “My husband couldn’t be happier!” McLaughlin has a 4-year- old daughter, Isabella, and two teenage stepsons, Austin and Michael. And her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Emily, will undoubtedly become a fixture at the new offices. This entrepreneur has proven herself in the community and is proud to be a local business owner whose goal is to give back to this wonderful town what it has given to her. Amy McLaughlin Lifestyles specializes in wedding and event production, interior decor, floral design, and wardrobe styling. The business welcomes walk- ins and can’t wait to settle in next to The Grog and French Twist Salon. “I’m looking forward to many lunchtime blowouts and after-work happy hours!” McLaughlin said.