It's been ten amazing years of love, passion, dedication, and growth. Ten years ago, founders Rob and Christina Farrow did something truly extraordinary—they took a leap and revolutionized the wedding and event industry to create a software solution that had everything event pros needed to streamline and grow their businesses. In honor of our 10th anniversary, we're giving you an exclusive interview with Rob and Tina so you can experience their Aisle Planner journey from the start! From Rob and Tina's wedding details to the process of building a business, to what inspired the brand, and to what you can look forward to this year, this interview is an inside look at the heart of Aisle Planner.
Every good story begins with love—the story of Aisle Planner began when Rob and Tina said "I do."
Describe your wedding. What were your favorite tradition and decor elements?
We tied the knot in a fun island-style backyard wedding in the back of Pālolo Valley on O‘ahu. With a mutual love for vintage Hawaiiana, we used an old Hawaiian art print we found in an antique store as our inspiration for the design. It started with our wedding invitations and continued through the rest of our wedding decor elements. Our vision was brought to life through island woods, lush tropical greenery, and exotic orchids—making for a stunning and memorable night under the stars.
Rob & Tina's Wedding
Our founders' tropical wedding inspired by old Hawaii, Vintage Island, is featured in The Aisle Guide!
Tell us how Aisle Planner came to be.
As a small business owner with a thriving wedding planning, design, and decor rental business, I found myself increasingly overwhelmed with all that needed to be done. I tried every possible solution over the years to streamline my planning and design process, and it frustrated me to no end knowing that even the best planning tools on the market were not supporting my desire to be more, do more, and live a more balanced life. What started as a simple desire to make my own planning process easier and more enjoyable, became a full-blown mission to help small business owners in the wedding and event industry who share the same sentiment.
What sparked your interest in starting your own software company?
As a wedding planner by trade, the farthest thing from my mind was starting a software company. I loved planning weddings and recall being so thankful to have found my true passion and to be able to make a living doing what I loved. But over the years, the busier I got and the more successful I was in my business, the more I found myself overwhelmed. I was working non-stop and had zero work-life balance. I knew that when I started to feel more stressed about planning versus enjoying the planning process with my couples, something had to give, and I had to figure something out. This is when the idea of Aisle Planner was born.
How long did it take from the first conception of Aisle Planner to its launch?
Rob and I have always tossed around ideas on how we could make lives easier, and we talked about the idea of Aisle Planner for years before we actually made the commitment to give it a go. We were both still actively planning weddings and events in Hawaii and we knew very little about technology or how one would even go about creating the very thing we were dreaming about. All in all, it probably took us about 3 years to get to a point where we were confident in our mission and our ability to bring it to life.
Episode 28: From Planning Weddings To Building Tools
Check out the Evolve Your Wedding Podcast episode featuring Rob & Tina, where they talk all about their experience building Aisle Planner for wedding and event professionals.
What was the process like? What was your favorite part of the process/ the most challenging part of the process?
The research was a big part of getting our ideas in order in the early days, and even at that time, we still weren’t sure where things would lead. I was still actively planning weddings and Rob was still planning corporate events. We were using generic online project management systems and mentally taking note of the things that we loved and the things that we didn’t. We noted the things that our clients found challenging with those systems or things that didn’t work for them.
During those years, we also had a lot of really great conversations with our colleagues in the wedding and event industry and it seemed that they were all faced with the same challenges that we were facing. We found ourselves talking about how great it would be “if we had a software program that could do this, or wouldn’t it be so great if that program that we’re using could do that.” Those early conversations played a huge role in helping us pinpoint where all the challenges were and what was needed to solve some of those challenges. I have the best memories of dreaming up crazy ideas over coffee!
Then came the most challenging part - as non-technical founders, how do we bring all of our ideas to life? As fate would have it, Rob pitched our idea to a few friends who were developers and before we knew it, we started laying down our first lines of code. It was a year later, in 2013, that we officially launched aisleplanner.com, and a month later, we had our first paying subscriber.
Tell us about how you created the Aisle Planner brand/ design.
Our original logo was designed by one of my favorite wedding invitation and stationery designers, Stacey Nomura, of Bradley & Lily Fine Stationery, and it was absolutely what I had imagined to launch our brand - simple, elegant, and timeless. Over the years, our business grew and evolved and a few years ago, we decided that it was time for a refresh that told a visual story that captured the modern essence of our brand. We were so excited to launch our new look and feel for Aisle Planner in 2019.
We know that a company’s brand is so much more than its logo, and our mission and promise to our community have always remained the same: to create a beautiful online workspace that fosters creativity, encourages collaboration, and boosts productivity to help our users build better businesses. That’s the mission behind everything we do.
What’s your favorite memory from those early days?
There are so many fond memories that it would be impossible to pick just one. We learned to celebrate the small wins as much as we did the big ones, and in the early days, celebrating the small wins certainly kept us going, but the bigger milestones we’ve crossed are probably the ones I remember the most. The day we registered our business. The first time we got to see and play around with a working prototype of our tools. The day we launched our website. The day of our launch party. The moment we got our first paying subscriber. The day we moved into our first office. Looking back, though, I think my absolute favorite memory was the first time someone wrote in to tell us how Aisle Planner changed their business and effectively, their life, for the better."
Tell us about the past 10 years
Ten years have flown by and Rob and I feel so fortunate that through the ups and downs of business, we’re still standing—and that we’re still standing together! We’ve learned so much about people, business, technology, and life in the past ten years and we continue to be a work in progress, but the journey has been so rewarding.
What do you love about working at Aisle Planner?
So many things - I don't even know where to start! I love the fast-paced challenging work environment. I love the team we've brought together. I love the company culture we've created. I love our mission as a company. I love that we're able to make a positive impact on this industry and make a big difference to so many businesses. And I love that I get to work on something that I'm passionate about every single day.
What inspires you?
Starting and building a small business - or any business for that matter - is hard, especially when you’re a working mom. It’s a challenge I’ve faced over the years and continue to face as a small business owner, and when you aren’t able to work efficiently, you make less money, live an unbalanced life, and struggle to stay passionate about your career.
"While I have many passions, I’m most passionate about empowering small businesses with technology that enables all the possibilities - possibilities that do not exist with current solutions." - Christina Farrow
I’m inspired by purpose - to build solutions with technology that allows small business owners to work more efficiently and do more with their time, make more money, lead better lives, and ultimately stay passionate about the work that they do because of it.
What inspires new products and innovation?
While so much thought goes into building our product development roadmap, including everything from overall company strategy to resources, to trends in product design, to our competitive landscape, much of what we choose to work on is based on the feedback and feature requests we receive from our community. We are pretty lucky to have such a supportive and engaged community of wedding pros who are constantly sharing their feedback and honest opinions on what we can do better.
What can pros look forward to this year?
Last year, we started rebuilding our suite of tools—tool by tool—from the ground up and with each new build introduced new functionality (based on user feedback) and a new, more streamlined, and modern user interface for our platform. 2023 will bring more of the same as we continue to rebuild our platform. We’re always going to be working towards creating a better product. I see so much improvement ahead and cannot wait to get all of what we have envisioned up and out into the world!
Anything else you want to say to the Aisle Planner community?
We could not have gotten where we are today without the help and support of our family, friends, and most importantly our customers, our community, our partners, and our employees. Those who told us we were “dreamers” and “out of our minds” and that we’d never succeed, fueled our fire. Each one played such an important role in building Aisle Planner and the Aisle Planner brand into what it is today and for that, we could not be more thankful.
Cheers to 10 years with you!
Hero photo courtesy of Camila Margotta Photography