After stints working events for nonprofits such as Ronald McDonald House and Bon Secours, Tunstall Willis decided to go out on her own.
She has launched Grandeur & Grove, an event planning business targeting corporate and private gatherings for business, individuals, schools and nonprofits.
“All along it’s been a dream of mine to open my own business and do my own thing,” Willis said. “I don’t know if there ever is a perfect time in life, but this seemed like the best time for me to do it.”
At the moment, Willis works primarily with three clients. She’s organizing galas for the Goochland Education Foundation and HomeAgain, an organization that addresses homelessness in Richmond. She also serves as director of events for LX Group, which operates the Kabana Rooftop bar downtown and the forthcoming Nama restaurant 13-15 W. Broad St.
Willis consulted with Dotted Line Collaborations, a local marketing and branding agency, to help her start up the company, in which she’s invested between $35,000 and $40,000 so far.
“Grove,” she said, is a nod to her Richmond roots. The Collegiate School and VCU grad was born and raised in the area, and she’s never moved away.
Last month, Willis took a break from planning for clients to hold a gathering of her own: The official launch of her company took place at the Urban Roost event space at Lunch/Supper restaurant in Scott’s Addition.
Considering a lot of Willis’ work will be with nonprofit organizations, she will set her rates on a case-by-case basis. She also offers consultations for $50 per hour.
“Right now I am just always on the go, go, go,” said Willis, a one-woman shop. “I go to board meetings for my clients and give presentations about what we are doing. Right now it’s really me just going everywhere else.”
As a working mother of three children, Willis said she embraces being busy.
“That’s the beauty of being your own boss,” she said. “I get everything for my work done while they are in school during the day. Then I can still be involved in their after-school activities.”