Celebrations marks a milestone

Jo-Anne Brown has reason to celebrate.

After 14 months – and plenty of hurdles rebuilding after Hurricane Ivan – the owner and managing director of Celebrations is back in business.

‘We lost everything . . . but we didn’t lose our spirit,’ Ms Jo-Anne said at the store’s grand re-opening Monday at the Mirco Centre.

‘We turned what was very negative for us into a positive. I’m very happy, very jubilant.’

The gala event saw the unveiling of Celebration’s new corporate identity along with the unwrapping of its redesigned retail store that sparkled with holiday gift items and décor.

An emotional Ms Jo-Anne greeted customers and long-time friends as they browsed through the store and mingled with guests.

‘The response has been wonderful,’ she said. ‘The feedback has been very positive. We’ve really tried to create a completely different store. When you walk in here, there will be warmth and welcoming surroundings.’

Among the changes is a greater emphasis on home accents and unique gift items that will change regularly so there’s always something new in store.

Other highlights include an expanded gourmet section and the launch of the company’s new Celebrations Club which features personalized concierge service for gift giving and any special event.

The gala re-opening, which included a fireworks display, specialty drinks and hors d’oeuvres, was filmed by the Travel Channel as part of its Destination Wedding Planner series to be aired in February.

Known for its perfectionist planning of weddings and special events – which is now part of its new corporate tagline ‘Celebrations: our passion is perfection’ – the company opened its doors in 1993 but originally started out as a home-based venture. The business took off after Ms Jo-Anne planned every detail for her eldest daughter Amanda’s Sweet 16 birthday party, a formal affair that catered to some 300-plus guests.

‘I’m so glad that we made it through all the rough times because this has been my mother’s passion since that night,’ said daughter Amanda Brown, who works as assistant managing director at Celebrations.

‘It’s been an emotional roller coaster but so many people came through for us.’

Celebrations is a family affair. Jo-Anne’s youngest daughter, Kristin, works in accounts and her husband, Mike Brown, owns the complex where Celebrations is located.

But Jo-Anne considers all of her employees – a staff of around 35 works for the company – part of the family. Employee Garfield Ellis has been with the company since its inception. Head designer Ann Ogden has also been a Celebrations mainstay.

Ms Jo-Anne noted everyone pitched in to get the business up and running. As the grand re-opening approached, employees worked right up to the wire to assemble and stock the new store. Within three days, it was decked out from head to toe.

‘On Friday it was a totally empty store – not even one fixture was in place,’ said Ms Jo-Anne. ‘This unbelievable team did the impossible.’