It’s funny when you think you know your calling in life, then an unexpected turn of events reveals your true purpose. For Ayana Taylor Kinnel it was an internship and a rally that changed everything. Kinnel, 32, grew up knowing without a doubt that she wanted to be a writer. She got a bachelor’s degree in English from Tougaloo College and went into print journalism. Then in 2005 while interning for the Jackson Free Press, she helped plan and coordinate a political rally. “When we did the rally I knew what my true calling was,” she says. Kinnel got caught up in the rush of making on the spot decisions, and watching the event unfold smoothly excited her.
Pairing her new found skills with another love, fairytale weddings, Kinnel started Divinely Designed Events by Ayana that same year. The company, located at 16 Northtown Dr., Suite 104 in Jackson, designs, plans and coordinates weddings and special events such as anniversaries and reunions. Kinnel is in the process of expanding to include corporate events, recently expanding her staff to handle the projected workload. This year Divinely Designed Events by Ayana welcomes Daphane McDowell, Wedding Planner; Elissa McCool, Planning Intern; Lakecia Williams, Design Intern; and Jessica Davenport Barnes, Marketing Consultant. Holiday decorating is also on the horizon for 2015, “We have a few clients who’ve asked for it but we haven’t officially rolled it out,” Kinnel says.
Ayana and husband Trae Kinnel both work at Divinely Designed Events by Ayana, often in collaboration with her sister and a friend under the umbrella of Hitched HQ. In addition to Kinnel’s custom wedding and floral designing services, Hitched HQ clients are styled by sister and designer Afia Taylor Polk who offers the option of custom made pieces. Cinematographer and friend Elizabeth McInnis is tasked with capturing all the clients’ magical moments on film.
Kinnel gushes about her favorite part of the process, her passion for creating live floral arrangements for her clients. She only recently made the connection between her love of working with flowers and her name, Ayana, which means beautiful flower. “Working with fresh flowers is when I feel closest to God,” she says.
On discovering her calling through Jackson Free Press Kinnel says “I didn’t know it was going to happen like that but it did and I thank God for it every day.”
Book a consultation with Divinely Designed Events by Ayana here or email Daphne McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit ddebyayana.com to get more information, sign up for the newsletter, and check out their informative blog. And don’t forget to like them on facebook divinelydesignedeventsbyayana.
Photo and edited version of this article first appeared in BOOM Jackson Vol 7 No 5.