Event planner Aisha Harris, owner of Katie’s Kreations Events, found her true purpose in the most challenging time in her life. What could have turned into a personal tragedy became a personal triumph–not only for herself, but also her family and the local community that she loves to support.
Aisha grew up in Wilmington, near San Pedro. Though her parents are back together now, her mom and dad were separated for much of Aisha’s youth, compelling her mother to work a lot to take care of her family. It was her mother’s work ethic and drive to provide for her children, while also making it a priority to give back to her community, that shaped Aisha into the woman she is today. A smart, independent soul, from a young age she taught herself how to plan events and family celebrations with flair and willingness to take charge.
“I’ve always been extremely creative, and I have always been that go-to person in the family,” says Aisha. “You know how there’s always that person in the family that kind of takes care of everything? That’s me. Also, I’ve always loved entertaining.”
In fact, growing up she planned all their group vacations.
“The entire family would go on a vacation once a year. That was my grandmother’s dream. She bought a timeshare, and all of us–my cousins, aunts and uncles–would all go on vacation. Her dream was for us to see the world and for us to spend time together,” she says.
After moving out of her mom’s house at age 18, Aisha relocated to Orange County to work in the mortgage industry. Learning her mother was spending time as a mentor to young girls, Aisha wanted to follow in her footsteps and volunteer–even if it meant braving the 405. But there was another unexpected reward at the end of that long freeway drive.
“Lo and behold, I met my husband there,” says Aisha.
Her husband is a teacher at Westside Global Awareness Magnet in Marina del Rey and also shares her philanthropic spirit. As she realized they had the same values and life goals, she fell in love.
“I love to give back,” says Aisha. “Giving back is 100 percent a part of who I am. I guess you could say it’s in my DNA.”
After the couple settled in Ladera Heights, they focused on married life and there was talk of starting a family. Then everything changed.
Aisha Harris loves getting the details wickedly perfect at a villain-themed dinner party experience at Westchester Park. With help from some of her favorite movie villains, she demonstrates the experiences she likes to create with her company Katie’s Kreations Events. Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner.
“I got really sick, and I actually had to quit my job in the mortgage industry. I ended up having to stay home,” she says.
A diagnosis of Lupus, followed by an additional diagnosis of Fibromyalgia about two years later caused Aisha to rethink her entire life. Luckily, they welcomed a son named Joseph, but it became very challenging to manage a baby with all the unknowns created by her illness.
“During that time, I was told by my doctors that I would never walk again. At another point, I feared I would never work again because of all the health issues I had to deal with,” she says.
She knew she had to do something.
“I didn’t want to just lay in bed–it’s not who I am. I’d been working since I was 14 years old and being sick was the first time I had not worked,” she says.
She began volunteering at Joseph’s Westchester elementary school to plan events, which had the added bonus of creating quality time with her son.
Suddenly, the plan forward became surprisingly clear.
“I had already worked for money, and it was miserable. I couldn’t take days off, and though I had money in the bank, I wasn’t happy. I wanted to do something that I was passionate about, something that I loved, something that would get me out of bed every day,” she says.
Then her business plan practically wrote itself: “Spread joy to others and give back.” It sounds nice, but is it possible for that to be an actual career? For a strong-willed soul like Aisha, the answer was a resounding “yes!”
With her health improving and a clear vision, she decided it was time to officially launch Katie’s Kreations Events, an event planning company where she could put all her skills, wisdom and experience to work. She named her company after her great-grandmother, whom she shares a middle name with. She uses the name to honor the beloved matriarch, and also give a nod to the fact that as a solopreneur, her family plays an important role in her success.
“I knew that event planning had to be my business. It brought me so much joy,” she says.
When she started Katie’s Kreations Events, her bread and butter was planning weddings–after successfully planning her own. But she’s now tackling birthdays for all ages, corporate events, religious celebrations and dinner parties.
Instead of having a signature event style, Aisha says she makes every event all about the person being celebrated, taking their needs and preferences, all the things they treasure, into consideration.
“It’s about the client. And one thing that I tell them, especially my clients who are getting married is, ‘Let’s take a breath, let’s slow down. What is it that you want?’” she says.
It’s also important to Aisha that each event is memorable.
“The thing that makes it a ‘Katie’s Kreations event’ is that it’s an experience. I want people to feel something when they come in there, not just see it, but actually feel it,” she says.
There is a certain amount of playfulness and whimsy to most of her event magic. A talented balloon artist, Aisha often weaves in the colorful spheres in her event design, whether she’s creating an elaborate arch for dramatic effect or a fun inflatable centerpiece.
You’ve probably experienced some of Aisha’s flair for creating an experience at some of 90045’s most popular events. As a member of the Stephanie Younger Group event team, she’s on the committees for the Fourth of July Parade and the Westchester Arts & Music Block Party, where she is instrumental in making sure everyone has a great time in the beer and wine garden.
She’s just as passionate about her volunteer work, especially when it comes to the Westchester Family YMCA and its Family Engagement Committee.
“We plan events, workshops and meetings that we think will benefit and help the community grow. We have done Battle of the Bands, Hula Movie Night and brought in speakers on how to listen to your teen,” she says.
A Halloween enthusiast, this month she is leading the way for the YMCA’s Halloween Spooktacular, which will have a “Monster Mash” theme. She’s hard at work coordinating with vendors, strategizing the creation of the haunted maze, planning the color scheme for her balloon designs and soliciting candy donations to add to the festivities.
If that’s not enough, she just wrapped up a summer reading program and “Bedtime Stories” series at the Book Jewel to promote literacy. She’s also starting to brainstorm plans for her second annual Corsages and Cufflinks event where students can peruse dress and suit donations to put together their dream prom outfits at no cost.
There’s no telling what she’ll think of next when it comes to combining her passion for events and donating her time to make a positive impact on her community.
“Again, my business plan is to bring joy to others, right?” she says with a laugh.
Visit katieskreationsevents.com for more details.
By Shanee Edwards. Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner.