There’s nothing like an acute case of fatigue to force you to step back and evaluate your life.
Ashley Goodhue, who is 26 and one of the most accomplished event planners in the country, realizes this firsthand. Not that long ago she worked herself to the point of being hospitalized for exhaustion.
“I realized that everything I was celebrating was from someone else’s point of view,” says Goodhue, the co-founder of Life Is Beautiful production company Aurelian Marketing Group, remembering that time in February 2011. “I started thinking about what I was passionate about.”
That led Goodhue, who had been featured as a wedding coordinator on the WeTV show My Fair Wedding with David Tutera, to a life-changing trip to Ghana. She spent several weeks teaching in a fishing village, showing high school-aged students how to create a small business.
“We were charged with starting a company with $100, and we split into eight groups and worked out of a church an hour or two hours at a time,” she recalls. “It was very cool and fulfilling and made me realize the resources we have here in the States. Every five days the village would just turn the power off to conserve energy —this was planned. We worked around that and came out with an experience that was very cool, very fulfilling and made me feel like what I’d learned did have a purpose.”
Reinvigorated, Goodhue returned to her career, working for renowned lifestyle guru Colin Cowie and producing such splashy events as Cosmopolitan’s grand opening. She met the hotel’s entertainment director at the time, Rehan Choudhry, who told her of his pie-in-the-sky idea for a massive music, arts and food festival in Downtown Las Vegas.
“He said, ‘I want to start my own company, and I want you to be part of it,’” Goodhue says. “We both had the type of jobs that anybody would want, but we had a drink at Blue Ribbon [at the Cosmopolitan], and he made me see what his vision was for Life Is Beautiful. And in March I put my notice in to Colin.”
Goodhue began her work on Life Is Beautiful in August 2012 and toured what is now the festival blueprint for the first time last October. Today, she has a personal imprint on every facet of the event, having helped coordinate traffic, security, on-site logistics, staffing and the event’s budget.
“We’ve looked at all different situations and scenarios, from shopping malls to presidential inauguration planning,” she says. “What we will have done is thrown up a fence line around a city, and taken it down and have the city function again. It’s an unyielding, uncompromising situation in that we’ve promised a lot.”
And afterward, one of the individuals who helped make it all happen will take some much-deserved time off.