It’s Never Too Late to Do Something Special
In Tracy Baxter’s childhood, summer was a time when laughter and music filled the house and the aromas of barbecued ribs, cornbread, green beans, and sweet potato pie wafted from the kitchen and backyard. On those weekend mornings, if she rose early enough, Tracy was rewarded with a coveted seat in the family station wagon to go pick up the fresh pastries that would fuel the family as they cooked and cleaned to welcome their guests.
The family home, which doubled as a daycare center during the week, was always a bustling place and even when they weren’t entertaining, finding a quiet spot outside of her own bedroom was a rarity. One of eleven siblings, five of whom were still living at home, Tracy learned to adapt her somewhat introverted nature to the social demands of her busy household. The frequent gatherings of friends and family and the preparations that went into them became some of Tracy’s warmest childhood memories. They also turned out to be the experiences that laid the foundation for the entrepreneur she would eventually become.
Once she had a family of her own, it was important to Tracy to create as many special memories as possible, whether through service to others or the personal touches that make a family member feel truly honored and loved. One eagerly anticipated annual tradition took place at Thanksgiving, when Tracy and her husband and children (including the children they were fostering) would cook mounds of extra food, load up the car, and deliver meals to the homeless. To make a brother’s birthday special one year, Tracy enlisted her children’s help in filling the house with crepe paper streamers to create a colorful surprise party. She later threw a luau graduation celebration for her daughter, turning the front porch into a tiki hut and the inside into a Hawaiian paradise. A grandchild who requested an underwater themed party for her 5th birthday was treated to a watery dreamscape with fish swimming from the ceiling and an underwater sound system bubbling in the background. Her grandchildren, Tracy jokes, grew up with no idea what a “normal” birthday party was like!
Each celebration required meticulous care and preparation. Planning often started a year in advance. Whether it was a child’s birthday or a cousin’s graduation or a hospitality committee event at church, everyone who knew her agreed: Tracy was the go to person to make an event a success. She did it as a labor of love and to make people happy; no other compensation was required, although there was a part of her that wondered if perhaps she could turn her side passion into a profession.
In 2011, following two health scares so dire that it felt like a miracle just to be alive, Tracy began to pursue her dreams more actively. She took classes in wedding and event planning, graduated with honors, and launched Beyond Elegance Events and Weddings, although at first she operated it more as a hobby than a real business venture. That all finally changed when 2020 arrived and with it, along with all its trauma and upheaval, came an unexpected gift. Finally, through what felt like divine intervention. Tracy was granted the time she needed to complete the education she had begun at her mother’s side and continued throughout her career as a corporate planner. Through listening to podcasts, having conversations with her business coach and mentors, shadowing other experts and, Tracy says, through the grace of God, she gained the confidence she needed to fully commit to running her event business.
This month will mark the one year anniversary of Beyond Elegance Events, a year in which the business has thrived and grown, a success for which Tracy is profoundly grateful. It was, she says, “a long, hard, good year,” a year of discovery, exhaustion, growth and ultimately, success. None of it was easy. All of it took time. But, as with the memorable events she creates for others, so too it is in the slow and often painstaking process of building a life and a career: It’s never too late to create something special.