How great would it be if someone could tick off the items from your to-do list for you? Imagine if routine, time-consuming things like grocery shopping or planning events and vacations could be passed off to someone else for a change.
Much like a hotel’s concierge, a personal concierge can knock out the tasks that may prevent one from enjoying their spare time. Julie Hullett is a personal concierge, and the proprietor of Nashville’s Julie Hullett Concierge, LLC.
As an entrepreneur, Julie prides herself in being self-taught. She worked for BellSouth (now AT&T) for 26 years, fulfilling multiple job responsibilities—including sales, marketing, media relations, and event planning.
“I was very fortunate to have a broad brush, if you will, of skill sets…” Julie tells Launch Engine. “I know a little about a lot of things.”
In 2003, Julie wound up leaving BellSouth after they offered her an early retirement. She didn’t have a degree, and she didn’t have a plan for what she wanted to do—other than knowing that she didn’t want to be retired. She felt the need to go to college because everyone in her family was involved with academics. Julie learned that full-time Belmont University employees could get free tuition. With this as motivation, she followed in her family’s footsteps and got a job in the College of Arts and Sciences. Julie was very interested in politics. So, she got a degree in political science, and tried to work for other corporate entities.
“It just wasn’t a fit anymore,” she says. “I was just at a different level of consciousness, I guess.”
Julie was inspired to go into business for herself after coming across a blog written by someone saying they had five coffees a week with various professional contacts. The blogger then asked these contacts how they would find employment if they were in the blogger’s shoes.
“When I first started my business, I did that,” Julie says. “I set up coffees, and I asked people from all walks of professional lives what they would suggest to build my business.” In doing this, Julie got an eclectic spectrum of ideas of what to do, whom to approach, etc.
Julie was planning what her next career move might be. During this period, in 2010, she visited France for a few weeks. Considering her skills and interests, Julie knew she wanted to be in a service role, because it utilized her talents and offered good pay. Toward the end of her vacation, she had some friends join her on her vacation. Using the coffee-and-conversation approach she had learned from the blog, she asked them if they would pay a person for concierge services. She pitched her ideas for what could be done and how she could input concierge clients into her strong network of contacts gained from living in Nashville for so long. Julie’s friends responded positively to her business pitch. She returned to Nashville from her vacation, determined to start her business. And thus, in 2011, Julie Hullett Concierge LLC was formed.
When she started the business, Julie says that she worked a lot of hours, but didn’t make much money. Julie was so eager to serve anyone that called her that she was going above and beyond expectations just to build a good reputation. Julie decided to narrow her demographic, and she raised her business rates. This shift gave her higher-paying, more serious clients who weren’t wasting her time with smaller tasks. She now has eight core families that she works with on an ongoing basis.
Julie does a lot of corporate events for incoming visitors. “Someone will call me and say, ‘I’ve got 20 of us, and we’re going to stay at this VRBO. And we need an itinerary, and we need tickets and reservations.’ I put those together for people,” Julie explains.
Julie stresses that while her services do include travel and vacation planning, that is only part of what she does. Anyone can make use of a concierge, not just people out of town for a getaway.
She explains, “My core business is managing people’s households and their lives… I do things like errands, and shopping. One of my clients owns three properties [in Nashville], and two of them are rentals. I manage those.”
Julie sees what she does as project management and organization for busy professionals. Whatever the client’s needs—including booking a private chef and planning a menu, returns for products purchased, making a home market-ready, finding the right product or vendor, or even buying a gift for a loved one—Julie is there to attend to them. She says, “That’s one of the things that I love most about this. Every day is different because I’m engaging with different people, and they have different interests. There’s always an option to learn something.”
Julie also says that improving the personal happiness of clients gives her great pleasure. People regularly thank her with personalized notes, expressions of gratitude on the backs of checks for payment, and—every once in a while—they will even send her flowers.
“I know I’m making a difference. And that’s wonderful,” she says.
Julie tells Launch Engine that she’s expanding her services to help people find great spots for nature exploration. This came about after Julie got more into hiking, and put together an outdoor activities guide for concierge clients looking to get some fresh air. She’s also written a dining guide with tips on where to wine and dine, and plans on having more interesting experiences to offer in the near future.