Meet Our Team


Kristen Prestwood, Owner / Chief of Event Planning & Design

After graduating from UNC- Charlotte in 2004, Kristen began her career in the hospitality industry with a local event company.  An entrepreneur at heart, this Carolina girl then took a leap of faith and started her first event planning and design firm, By Design Event Group, in 2007. After another three years, she was approached by one of her clients, Sterling Events Group, with an offer to merge her company with their DMC division. From there, Kristen and her team (Sterling By Design- Carolinas and Sterling DMC- Carolinas) managed event planning, design and destination management services across the Carolinas for 100’s of clients. Six years later the company’s owner offered her the opportunity to assume ownership, and in June of 2015 Spark By Design was born. In this venture, Kristen returns to her passion by taking a spark of an idea and exploring two of her strongest talents: full service event planning as well as event design. Passionate about producing unique and unexpected events with her talented team, she finds inspiration everywhere traveling nationally and internationally to attend leading event planning and design conferences to bring award winning trends back to our clients. She has served on the Board of Directors for ILEA (International Live Events Association) and NACE (National Association of Catering and Events) and is currently serving on the UNC-Charlotte Meeting and Event Planning Board of Advisors. Kristen enjoys cooking and entertaining loved ones at her home. Traveling and exploring new places with her husband, Joshua and their two little ones Mason and Scarlett always make for a grand adventure.


Helen Apple Edwards, Director of Event Operations

This North Carolina native thrives on sorting through the nuts and bolts of events to bring life to abstract ideas. Since 2006, Helen has been known in the Charlotte industry for tackling logistical challenges by uncovering the most effective event solutions and solving the most challenging ‘how-to’ problems… all with a smile!  She loves the creative process of building the foundation of events through timelines & fabrications and executing a perfect event experience with our dedicated DMC Staff and Design Crew. After graduating from UNC- Wilmington and her travels through Italy, Helen began her career in Events at Discovery Place and then moved on to Sterling Events Charlotte as Manager of Operations.  She has served on the Board of Directors for the International Live Events Association of Charlotte since 2010 and was Charlotte Chapter President 2015- 2016. Helen loves spending time in any body of water, checking out new hot spots and uncovering hidden gems in North Carolina, and camping with her husband Brent. 



Emily Thomas Events Manager

Emily Thomas, Event Manager

While growing up in Virginia, Emily found her passion for service & hospitality by assisting her mother in planning and executing large events and weddings. Upon graduating Cum Laude with a degree in Business Management and Finance, she knew she wanted to pursue a career where she could continue to serve people and tap into her creative side. This desire led her to the hotel industry in Washington, D.C. where she quickly climbed the ranks and became the Regional Sales and Catering Manager over 10 hotels in the area. Over the years in the hospitality industry, she has held management positions in all aspects of Group Sales, Events & Catering. In 2016, she made the move to Charlotte to be part of the pre-opening management team of a new uptown hotel. Her strong communication, organization, and vendor management skills combined with her positive values and quick thinking are instrumental traits in coordinating complex meetings and events with the Spark team.  She prides herself in building meaningful client relationships and providing positive and cutting-edge insights in proposal development.  In her rare spare time, Emily loves to hang out with her family and friends on Lake Norman, snuggling with her toy poodle, experimenting in her kitchen with a variety of international cuisines, and planning her next trip to Disney World.


Hayley Miller, Event Manager

A native of Charlotte, Hayley got her start in events while studying Hospitality Management at USC Beaufort and was immediately drawn to the industry for its fast pace and dynamic nature. During her first events role for the Hilton Head Wine and Food Festival she quickly leveraged her network to explore many areas of the industry, and soon held event positions in the catering, wedding, and hotel industries. Recently graduated and ready for a new challenge, Hayley moved back to Charlotte to pursue a project manager role for a conference management company and later moved on to Discovery Place planning fundraising events with that team. Her ability to tackle the ‘what-ifs’ and become a trusted advisor to her clients have made her a valuable asset at Spark. In her spare time Hayley loves yoga, golfing with her friends and family, and hiking with her dog, Hank. 


Morris Hoyle, Warehouse Manager

Southern hospitality with a friendly smile can always be found when Morris is around. With a background in large-scale trucking and construction, Morris brings a skill set that completes our diverse team. Since 2007, his knowledge of trucking and event logistics have ensured a seamless process of the movement of décor. Morris’s many responsibilities include the organization, packing, purchasing, repairing, and fabrication of décor items. Because the Spark By Design team has the depth to assist with multiple events in a day, Morris facilitates the transition of décor in and out of various trucks and ensures that no piece, whether large or small, is left behind. In addition, Morris and our warehouse team ensure the quality of each piece and the cleanliness of the warehouse to enhance the effectiveness of the overall flow of product and services at our events. Morris holds his Commercial Drivers License, which is necessary for movement of 18-wheelers. During his down time, this North Carolina native enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, playing a mean guitar with his buddies, and boating on Lake Norman.

Alex Friedrich Operations Coordinator

Alex Friedrich, Operations Coordinator

Alex grew up in south Charlotte, attending Charlotte Catholic High School and then Johnson and Wales University where he majored in Sports/Entertainment/Event Management. He earned his Bachelor of Science in 2006 and has been a staple in the events industry ever since. With his friendly personality, quick wit, and strong work ethic, Alex has been a key component to our success & our company culture since 2010. His ability to troubleshoot any issue on-site and work through the logistics of even the toughest of design installations ensures we provide our clients with their best event atmosphere. Because of his skills and experience, Alex is our lead installation captain on events, providing guidance and help to other team members. He is also focused on quality control, design transportation, and product procurement. During his free time, Alex can be found attending live music shows, visiting restaurants and local breweries, or hanging out at his family’s vacation home in Charleston. 

Our Staff

Our Project Managers, Teambuilding Facilitators, Tour Guides, DMC Staff, and Design Crew are integral members of our team. They are the smiling faces that greet you upon arrival, the trouble-shooters behind the scenes, and the skilled artisans that build your event from the ground up! Always providing the highest level of customer service, our team shares in our desire to provide the perfect experience for your event.

Our Affiliations

Spark By Design is a proud member of the following industry organizations: