How did you determine your career path?
I am an occupational therapist by trade, I have been doing that for 10 years, but I have always enjoyed planning events. I planned my own wedding and would host dinner parties and baby showers. I did this so much for family and friends at no charge, but it was suggested to me by a neighbor one day to take it to another level and start doing it professionally. So, I did my research, got incorporated, did a styled shoot, created a website, solicited a PR team and officially launched Enchanted Events of Atlanta in May 2011.
Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you?
It means everything to us. Community-based success is one of our core values. Enchanted Blu Events is a division of Enchanted Events of Atlanta that I started with my co-worker Cheryl Hastings. It aids non-profit organizations. Each public event that we produce benefits a charity in the community. Our next event, the Atlanta Street Food Festival will be held on July 13th at Piedmont Park and will benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The Atlanta Street Food Festival represents the largest gathering of food trucks in the southeast, bringing together more than 28 food trucks, local merchants and artisans, and live musical entertainment from some of the area’s favorite performers. It is the city’s only day-long event dedicated to street cuisine. Last year with our donation, the Food Bank was able to purchase over $43,000 worth of groceries for the community. When people support our events, they support the community. Since February 2012, we have also donated over $4,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Greater Atlanta through our other signature event, the Atlanta Chef’s Expo.
What other industries connect to your career choice?
There are many industries that connect to the event planning world depending on what your niche is. I started out in the wedding industry but quickly realized that hustling back and forth to weddings and talking to brides every day was not for me. That was not the vision! We have found our niche with trade shows, expos and festivals that are geared towards the culinary industry. We also have a connection to the entertainment industry. We have a licensed esthetician and makeup artist on staff that works frequently on film sets and she just wrapped a shoot with singer Verse Simmonds.
Describe the future skill sets that are essential to future business leader and innovators.
You must be knowledgeable in all things social media. It is the key to staying connected to your core audience, it is necessary for brand recognition and it is a great way to gain new clients. You must know the numbers. What is being in business costing you? What are the top three streams of income for your business? Is this really profitable? You should also be knowledgeable in the area of SEO optimization.
Define innovation methods you apply to your business and life.
I like to use the method of Foresight and Innovation that is taught by Stanford University. When we look to the future with open eyes, we can begin to see the opportunities that are coming. Long-range foresight is about understanding the situation today, seeking future opportunities, and intelligently creating innovations.
Describe goal-setting methods you use and how do you evaluate you success?
You are only as good as your last event, so we set our goals based on the feedback that we receive from our consumers, vendors and sponsors that have participated in previous events. We have worked with major brands such as Infiniti, Wells Fargo, Blackberry, Patron Spirits and Verizon just to name a few. We take what they say good or bad, fix it and re-evaluate that issue at the next event. You can have 10,000 people show up to an event, but if you get one negative review, it will spread like wildfire and taint your image. Large crowds do not equal success, happy clients and sponsors do.
Who do you consider your peers in you field and a few that are great examples you can get support and best practices?
Celebrity photographer Shawn Dowell is the reason I started my company. He has been in the industry for over 30 years and is a wealth of knowledge. He demonstrates integrity in his business practices and is always there to offer advice or just a listening ear. Also, I’na Saulsbery, CEO of The STARFIRE Group, is someone that I consider to be a peer in my field. She was the first event consultant that I met when I started out and she really took me under her wing and offered support and words of wisdom. I can still count on her for that today.
What information and increased skill methods you use?
We have a specific business model that is used as a blueprint for our events.
Name you favorite role models for success in two industries.
Mindy Weiss is a one of my favorite role models for success in the wedding industry when it comes to event décor and design. I also have an interior design firm and I gain inspiration from designer Thomas Britt.
Names three books that changed how you saw life and you recommend to others?
1). Blue Ocean Strategy
2). Business Model Generation
3). A Divine Revelation of Heaven
Explain why life long learning is important to you.
You should always be a student of your craft and stay ahead of the trends. That is the only way to achieve life-long success and stay at the top of your game.
Describe the voice of success that you here in your head.
It’s a scripture that I have been confessing since I was in college. This one passage equals success to me in every area of my life. I hear it when times get rough, I hear it when things are going great and I am “winning.”
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 12:11)
Technology plays what role in your daily life?
Technology plays a huge role in my life. Nothing beats human interaction and networking, but 95 percent of my deals with major brands are made through an email, not even a phone call. Our events are annual, so this is how I stay connected with our consumers on a daily basis.
What software and tool of technology apps include has made the biggest difference in your life?
Instagram, Twitter and Facebook allow me to stay engaged with consumers during down time while working on the next event as well as gauge interest and scout talent for projects that we are developing. We also use social media heavily to promote our events and their participants.
What role does music and cultural events define your self-identity?
Music and cultural events play a large role in my life and self-identity. I can remember the song that was playing on the radio when I was allowed to have my first car date! Music really is the soundtrack of life. I have a playlist for everything and I enjoy a variety of music from R&B to pop. I depend on inspirational music to get my mornings off to the right start, but when I am in event prep mode, nothing is better than Hip Hop. A few of the artists I have on rotation right now are Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and LeCrae.
Define your personal culture.
My personal culture in five words is God, family, work, creativity and dependability.
Describe your favorite vacation spot.
I love Hawaii. It is one of the most peaceful places on earth. Everyone is friendly and warm. You truly feel as if you have no worries while you are on the island. I hope to retire there.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
We have progressed so much in terms of tolerance when it comes to race, but we still have a long way to go. Since I have been in this industry and in the position of dealing with large corporations and executives, race has not been the only issue, sexism has been as well. I correspond with many of my clients and sponsors via email before we meet. If we do get to that point, they automatically assume that I am the assistant, marketing rep or on the sales team. They think that a representative has been sent. They don’t realize that I am the owner of the company and it is me or my business partner that they have been corresponding with the whole time. This needs to change.
If you could change one thing about your self what would it be?
Believe it or not, I am quite shy… I am working that!