Business Ownership and Management … Keys to Achieving Success … 25 Years of Lessons Learned

Andrea 6-4-14 I’m writing this piece for other C-Level owners and executives who have gone through the fire and for those who want to run the gauntlet of owning and running a business. I’ve been at it for 25 years, and in that time, there are certain “truths” that one learns. For instance, the photo to the right may have me appearing to relax and enjoy the day. In “truth” I’m thinking about the next event my team and I are going to produce; the next article I need to write to keep my company in the public eye and the management issues that I need to handle in the upcoming weeks. Do I travel and enjoy life? Absolutely. Do I ever stop thinking about my company’s next move? Never.

So, for the purposes of this article, let’s start from the beginning. If you are like me, I found that the toughest obstacle in launching my business was defining who I wanted to be and why. I had to define my skill set. If you came from another company to launch your own, as I did, it’s imperative to consider legally and ethically how you can promote yourself. How do you get the word out that you are in business without causing your former company harm? And then, the decision of either to go it alone or hire staff … and if so, who and why?

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7 Ways to Personalize Your Jew”ish” Wedding

In a country as diverse as America, it’s no surprise that mixed couples have become more of a norm than an exception – mixed ethnicity, mixed culture and yes – mixed religious backgrounds. Planning a Jewish or Interfaith wedding can put a professional planner in unfamiliar territory.  On the plus side, it presents an opportunity to be newly inspired and create something unique that celebrates the couple and their backgrounds.

Getting to know the couple and the key players in the wedding is always part of the process, but there are some main elements to consider when planning a Jewish wedding.  What traditions are important to the couple?  Will there be Kosher guests at the wedding?  Be sure to check out mazelmoments’ Interfaith Wedding Planning Guide for more planning tips.

There are several areas where diverse cultures can be blended together in a way that makes every guest feel welcome and a special part of the event.

1. The Wedding Theme


Photo: H&H Photographers

The theme can be prevalent in even the most religious aspects of the wedding. Read the rest of this entry »

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8 Ways To Make A Jewish Wedding Last A Lifetime

When it comes to weddings, you spend months (sometimes years) planning with your clients, and it seems like it’s over in the blink of an eye. Luckily, the couples can reuse many elements from the wedding, turning them into keepsakes that will keep the memories of that amazing day alive for years to come. Read on for some of the ways to help your clients preserve their wedding memories.

1. The Sign-In Book


Instead of having a traditional sign-in book for guests that will inevitably be stored on a shelf, why not opt for something that can be displayed later on? Many couples choose to have a portrait of themselves enlarged and matted, allowing guests to sign their well wishes on the matting before having the photo framed.

Day In Clay provides a unique service where guests can sign a commemorative piece, such as a vase or bowl (pictured), that can be custom-made at the event!

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The Best Event Technology for Your Small Business

To say I am fully qualified to write a post on budget savvinees for small businesses is an understatement. I’ve worked for them my entire life (minus one short stint at a rather large lobbying firm).

My first job was waitressing for a family-owned pizza restaurant. Favorite budget moment: Consolidated staffing. Alongside my childhood best friend, I was the waitress, chef, delivery girl, and cleaning lady.

Next I worked for a freshman member of Congress. Not a small business, you say? It may as well have been. The Representative I worked for was so budget conscious that I often joke he would give me $50 to plan an event for 200 people.

Now, I work for Social Tables. We’re a tiny but mighty hospitality tech startup based in the heart of D.C. Our laser-focus on conscious spending sees one of our 9 cultural pillars as:Stay Lean. We snack small but dream in 10 courses.” That last part is quite literal. We have a “Snack Committee” that makes monthly runs to Costco.

I also have almost a decade of event planning experience under my belt. If you count planning my first birthday party at 4, make that 2.4 decades.

Stage. Set. Moving along…

Here’s What I Know…

Now that you know I’ve been raised in an environment of penny-pinchers, I’ll guide you to 4 technologies that will not only enhance the strategic operations of your small event business, but will do so without hurting your bottom line.


We all know that finding good help is often difficult at best. If you don’t have someone who can personally recommend a contractor, you may as well be shooting at fish in barrel. Give yourself some breathing room by utilizing eLance. It’s an online marketplace that connect freelancers with businesses. To date, over $1 billion has been earned through the website, which boasts over 2 million talented, peer-reviewed freelancers that encompass every realm of the event industry. Cost: Free

Pocket Planner

The Pocket Planner is an event and meeting calculator from Social Tables and the Convention Industry Council that uses CIC standards to recommend food, beverage, service and safety quantities for events based on attendance. I would feel bad about this plug except that, as one event professional described it, “This is like my planning brain dumped into an app.” Cost: Free

The Pocket Planner


Hate expense reports? Me too. Know what I love? When I have an app that helps me consolidate my receipts, manage them, lets me add my personal & business credit card, and integrates with QuickBooks.

The best part of Concur is that it’s more than an expense reporting tool. They partnered with TripIt, so you can now book and import your travel itineraries directly into Concur. 70% of Fortune 100 companies work with Concur. You may not be there yet, but it can’t be a bad idea to mimi the big guys in this realm. Cost: $8 per user per month (Small Business Package)

MobileEvent by QuickMobile

Your event needs an app, and this is the partner for you. MobileEvent helps you put simple, interactive tools directly into the hands of your attendees by helping you create an app specifically for your conference. The outdated paper program becomes virtual. Schedule updates are automatically pushed to phones. Guests can interact with speakers during sessions. You’ll get a data report on the use. What’s not to love? Cost: Based on need.

Event Mobile

And Now, The Pivot!

We all know technology is important. According to a study by eMarketer, “smartphone penetration worldwide will be at 34 per cent by 2017.” While a solid grasp on technology and virtual branding is a requirement in today’s business environment, I want to take 2 minutes of your time and ask that you please, for the love of all things good and right, remember that we are in a relationship-driven industry.

One of the key factors individuals site as motivation to attend an event is to engage in face-to-face conversations. That means you have to know how to connect with people offline and online.

Gary Vaynerchuck, the unapologetic social media titan who built an empire off of his responsiveness to customers, is here to help with his recently released Slideshare deck. The key takeaway? “Making human connections is absolutely crucial to the success of your business.” Never forget that.

I leave you with this: technology is making our jobs easier, our budgets less stressed, and expanding our opportunity horizons by the second. Educate yourself on the best technology solutions for your small business, utilize them, and always remember that a handshake is an irreplaceable business tool.

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Events in Color!

How important is color when planning a wedding or special event?  What role do the colors used in table linens and décor play to make an event successful? As an event professional, not only is it necessary to stay on top of the current trends in special event planning, but knowing and sharing the key colors that are trending now and forecasted for future seasons will set you apart as an industry leader.

Generally, brides will choose their favorite colors for their special wedding day or want Pantone’s “Color of the Year”; however, when it comes to corporate or social clients they may not already have a certain color theme in mind.  Color definitely sets the tone for the design of the event and is a topic I always discuss when first meeting with a client. When we are planning events anywhere from three months to a year or more in advance it is helpful to know where to find upcoming color trends. (Don’t we all wish we had those lead times?!)

We all know that the fashion business sets the trends in colors, fabrics, and textures and that ultimately it trickles to home and event décor.  It used to take a year or more for these trends to hit our industry, but with social media like Pinterest and Instagram playing a daily role in our lives we are seeing these trends much quicker.  As a savvy event professional you may work with your client to utilize an upcoming trend, but if you have a client who is trend-conscious or a bride who is interested in what that “color of the year” might be a year from now, this is where you can shine.

Don’t always count on your client knowing their color inspiration, but even if they do, it is in your benefit as their professional planner to be on top of the current color trends.  I spend countless hours every year discussing colors, styles, fabrics, and textures with our design specialists so that we are current with, and ahead of trends. This information is needed as an integral part of our business and helps us forecast what types of fabrics and colors to add to our linen rental inventory.

Every year, Pantone declares a “Color of the Year.”  This particular color is actually thought out over a year in advance by representatives from various nations who meet twice a year to present and debate on what this color is going to be.  The color ultimately connects to the spirit of the time, or “Zeitgeist”, so-to-say.  It truly represents what is going on culturally and economically in the world.  When Pantone announced the 2013 color of the year, Emerald, the reasoning was that this color “served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity.”  This year’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid, was chosen because “it reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

Here are the hot colors recently announced for Fall/Winter 2014/15:

The color of the year is announced annually in late Winter/early Spring; however, Pantone also announces several seasonal color trends for Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer about six months prior to the actual seasons.  These colors, along with a full fashion report can be found on and generally announced at the same time as New York Fashion Week (early September for Spring trends; early February for Fall trends).

Knowing what colors are hot and complimentary can really help an event planner excel in their business.  Industry-related forums and blogs are an excellent way to find hot color trends and to mix and match color palettes.  Here are a few of my favorites to consider following so you can stay on top of these trends!

The Knot

Wedding Wire



Design Seeds


Fashion & Home Décor Publications such as InStyle or ELLE DÉCOR

Here is a sneak peek at what hot colors are being predicted for 2015:

You can also find a lot of these trends on the TSE trade show floor or in the amazing design sessions they offer. For more tips and tricks check out our blogs at or come see one of my trend presentations being held at various industry events around the country.

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