Believe it or not, for me partying is a way of life. As the director of special events at Hollywood POP Gallery, one of New York's most iconic event planning, design, and name talent booking agencies, I have called on my innate entrepreneurial skills to create what I describe as an ever evolving dream career. Whether at the helm of the year’s most buzzed-about celebrity wedding, planning a Destination celebration featuring Tony Bennett, David Blaine or Seal or milestone celebration with Susie Essman, Smashmouth, or Jennifer Hudson, or designing an event featuring Barack Obama or negotiating a contract with Katy Perry, I'm always focused on the ultimate best results.
"I exist in a world that many people would find hard to believe, but that wasn't always the case. I consider my success self made - in no small part thanks the the amazing people I work with."
Although I have worked very hard to get here, I live by the philosophy that if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life and I’m fortunate to get to do what I love the most. As an event designer and wish maker for some of the most powerful and affluent people in the world, I believe I have gained a unique insight into making your dreams a reality and hope to inspire others who have their own dreams & aspirations.
The world of luxury event planning has left few stones unturned. In the many years that I've been with HPG, I've had some crazy business meetings, including everything from stark naked clients in their penthouse apartments to chats with movie icons, CEOs, and rock stars at 30,000ft. on private jets. I've been sent on site visits to exotic destinations and also carried costumes on subway trains to get them to parties on time.
Hollywood Pop Gallery works with billionaires with budgets and middle class moms who want to celebrate a special moment in a way that suits their lifestyle. Each event is equally as important; from a small dinner party to a large celebration, with every detail prepared to reflect their client’s personality and taste. Our job is to make our client’s dream a reality. If it's important to our client, it becomes equally important to us. Our role as memory makers is a very humbling experience because you only get one chance to make a client’s event what they’ve always dreamed of. Every party has to POP!
So, future event planners, design stylists, name talent booking agents and super-creatives from all walks of life, I'm here to tell you that whatever your dream career may be, please realize opportunities abound!
The trick is in recognizing if these opportunities will fit your overall business and life goals. Here, my three main recommendations to help all entrepreneurs find their dream.
THOSE WHO CAN, DO. THOSE WHO CAN'T, LEARN!
With every job you take on, make it a point to step out of your comfort zone.
There will be many pivotal challenges you face that place you in situations you haven’t experienced before. For me it was managing and booking touring and recording artists; booking name talent and handling their production, rider, staging, lighting and sound; and essentially functioning as a travel agent by planning a weekend destination celebration event in an exotic local.
Although each of those skills was initially outside of Hollywood Pop Gallery’s area of expertise, they are now part of their core services. I believe that change in an industry happens from within.
When clients request specific services that may seem outlandish the instinct may be to resist, but instead, research these items if they seem important to the client and especially if they come up more than once. Chances are these items are actually representative of important elements to the future of your industry.
'No’ is not generally an acceptable answer from the client's perspective and saying 'yes' when you don't have a blazed trail yet forces you to grow. At the same time, knowing when to say 'no' also keeps you creatively finding ways to satisfy demands that make sense for all involved.
PARTY PLANNER OR FAMILY THERAPIST?
Earn the trust of clients and figure out quickly how to relate to them- what their style is, what makes them tick, how to best lead them through the process of planning. This is true with most client relationships in many industries, but party planning gets far more personal than most. More often than not, planners are in the homes of their clients, looking through family photo albums, talking about their children's aspirations or their personal struggles.
Find ways to acquire a plethora of material to work with when looking for the perfect strings to pull.
Take the small anecdotes and make them major points. In my case, when someone mentions in passing that their triplets enjoy playing tennis, we make their party their own personalized Wimbledon with tennis pros and a mini tennis stadium in the center of the party.
RIDE THE WAVE OF INNOVATION OR BE LEFT IN THE WAKE
Part of staying in-demand in the event world is to consistently bring what is new and "cutting edge" to your clients. Just as no one wants to wear the same outfit as someone else at the same party, no one wants to see the same entertainment or decor that they've seen at several other events. Get out there and experience what is being done and what has yet to be created so you can share what you know and your ideas with clientele. Especially within the realm of HPG's client base, new perspectives and innovation keeps you afloat.
HPG is Creative Director to the longest running Off-Broadway variety show in NYC and that keeps our roster of international entertainment always growing.
Finally, is always helps to connect with other experts in your industry. We all need the support of one another and the opportunity to learn from each other. Since there are so many options in so many industries these days, it’s through building strong relationships with others in similar businesses that we all can learn and grow.
It's not always glitz and glam and Dubai and Michelin star chef tastings. My team and I work hard to absorb the ugly side of the process so the allure and wonder of it all stays intact. Think of party planning like Disney World - guests never see big garbage trucks or tired princes and princesses sweating and hurrying to their posts. It just doesn't fit their narrative of what you are meant to experience. A party planner's job is to create a flawless wonderland, making sure each moment is perfectly executed. The experiences and amazing opportunities that come along with repeat clients that trust you more and more with different projects make it all worthwhile.
WRITTEN BYBrett Galley