Present: Owner and President of In Any Event Design Inc., Vancouver, B.C.
Past: Professional photographer.
Expertise: Developing event concepts and identifying innovative solutions.
Specialty: Delivering sophisticated elegance in special event design and production.
Tell us about yourself:
I am a very private person. I have two grown sons whom I am most proud of. Family is the most important part of my life outside of work.
Tell us about your work:
My business evolved from a background in photography, theatre and film. In Any Event Design Inc. started as an event décor company doing wrap parties for the film industry. Over the years the scope of work has evolved to include everything from private and corporate events to large scale galas and conferences. I enjoy producing one of a kind, personalized events and am very good at finding creative solutions. I often get called in at the 11th hour to “fix” things by last-minute clients.
How did you get to where you are today?
Hard work, talent and experience. I am very protective of my clients and respectfully guard their privacy and I believe that has built loyalty and trust over time. My work is about nurturing client relationships which has resulted in a successful business by referral.
Why are you good at what you do?
My style is understated elegance and my clients want events that are unique and entertaining yet thoughtful. I am also a good listener. I like to spend time getting to understand what my client’s vision is so we can collaborate towards a successful event. My clients tell me they feel at ease when I am in charge and often comment on how calm I am, even in crisis mode. I have high ethical standards and expect no less from others. I also believe that you are only as good as your team and I am very grateful to my suppliers and contractors for their support.
What are some of the challenges you face and how do you manage the work-life balance?
Demanding and ever-changing work schedules make it challenging to find quality down time. When you are an independent, it is difficult to map out personal time, particularly when a fantastic job you can’t resist pops up! In the early years, I was raising my two sons mostly on my own so I really had to juggle my work schedule so I could spend quality time with them.
I remember negotiating a deal with Natalie Cole’s manager by phone and he jokingly mentioned he was sitting in his back yard in the desert watching his wife decorate a cactus with Christmas tree lights while we were trying to hammer out a very important deal, to which I admitted I was sitting in my home office in my nightgown, having been up most of the night working! We both had a good laugh about it and I think the honesty of the situation helped our relationship going forward on the project.
I am one of those people who needs my sleep but I am very flexible about when I get it – as long as I get it eventually! I usually make time to crash after a particularly intense project so I can recharge my batteries for the next one. Sometimes I will stay “in the zone” for multiple events but I always make time for yoga, massages and I especially pamper my feet as much as possible!
Walk us through a typical day at work.
There is nothing typical about any day in my life except for the cappuccino which kick-starts my morning!
Is there anything you would change in our industry, given the chance?
Despite the move towards more sustainability in our industry, I still think there is a lot of room for improvement. I try to align myself with companies that care about the environment and the well-being of others.
What have been some of your biggest achievements?
I have been fortunate to work with many interesting and inspiring people and as a result I have been honoured by my peers with various industry awards.
What do you like best about the meetings industry?
I like the challenges of an ever-changing industry where new ideas drive successful events. I also value the friendships and camaraderie of the industry.
Who are some of your notable clients?
Bill & Melinda Gates , Canadian Cancer Society , Michael Bublé, Pharmasave National, Prime Minister of Canada, Vancouver Canucks
What are some of your most memorable events?
Some years ago I was asked by a corporate client of mine to produce his wedding. He was a prominent game designer and had some pretty unconventional ideas about what his wedding might look like. Think gargoyles, magic and mind games! Pair that up with a bride who is dreaming of a Martha Stewart wedding at the tennis club with fabulous florals and live birds and, well, you get the idea! I spent a tremendous amount of time trying to find some common ground for them and finally one day decided they should have it all. The end result was a 26-page timeline for a wedding which was a role playing “game” with a groom who goes missing in an illusion gone wrong and 120 guests go on a hosted scavenger hunt all over the city trying to find the groom. Within the hunt they also participate in an interactive game within the game to collect clues about the couple which in turn helps to solve the mystery of the missing groom and ultimately gets the guests interacting with one another.
Multiple venues and modes of travel ensue…yachts, buses, golf carts with the guests cars unknowingly valeted to the final destination. The groom spent time with an award winning illusionist (who posed as the best man) so we were able to even include an illusion which produced a white dove for the groom to hand the bride during the “I do’s.” This wedding “event” not only won multiple national industry awards but the couple and I remain good friends to this day.
I believe the opportunity to do unique and personalized events is a very rewarding accomplishment. However, I believe over-the-top events have seen their day and although my clients still want unique experiences, they are more inclined to use their events to help benefit others such that my business has become more involved in charitable events and projects which is very rewarding for me personally.