Let’s Celebrate Women!
Women’s History Month. It all began with one single day in 1908 in New York City when thousands of women united and marched for better labor laws, conditions, and the right to vote. A year later on February 28, in a gathering organized by members of the Socialist Party, suffragists and socialists gathered again in Manhattan for what they called the first International Woman’s Day. Then, Woman’s Day grew from a day to a week. And a week became a whole month.
When I thought about using this space today to share my thoughts on Women’s History Day, I thought wouldn’t it be a great idea if I explained how I got to where I am today? It is after all, Women’s History Month. Believe me it’s been quite a journey, so let me start by telling you how it all started 33 years ago.
I have been asked a million times about the kind of schooling or experience I have. What would you think if I said I had neither? I started my first business when I was a young girl of 8 years old and sold my first business when I was 18. Neither of them had anything to do with event planning. They both had a common denominator though; I was good at making lists and organizing things. And I could sell – anything! My mom said I could sell snow to an Eskimo. The gift of the gab she called it.
In the fall of 1988 I was studying business at SFU Harbourside in Vancouver with a major in marketing. In my spare time I played mixed slow-pitch with friends and went for drinks after the game. My girlfriend on the team asked me to help her write a business plan for a new business idea she had. She had recognized a need in the marketplace for someone to plan events for corporations in the Metro Vancouver area. Events like company picnics, Christmas parties, boat cruises, etc.
A Business Plan is a Must!
After helping her write the business plan, I asked if we could be partners, as this business of event planning sounded like such fun! Now we were a team! The first thing we did was market research to find out exactly what corporations in Vancouver were planning. Believe it or not, I still have these 1989 forms in the BI archives!
In our first year of business, the most frequently requested corporate events at the time were Golf Tournaments, Boat Cruises and Company Picnics. In addition, we managed to coordinate a few Weddings and Private Parties. We were trying everything and anything to get experience and bring in some revenue.
We Were Busy
We also tried our hand at public events, such as the Downtown Economic Development Society (D.E.E.D.S.) Trade Show, which offered young entrepreneurs on Vancouver’s East Side an opportunity to promote their business. This was so good for us. Here we were a new company ourselves and we were putting on a Trade Show for young entrepreneurs just like us! The Trade Show was very successful and gave us the confidence to continue planning events.
We chartered boats and sold tickets to the public for such cruise events as Oktoberfest, Fireworks and the Carol Ships. We even tried our hand at selling pizza during the First Night New Years’ Celebration. We were all over the place trying to bring in revenue with a variety of events.
The Most Important Lesson
We learned a lot this first year. The most important lesson I can remember? Thank goodness we had a business plan. It was our road map, as we navigated our way through the unchartered waters of event planning. My partner had some previous event planning experience, but I had none. We had no idea what was in store for us and at many times she felt like packing it in.
For me however, coming from an entrepreneurial family, I was handling the stress of running a business much better than my partner. She was accustomed to regular paychecks, holidays, company benefits, weekends – you know. All the things that come with a regular 9 to 5 job. Me – I was loving the unknown. I was in my element!
Fast Forward to Today
With over 3,000 events under my belt, I have many very interesting stories to tell and a wealth of experience and knowledge to share. I have come a long way from selling pizza on the beach!
In the three decades since the inception of Bright Ideas Events, I have mentored over 200 local and International personnel in the ‘Art of Event Planning’. I share my tips, secrets and empower them to think outside the box when designing events. I also teach them the importance of networking & building relationships. That’s the foundation of my business.
I have been an ILEA (International Live Events Association) member since 2004 (yikes this makes me feel old!). I have sat on the board several times and am currently active with the Vancouver chapter, inspiring young budding event entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.
I am currently working on my 2nd book called The Bright Ideas European Adventure, where I travel through Europe interviewing event producers throughout France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
I was chosen as an Influencer for the GoWest2019 annual conference that focuses on education, innovation and networking bringing together global industry thought-leaders to present the latest trends and ideas to enhance attendees’ knowledge.
July of 2019, I was named one of the top 20 Meeting and Event Trendsetters by Meetings Today magazine in the USA. I was very honored and privileged to be included in this prestigious group of event professionals.
In January 2020, I was listed by BizBash Canada as one of the TOP 250 Most Influential Event Professionals in Canada. Many of the event professionals on this list have become good friends of mine.
When COVID hit in mid-March 2020, I formed The Global Events Community (GEC) to provide support and inspiration during the current global pandemic. The community’s mission is to offer resources and information for the challenges facing the event industry. In these troubled times where the future is unknown, I wanted to bring event professionals together from all over the world in knowledge, as the daunting task of looking at dozens of event websites daily to gather current news in our industry was overwhelming. Together now in one solid platform, event professionals can share, bond, gather tips and strategies and rebuild our businesses to come back stronger in the future.
I was so happy to be shorted listed as one of the top 72 women in Canada (out of over 1,000 applicants) for the BMO Grant Program for Women Owned Businesses. I didn’t win, but the experience was amazing.
This year, in February 2021, I released my first E-Book Donuts In The Lunchroom, which talks about engaging your attendees during virtual events. This book was born after attending over 200 virtual events and realizing the attendee engagement could make or break an event.
I Am So Thankful
With a track record of 42 Industry Nominations garnering 35 Industry Awards, I feel very blessed for the events I have designed and produced over the past three decades. Yes it was hard to start out as a young farm girl from Alberta who was thrust into the big city lights of Vancouver to follow her dream. Maybe I have been successful because I always believed in myself. I never gave up on me. I always had hope and now more than ever, we need to believe in ourselves and hope that the future will be brighter.