Why Live Events are Important
It’s a new year and about the time I start reflecting on my business. Here at Curious Lola we share our experiences building things AND an event business with the hopes of helping you with yours. But I’m about to have our first ever Lola Summit at which our team sits down and talks about all things Lola. What we are doing, what we want to do, and how we want to go about doing it. Part of that is thinking about my biz Lola Creative.
At Lola Creative, we create live events. Parties and gatherings. Both terms however are just utterly inaccurate in describing the fullness of the experience we are trying to bring to people. It sounds fun, frivolous even. Sounds like, well, party time.
We’re known for hand crafted events. Bold, sculptural features with well thought out coherent significance. We’re known for creating a more sustainable event, events that are imaginative, and, well sometimes takes a client with guts to allow us to make.
But what we are doing is greater than crafting a great party.
Businesses are created to solve people’s problems. Our problem we are trying to solve is not “Gee, I wish I had the funnest event, the most original, artful décor. We don’t do this so that we can fulfill our desire to make amazing things that inspire and delight (mmmmm, okay that’s part of it).
Utter connectedness. This is what we are aiming for. I’ll explain.
I live and work in Seattle, most of our events are Seattle based. I don’t know about you, but the drive here to achieve, do more, and be more is strong. The amount of overwhelm and distraction people face each day is immense. There is a myriad of decisions and stimuli to pull us away from what is most important. (psst, it’s each other in case you were wondering.)
The stuff that matter is:
kindness towards each other,
celebrations of togetherness,
gratitude for what we have, what we have made for ourselves and gratitude for what we are just given when we are born.
commemoration and thanks for the achievement we’ve made by working hard together toward a common goal.
generosity of time, to stop grinding, stop trying to do more, and take time to be with important people and realign with what matters.
our connection with each other and the physical places we are in, and
excitement for the places we can go and the things we can achieve when we have locked arms with the people we choose to trust, respect, and accept.
We’ve all had an experience, a physical experience when we were in a place with others, sometimes total strangers, sometimes coworkers or family that might as well be strangers. Something about what we experienced transformed us and the people around us. I’ve felt this at music concerts, at dance performances, at my own wedding, at other people’s weddings, during speeches and during stories. I’ve felt it observing acts of kindness. In these moments when I am moved, I know that I can turn to the stranger next to me, and smile because they are feeling the same thing. Hell, I could hug them and they would accept it. And in that moment, we are utterly connected. It is as if we’ve all dropped to an invisible plane where a force of love, passion, intention, and raw creativity is flowing through the core of each of us. A place where we can glimpse the potential of our collective efforts and focus. A place of total acceptance and well, love.
I love business, and I love people and I am constantly amazed by the leaps we can make together. Corporation and business can be a dirty word these days, but I still see it as groups of good people, choosing to work together to do work that is meaningful.
That powerful combo of mutual trust, respect, and acceptance can only can grow when we are together, physically together.
Connection happens through shared experience. Meaningful lives are a collection of memorable, physical experiences with each other and our surroundings. Meaningful businesses have built a team of connected people that give meaningful experiences to others.
Impactful businesses not only find away to connect with their audiences but also nurture that connection within.
This is what our privilege and obsession is, to figure out how to achieve that transcendent level of connection among our clients community- whether that is a personal family, or a business family.
That’s our highest goal in producing an event. What is a gathering but an expression of gratitude and a celebration of abundance and togetherness.
By stripping away the day to day, we can demand attention, eliminate distraction, and create opportunities for humans to do what they do best: connect, imagine, and grow together.
Here’s to the New Year and all sorts of connecting.
PS, you can connect with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by signing up to our email community HERE!
Thoughts on Bravery and Fearlessness…
Recently, there’s been a slight shift in my outlook on life and business. Maybe, just maybe, brute force when it comes to life and business is not the goal. Maybe bravery and fearlessness is not about making things happen. Maybe most of it is just good ole trust. (first I blather, then I explain).
I’ve never feel at ease next to the ocean. Beach vacations, sandy walks, oceanside camping; there’s an undercurrent of, “the ocean wants to devour me.”
The ocean is teeming with life so different from my own that it’s hard to understand. A true mystery. It’s unpredictable, it’s destructive, it can take a tree and paw with it until it resembles the sun-weakened ghost of a great beast. A beast much bigger and stronger than I. At the same time, it’s alluring.
When faced with great uncertainties in business I tend to jump right in, however, not with the ocean. I’d prefer to NOT try and understand it. I’ll enjoy it sure, but I’ll be wary. That got me thinking… Where’s all my bravery and fearlessness?
Our culture values bravery, stubbornness, and strength. People that will things into existence.
Historically, my go-to method for experiencing life and business has been the ‘DECLARE, DROP, THRASH’ method.
Oh, you haven’t heard of it? Oh it’s very prehistoric.
First you DECLARE:
I’m going to be ______, I’m going to do _______, I’m going to get_______, I’m going to learn_____.
Then you DROP yourself into whatever lifestyle, work or environment you deem necessary to achieve your declaration,
Then you THRASH about something makes sense. Until a path comes clear.
And if it doesn’t, DROP AND THRASH ELSEWHERE.
It’s been brutal, but valuable in that I’ve learned a lot quickly. Eventually, I’ve learned what to thrash on, and what should be left alone. I’ve learned what is already working and what will not improve with enhanced thrashing.
This process is the opposite of ease, elegance, and organic growth.
The rewards are a quick lesson in testing limits. What limits are solid and what is flexible? What rules do I want to follow? I’ve learned what level of risk I can handle, gained trust in my own capabilities, and have gained a fine tuned compass of what works for me and what doesn’t. I know that I am capable and can figure out anything, but that I don’t need to figure out everything.
You may have heard me tout this method because, well, it’s badass, brave, and fearless. Take something uncertain, research the messy bits, and take action. Experiment. That’s been my motto- all in pursuit of conquering more unknowns and achieving a satisfying career and lifestyle.
However, I recently learned of another way. Fierce satisfaction with what one has…. and not striving for more than that.
Historically, I would have called this ‘settling’.
But recently, I’ve been observing and really appreciating those folks who find joy in what they have, only poke and prod at uncertainty when it crosses their steady path, make small adjustments as they are needed… people that prioritize tradition and what is important in the moment. Some of these people seem to be thriving… 🙂
I’m thinking I’d like to have a bit of that kind of bravery too. After all, it comes from the same place, TRUST.
Trust that things will work out. Trust that you can handle it. Trust that you will know what to do.
These statements are the same sort of trust foundation that makes someone brave/ fearless- just on a different path, or maybe looking a different direction.
So for now, I think less thrashing, more trusting.
BUT, if you’d like to take advantage of all the thrashing I’ve learned from in my journey as an event designer/ business owner thus far, you may want to sign up for our email list.
Warm fuzzies for you and yours.
It’s that time of year when we are balls to the walls busy (I recently learned that that term is an aviation thing- so is totally not what you were thinking). But in between making sure all is made, all is packed, all is ready to be set up for a big, glorious bash, we have glimpses into next year. What we want to work on. We’ve got big plans that will help your event design biz get a leg up (ehem, sign up to stay in the loop).
But first, there is a break. A small amount of time where there is nothing. Just slathering love all over my friends and family. Investing in relationships. And my brain will be happy for that break.
So in the spirit of break. Let’s reminisce on the sweet images from a styled photoshoot of winter’s past coupled with one of my favorite poems. Thank you Candice of Ivy and Tweed for a visual story of these two love birds. (ps, for styled shoots, get people that are actually in love). Shot at Trinity Tree Farms in Issaquah, Washington.
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings
Happy Holidays, friends! Here’s to our winter break before the excitement of a new year.
Thanks also to Vintage Ambiance for the furnishings, and Honeycrumb Cake studio for the yummies.
3 Ways your Inexperience will Help You Succeed in the Wedding Industry
It sucks to feel like a sputtering, throbbing amateur. It can feel like everyone else around you has figured it out and you are still groping for clarity. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my last 7 years of event and floral design, it’s that, unfortunately, there isn’t a manual and there’s no right way. I get into wrangling these anxiety-inducing topics in my new ebook Be
Fearless Scared, But Do It Anyway . BUT I also know that there are three key areas where you have the ADVANTAGE by being a newbie.
Because in uncertain times we need to acknowledge and be grateful for all the wins we can muster, right?
This applies to you if you are a burgeoning floral designer, event designer, planner, invite person, or if you make things I can put in my mouth. (I especially love the latter). Basically any service or product you can take a picture of.
Oh look, here I am (again) with my mouth wide open teaching folks how to make gardeney bouquets last year.
These three ways where your inexperience helps you are meant to empower you to take action and feel willing (note I did NOT say confident) to put yourself out there. It’s all too easy to observe, not get in the game, and chalk it all up to quietly gaining experience.
BUT that’s just fear talking. The fact is, the faster you start digging around, the faster you will figure it out, the faster you will gain clarity, the faster you will be profitable. In my ebook, I talk about my journey and how it took me five years to feel like this business was going to be okay.
THAT’S FIVE YEARS OF SLEEP ALTERING NAIL BITING!
You can do it in less and I want to help how I can.
These three facts are based on my own experience. These are things I did and they worked. They are based on forgetting about your problems, and solving the problems of others.
So here we go: 3 Ways your Inexperience will Help You Succeed in the wedding industry.
- Local Wedding Media Loves the Newbies.It’s true. Your local wedding magazine loves to feature new designers. It’s how they feel they are staying fresh. As a crusty, well worn designer reading through my local wedding mags, young whippersnappers such as yourself make up about 30% of what I’m looking at. All you need to do then is be seen.
Oh, and you are in luck again because their staff and interns are clammoring for new media to put up on their online platforms. Be nice, be generous, take some great shots of your work, or write a little article about something cool for them to put up on their FB page….. like, how to use write guests names on clam shells or something. Or how to make a veil out of bark…. don’t do that. Mention that you would love to be considered to participate in an upcoming feature should they need help with anything.
We were lucky enough to be featured in Seattle Met Bride and Groom and Seattle Bride early on. AND far before we could ever afford purchasing an ad. So, it works.
2. You Are A Blank Slate and You Listen.
After nearly a decade of doing this, I’ve sort of learned a way that works for me. I’ve learned I need a minimum budget for me to feel like we can deliver a stellar product, I’ve learned that we need a lot of responsibility and creative input regarding the entire event. We’ve learned what styles and what sorts of folks are NOT a good fit for us.
But you may not know that yet, and at least for getting work and developing relationships with other professionals and venues, that’s a GOOD thing. It means you can be truly open to listening how the other person likes to work, how they like to run their events, what their clients and audience is like.
You are in a perfect position to let the folks you meet with to feel like you really understand them. You are their person. They WANT you to succeed, so they will likely push work your way.
PS, how do you meet these folks? You call them… or email if you are telephonophobic like me:) It’s a modern cold call… don’t freak out.
PPS, don’t ask to meet them and show them what you do. Ask to meet them to learn about their venue/ practices/ approach, etc. Then work in your stuff but it’s not the point of the meeting. The point is for you to learn about THEM.
The last one is a big one and is a little hard to feel comfy with but is so important. In fact, we talk about it a lot more in my ebook. (See giant link image below:)
3. Sell What They Actually Want, Not What You Think They Want.
When I first began, I thought I knew what people wanted beautiful florals chock full of creativity, unexpected materials, and unusual flowers- preferably local. I was stressed out of my mind to make more stuff so I could have a stunning portfolio. After all, a great portfolio was going to get the work right?
I didn’t have a great portfolio, as a matter of fact my first floral designs were awful. What I did have was a background in project management. So I talked about that.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
As it turns out, my clients didn’t want the best floral designer. They wanted someone who was organized, responsive, who wasn’t going to make an ass out of themselves on site, someone who was going to show up, get sh** done and leave. They wanted someone they could trust to make their jobs and day easier.
I could do that. I could show that through my communication with them, by the way I presented my material, and later, in every aspect of the event day.
That right there was a revelation for me and became our basis for selling for years…. still is. Our process and execution is paramount. Are we the best designers? meh. doesn’t matter- at least not as much as trust to my clients. (though we are pretty damn good…obvs:)
So think about the process, execution, client relationships, conflict resolution, all the things that can be trouble for your client and communicate how you plan to resolve them, or even just show that you take those aspects just as seriously as the actual creative work.
Get Deeper Into This Topic
If you’re interested in delving a little deeper into this topic and are curious about the challenges I faced starting out and how I dealt with them, check out my FREE eBook, “Be
Fearless Scared, But Do It Anyway.”
This will give you some perspective, and will show you how this beautiful (and humble!) creative took action and worked her way through the maze and reached the other side.
Designing Events, With A Pinch Of Wonder
I was going through images last week and came across this book arch we created a few years ago. I always thought this was so cool, and people went crazy.
With wedding madness in full swing, I thought the book arch would be a good reminder of how powerful this business can be.
Much of the time we get caught up in running the business:
- Has everything been ordered?
- Is everything ready to go?
- Are all the subcontractors prepped?
- Is there enough staff?
And for set pieces like the Book Arch:
- Do we have the materials?
- Do we have the welding equipment?
- Are we sure it’s going to be stable?
- How does it look?
It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane–albeit necessary–aspects of getting the job done.
When I come across images of events that really worked–and that had such a wide impact on people outside the event–it is a good reminder of the purpose of what we’re really doing: we’re adding that wee pinch of wonder that makes the difference between a serious yawner and a “I can’t stop gawking at how amazing this is” experience.
When we’re at our best, we take a profound moment in someone’s life and insert a bit of magic. It’s incredible what can happen when everything lines up.