"It's the ultimate celebration and you've got one shot at it," says Stella Inserra, the innovative cutting edge New York wedding planner who has been featured for the past three seasons on the Style network's hit television series "Who's Wedding is It Anyway?" and the same network's destination wedding show spin off "Married Away."
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Stella has also been called upon to lend her event planning expertise to publications as the New York Daily News, Event Solutions Magazine, the Staten Island Advance, New York Enterprise Report, Photo District News, Blueberry Weddings and Onewed.com. In 2007, she was nominated as finalist in the event planner category for the Event Solutions Spotlight Awards.
We caught up with her to learn more about her event planning business in New York City.
Stella, thanks for joining us for one of our entrepreneur interviews. Tell us about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Simply Dazzling Events is a wedding and event planning firm specializing in weekend, destination and New York weddings. In addition to weddings, which are the majority of our clients, Simply Dazzling Events also produces social and corporate events.
We offer full service planning, partial assistance, day of coordination, consultations on an hourly basis, event décor and design and vendor referral services.
Through our commitment to highly personalized service, our clients' weddings are designed and produced to express who they are as couples. Our goal is to ensure that each wedding flows seamlessly and is unique and personal to each client's vision.
When did you start the business?
What were you doing before this, Stella? Is this your first business?
I've been coordinating weddings for the past eight years. My experience in the industry began with working as a facility and events manager for a catering venue. There, in addition to my facility operations responsibilities, I assisted hundreds of brides, grooms and corporate clients with all aspects of their events.
This experience, plus my background in public relations, has given me a clear understanding of the industry and enabled me to develop invaluable relationships with numerous talented service providers.
I decided to move forward and founded Simply Dazzling Events LLC to better serve brides, grooms and social clients by utilizing my knowledge, passion and creative talents.
This is my first business and I've been fortunate enough to have been featured for the past three seasons on the Style network's hit television series "Who's Wedding is It Anyway?" and the same network's destination wedding show spin off "Married Away." I've learned that good press can really help grow your business.
Where did you get the startup money?
I used my personal savings that I had earned from a second job I had taken on while I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with my second son.
It was tough and I was exhausted day in and day out. I clearly remember, as if it were yesterday, my first advertising purchase. It felt as if I had officially opened up my shop for business.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
Here in New York City I have plenty of competition. It is New York City after all.
I compete by staying in tune with the latest trends and putting out the most creative and stylistic marketing I can on a tight budget. I personally make time to seek out publicity opportunities. I attend industry conferences, network with other professionals and attend seminars. You can't get stale in this business.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
I didn't realize that I would have to clone myself ten times to run my business efficiently only to later realize that I had to learn to delegate in order to grow as a business and a person.
I call it the entrepreneur curse. An entrepreneur believes that no one can do the job better that he/she can. The business then becomes their spouse, so to speak - a 24/7 commitment. This attitude diminishes the quality of an entrepreneur's life which is the exact opposite of why the entrepreneur started his/her business in the first place.
Been there, done that. You are so right about that. So, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I would have saved more start up money, had a logo and corporate identity created even before I opened up shop and hired an administrative assistant sooner.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I've personally committed taking on a limited number of weddings per year. Quantity does not make quality.
I've expanded in terms of hiring event managers to take on the clients that do not need full service planning but still need partial assistance, day of coordination and all the other services offered at Simply Dazzling Events.
I've also hired an administrative assistant. I've realized I can't and shouldn't do it all. This realization is a very important step to growing a business.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
My advice to someone who wants to start a similar business, first and foremost would be to get a job in the hospitality industry. Get real experience. Accept the fact that there are many jobs available at event planning firms. The next best thing is to work for a hotel, a caterer, a wedding photographer, florist, etc.
After you've got some experience, save $10,000 or more. Event planning is not a glamorous job. It is a business not a hobby. Too many people think they can do it because they saw it on TV or planned their own wedding.
That's great advice for anybody who is thinking about starting a wedding planning business or who is wondering how to get into event planning. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, Stella, and good luck in growing your business.