The following interview was conducted by Tisch Center student worker, Haley Park.
What is your current role at LLG events?
I am the CEO and Co-Founder at LLG Events. As CEO, I am responsible for delegating tasks amongst our senior staff, finding and pursuing new business opportunities, curating the strategic direction of the business, setting budgets for new initiatives, and sales. On a day to day basis, not only am I responsible to all my clients and their planning tasks, but I have meetings with our Creative Director to discuss our brand, content strategy, and what we are showcasing to our audiences; and our PR and Marketing Director to discuss and review press releases, media kits, social media strategy, and speaking engagements. Additionally, I meet with Paul, who is our COO and life coach. We discuss daily operations, company strategy, new business opportunities, finances, on-boarding of new clients or employees and everything and anything LLG.
What is your background and how and why did you start your own business?
Why did I start my own business? I learned rather quickly that I would not achieve my own dreams if I was constantly working for somebody else’s. I just needed to find my passion, my niche and when it presented itself in the wedding industry, I knew I had to seize the moment. I took a chance, I capitalized on a bit of luck and I went for it!
I started LLG Events in a very unconventional way. Thinking I would pursue a career in Biology/Pre-Med, I went to undergrad at Binghamton University and then went on to earn my Masters of Science in Forensic Science at Pace University. Post-graduation, I became a Research and Development Scientist where I determined cause of death, ran toxicology reports and researched new drug testing technology for pain management clinics. Turns out, I hated it! I thrive in social settings, with dynamic people, and although working at the medical examiner’s office was extremely rewarding, it did not feel like I was making a direct impact and I typically worked alone.
I was working at the medical examiner’s office in New York City when my now husband, Paul, proposed! I began planning my own wedding and learning about the world of events. There was such a flair, it reminded me of putting on a show, and I loved it. It felt like going to the circus for the first time — when you see all these different acts, and everyone’s talent and coordination to pull it off, how could you not get enamored by that? It was a lifestyle that celebrated the happiest day of people’s lives and I wanted to be a part of it. So, I began planning my exit strategy from research and development, and started LLG Events, one month after I married my husband Paul. I told him about my plan and he wanted to be part of it, so we agreed to be business partners.
And so we went, working 40 hours a week at our “normal” jobs, and volunteering every Thursday and Friday evening when venues had corporate or social events, and every Saturday and Sunday when they had weddings. Paul and I would be there for 32 hours most weekends, and learned everything we could. We worked every job — from barback to waiting tables to bridal attending to valet to bathroom attending, we did it all. We shadowed anyone and everyone we could, to learn every aspect of the industry. I knew that if we were going to be successful and respected, we needed to have exposure to every position.
Can you share an anecdote of your most memorable experience working in events?
Honestly, there are so many memories that come to mind. From working destination weddings in Bora Bora to travelling to Abu Dhabi for photoshoots, to offering our services for our inaugural pro-bono wedding, this year (and every year) is full of incredible experiences. But I couldn’t imagine any of this without my husband, my founding business partner for LLG Events, Paul, who has been there since the beginning. When I told him I wanted to start a business and quit my job, he volunteered with me so that I was never alone. He came to every meeting, met every vendor, every client, volunteered at every wedding to be with me, showing his support. He put the time in outside of his full-time job so that we could build LLG Events together as a husband-wife duo. He never let me face anything by myself — even to this day. I could not imagine this business without him and being able to share this with him is the most memorable part of my experience.
What are the objectives and goals of the course that you will teach in the Masters of Science in Event Management program?
My goal is to generate quick thinkers and confident decision makers. Two important characteristics every coordinator needs in order to work in Event Design and Production. I want to continue bridging the gap between education and experience where students walk away from my class knowing how to plan an event anywhere in the world, have the beginning to their own design portfolio and know industry veterans. I want to teach and inspire, I want to give back the knowledge that I’ve acquired.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Some of my favorite advice:
“Enjoy the process. That’s one thing I’ve always had difficulty doing. I always wanted to get “there,” but recently I’ve realized it’s better to learn and live in the moment, all while loving the process.”
“Good fortune favors the brave and the hardworking. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, make your own luck and know when to capitalize on what’s been placed in front of you.”
“Fail quickly, and own your failures. I used to feel that failure was a sign of weakness, but in fact it’s probably the greatest way to learn and my greatest strength!”