|Photo via Who Do You Love Photography|
Love: Anything to do with my husband and kids. I love my friends, movies, parties, books, food, cake and wine....and all of those things at the same time!
Hate: Housework and parking in downtown Toronto.
Wish: Hire a full-time, live-in housekeeper to chauffeur me around!
How did you get into event planning?
It's always been there. I've always done it, no matter what my job, I have always incorporated event planning into it. In terms of becoming an event planner professionally, it all started with a 5km run with a very good friend during a dragon boat practice. I was incredibly unfulfilled with my job. Long story short, we both decided to do an event management certification at night and on weekends to explore something creative and to see where it would lead us. I don't really know how to describe it...have you ever just known that you had to do something?
In the meantime, I was planning big and small events either through work or on my own for charity and friends. I loved it. I love it so much that I really would have continued doing it for free, but with baby #2 on the way I had to make a change. If I was going to leave my beautiful children for X number of hours every day it had to be to do something I loved.
Why did you start your own company?
I’ve worked in business for much longer than most people my age. I was 19 years old when I started managing high-volume retail stores. I have a lot of experience and I have a passion not only for event planning, but for business development. It was time for me to put all the pieces together and build something that suits the needs of my family. Plus, I'm a total control freak ;).
What do you think is missing from the event planning industry and how do you want to change it?
Great question. I think there is still a perception in the corporate world that an event is a fluffy, ‘nice-to-have’ for employees. In reality, events should be a part of a company's marketing plan along with its rewards and recognition programs. Business leaders are slowly coming around to the idea that the events industry needs to be part of their long-term business planning and, as such, need to be handled by an expert...not simply handed off to an over-worked assistant. My job is to educate, and raise the bar.
The other thing I would say is that it can be tough to break into this business. Unless of course, you like working for free. My father-in-law has a saying that I love: If you pay people peanuts, you get monkeys. My mission for this business is to create an environment of shared values, continuing education and provide the ultimate customer experience. It’s about attracting the right people... both clients and employees’.
What types of events do you love to produce?
I love events that introduce me to some new creative world that I haven't experienced before.
Favourite colours to work with?
Anything big and bold.
My favourite question! It depends on the time of year and what I'm eating. It changes all the time, but my favourite ‘house’ white is Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Italy. The Italians have a way of appreciating art that we don't possess here. I love their ability to completely hand themselves over to the pleasure of food and wine.
Thanks so much Tara! For more information on Tara or Russel Events, visit her site here.