Read, read, and read some more!
Founded by husband and wife team, Brandon and Brandi Carson, Posh & Private Event Design is a boutique special event firm providing event design, planning, and consulting services to clients nationwide. For their social clients, they focus on milestone celebrations, with an emphasis on Vow Renewals. And for their corporate clients, they focus on special events such as grand openings and galas.
Where did the idea for your company come from? What does your typical day look like?
Through our academic experiences at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, and our corporate work experience, we both identified within ourselves a passion for designing and planning events. This passion was the driving force that led to us establishing our company, Posh & Private Event Design, two years into our marriage. Before getting married, we knew that we both wanted to be entrepreneurs at some point in our lives, but never imagined that it would occur so soon! Regarding our typical day, it just doesn’t exist – it seems that no two days are they same (which certainly keep us on our toes). If we aren’t on-site at an event, we can be found doing a wide range of tasks, including (but certainly not limited to) meeting with current clients, networking with other business owners, performing community service, analyzing financial data, updating our marketing plan… This list can go on and on!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Simply put, we brainstorm out loud and write every idea on a white board (we even have a dry erasable table)! At some point during our brainstorming session, points being to connect and the full idea is born. From there we research the avenues on how to execute the idea, develop multiple courses of action, and pick the one that best fits the situation.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that excites us in our industry is that clients are willing to now not be so “matchy-matchy” at events. We love the fact that if there is a room with 200 chairs and they all need to be visually enhanced, each and every chair can be different as long as it coincides with the color story of the event. This particular trend is allowing Event Designers and Planners to be really creative in ensuring that every element of each event is not the same!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
As cliche as it may sound, working out and healthy eating makes us more productive as entrepreneurs. Not to imply that we don’t have our fair share of sugary treats from time to time, but for the most part we try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water, and exercise at least three times every week. On event days, we may be on our feet for twelve hours straight for event setup, production, and breakdown, so we make sure to keep our health a priority.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Brandi: One of the ‘worst’ jobs I’ve ever had was an internship where I had to transcribe notes at a speech therapist’s office. The therapist would take notes on tape recorder and I had to transcribe those notes into a word document. I was only there for a couple of hours each time; however, it was the most monotonous thing I had ever done. The worst part about it was that I was earning a “C” in my keyboarding class and this was my parent’s way of raising that grade. Needless to say I can type much faster than the average person!
Brandon: The worst job that I had was one of the first ones that I had after graduate school. Ironically, the work was actually interesting, and the people I worked with were great. The thing that was difficult for me was adjusting to the culture of the organization. It was a very quiet office and everyone worked on their own projects and stayed to themselves for the most part. Unless there was a specific need to collaborate, no one really spoke to each other. As a person that thrives on collaboration and engaging other people it was initially very difficult for me to adapt. However, once adjusted, I learned the valuable skills of patience, flexibility, and most important adaptability to new situations.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Similar to many others, we initially started our business based on something that we were passionate about and very good at doing; however, as we would quickly discover, there was so much more to having a company that just “loving your job”! Initially, we wanted to provide our service to anyone willing to pay for them, didn’t have a targeted approach to our business, and didn’t have any type of strategic plan that we were basing our business decisions on. If we could start all over again, developing a strategic plan would have occurred in the very beginning before we began providing services to anyone.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read, read, and read some more! In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to accept early on that you do not know everything and the scary truth that over time you will inevitably run into issues, both in your industry and in your business. Thankfully, there are many resources available can help you navigate whatever you are facing; articles, books, magazines, blogs – no matter what your preference is there is an extremely high possibility that someone has run into your issue before and provided a solution that you can consider.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Networking to create substantial relationships and being willing to help those who you network with (via referrals or information) has proven to be an effective strategy that helped grow our business. In many cases, people fall trap to the quantity over quality trap when networking – they meet many people at an event, send them all a quick follow up to ask for a referral, and add them to their LinkedIn network. In our opinion, this approach doesn’t allow you to organically create a relationship that can be fostered. Instead, we like to cultivate relationships with a select few people at a time. This gives us the opportunity to establish a mutually beneficial relationship that is more than merely transactional.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As a special event firm, it is extremely important that we have a firm grasp of the expected income and expenses for each client in order to meet our expected margins. Early on, we did not have a systematic way to estimate all of the necessary expenses, which you can imagine lead to some issues. Unfortunately, we didn’t even realize this until we ended up losing money on some of our events. However, once we identified this problem, we took a step back and really assessed all of our expected expenses, developed a budget for ourselves, and forced ourselves to stick to it!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As entrepreneurs, one thing we always try to do is eat a filling and healthy breakfast, but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. It would be great if there was a company that catered primarily to entrepreneurs, and delivered breakfast at a scheduled time to our front door first thing in the morning!
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
We turn on Family Fued and Dr. Phil reruns to serve as background noise in our office. LOL
What software and web services do you use?
We use traditional Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite for the majority of our daily tasks. Additionally, we leverage social media platforms, such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to engage and share pictures of our events with our supporters.
What do you love about them?
One of the best things about both the Microsoft and Adobe tools, is the large community of users across the world, and the seemingly endless number of forums about any related topic. We were very proficient with Microsoft before started our business, but both of us were brand new to Adobe. Now thanks to the community at large, we can hold our own with most novice users! The social media tools that we use are great ways to share things with others and really stay up to date on industry trends across the globe. In the events industry, it is pivotal to keep creative ideas flowing, and these tools are a great mechanism to do continually spur creativity.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is one book that we HIGHLY recommend to the community. It does a great job explaining success from a “non-traditional” perspective and forces readers to assess how they are using their time, especially if their aim is to become a master of their particular craft.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Joel Osteen has been a tremendous influence on our thinking. His strong Christian beliefs, positive outlook, and relatability have become core to everything that we do. Being an entrepreneur is full up peaks and valleys, and it is just as important to stay focused on the positive while you are in the valleys as it is in the peaks.