By Kim Somers Egelsee and Corinne Carr
I am a T.V. host, author and inspirational speaker and love to be inspired while being creative. When I am writing, planning an event, decorating for a party, painting, choosing an outfit for something spectacular, or thinking up a new workshop, it is extremely helpful when someone or something inspires or teaches me. Creative inspiration can sometimes come from a speaker at a seminar I attend that gives me a new idea, or my Mom showing me a new painting she created. It comes from a look at new fashions on the Romeo & Juliet Couture website and falling in love with them to wear, as I visualize my confidence and success at the events I could wear them at. Often, I come up with amazing ideas as I go on adventures with my two daughters to a botanical gardens or a park. The inspiration is endless.
As I am currently planning a huge red carpet book launch event, there is so much to do with the DJ, food, decorations, speakers, venue, topics and more. I began to think of where I have received both the learning and the inspiration for being able to plan large events like this. It was from a great friend of mine, Corinne Carr. Corinne and I used to be roommates, and have known each other for over ten years. She is a highly successful event designer, decorator, interior designer and businesswoman who balances it all. She is a true “mompreneur.” I used to go help her with big events such as a huge birthday party at an art gallery, a charity fundraiser for a big hockey team, or a giant bash for a famous Hollywood star. I learned the ropes from her, as I observed her artistic talent, and organization. I realize that this is why my events are always so seamless and fun. I am so grateful to Corinne, and feel that she has so much wisdom to offer others, so I decided to interview her.
How did you get started and when? Talk about your climb to success.
My background is in interior design, but really, art and designing has always been a huge part of my life. Both of my parents are artists, and I just grew up with art all around me. While I was still in school for interior design, I actually started Creative Occasions, and my very first event was a birthday party for a five year old in California. That was sort of like starting at square one, and now I’ve grown the business into what it is today. We do large scale events, huge parties and celebrations – and also private events and parties.
I don’t think someone’s climb to success, at least for me, is ever really finished. There’s always room for improvement, room to do bigger and better events. And for me, it’s not so much about finding success as it is about following dreams and doing something that I absolutely love. I feel fortunate that my passion is what I get to do every day!!
I know that business success is important because each event we do has to be perfect, we have to bring each client’s event to life – and when we do that right, that is success. But I’m also very blessed to have an awesome husband and two wonderful daughters. Personal success is equally, if not more important, than business success. I’m grateful that my husband is super supportive of the business, and in fact he became a part of it over 4 years ago. So together we get to share in both personal and professional success!
Explain your path to getting to where you are now? How long did it take?
I’ve always been a really hands on type person. When I was a kid, I used to love to help my dad in the garage. I would work on different projects around the house with my mom. I was never afraid to get involved with a project and get dirty in the process, so I think that building props just came naturally to me. I’m all too familiar with getting paint all over me while building, but then I also get to dress up for client meetings. It’s almost like leading a double life.
To get where you want to be, I think it’s a continual process, at least it has been for me. Things constantly change in this industry. We always need to create new and bigger props, and we’re always working in new venues and spaces. I like to say that the one thing that stays the same is that everything always changes.
What’s the best way to market and build clientele?
Referrals! Referrals are key in this business. And if you’re good at what you do, they will roll right in. If you think about it, every guest at an event is a potential client. And what better way for them to see what you can do than by experiencing it first-hand. When a client is happy, they will tell their guests and friends. So definitely referrals make up a big part of our clientele.
Another good portion of our customers are actually repeat clients. We have some that start out as corporate clients, maybe for a company celebration, and then the client will call us for a wedding or baby shower. Repeat clients make us proud because it means what we’re doing something right!
To get new clients, I also find that direct, one-on-one meetings are a great way to show a client what we have to offer. I’m super passionate about what I do, and I think that is conveyed in those meetings.
Describe your work ethic.
To be in the event and design industry, and to be successful at it, you have to be a hard worker – and I am! I’m also a perfectionist, which is a good thing in this business. I always go above and beyond for every event and every client. To me, your event has to be special, no matter what it is or what your budget. The budget doesn’t dictate the type of service you get. Every client gets the same level of service from us, which is personal service with attention to every single detail.
What’s life like as a working mom and how do you balance it all?
Laughter! I think that no matter what you do as a working mom, you never feel completely balanced. I’m a mom, a sister, a wife, a dog rescuer, a business owner… I’m pulled in so many different directions. I wish I could increase the 24 hours to 48 hours in a day! I truly believe that it’s not so much about the amount of time spent with loved ones, but more about the quality of the time spent. Make sure you’re doing something fun or meaningful. Just today I had a couple hours where I got to take my two girls bowling. It meant getting away from work, not being at the computer, ignoring the ringing cell phone and pings of text messages. I just needed to be with my daughters and spend that quality time with them. Then later in the day, it was back to work for me – working on proposals pretty much for the rest of the day. But spending that time with my girls rejuvenated me and reminded me of why I do what I do! It’s all for them and my family.
Describe any failures you had in your business and how you turned them into learning or gifts?
Failure is a harsh word and I believe that any shortcoming can be looked at as a learning opportunity. I started Creative Occasions in California, and I grew and learned from my early time in the business and industry there. When I came to Arizona, I felt that I got to start fresh with all that knowledge! I knew what would work and what wouldn’t. Learning from your own experiences is so valuable. And when you can recognize that you have certain weaknesses in addition to your strengths, you can find people who will complement your own abilities, or who can do something better than you, which will be beneficial for your business. Matt and I are a good team and him coming on board with the business was a blessing and a gift.
Describe your most successful moment in your business and personal life.
When we purchased a piece of land and built the new warehouse and I saw it full of the props we built – and then actually outgrew that space in just a few months – that’s one of my proudest moments in the business. Like I said before, that climb to success is never really over and done with for me. But when I stood back and saw all that we’d accomplished inside that warehouse, I had that completely satisfied and fulfilled feeling. Whenever I go into the warehouse, I just feel like a kid in a candy store. And a silly little early-on moment of success for me was back when I was in California, just starting out, and I received a tip for an event I did – and the tip was bigger than my first event budget! Like I said, it’s silly but it really settled on me that a customer was truly happy with what I did and wanted to go above and beyond to thank me for it.
In my personal life, success for me has been to watch my children grow and the interaction between the two of them. One is 4 years old and the other is only 10 months old, but seeing them together is my personal success. It makes all of the hard work I do for the business worth it. I can’t wait to see what they will be in the future. Will they be artists? Entrepreneurs? I can’t wait to see what their lives will become. It’s very exciting to think about!
What’s the best way to get into event decorating?
If you’re passionate about it, you’ll find a way to get into the business. Some of it can be taught, but some of it is just natural talent. And more than people realize, they are artistic! Each and every one of us has an artist inside. It might be harder work for some, but when someone taps into their own talents and abilities, people are surprised with what they can create!
Just find a way to be creative in your own everyday life. For me, as a child I constantly re-decorate my bedroom. Every month, I’d try something different. It’s also important to really see the world around you. You can find inspiration everywhere; magazines, clothing, of course traveling. I see things when I’m just out and about at a store, or even daycare, and it sparks an idea.
Basically, just figure out what you like and start decorating and designing. There are so many different facets of design out there – interior design, web design, event design. Just go look around and see what inspires you! And of course it can never hurt to have a mentor!
Describe a few major tips on how to make your event or party more fabulous.
Well, hire Creative Occasions, of course! Just kidding… Right now, mixing numerous fabric colors and textures is really popular — the camera loves it, too, so you are guaranteed some fun and interesting photos! And in this industry, bigger is always still better. Big props and tall centerpieces really make an impact on your guests when they come into your event! And if you’re working on a tighter budget, “bigger” can give the illusion that you spent more money to create your fabulous looking event.
A personalized take home gift is not only a great memory of the event, but it can also provide your guests with an unforgettable experience. It could be a photo or an interactive video — there are so many options these days! Be creative and imaginative, but always remember to let your personality shine through!
Most importantly, if you are the one hosting the event, be sure to smile and have fun. Once the party has begun, it’s your job to be the hostest with the mostest! You are the one who sets the mood, so enjoy the event like you’re one of the guests!
Describe your attitude and philosophy related to business.
Whatever time and energy it takes to get the job done right – I’ll do it! I always want to exceed every client’s expectations. The event design business can be tough and try people’s patience. But the only time I actually like to see someone cry is when they walk into the decorated room for the first time and become so overwhelmed with what Creative Occasions has designed for them. Those are the good kind of tears!
Corinne Carr can be found at www.creativeoccasions.com Her husband Matt Carr and her daughters travel for business and fun and are the most fab event decorators around!
Kim Somers Egelsee can be found at www.kimlifecoach.com Her new book, “Getting Your Life to a Ten +; tips and tools for finding your purpose, being in your power and living an amazing life” will be launched on March 14th ! Buy a copy on Amazon between 9-11am Pacific time and help make it a best seller!