Tips for the Non-Event Planner
If you don’t know already, and you haven’t been on Instagram in ages, I’m having my first event in New York this Spring. So exciting, right? Cupcakes & Coils is an idea that I thought about last year. After working in the fashion industry and seeing the lack of coily-haired women of color, I felt the need to do something. I decided to start Cupcakes & Coils as a way for women, who looked like me, to come together in an intimate setting and talk about the things we all face while being natural. From Corporate America, to dating and working out, to the most important self confidence; I wanted to create an experience where women can learn and grow, together.
Since last December, I’ve been planning. If you don’t know me, I’m a planner, planner. I like to have things done in advance so I am not rushing to get things complete the last minute. In January, I signed a contract and secured my venue for FREE, thank God! . In February, I secured my sponsors. In March, my goal was to plan and get people excited and ready for the event in April. Last week, I got the news that no one ever wants to here when you have an event coming up; the venue contacted me and said that they had to cancel my event due to booking a private (paying client) event. Pause and let that sit in. One month until my event and my venue cancelled on me.
I was so frustrated. I did everything right on my end, so it was frustrating to have things come to a halt due to issues out of my control. I won’t get too much into the specifics regarding the venue, but just know I was devastated. This was my first event in New York and I was hitting a road block. For the last week, I spent my days contact venues about hosting Cupcakes & Coils.. Apparently, there are a lot of events going on that same date, so a lot of venues were booked. Additional, since I was getting my initial space for free, I didn’t budget for event space. Therefore, all of the spaces that were available were way over my budget.
Keeping the aesthetic and vibe of my event was the one thing I wasn’t willing to waver on. First impressions are everything, right? While I could’ve settled for a small lobby or room, I didn’t want that to be the first impression I left people with. So, I had to make the hard decision to postpone my event to a later date. Did I want to do that, hell no, but I felt it was the best decision for the overall experience and my sanity.
During this experience, I’ve learned a lot of vital things. I decide to craft up a list of 5 important tips to keep in mind when planning your next event. By no means am I an expert, yet, I’ve experienced a panic that I don’t want any else to experience. So here it goes:
5 Tips for the Non-Event Planner
Life Happens, It’s Okay
Understand that things happen. You can cross your T’s and dot your I’s but still have unexpected issues arise. If your like me and your venue cancels on you or if speakers fall through, it’s okay. Don’t think you are the first one to experience it and most importantly don’t think it’s because of something you did. Don’t stress things out of your control. Figure out your next move and keep going. Remember, everything happens for a reason!
Always Have a Back up Plan
I used to always think that having a plan B meant that I didn’t believe in my initial plan. However, that’s not true, and I’m learning that. You should always have a back up plan just in case. Remember, things out of your control can happen all the time. To eliminate the last minute run around and unneeded stress, have a plan B ready and in place for the venue, speakers and anything else that could potentially fall through.
Add emergency Fluff to Your Budget
When creating your budget, be sure to add some cushion for emergencies. If your event is going to cost $400 make your budget for $600 to cover those unexpected last minute changes. Also, budget as if everything costs. No matter if you are getting things sponsored, be sure to add the anticipated cost, just in case. I’ve learned that you can never over budget, but you can definitely under budget. If
Don’t Stress Outside Noise
When events don’t go as planned, we find ourselves worrying about what others will think. Will people not take you serious moving forward since you postponed? Will attendees want their money back? Will they laugh at you in group chats? The reality is, all of this may occur but SO WHAT! At the end of the day, the ones with the negative noise are probably not having events so their opinion is irrelevant. Keep your focus on what matters and that’s ensuring that you have a successful event.
Be Transparent + Stay Present
As humans, our initial reaction to failed plans is that we like to shut down. We like to hide, get in our feelings and start the “woe is me” chant. STOP. Like I stated earlier, life happens. As the planner, you owe your sponsors and audience full transparency. Be sure to reach out to your sponsors and ticket buyers first letting them know about the change before going to social. Let them know briefly why things have changed and reassure them that the event will still be a success. Continue to promote your event on social and as always KEEP THAT SAME ENERGY that you had from day one!
These are the main things that I have learned through my event hiccup and I felt it was only right to share. I know there are a lot of people contemplating having events and I believe these tips can definitely help in your process. If you have any more tips or advice, be sure to comment below and share!