Where It All Began...
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Hi! I'm Melissa, owner and event planner for MH Event Productions & Consulting! First of all, thank you for visiting my site and reading this post. I'm so excited to kick start this thing, but this actually isn't my first blog - A few years ago I got engaged in which everyone thought it was going to be a breeze to plan since I do it for a living. Boy, were they wrong! I always loved writing so it was the perfect time to start a blog of my own. I had it on my former website, but I couldn't bare to lose it so you can still read it at My Wedding Planning Blog. It's literally all about my journey of planning my wedding while also offering free tips and tricks. If you haven't read it or if you have, you'll find out (or already know) that I am a very open and honest person in which you can see in my writing; it's raw and real so you can expect the same thing here.
This year I expanded my business by bringing in the lovely Jessica Pickering who will be managing all the weddings and lifestyle events while I focus on social, corporate, creative and community-based events in addition to my 2nd business, MH Style Consulting. Long story short, we decided to start a blog together to offer free advice for ALL event types. But before we do, here's a little bit about me:
When it comes to my background, believe it or not, it's retail (hence why I have a 2nd business in personal styling and shopping as well as merchandising). Although my start in retail was with sales which then lead me into merchandising, I was actually planning the department events so that's really when I got exposed to the industry. So overall, my event background is fashion show production. If you've worked with me before whether it was a graduation party or a wedding, now you probably know (and see) the traits I had the day of and how they relate to a production background ;)
When it came to retail, my big start was with Herbergers (which has since closed) where I was in sales as well as merchandising. l then went off to Macy's in which I worked at 2 locations during my time there, including Mall of America. I focused more on the personal styling and merchandising side of things which I LOVED! After turning 21, I realized I needed to get out of the Minnesota bubble so I decided to move to Arizona where my brother lived (and still does). I left 2 weeks later. Best move of my life! Although I still had family there, I was still on my own. I went to school, made new friends, and most importantly, I developed a skill set that made me the person I am today. I am just so grateful that I took that leap.
I ended up staying in retail during my time in Arizona, but got into the bridal side of things. If you have seen the show Say Yes To The Dress, that's exactly what I did! I was a bridal consultant at Demetrios - Scottsdale (which I believe has since closed as well), but I also had the opportunity to manage their marketing, PR as well as events. These included store events and vendoring events like the bridal expos you see everywhere or have attended. On the side, I was also managing the merchandising for a small clothing brand in which I was able to produce a big fashion show in addition to - not like I didn't have enough going on, right? Remember, I was also in school.
After awhile, I wanted something new and transferred into the direct marketing industry as an assistant marketing manager. I learned so much about sales, communication and the psychology behind it all. Again, definitely a skill set I'm thankful for because I wouldn't be the business person I am today. I love talking to people, getting to know them and just overall networking! While I was there, I was very fortunate to be able to travel for about a year of it. I went to Dallas as well as Arlington, Birmingham, even Anchorage! I experienced so many cultures and lifestyles during those business trips, it was life changing! Anywho, fast forward a little bit to when the marketing firm decided to open a new location in Miami. Yes, Miami! I packed up my things after getting word and left a few weeks later (do you see a pattern here?).
It was super scary moving to Miami actually. I knew NO ONE! I didn't have my brother there anymore and I was so homesick, it was ridiculous! After a few months, the marketing firm decided to shut down which meant I had no job = no income in a very expensive part of the US. I got to the point where I didn't even know how I was going to pay rent so I started looking into homeless shelters. After the firm moved to Miami, I basically took a pay cut and my family didn't come from money so there wasn't anything to fall back on. It was the scariest part of my life. However (and some how), I got back on my feet and found an awesome arts organization just in the nick of time. They were hiring for a director of events IN Miami (HQ was based out of Laguna at the time). Holy moly, hallelujah! There it was, my dream job! I scouted artists in all categories such as visual art, photography, hair, makeup, fashion, performing arts, film and music and produce bi-monthly showcase events. It gave them a platform to get out there and promote their work. I took it a step further and would manage them leading up to the event day by prepping them on what they needed to bring, how to present themselves, etc. I grew that market to around 200 guests per event to over 700 guests in less than year + I was able to open the Orlando market too! After awhile, my production assistant went off on her own and opened Tampa #bittersweet. It was the best job of all time and it really prepared me for what my future would hold.
The nice thing about that job was that I was a contractor so I could produce my events how I wanted (with some guideline, of course) so every month I made them different which included something interactive. It was nerve racking sometimes though because I had press coming to these events so I had to make sure it was better than the last. Examples: I had the makeup and hair stylists come up with a theme and then have their models act it out whether they were actually acting or stationary as if they were in a photo shoot. We did live painting, an actual live photo shoot, etc. It was so much fun! It really got my creative wheels going which is why now I offer community-based events; whether it's me planning and hosting these events or if someone hires me to do it. I have such a large network in addition to a creative mindset that anything is possible. And let's not forget, all the while we are supporting local businesses, artists and organizations which is something I'm super passionate about....in case you didn't pick up on that yet.
You may be thinking where was my fashion career while I was doing all these events. Well, I was actually the photo shoot director and stylist for the online boutique, Hot Miami Styles. How I was doing it all, no idea, but it seems easy now that I say it considering everything I have taken on now #lifeofanentrepreneur.
After a few years of living in South Florida, I started talking to my now husband. Long story short, he has a family of a million people so there was no way he was going to come down to Miami so I made the move back. Although my plan was to keep the director of events gig while I was in Minnesota in which I would travel back and forth, I was going to get another job upon my move. I found one very quickly and had to move a few weeks later (seriously, do you notice a trend here?). I couldn't even pack up everything so I had to make arrangements to fly back to Florida in order to finish moving out of my apartment.
Skipping through my very entertaining road trip back (which, yes, it involved the famous black cat of mine that some of you may know, Schnookums), I was now the venue manager and event coordinator for 2 venues in Stillwater. I was fortunate enough to take it over where I was able to dabble my hands into the business development side of things including the construction of the 2nd venue. It wasn't open quite yet when I came on board so ask me about what you need to build a venue because I know. Side note: This is the reason why I offer consulting not only to event clients, but also venues. With my background in all different event types from creative productions to weddings, I know what to look for in a venue to make it a success as well as what sells. So if you're reading this and you're a struggling venue or someone that wants to open a venue, hit me up!
Although I was able to plan and produce in-house events and I was now a remote director for the arts organization which meant I got to travel to produce some of the other showcases nationwide in addition to Florida, there was something missing after a year - Me wanting to be my own boss!! I was sick of working for people. I wanted to just be on my own, make my own schedule and help people. At this point too, I was sick of working in the editorial world with my wardrobe styling. I wanted to help averages Joe's and Jane's look good AND feel good in their own skin instead of styling models day after day. So this is when I made the decision to take a job closer to my house which ended up being at a high profile restaurant. I wanted to go somewhere that would help build my network while I began the process of starting my own business while also allowing my creative mind to run in building THEIR events and business. However, the owner didn't want such a thing. I was only there a month because the last thing they said was to go through the phone book and call corporations to talk to their contact who plans the outings. Ummm....what?! Hell no, I was not about to go through the phone book. So I left and began my journey as an entrepreneur.
As any start-up knows, there of course was some "grunt work" I had to do. One of which was just having a job where I could clock in and out and be done. I couldn't handle building 2 businesses plus a demanding full time job so I just worked as a concierge at an apartment building which was a GREAT platform for building my businesses actually. I won't go into detail, but let's just say that I got to be creative with the resident events, I got to style a Vikings player for my wardrobe styling business, the list could go on and on! With just my luck, the building actually sold to another management company so I went on to work in the merchandising world for a change, Evine (now ShopHQ) to be exact. If anyone knows about home shopping networks or just TV in general, the hours are/can be crazy. I had no social life; I could never make plans because who knew if I was going to be working second shift which was 3:30pm-midnight and then have to turn around and come back at 6am and work till 2pm. I did love that job so I didn't want to lose it, so I just switched to freelance where I could pick up any shift or decline a shift (still do this to this day). So that's really when I went full time with my businesses - August 2018.
So now that you know basically my lifelong career story, why do I do what I do? Like I mentioned, I always have been drawn to helping people. After I did my first event on my own, my client was so impressed with my work and how my ability to take my production background and put it towards a wedding, was impressive. In addition to, after working with my first average Jane wardrobe client, she said, "Thank you so much. My husband actually looks at me now and called me beautiful." That's when I knew that I found my calling...or should I say, "callings"?
Now being almost 4 years into my businesses, I now offer so many different, and custom, packages along with services because of my experience where I really am a one-stop shop! Besides offering wardrobe styling (because how could I not?), we offer travel accommodations, floral design, PR, even website development! Obviously, there's more but just to name a few ;) I really do take pride in my business and how we are so unique and versatile, but most importantly I love how we treat our clients. Everyone is treated like gold whether it's a small shower or a large fashion show. I just overall love seeing my clients and their guests have a good time and feel so relieved that they really didn't have to do a thing.
So what can you expect throughout the planning process or the day of when you go with MH? I tell full planning clients that they really only need to make decisions, pay the bills and show up the day of. That's it! In addition to and depending on the event, we show up with a team ready to go, dressed all in black and wearing walkies. No matter if the event is small or big like a wedding, we think of every event as a production. We will go above and beyond for our clients because we want them to just have, again, a good time. And if you think it stops the day of, you're wrong! What does that means? You'll just have to try us out and see ;)
With this blog, we hope to educate and bring new ideas to the table for all of our readers and followers. Thanks again and we can't wait to start this part of our journey with you.
Till next time -
Melissa / Owner