The Event Planning Guru
Back in 2001, Marley Majcher decided to transform her smallish Pasadena catering business into something that went well beyond goat cheese-encrusted bread sticks and death by chocolate. "In a way, the new company found me," says Majcher, a marketing grad from Georgetown's school of business administration. "My catering clients kept asking if I had a photographer, or could I arrange for flowers, or did I have a great DJ?" It didn't take the genius of Bill Gates to figure out what her next step would be: She renamed the company The Party Goddess and started offering one-stop-shopping event planning for high rollers.
She has been celebrating ever since. Majcher has orchestrated gigs for the season opening of the Hollywood Bowl, the Critics Choice Awards, celebrities she can't mention, as well as exclusive dinner parties and corporate outings. "While our business is primarily on the West Coast," says Majcher, "we pretty much go where our clients are. The minimum is $5,000 per soiree-and the price tag can quickly escalate to six figures."
Majcher has used a few inside tricks to fatten profits. She doesn't try to make money just on each event, but on every line item in the budget. "The numbers are very important," she says. "I'm convinced that a lack of reverence for them is the reason why many startups go under. Loving what you do is not enough. When your own money is on the line, that's when you learn hard lessons about cash flow." WetFeet invited itself into Majcher's business to find out if her life is indeed a party.
"Just got back from a networking event I put together at a nail salon. Sounds ridiculous, but it actually worked. I met a woman a few months back who owns a high-end resale store, and we clicked. So tonight we launched our 'bosses' networking group of female executives and had our meeting at this beauty hot spot (run by a fellow female boss). It seemed like a good idea to multitask so we got pedicures, introduced our companies, and swapped leads."
"I just realized the bank statement arrived and it will take a while to pore through. My ADD kicked in as I jumped from the bank to the linen order that just showed up for my summer bride. Evidently the $55 tablecloths that I quoted her now rent for $150 each. Help!"
"My first meeting this morning was at Starbucks for my fifth cup of coffee of the day to revise the schedule and pick entertainment for our corporate job in Colorado. We confirmed the mechanical bull, roller roper to lasso the calf, and the quick-draw shoot-out. We decided on Saturday's entertainment too-the inflatable mountain climb, simulated snow skiing, and a 3-in-1 photo booth."
"Instead of scheduling an appointment this morning before my 11 o'clock, I decided to catch up on emails and brainstorm for my upcoming events. A hugely important part of my job is translating a client's words like 'enchanting' and 'ethereal' into realities like linens, ice bars, and lighting. The tricky part can be making those translations within a budget the customer can live with!"
"I shot off a few emails to some potential clients for a marketing luncheon I'm hosting in two weeks, modeled after Oprah's 'Favorite Things.' The first time I tried a luncheon like this, I landed a big job!"
"This year I've tried pay-per-click advertising, and I'm convinced that I hit pay dirt because of it. Last Friday, I got an email amid a lot of madness, asking me if I was available for a photo shoot with MTV on Tuesday. Was I available? I would've flown home from Russia if I had to."
"Finished up the biggest ass-whupping staff meeting of all time. The ladies in my office can't proofread proposals, or even do addition. We have now spent the last three hours reviewing proposals that should've gone out at the beginning of the week and changing 12-inch linens (Who has a 12-inch linen?) to 12-foot linens, among other things."
"I had to sequester myself without email so I could concentrate on poring through a bunch of new vendor material. It's crucial to stay on top of what things cost."
"On the way to my New Year's Eve client, I talked to my 40th-birthday client, who wants to cut costs. She's so freakin' nice that I decided to give her a break on all of the prices. Let's hope this nice streak doesn't continue or TPG will be bleeding lots of red ink."
"One of the problems with being an entrepreneur is that you wear too many hats. I try to follow Stephen Covey's guideline about 'sharpening the saw' and that's why I opted to take a sales course the other day to improve my skills. The tough part about that, though, is that when you're away from the office everything piles up. Oh, and one of my staff gave notice, too. The joy of being your own boss never ends."
MBA Jungle, Aug./Sept. 2007