Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is event planning extraordinaire Melissa Andre, whose boutique special events and creative firm is shaking things up in a major way within the industry by going above and beyond with every last detail in their approach to producing stand-out events…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
Melissa Andre Events is an award-winning boutique special events and creative firm specializing in lifestyle industries including beauty, fashion, hospitality and spirits, as well as the design and execution of personal and social events.
Creative campaigns we generate, and events we have designed, are heavily featured in newspapers, lifestyle television and design magazines, radio, talk shows and blogs internationally. We’ve worked with brands like Hendrick’s Gin, Swarovski, DSquared2, and Momofuku; and produced parties for Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, NHL pros Mikhael Grabovski, Mike Cammalleri, and Kris Ver Steeg, Gold Medal Olympian Jennifer Botterill, and Top Chef Finalist David Chrystian.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I wanted to create a career for myself that blended my interest in running a business with my fine arts background and love of design and fashion. The events and work we produce are really uniquely designed. I love producing parties and products as much as I love creating and managing our ad campains, writing personal posts for our blog, and creating an office space that our clients and staff love being in. We have a rosé champagne bar and an entrance filled with cherry blossom trees. I love being involved in every part of the business. There’s an element of whimsy and fantasy in everything we do.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of what I do on the daily is working with so many different people – clients, vendors, specialists, and experts. I see a different group of people every day. Coincidentally, it’s also the most challenging part.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
We’re expanding into new markets right now so I’d like to keep working on that.
There are some brands I’d still love to work with so it’s a definite goal as well. I’m working on a book and collaborating on some fun new projects. Really exciting things in the works for us.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
My design process for private events is unlike anyone else’s in our market. We really are doing things that have never been done before, which requires a lot of additional work and control over the process that vendors and venues aren’t used to. One of the reasons I started my company was because I was seeing the same ideas produced over and over again and I recognized that people must be as bored of them as I was. It has been difficult to re-train vendors and re-set expectations at the major hotels, venues, and suppliers who are used to re-doing the same things over and over again. I do believe that our way is the best way, and it’s certainly worked for us and our clients – but the unfamiliar always makes people uncomfortable and it takes effort to change people’s minds.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Of course not – but money has provided certain freedoms and experiences that have brought me happy times. Mainly travel – I have been to some amazing spots all over the world.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The first time one of my designs was published in a magazine. The first time we booked a celebrity client. The point where I had too much business and had to hire a second, then third, then fourth staff member. It’s all really exciting.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Once you think you’ve come up with a great idea, work harder and come up with something 10 times better.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
I spend a lot of time working and drinking lattes at Soho House. Summer sangria on the Spoke Club rooftop in the summer. La Carnita for tacos (and popsicles). My office is on Davenport right next to Joso’s, so I spend a lot of time there as well. The Chase and Luma are delicious and they have great city views.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I try to travel anytime I have time off from work… and I go through as many design books as I can.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
New York and Los Angeles a few times a year.
I recently travelled to Thailand and loved it. Bali is amazing. There is no place like Paris or London. I’m so lucky to be able to work remotely as much as I do.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
T.I. and Rihanna’s ‘Live your Life’ – “Til the game ends, and the clock stops, we’re gonna post up on the top spot.”
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I’m happy doing anything creative. I’d love to work closely with some of my favourite fashion designers – Dolce and Gabbana, Oscar De La Renta, Marchesa…
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I work really closely with the Remix Project. Since I grew up involved in the fine arts, this charity has a special place in my heart.
What to you is notable?
I’m so inspired by young entrepreneurs. I know how much work and dedication it takes run a business so I’m endlessly inspired by all of the talented people I meet who are changing the landscape of their industries.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone 5s, gold.
Top outside photos by 5ive15ifteen, middle photo by Mango Studios.