What an exciting couple of weeks ahead! Not only do I have my upcoming PB Protégé Class to look forward to, but also my event with Sandy Silvera in Panama on March 2, 2015. Today, I would like to share my interview with Sandy about her experience in my last PB Protégé course. I want all of you to know how fortunate I feel to have the opportunity to get to know and work with you and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.
Please share your thoughts on the interview below.
Tell us a Little about yourself and your journey into Planning?
The opportunity to explore this industry came about in a very special way. After obtaining my dream job at one of the most prestigious companies in my country, my mother had to have knee surgery. I decided to quit my job to take care of her. At this point in time, I took a break and reevaluated my options. My best friend at the time was helping me taking care of my mother and driving her to her therapy sessions. A year later, I was planning my wedding as we became engaged! It was then that this part of my journey began. After my wedding, I realized that a lot of people were calling me. My mother was feeling very excited, and we decided that we wanted to do something new. That’s how we set up Elegant Flowers! Today we are about to celebrate our 10 year anniversary!
Congratulations! What do you enjoy most about being a planner and what do you find is most challenging?
I really enjoy all that I do. My job constantly keeps me interested and in my mother’s company. What I like most is event planning. It was for this reason that I got certified as a Wedding & Event Planner and, of course, I learned from the best! The challenge for me is flower arrangement. I understand the language of flowers, but it is my mother who executes most of the actual arrangements. I handle the event planning part of the business.
What is the most rewarding event that you have ever received from a client?
I have felt rewarded by every single one of them, and not just by way of planning. I get so involved with each client that all of the brides end up being my friends! Obviously, we are not just talking about monetary rewards, but of achievement and personal satisfaction. In this business, one does not always make a lot of money. At times, earnings are minimal, but that does not make it less interesting or rewarding for me. It must be profitable, for sure, but each event allows me to participate and become a fundamental part of a great story. I simply love what I do.
What has been your most challenging event thus far?
Every single event carries me to the next level and I always imagine what the next one will be like. However, the most demanding and challenging event I have had thus far was the one we did for New York TD Bank. The event was a seminar and awards’ ceremony for 400 employees. The event lasted four days, but the preparation took several months of hard work and dedication. I remember it as the best experience of my life! Weddings are beautiful, incredibly romantic, and very emotional, but they only last a couple of hours. My adrenaline lasted the whole four days with this event. On the last day, I felt that I had made it to the next level. We were having conversations with people from different countries in both English and Spanish because our clients wanted to know about every single detail of the event.
What are you most inspired by?
I am inspired by a lot of things: nature and its colors, fashion and trends, and people I know. The brides are my biggest source of inspiration. Listening to their stories makes my imagination fly. When we meet for the first time they tell me their stories and I start imagining how that day will look.
If you could change anything about our industry, what would it be?
In my country, people have a tendency to dismiss the studies involved with this profession. They think that it is a waste of time and money. In contrast, I see that in the United States the conferences and expositions are much more dynamic and just plain fun. They also have a great track record in terms of attendance of people wanting to learn, develop and grow. The best way to reach a professional level in this career is doing it under the guidance of those who have the greatest amount of experience and knowledge.
What is the best compliment you have ever received from a client?
There have been two compliments that have really made a mark in my life. The first one was from you. I once told you that I had mishandled some administrative issues and started crying in the middle of the office. To tell the truth, it was really embarrassing but, with that gentleness that so greatly characterizes you, you told me not to worry about it, that I had done well so far and shared that you had also made some bad financial decisions during his first years. That day, I was reborn. The other compliment was from the mother of the bride at a wedding I had put together. At first, she did not want me there.She could not understand why her daughter was hiring me. On the night of the wedding, something changed. She pulled me aside and told me that I was very good at my job and that I should never retire. She doesn’t know how much of an impact her words had on me that night.
Have you ever thought of quitting? If so, how did you move through that time?
Yes, I thought about it recently. Like every business owner, I went through many changes and not a little angst. My family life has a lot of influence on my profession. I am a mother of three wonderful boys and a wife to a fabulous husband who listens, supports and helps me find solutions to any and all problems. The work hours as an event planner are complicated since weddings can last from 5:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. All professions have complications. Doctors must always be willing to be there for their patients, lawyers for their clients, and planners for theirs as well. We event planners must be present to take care of all the details, supervise, and solve any unexpected problem that may crop up.
Can you tell us how you felt about the event as an attendee? What did you like and not like about it (I promise our technology will be better next time)?
For me, it was the realization of a dream! When I studied at the Wedding Planning Institute, they offered internships to outstanding women. Obviously, I wanted to participate, but as I don’t live in the United States, and I am married with three children, it was never an option. Spending three months away from my family was not a choice I would make. I dreamt of going beyond your office reception. With this event I had the opportunity to meet your staff and understand many of the situations I have lived through and experienced. In the PB Protege Course, I fulfilled my dream of spending two consecutive days with you and your team. Of course, I felt that I should ask a million questions since I never know when I will get another chance like this. I was particularly fascinated by the real time pricing information and the social networks connected to our profession. There were a lot of things that I wasn’t doing that I have now applied with great results.
What are the three best pieces of advice you would give someone who is just starting out?
My three best pieces of advice are summed up by patience, dedication, and sacrifice. It is simple; you should always know what you want to achieve, how to execute it, and what you need to do in order to achieve your goals.
We all have someone – a client, a friend, a mentor –who challenged and inspired us to go for our dreams. Tell us a little bit about who this person is for you.
It is quite obvious that I am madly in love with you! In Panama, everyone says I can’t speak of anything else. How can I not love you when you have been a fountain of inspiration to so many people? I marvel at your drive; I know that your are brilliant and have a quality to you that not everyone possesses: a combination of charisma and humility. I don’t mean to say that because you are humble you are simple. Your creations are known world-wide for being over-the-top! But, you are amiable and open to listening to people and sharing your knowledge, which is a gift and incomparable. This is an industry where ego is predominant and, for that reason, sometimes it is very hard to learn as no one wants to share. You are different.
Thank you so much, Sandy.
Readers: Will I see you in Panama and/or next week at my next event? If so, what are you most looking forward to?