As many of you know, my staff and I were very pleased to welcome attendees into our design house for the second PB Protege Program where we worked side-by-side inside a raw space to create a real wedding transformation. One of the attendees was the talented Mara Torres, the founder of Blanco By Mara in Puerto Rico has joined us a second time and impressed us on both occasions. Helpful, talented, humble and deeply committed, Mara is a wonderful artist and I thought she would be a great person to interview about her experience with the course. Please see our conversation below and feel free to ask any additional questions below!
Please Tell us a little about yourself and your journey into the event industry.
I have always been a creative person. My journey into the event industry started in 2001 when I designed and handmade the invitations for my own wedding. I started with a home-based business where I offered my clients exclusive handmade invitations. After a very short time I had my first store and later expanded by having other invitation lines at the store and started as a wedding planner. As a planner my eye started to point towards the florals and design of the events. That is when I decided to start as an event designer, in June 2010, I planned my last wedding. As of today Blanco by Mara is an event design company that offers the clients florals, design and rentals for any social event. I have in business for almost 15 years and can’t imagine myself doing anything else with my life;I love and enjoy my career.
You just attended your second PB Protege event. Tell us a little about your experience in both courses and why you chose to return.
Words will never be enough to express my experiences at PB Designs and how welcome you all made me feel. I just never imagined I would learn as much as I did and this is because you are all willing to share your knowledge. The humbleness in all of you, all the shared knowledge and the way the whole Preston Bailey team collaborates inspires you. The courses give you an amazing hands-on experience. I guess you surpassed my expectations! I will be back!
How did you feel about your classmates? Tell us a little about your experience working with them.
I love meeting new people. I made connections and interacted with people from all over the world. I have stayed in touch with some of them and built new relationships. You learn so much from them just by listening to all their stories. Every country has something different and unique about their event trends and culture, it was very interesting learning from all of them.
What do you feel was most challenging part of the last course?
The most challenging part of the last course was trying to be all over the place at the same time. Since we were working on a real wedding, we had to finish on time and there was something to learn at every corner of the venue. I just wanted my hands on every arrangement!
What do you feel was the most rewarding?
I would never have imagined that I would ever be a part of a Preston Bailey Wedding. Being there to see the whole transformation of that raw empty space and being a part of it was the most rewarding.
Tell me what the one thing you would change would be. Don’t be shy, I can take it!
On day one you arrive and get to know everybody and on day two you don’t want it to be over. I would definitely make the courses at least one day longer. For those like me that have attended a past course I would have all the talked classes more deep into specifics. I am not a planner and yet have learned and applied so many things learned from Kathy. I love working on my social media and have learned from Brenda something different on both courses. I would make longer classes for specific topics and smaller groups for hands on experiences.
What are the three best pieces of advice you would give someone who is planning to join us in the next course?
The best three pieces of advice would be:
Don’t think twice about attending the course, there is no way you would regret it.
Learn not only from Preston and his team, but also from your peers.
Don’t just attend to learn from others. There is always something you can share with others. Share your knowledge.
Mara, one thing that we love about you here at PB is your dedication to your craft and willingness to help others in their progress. We saw you helping everyone set up their social media and giving tips. Tell me, what is your best advice for someone just starting out?
I was thrilled to help so many with their social media! First of all don’t be afraid to start. Always be yourself, stay real. Get inspired but make your own original. Work on each event as if it was the most important of all, always give your best. Share your good experiences, but don’t hide the bad ones, you can help others so they don’t make the same mistakes. I believe that our event industry would benefit if we had more support amongst vendors/competitors. We will never stop learning and we can learn a lot from each other. Always believe in yourself!
Lastly, please tell me what three things you feel you gained from the courses and something you wish you learned more about.
Knowledge, connections & a great mentor. In both courses I learned a lot of mechanics and skills, but wish to learn even more. Most of the times the how to’s are so simple and yet you never imagined it. You tend to figure out how to make something and there is always a simpler way. During the hands-on classes I had my imagination thinking how to transform all the acquired knowledge with my own creativity.
Thank you so much, Mara.
For those of you who attended the course: Do you feel this is an accurate description of your own experience?