Name: Jessica La-Rotta
Job: Event Planner / CEO
Industry: Social, Social Corporate, and now Weddings
Jessica and I met in quite a peculiar way. We were both chosen to be apart of the reality TV show All on the Line with Joe Zee. It’s not everyday “normal people” (as Jessica and I claim to be) get to make random appearances on reality tv shows. We didn’t have to fight off 25 other women for the love of one man and a red rose or get drunk on the Jersey Shore to make our debut. So needless to say, it was a pretty simple decision that ended in a yes.
(Jessica on the far left, Me (Erin) second to the right)
After meeting Jessica and hearing that she too had the entrepreneurial bug, we sort of hit it off. Though we currently live states apart, we have kept in touch long past our glorified 15 minutes. Alright, so it was 3… but who’s counting? What I found fascinating about Jessica’s story, is that it’s something many girls in their 20′s can relate to. It’s likely, if you’re one of them, that you are reading this (yes I mean you) during your current 9 to 5. No worries, I won’t tell! However, next time do me a favor. Rather than reading posts about people who left their day job for their passion, let this one inspire or just give you the nudge to do something about it.
ProFASHIONal: Jessica La-Rotta – in black
Reality Chic – in pink
How did you first get your foot in the door of “event planning” in NYC?
While working in corporate America, 4 years ago, as a banker I began to do events on the side for friends and family and found myself in love with it. After much debate, I decided to take a leap of faith and quit my good earning secure job and start looking for internships or jobs that would allow me to get my foot in the door into event planning. After just 2 weeks of searching I landed an internship at a venue space in NJ and a month later was hired as one of their event managers and it was all uphill from there.
Can you explain what tasks may be involved as a CEO/Event Planner?
As a CEO/Event Planner for a startup company you are involved in pretty much every aspect of the business. I wear multiple hats from maintaining my website, social media, accounting, networking, socializing, building the business, vendor relationship and let’s not forget actually being an event planner. lol It is a lot of work but definitely all worth the blood, sweat and tears you put into until you have a full staff you can trust and help you grow your business.
At what point did you realize starting your own company was the way to go, and how did you officially launch?
With an entrepreneurial spirit, starting my own business was something I have always wanted to do. So actually starting was quite easy but taking the risks of quiting a fulltime job and not knowing in which way your financial direction will go was and is quite challenging.
After sometime realizing all the great ideas I had to create my own niche and how passionate I was about event planning, I quit my job in January 2011 and from there did tons of research on starting my own business to building my website and everything in between. In July 2011, I officially launched the business, and I’m looking forward to my upcoming 1 year anniversary.
Do you have any advice for building your client list?
There are many ways to build your client list, from marketing to advertising. But what has worked for me is building relationships with my clients as well as vendors and creating alliances with other small business companies by leveraging our businesses to grow.
I spend much time nurturing my relationships by staying in contact with them via phone and email to going out for coffee, lunch and or dinner. This marketing approach to my business has been more of a success than spending thousands of dollars on advertising. Also social media is huge to helping you build momentum as well as “street credits”.
I feel like there are so many girls who want to work as an event planner. For those 20 something’s, can you give some advice or tips on how to get hired in today’s economy?
Today’s economy has been extremely difficult for all industries especially the service industry. The best advice I can give to a 20 somethings is to intern, internships are an amazing way to learn so much about the event planning industry as well as a great way to make tons of connections. Also as a business owner if I have an intern who is a superstar that shows me that their work ethics are amazing, I will consider bringing them onto my team. It’s a great way to show your work ethic and show that you can handle being a superstar event planner.
Do you have any suggestions for what skills 20 something’s could be working on if they want to one day start their own company especially in New York?
Starting your own company could be very hard if you don’t have some simple basics such as having a can do attitude, not giving up, having a strong support system, doing the right thing, and having thick skin. Sounds super simple but those simple basics can make or break you. Then of course doing all the basics, such as of tons of research from state laws, getting a great accountant and lawyer to most importantly having a vision you can put into a business plan.
Planning events with celebrities and editors sounds somewhat intimidating…When you’re pitching an event idea or working with a client do you have a certain strategy you stick to using?
My strategy is to not have a strategy, I know this sounds bizarre but I basically like to feel out my client first on their personality and vision and come up with a plan on how I can approach them. I can either go in for the kill or swim around them. Most important, is to make your client feel comfortable and also see if you can work with the client, and see if those clients visions are aligned with how you want to brand your company.
I know that you write a blog as well, do you think bloggers are now having an impact in fashion/events or how brands advertise plus get the word out about it?
Absolutely, blogging has become a huge part to mostly every type of business out there. Having a blog gives your clients a great way to get in tuned with your thoughts and ideas besides clicking and reading thru your website tabs and your marketing approach. It makes them feel closer to who you are and what your company represents.
What role do you see bloggers playing in the future from your experience in working with brands/clients?
Bloggers play a major role within the brand, bloggers are just as important as your typical editors. They have a huge voice within their communities, and I always like to work with them.
Planning an event in New York City of course sounds insanely glamorous. First, is it?
It sure is, NYC is a melting pot for events, restaurants, socializing and having fun but at that same token it is also huge for having a lot of everything which means you can easily miss things or spend tons of time researching the best locations and spots to have events.
Second, what’s the least glamorous part of your job?
The least glamourous of my job is probably the break down of an event. After much excitement and the building of the momentum and the execution of the event, once its all over you feel the sense of detachment. Also you are extremely tired and now you have to clean up.
Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?
We are currently planning our next semi annual philanthropic fashion week event- F.A.B (Fashion | Art | Beauty) event in September. We had a great success and had amazing brands at the event such as Bravo TV, MTV, Vogue, People Magazine and tons of bloggers!!
Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal: Amy Levin, Founder/ Fashion Blogger at College Fashionista
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I used Windows Live Writer to create this photo collage…it rocks my socks off! **I am a part of the Windows Champions blogger program. As part of this partnership, I have been loaned a Windows 7 PC for an entire year and have the opportunity to learn about Windows and Microsoft products. I’m looking forward to sharing the inside scoop with fellow 20 something’s & fashion bloggers.**