Often at this time of year, I take a moment to slow my busy life, and still my mind to reflect on annual gratitudes. I think about where I was mentally, physically, and professionally the year prior.
This time last year, I had endured 8 months of slowly shifting my business model from 90% event planning and 10% custom prop fabrication and rentals to almost a complete 180 degree turn just to survive. The only business revenue I had coming in was for prop and soft seating rentals. My annual corporate event planning contracts were still on hold, and even virtual events were just a trickle.
I am a serial opportunist and perpetual optimist by nature. But, even I was nervous this time last year. I was doing whatever I could to stay afloat, including teaching yoga to help pay my monthly office rent at Arrive Coworking, and basically waiting for the ban on events to open (not knowing when or if that would actually happen). Tough spot to be in for sure.
Fast forward to January, and I had set my sights on forming strategic partnerships after working to build up a modest inventory of rental items. I was determined to have my business succeed while helping other event industry vendors at the same time. I met with no less than 20 vendors, venues and planners that month alone. It was exhausting, but I was hopeful.
One of the vendors that had I approached to help extend my rental inventory, came back to me in late March with an interesting proposal. After proposals and counters, they called me one day and told me they had decided to get out of rental business entirely. Before I could pick my jaw up off of the floor, they asked me to bid on their entire inventory. I vaguely remember answering “Yes. I’m definitely intetested.” While at the same time my stomach launched into a whole herd of stampeding butterflies of uncertainty.
This lead to a full month of negotiations, while I watched the price on these items go through the roof through my wholesale suppliers. I also had to get creative during this time with how I was going to pay for what was going to be the biggest purchase of my small business’s life. Reaching out for loans, checking interest rates and talking with my husband about our options lead me to one conclusion. If we were going to go all out with the huge addition of standard party rental items, we needed to go all in. We couldn’t do that with intention without investing in ourselves. So, we took some of our own savings and used it for the down payment and second installment of the purchase. BIG. SCARY. STEP!
From there things snowballed, all in time with events opening back up in June. We were so busy, and not prepared for the jump in business that resulted. But, it was awesome. Busy ( at least for me) is GOOD! We were able to pay the entire inventory off, and get back online with corporate event planning. And things just seem to keep rolling along even when I thought things would slow down during late fall. We have so much pre-booked for 2022, I am beyond grateful.
Of course, not everything was roses and sunshine in 2021. Some partnerships didn’t work out. A partnership with an AV vendor that I thought for sure would be an amazing long term symbiotic relationship, resulted in no business what so ever. I even had a contract pulled out from under me after letting the company know that I didn’t intend to renew with them once the remaining contracted events were completed. This resulted in a breach of contract and a huge legal mess that I’m still deciding whether or not to pursue. Hard choices for sure But! But, even with those negatives, they provided awesome learning lessons that have made my business (and me) even stronger.
With so much positive momentum being carried from 2021, I know 2022 will be bigger and better for LUXX. I can’t help but feel like a child again getting ready for a family camping trip, filled with hope for adventure and discovery and positive experiences.
So, here’s to you… taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone for 2022. I’d love to hear about the risks you took that paid off and those that didn’t. Comment below, or shoot me an email. Gretchen@luxxeventsllc.com