Behind the Scenes of Throwing a Killer Event

January 25, 2016 Beauty, Career, Lifestyle

When I hosted my first event, I was 28 years old with huge dreams and no experience. I had recently discovered my true desire of having my own talk show on TV. At the same time, I had become well-versed in the skill of “acting as if.” I started studying ACIM (A Course In Miracles), started watching the secret, and even took courses with Landmark Education. All of these forms of personal development along with countless others, constantly talked about the art of claiming something before it’s even happened.

So everywhere I went, I began telling people that I was a talk show host; I walked into a room like, “this is who I am!” After a conversation with a friend, I realized that not only was starting my online magazine Bella Life a way for me to act “as if” I was already hosting, but there was one other dimension that I was leaving out: embodying being a host. And that could also include hosting events. Something I had never done before. Besides having a few girlfriends over or helping my mom entertain over the holidays, I would never consider myself a host when it came to throwing a good party.

IMG_9423But I was up for the challenge. Before I knew it, I was inviting the few friends that I knew and their friends to my girlfriends place for what I called a Colorful Conversation. I legit had no idea what to say or how to stand in front of them to lead a discussion. And I had decided to lead them through an evening of vision board creating.

It was fun. It was easy. No major stress. And just a few light bites to eat. From there, my next event was in the same location and I had invited my dear friends Sarah Jenks and Toni Lastella to speak about health and wellness. All three of us dressed in green to represent the healthy living section of my website at the time. There were about 10 girls that attended this time instead of 6. Score!

Next, I partnered with an event space and decided to host my first “big event.” I partnered with this beautiful salon on the lower east side, called Georgia. I did not charge a cent to attend and I had about 35 people including my mom, my mom’s friend, and my cousin. I remember feeling really anxious but also really supported. My mom brought in a pitcher for me to use for the drinks, and some cups and plates. And I had a friend provide some treats for free. It kind of all just came together.

IMG_9421The event thing was feeling pretty good! So I did another one at a small skincare boutique called VMV Hypoallergenics located in the heart of Union Square. I had made a habit of walking through NYC in constant discovery mode: looking for event inspiration in stores, at events, and even restaurants. Exploring the city and always internally asking the question, I wonder who I’m supposed to connect with today or I wonder if I will meet anyone I was meant to meet for my next event. And I still do this to this day.I had gone into VMV Hypoallergenics a few months prior to my event and had instantly connected with all of the staff; it was a no-brainer to do the event together. I had an incredible caterer who provided their services for free in exchange for promotion of their services. Everyone walked home with goodies from the boutique and I had over 60 guests in attendance that all got in for free.

This was the pivotal event for me. I filled a room and everyone was really happy. It made me realize how valuable this experience was for the people that attended and gave me the confidence to start charging for events going forward.

It took me over a year to get to this place of being able to charge for an event AND fill a room, because I allowed myself the space to grow organically and not put so much pressure on myself. I took thoughtful, calculated, and slow forward steps to getting to where I wanted to be. I didn’t rush, push, or force my outcomes.

I was also working a full time job in real estate as I was building my company, managing over 100 contributors for my online magazine, and producing these events. So giving myself the time to grow was a real gift to take care of myself in the process.  From my last event, I wound up meeting a company that had a lot of event space and for a couple of years I partnered with them in a really cool way. They sponsored all of my events, giving me the event space for free, providing food, and a photographer. All I had to do was create the event and get people to come.IMG_9420

During that time, I did a lot of workshops, panels, and more targeted networking events. I really enjoyed doing this because, again, I was practicing being a host. I would host these colorful conversations, lead the panels, and really embody who I wanted to be at each event. Many of these events were sold out with the biggest event being around 85 women. It was exciting, but there was still a part of me that didn’t really fully understand the network I had. That is, until I decided to throw a premiere party for the launch of my talk show, Naturally Beautiful.

The company I had been working with had just opened a new location and it could fit about 300 people. I went to check it out and absolutely loved it, but wasn’t sure how I should use the space because the most people I’d ever had at an event was 85. I remember having a conversation with one of my best friends, Ali. Where I had said to her, “Can I come over and watch my talk show when it premieres because I don’t have the channel and I want to watch it with someone?”

She looked at me puzzled and said, “No! Aren’t you going to have a party?” I looked at her and said, “No! Why would I have a party? Who’s going to come?” She started yelling at me, “Nitika what are you talking about?!! If you throw a party you’ll have 150 people there. Think about all the people on your show that would love to celebrate with you.”

I let out my nervous laughter and dismissed it. But after some thought I decided to give it a try. I figured the company was going to be sponsoring anyway. Why not see if people want to come. Fast forward a couple of months, and I had over 300 people at my premier party and somehow got 5 brand partnerships even though I had no clue what I was doing. This experience showed me not only how big my network was, but also that my community wants to party in a fun, safe, healthy way. So I think even more than wanting to celebrate my show, people were excited to get dressed up and mingle with their peers and the gurus of the wellness and beauty industries.

1375260_580001312036905_764928237_nThis wildly successful party prompted me to leverage my greatest resource: my ability to pack a room with intelligent, well-connected influencers, media and bloggers in the beauty and wellness industries. Not only that but I love it. Nothing makes me happier than looking around a room and seeing how happy everyone is. And the fact that I’m able to hold that space and create that experience for them is rewarding on a level I didn’t even know was possible.

That was the event that inspired my first Self-Love Celebration which was in February 2014. I had a completely sold out event with 200 guests in attendance. I made tens of thousands of dollars and every single partner that participated was thrilled. I took a few turns after this event trying to reinvent the wheel with creating a different experience. But by the end of the year, what I realized was this: people really loved my original Self-Love Celebration. So, I gave myself permission to not start from scratch and try to create something ground breaking every time I hosted an event.

I’m now entering year three of doing these large scale events filled with brands I’m currently crushing on. And I’ve never been more proud or excited.

I wanted to share this blog with you today because I often get asked “How do you get partners. How do you do an event like this?” I don’t have all of the answers, and I’ll be honest in saying I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. But what I can do is share my top 3 tips for creating a successful, heart centered event.

  1. Set an Intention. I know for some of you this may sound obvious, but I have to say it’s the number one reason I feel my events have always left people feeling good. Mine has always been to love everyone in the room; anytime I notice a wallflower, I introduce myself to her and help her meet amazing people in the room. Whether your intention is “I just want people to have fun” or “I want the audience to be left inspired,” or even, “it would be great if this event could create more buzz for my business”– it doesn’t matter as long as it’s pure and honest. So spend some time really meditating on that before you start producing the event.
  2. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sweetie). The one thing about planning an event is it can very easily become a circus. What’s made my events successful over the years is that I’ve kept them very simple. I use the same venues and I have a formula for reaching out to partners. Although my events have evolved over the years, once I found what really works, I’ve been completely focused on perfecting that. There have also been many times where people have made suggestions to me about things I should add to my events. But at the end of the day, I always find it best to keep it simple. It’s better for my mental health.
  3. Focus on Being of Service. I work with a lot of partners and, of course, want to showcase their brands in a way that is super valuable to them. However, I have a pretty strict policy around all of my sponsors focusing on one thing in particular: service. So even if you sign-up for someone’s mailing list or buy a product from their table, it’s my intention that you always leave feeling richer, whether it’s mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Have you ever been to an event where you feel like everyone is trying to get something from you or push something on you? It makes you want to scream, “Yuck!”. I’ve been to many events like that and promised myself that no one would ever leave an event of mine with that feeling. This sets my events apart.

Now you know a lot of the behind the scenes of what goes into my events. And you can also see that it wasn’t an overnight success, but a 6 year journey. I hope you’ll refer to this when creating your next event. If you still have questions please ask me anything below.

Thank you for reading.

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