Alumna opens Austin event planning company
It's the place cards at the lavish company dinner, the flower arrangements at a store's grand opening, the personalized three-tiered cake for a birthday party, the way the food is served at the rehearsal dinner and the music played at a wedding reception—the details are what make important events unique.
Elementary education graduate Becky Navarro founded event planning company Pearl Events, named after her first daughter.
But the details don't just fall into place on their own, either the host of the event must take on the challenge or looks to someone who specializes in it, an event planner. LSU alumna Becky Navarro does just that. Late last year, Navarro founded event planning company Pearl Events in Austin, Texas.
Although a majority of her job is about planning, Navarro said she got into event planning by mistake.
"I was looking for teaching jobs and applied to be an assistant to wedding coordinators at a wedding venue," she said. "I was the assistant for about six months and moved up from there. In one year, I planned around 80 weddings."
Navarro, an elementary education graduate, moved on from wedding planning to do social catering and event planning at Whole Foods, which has its headquarters in Austin. There, she embraced opportunities to do off-site catering and planning for weddings, venues and corporate parties for MTV, Facebook, CBS and South By Southwest.
"I think I could have seen myself teaching. Although it wasn't my passion, I think I would have been happy," she said. "I see a lot of friends struggle to find a job they enjoy. I am lucky, I kind of fell into this in a round about way, and I do love it."
Last June, Navarro and her husband, alumnus TJ Navarro, celebrated the birth of their first child, Pearl Marie.
"I decided after I had her that I didn't want to go back to work for someone else, and I was ready to start my own business," Becky said. "After being in the industry for almost five years, it was the perfect time."
Today, Pearl Events has hit the ground running, offering full-service planning for a variety of events from galas and launch parties, all the way to anniversaries and destination weddings.
"I specialize in weddings, but I have corporate parties on the calendar as well," Becky said. "They are very different than weddings, and a lot of corporate clients won't go to planners that do not have experience in the corporate world."
Students interested in the world of event planning should look for internships, Becky said.
"I would also recommend networking. A lot of event planning groups offer student memberships," she said. "I highly recommend joining plus attending events for ideas and networking. Also get involved with groups on the college level, such as Greek Life, student government and athletics."
Becky said many people think they would enjoy event planning, but they don't realize the dedication that is involved.
"Your life is to plan everyone else's social life, which means you work on weekends, at night and crazy hours," she said. "I have to skip a lot of my friends' life events because of my job."
When it comes to event planning, Becky said her best practice is to make sure the guests aren't worried over event details. It is also important that the event planner stays level headed and just fixes any problem that arises.
"Let everyone sit back and enjoy. When you don't have a full-service wedding coordinator, the bride is way too involved with decisions on the wedding day because she is the contact for all vendors," Becky said. "The bride and groom, family and friends should be stress-free on the day, week and month before the wedding."
But after all the hard work, Becky loves several aspects about her job.
"I love the end of a wedding ceremony because the bride and the groom are the first couple to proceed out of the ceremony, and there I am to greet them," she said. "I step back and watch the tears, happiness and squeals of joy with one another about the fact they just got married."
For Becky, that is what her job and her company are all about—creating memories to last forever.
"I don't wish to be the biggest or the priciest event planning company in Austin," she said. "I just hope that people will walk away from their event happy and joyful."