For most college students, on-campus jobs are simply a means to help pay for school; or keep a few bucks on hand for late-night pizza runs. For Paula Everett, on-campus work is where she discovered her passion.
As a student Event coordinator for the ISU Bone Student Center, Everett was involved in planning a wide range of events- everything from hosting high profile sports events and music acts to weddings and fundraisers- and she loved it. Although bitten by the planning bug, it took years before she would commit to pursuing it professionally.
The exorbitant price of hiring out for own baby shower (and her son’s subsequent 1st birthday party) finally changed her mind.
“I knew I couldn’t afford to continue to keep paying people to do this work, and event planning was already a passion of mine. I knew I could do it.” recalls Everett. Everett, along with a business partner decided to take a leap of faith, jumped into the event-planning field and started their company- Ideal Parties.
With practical work experience, and a master’s degree in Project Management, Everett already understood the fundamentals of planning. However, through a combination of YouTube videos and in-class instruction, she dove into learning as much as she could about the business. Soon, through word-of-mouth and Instagram, Ideal Parties began to draw its clientele. Today the company, now known as Ideal Events, Inc., provides design and balloon services for private, corporate and charitable events. Everett also shares the wealth through frequent collaborations with other Chicagoland Black-owned businesses. This has allowed Ideal Events, Inc. to expand its product offering to include such services as photography and catering.
When considering the challenges to becoming an entrepreneur, she found the biggest (challenges) were mental. Everett shares, “The biggest obstacle (for us) is that we’re so institutionalized, in terms of trying to do things by the book. You’ve gotta have the capital. You’ve gotta the inventory. You’ve gotta have the space. You’ve gotta have this and that. And you really don’t. You just need to go out there and do it with the little resources you have. You don’t need to have all of your ducks in a row. You just need to start.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Everett has also found another worthy foe: the time clock. As a mom who also works a full-time job, getting it all done is not easy. “Time management is so important. I do a lot of prep in advance of my events. There are long nights. Sometimes I’m up until 2 am. “
Late nights aside, Everett loves seeing a finished product. And her favorite event to plan: kids’ birthday parties. “I get to go all out and be really creative.”
Ms. Everett has learned valuable lessons along her entrepreneurial journey. For new entrepreneurs, she’d offer some sound advice, “Know your mission. Know what goal you’re trying to reach and set a deadline. You don’t have to necessarily have everything figured out. Just start. It’s gonna take trial and error. You’ll have good days and bad days. Sometimes you’ll have to go back to the think tank. Stay up with the times marketing wise. And find all of the free resources you can.”
To find out more about Ideal Events, Inc., visit http://youridealparties.wixsite.com/idealparties