Two Millennial Fashion Entreprenuers Share The Elements Of Hosting A Successful Brand Event
Last month, my team of 3 women: myself, my chief branding officer Maggie, and our summer intern Lila threw my company’s first Manhattan event to introduce our ethical fashion brand to my network of Manhattan’s influencers and investors.
Our intent was to share with a room of my biggest supporters, the inspirations behind what we’ve built, and to come together as a community to brainstorm how to execute our vision (coughs: we need capital). My company has always had the focus of community built into its DNA, so including our community in the fund- raising process was a no brainer.
Although we threw a similar event in Cincinnati last November, I decided to lean on the experience of an event advisor whom I met serendipitously one evening at my production factory in New York’s garment district.
Michael William G is the founding editor of MAN’edged.com Magazine. Michael invited me to a menswear event he was throwing the following week for men’s fashion week, in collaboration withWeWork and 1800 Tequila. The event had a turn out of approximately 250 people, and showcased brands like NY Jets player Stevan Ridley’s jumpsuit brand KiD-RiD. The event garnered over 300k social media impressions from attendees.
I was so impressed, that I asked Michael if I could lean on his experience as event advisor for my company’s Manhattan Brand Intro event.
William G shares, “MAN’edged.com Magazine was created to give today’s millennial man the edge and to help answer various lifestyle questions ranging from men’s fashion, style, and other lifestyle topics.”
Although Manedged.com has a target audience of men and my clothing collection is marketed towards women, we lean on the same strategies when it comes to throwing an successful brand event.
In the end Michael and I ended up being each other’s support as we planned our upcoming events. During our meetings we would talk about our pain points and coach one another through them. We created a collaborative environment and ended up co-mentoring each other.
Whether you are hosting a targeted event for 35 people like my company, or 300 people like Manedged, below William G and I share the 7 elements necessary for creating a successful brand relevant event.
Decide On The Purpose Of Your Event
The purpose of my event was community building and a soft fundraising ask. We wanted an exclusive tone as numerous C-suite executives, directorial, and senior management executives were in attendance. To that end, we targeted a short list of attendees and kept the fact that we were fundraising at the core of our event communications and collateral. I was very happy when Michael William G called the tone of our event ”chic and vibrant”.
Michael William G: “Besides the obvious fun factor, our events provide an avenue to be in front of the NYC crowd, offer a unique experience, and provide a platform to help men’s fashion brands reach the powerful millennial audience.”
Choose Your Location
You may have read in my previous article why I choose the intimate location of art dealer/advisor Evan Tawil’s residence for our event. I’ll reiterate that the location sets the theme for your entire event so its important to consider elements like capacity and if the vibe fits your event’s tone.
If you’re short on budget, work your connections and see if you can get the location donated for the evening by offering the venue owner promotion as event sponsor. If needed, be sure to secure neccessary insurance for deliveries like furniture and food.
Michael William G: ”The location selected for an event has to make sense for a brand and the intent of the event. I like to keep things simple by asking myself, ‘Where would I like to go? Would I post about this on my personal
Instagram?’. It’s true, the venue sets the tone for entire event.”
Attendees & RSVPs
In a city like Manhattan, people always have other options… for everything. This includes invitations to other events on the same night as your’s. They also might just have a date with their bed after a long day of work. So, it’s important to entice your audience to attend your event. We did so by selecting a posh and exclusive location, securing special guests we figured our attendees would like to network with, and offering h’orderves and rosé for the evening’s entirety.
We tracked our RSVP’s via a customizedSplashthat.com event page and were delightfully surprised when our event reached capacity within 2 hours of sending out invitations via email. A few of those who RSVP’d did ‘no show’ which is always expected, so we booked about 20% over capacity to make sure we had a full room of invitees.
Michael William G: “I invite people that will be of good company and know how to help MAN’edged MAGOY +% stand on its own two feet. Since our events are invite only, I have to keep the feeling of exclusivity when creating ‘the list’ and be strategic. I want my guests to network and I want the fashion brands to be happy for being there. This platform is so powerful, because of my guests. We literally have people begging to attend, which is exciting.”
Securing Event Sponsors
This is one of the aspects that can give event organizers tons of anxiety. Michael and I included! It’s really never fun to ask people for money and it’s never really fun to be rejected. These are both things you have to get comfortable with in order to secure event sponsors. As I mentioned in myprevious post about securing event sponsorship, you have to learn to market your event and brand to compatible sponsors and be resilient knowing that you will encounter rejection 9 out of 10 times- if you’re lucky.
Emmit Jones of Cosette, a Cincinnati, Ohio based cross-disciplinary creative duo consisting of Jones and his partner Joshua Jacob has provided creative direction, design, branding and marketing campaigns for companies like Macy’s and P&G, and selectively partners with compatible brands by offering event sponsorship.
According to Jones, “When we partner with companies for sponsorship opportunities we try to seek out those interested in genuine collaborative relationships. We want to get behind companies or individuals, who (one) have a great offering, and (two) want to genuinely talk about us – companies that can really get behind what we do. It’s always about relationships and forging ahead together.”
Tammy Cahill, partner at brand innovation agencySpicefire adds, “At Spicefire, we look to invest in companies that recognize the importance of branding, have an insight and understanding of consumers, showcase an outstanding track record and thorough understanding of their business and operating model.”
Michael William G: “A good sponsor partnership, starts when everyone finds a common goal and does everything they can to ensure the needs of all parties are met. In my experience, sponsorship takes persistence, not taking no for an answer, and being as detailed as possible about branding opportunities.”
Food, Drinks, Entertainment & Gift Bags
Depending on your event budget you can decide which of the following you want to provide for you attendees. We provided stationary capanés, Whispering Angel Rosé, a Kora player and African drummer, and gift bags for our guests. I think providing these ‘activations’ (as Michael calls them) added to the overall feeling that we paid attention to every detail and made sure our guests were taken care of.
Michael William G: “We include activations at our events to avoid attendees becoming bored. We recently had Magbooth photo booth at our last event, which allowed guests to take awesome photos and take home a piece of the action. It’s pretty simple: feed people, entertain people, and give them cool things to do/see. They’ll remember you.”
In my experience, its important to have event collateral to make the event space customized to your brand. It also just makes everything prettier and chicer. Our event collateral included: 2 large brand banners, brand icon decals for the windows, brand books, our gift bags and customized name tags.
Our Chief Branding Officer Maggie Parkhouse executed these elements and she and the team at Spicefire where she is creative director went above and beyond to create outstanding brand collateral for our event.
Michael William G: ”Four words: keep things brand right!”
Event Day: Get Organized
There is nothing worse than attending an unorganized event, am I right? I think my years working in the hospitality sector at large capacity establishments taught me the importance of taking care of people and making sure they leave happy.
Organization is an important element of keeping attendees happy. Consider the smallest details. Brainstorm with your team about everything that could possibly go wrong. Delegate responsibilities to your team so that every element of the event is taken care of. Create a “Run of Event” with time break downs of every aspect from deliveries, event set up and tech run throughs to guests arriving and clean up, with the corresponding team member responsible for each element.
Michael William G: ”I cannot stress the importance of being organized. From the brainstorming phase to final execution, being organized will help lessen errors. I keep a binder for every project I take on. This has proven to be valuable especially when it comes to juggling various event projects. I tend to get commended from even venues about my company’s organization. Keeping things efficient, simple, and being detail oriented will help ensure a smooth event.”
So how do you know if your event was a success? For an intimate event like mine, we directly communicated with attendees via comment cards where they rated varying aspects of the event. We also followed up with each attendee individually to brainstorm how we can move things forward for what our brand needs at this stage. We consistently received top ratings from our attendees with many saying they were “blown away” by our evening.
Michael William G: “I think this varies from company to company. For me it’s all about media/social impressions currently. The product and promotion aspect of an event along with the experience is critical. For example, the first event we hosted at WeWork garnered my alcohol sponsor 1800 Tequila over 300k media impressions, which is great for a new guy on the block.”
At the end of the day, don’t underestimate yourself and what your team can accomplish. Michael and I both started as novices, but maintaining brand specific high standards, keeping the vision and desired outcome of our events at the forefront of our decisions, and not taking no for an answer helped us to become experienced in this field.
Michael William G: “3 years ago, I couldn’t believe I was offered the opportunity to work as the Magbooth photo booth attendant for an Esquire Magazine party at Parlor. Last week, I held MAN’edged Magazine’s event at the same venue! This is exactly why I moved to NYC.”
Article written by Autumn Adeigbo of Forbes.0