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Conversations with the Inspiring Glendale Calmerin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Glendale Calmerin.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I unknowingly started in the event planning industry when I was 12, helping my older sister set-up for her events. The first event that really started it all for us was her wedding. I mainly helped because I wanted to hang out with my sister and if that meant having to help her choose between the hundreds of shades of purples, I was willing to go along with the crazy. This went on to help her plan social events like birthdays, bridal showers, and Christmas parties. The planning came really easy for us and we used that time together to bond as sisters, dragging along our entire family including my two other sisters, my brother, and our parents. Other families may dread putting together elaborate parties a few times a year, however, it became a routine for us and something we looked forward to every month or so:

• Hazel created the overall theme and concept of the event
• Cheryl handled the DIY projects
• Dad built any structure that came out of our imagination
• Mae planned the food and beverages served
• I planned the program such as games, raffles and became the MC for the night
• John did the pick-ups and drop-offs
• Mom kept us fed and looked after the kids
• And any other “member” would just help out with set-up/cleanup

We didn’t realize the “legacy” of our event planning would be a hit. And word spread of our crazy $10,000 parties for one-year-olds.

The skills that I developed helping my sister trickled down to my personal life in school, helping set-up dances, shows and even hosting my own themed parties. At the age of 18, my family presented me with a choice, a new car or a huge 18th birthday party. Well, I’m sure you know what I chose. After high school, I wasn’t able to help my sister as much and decided to follow a different path. I studied Journalism, Communication, and Public Relations. After college, I got into Business Development and Project Management. Although my endeavors had some excitement, I was having trouble finding something that filled the “happiness” checkbox. I eventually really enjoyed working for small businesses, being able to develop processes and creating operations from the ground up, but I couldn’t find the industry that felt like home.

During this time, I was still being asked by friends and family to help host their events and even hosted a few corporate events within the companies I worked for. It wasn’t until I was being offered payment for my work that really made me think. I was being complimented on work that I did on my own without my family and it was good enough to have a price tag. I went back and forth with the idea of creating an event planning business mainly because I doubted if others would see the value in my work without knowing who I was. My family had made a reputation back in my hometown in San Jose but now that I was living on my own in Los Angeles, I wasn’t sure if I was able to build that same reputation so quickly. I also was getting married and planning to start a family so financially I wasn’t sure if it was the right time. I put the idea in the back burner.

With a few months left until my wedding day, I went through an epic break-up that left me feeling like I was going to lose myself into depression and turmoil. The empty checkbox I had next to the word happiness was almost impossible to see. With literally the last bit of motivation I had, a few weeks after, I launched my event planning website on April 6, 2018. Because of my will to not give up, I unknowingly pushed myself towards the path I was eventually destined to do.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to success is never smooth. Although I’ve had experienced starting small businesses, it’s a lot different when it’s your own. I tend to second-guess myself and overthink decisions. Every day I always ask myself:

• Am I being careless?
• Am I financially ready to take on the burden of being a business owner?
• Do I know enough to run a business?
• Am I digging myself into a bigger hole I won’t be able to get out of?
• How much of my time is this going to consume me?
• Will my position intimidate men?
• Am I going to be a lonely cat lady in the end? (nothing wrong with being a cat lady btw)

My enemy was becoming my inner me. I wanted to do this right but I learned very quickly, there isn’t a right way to do this. You accept the failures but you also have to accept the small victories throughout the day. Even if you get one task done in a day, that’s one step closer to your goal.

I was very fortunate enough that my business took off very quickly in its first year and doubled in its second year; however it took A LOT of my time. I struggled with working a full-time job still and working on the events on my days off. I struggled with delegating because I was acquiring so many jobs, I didn’t have the staff to fulfill them so I had to turn away so many opportunities. Although with all of these thoughts in my head, I grew closer to checking off that happiness checkbox. I was loving every moment of what I was doing and it fulfilled my heart as no other job has. Yes, there were struggles, but slowly I noticed the skills that were coming out of me, I found it very surprising but also it helped me learn to love myself again.

As a woman, the biggest struggle I faced was finding a balance between career and family. I always chose family because I thought that was what I was supposed to do but never felt happy inside and I never knew why. I believe that when I started to put myself first, did what felt right inside of me and didn’t pay attention to the norms, I started to become happier. It opened up a new level of self-love and self-care. I even started going to the gym, I ate right, and I stayed active. In less than two years, I’ve lost 65 lbs. and I believe that every pound I shed away was a layer of darkness, finally diminishing.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Calmerin Designs and Events story. Tell us more about the business.
I own an event planning business. Being a business owner and an event planner are completely two different jobs however both things that I love to do. I have been very fortunate to combine both my passions into one.

I naturally was good at being organized and detailed which translated to being a solid event planner, as I mentioned, I’ve been doing this since I was 12. The work itself is easy and best of all, enjoyable as always. To say you love what you do as a job is a very rare thing to have and I can’t be grateful enough to have finally found my calling.

My approach to event planning has always been different. I saw my sister’s process but I’ve really refined my own process in the two years we’ve been an active business in Southern California. I don’t compare myself to what other coordinators are doing or have structured their businesses. I took an approach from the perspective of the client because we’ve been the clients so many times. We know what’s important to us and ultimately what our guests appreciate the most about our events. The common denominator is hosting an event that’s stress-free and that EVERYONE, including the host(s), is having fun. Stress comes when you don’t prepare for the unexpected. The only way to limit the unexpected is to plan ahead the what-ifs. For example, we have weddings where we might be dealing with more than one client. Maybe the mother and/or father also get a say on the decisions. We ask very early on:

1. Besides the host(s) and the coordinator, who has the authorization to make changes to the timeline and/or modify the bill?
2. Who gets the final decision?
3. Who is our POC if the host(s) is not available?

Getting these answered in the very beginning will help with a lot of the drama/stress that happens the day of. We have strict instructions already on whom to listen to and it’s as simple as, per our contract, he/she makes the final decisions.

Because of our organization, eye for details, processes in place and absolutely having no care what/how other coordinators/planners are doing it, really sets us apart. Our conversations with our clients are effortless, real, and passionate. We feel like a family because our business started with family.

To be honest, every time our clients tell us that we’ve made their day so special brings tears in my eyes and ALWAYS makes me proud of the company I’ve built. Weddings especially are such an intimate affair and I really get to know my client’s personal information and become close to the family. I one time found myself holding the bride’s mother’s hand the day before because she was going through a mixture of feelings and just needed a friend to hold her hand for a moment. During the planning process, she had shared with me her fears, her joys and a little bit about her family so at that moment, seeing her eyes, I knew what she was thinking about and without words, I became a supportive friend. It’s hard to build that kind of environment in a business and sometimes it doesn’t work and so it makes me proud that the “family” culture is very apparent through our clients, employees and the vendors we work with. (I’m literally crying while I write this paragraph, btw).

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
Female leadership has definitely been at its peak and I can only see it becoming stronger in the future. It starts with support at home with our family, partners, friends, workplace, and community. I have been fortunate enough to be raised by a strong grandmother, a courageous mother, sisters who speak their mind, and an encouraging brother and father. I have friends who have followed me on this journey and have helped me grow this business because they believed in me. I have been given opportunities to exercise my skills and break through the boundaries in the workplace. I am grateful for the managers and CEOs that have helped guide me there.

Also, fortunately, I’m in an industry where there is so much support. I’ve always believed in sharing resources, mentorship, and networking, even if we offer the same services. I’ve had other event planners send me their jobs if they’re not able to do it. I’ve also had vendors who have asked if they can join the team because they’re thinking of adding it as a service to their business in the future. I love that and it makes me feel so humbled to work along with people like that. I have a head coordinator who wants to start her own event planning business as well and I’ve invested so much into her and her future. I believe that she’s definitely capable and it makes me so happy to provide any help and guidance she needs to get there.

Self-doubt continues to be the biggest obstacle in general. It’s important that at a very young age, a little girl understands her worth in the world and her capabilities to change it for the good. You set her up to not fear the power, to not be intimated by her strength and to flourish from her opportunities: Failure is evident but persistence is key.

Pricing:

  • Day of Coordinator – package starts at $950
  • Full Wedding Planning – package starts at $2400
  • Partial Wedding Planning – package starts at $1500
  • A la carte – email or call for a quote

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal Photo – Myro Photography
Photo 1 (Couple hugging me) – Roger Ta Photography
Photo 2 (Peaking through behind door) – Espresso Weddings
Photo 3 (Lifting the bride’s train) – Parallel33 Photography
Photo 4 (Witness signing marriage license) – Indi Soul Photography
Photo 5 (Couple’s grand entrance) – Gabriel Gastelum

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