Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Rena.
Hi Chris, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Event design has always been my outlet for creativity. I have had a knack for decorating, entertaining and hospitality ever since I was young. I would host impromptu slumber parties without my parent’s permission with my friends and try to mimic the events I would see on television. They say your passion is your purpose, hence the reason I have spent the past two decades taking advantage of doing what I love and allowing it to serve as provision for my life. It only seemed fitting for the company to derive from that mantra, so Passionate Events was birthed. From birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and fashion shows to Quinceaneras and video shoots, creative direction has been in the forefront of everything I do.
After high school, I decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. It was uncharacteristic for those who knew me, but I was motivated for the challenge and the opportunity. I excelled in every aspect surprisingly and was tasked with leadership positions at every level. It taught me responsibility, discipline, time management, organizational theory and most importantly how to adapt and overcome in any situation. I was also afforded the opportunity to obtain a free college education from the Marine Corps which was my true incentive for committing to such an intimidating task. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
Upon completion of my degrees in Business Administration/ Management /Accounting and Small Business Entrepreneurship, I decided to build a hospitality-driven empire and cultivate events designed to recharge and inspire women who lead demanding lives. I began to attend and eventually become a sponsor for conferences and tours focused on creating safe environments for entrepreneurs to learn from one another and supply resources for young future business owners. The City of Los Angeles has recognized my accomplishments and value which has furthered the common goal of making the city a better place in which to live. I am looking forward to embarking on new business opportunities and continuing to encourage the fulfilling of vision and manifestation of my true purpose and the purpose of others.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Overall, it has been a smooth road apart from a few trials. It is a testament that obstacles truly do come to make you stronger. One obstacle we have all had to overcome and adjust to is the introduction of Covid-19 into our day-to-day regiments. Quarantining put an immediate halt to celebrations and events for a long time and social distancing made congregating extremely awkward. From a design standpoint, I have had a few disappointing moments because I consider myself a visionary and perfectionist. My creative blueprint is extremely important to me, so when things do not pan out exactly the way I see it in my vision, I panic. Each moving part of every event is curated by me, and I am set on recreating what I see in my mind, from the placement of the tables and the symmetry of the glassware on the dessert table to the lighting and ambiance of the space. My guests have always been pleased and appreciative, so it is just a personal issue I need to continue to work through. I must keep reminding myself that there is no need to worry, things will turn out the way they are intended to, and all will be well.
When hosting is involved, there is always an assumed risk of subtle catastrophe when you plan to have a tranquil environment but there are mixtures of different personalities. We have all managed to master the art of embracing one another and enjoying the planned activities without any real incidents. As the hostess, it is my responsibility to nip any negativity in the bud and steer the atmosphere into positivity by any means necessary. I haven’t had to ask anyone to remove themselves from an event and none of the guests have asked me to do so. If I can be transparent, we have lost a few guests along the way, but there are always those who have been loyal since day one and fresh faces being welcomed regularly. I find that it all comes along with doing business, you can’t please everyone!
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Beyond managing and decorating events for other people, I decided to host events of my own. Here is a little backstory of how things came together. I created the official Dance Club at Crenshaw High School back in 1997 and I wanted to find a sponsor to host us for our first field trip. I wrote a letter to The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and before we knew it, we were front and center at their next tour performance. We opened the program to see my handwritten letter published and it was an emotional moment for me! That was the day I fell in love with the company. Fast forward 15 years, I decided to reach out to the ladies who shared that moment with me and host an event when the company came into town and called it Dancer’s Dream at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Luxury transportation, flowing libations, games, gifts, and most importantly good vibes equaled success, and it became an event that people looked forward to annually. We recently celebrated Dancer’s Dream’s 10th Anniversary in Spring of 2022. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my love and passion with a group of women who graced the stage with me back then and some who have joined us along the journey. It is more than an event, it’s relief, it’s bonding, it’s inspiration and encouragement. I take pride in that!
Since then, we’ve incorporated various events into our repertoire: Wine on the Water, a bi-annual-themed event hosted on a boat in Newport Beach. Wine in the Sky a classy four-course wine pairing event hosted at the highest altitude of the Hollywood Hills at a premier home. Summertime in the LBC, hydro bikes, oceanfront dinner, late night s’mores, and morning pool soiree hosted at The Maya Hotel. Also Mount Up, horseback riding through the Temecula Wine Country Vineyards and ending with a tasting at Wilson Creek Winery, just to name a few.
A couple of years ago, I was introduced to a company called One Hope wine who donates a portion of all bottle sales to the cause of my choice. Incorporating a charity aspect of the business was exactly what was needed. So, I started a blog called Wine Down with Chris. Today, One Hope is one of the largest direct-to-consumer wineries in the world and has proudly donated over $8 million to local and global causes. I am extremely proud of this partnership because it gives me the opportunity to have an active platform where people can purchase the wine served at the events and simultaneously support a cause that makes a difference in someone’s life.
What are your plans for the future?
I intend to shift Passionate Events from full-service event décor and expand alongside the Wine Down with Chris brand as a creative director and host. I will be creating new events and opening them up to a larger spectrum of women. It has been a close-knit, guest invite-only design only because of how invested I am in the proper energy among the women. I understand that to truly live in my purpose; I can no longer coddle the gifts God has given me. I must be willing to be vulnerable and expose all that I have to offer to all women who need relief. Gratefully, I will be hosting an International Wine Down Soiree in the summer of 2023, and I am beyond excited to release the details. It will not be focused on just wine, fun and relaxation, it will also be geared toward self-reflection, learning how to effectively cope with life’s issues and finding balance in the hectic aspects of our daily lives. I am so much more than just a hostess, and this is more than just a business. I am a relief curator, and this is a safe space for women to escape life’s everyday woes and enjoy freedom and sisterhood. I am protective of my ministry because I acknowledge its value and significance in so many people’s lives! The gifts God has given us are not meant for us but for others. Focusing on that aspect motivates me to continue the work that I do.