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Meet Ellyette Iverson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ellyette Iverson.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ellyette. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a Santa Barbara native with international style, having explored and lived in a variety of vibrant metropolis spaces like New York, DC, San Francisco, San Diego, Athens, Greece and Lima, Peru. Those spaces provided me with access to a wide range of cosmopolitan trends and art experiences, which I have been eager to share and explore with the Santa Barbara region I call home.

In 2016 I moved back home from San Francisco to coordinate events for a new science and technology museum, which allowed me to push event boundaries, with productions that included unique and effective immersions such as projection mapping light shows, augmented reality dance performances, on-site 3D printing, DIY laser cutting workshops, and more.

In the summer of 2018, I began simultaneously producing pop-up events in town, transforming a hidden warehouse loft into an Ibiza night club and a beachside community center into a French Diner en Blanc for one night only. These events guided me to understand my true passion better – creating brief magical moments that would be lasting in memories and impactful in the inclusive artistic community they create.

From there, eji experiences was born, and for the past year I have been working tirelessly to create new styles of events, with have ranged from body-positive disco parties in contemporary art spaces to wig-themed bar crawls hosted by drag queens, to block parties featuring up and coming mural artists, musicians, and merchant partners.

This past week has been reeling for everyone in the event world (and beyond!). However, I believe that people still desire creative outlets and will seek ways to connect with their communities, so I am currently working on launching “Stir Crazy – Home Party Kits” with including all-natural tea-based cocktail mixers, surprise low-contact games, exclusive music mixes and more. I am also working to provide more resources for the freelance artist community on how to live-stream workshops and concerts during this time of physical isolation.

Humans need interaction, and I am confident that unique social experiences will be in demand more than ever once safety concerns abate, but in the meantime, I think it is critical to think creatively and provide resources for positive virtual interactions and culture sharing.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?Definitely not a smooth road! I believe that nothing worth having comes easy, but you also have to be open to shifts and pivots in the journey to find success. Have you heard of the word “coddiwomple”? It’s an old English slang word that means “to travel purposefully towards a vague destination.” This was essentially my motto for 2019 and continues to be an important reminder in 2020.

As a serious workaholic and worrier, I’ve gone through many versions of different jobs I thought would make me happy or satisfied, and put a lot of weight on those experiences to do exactly those things.

While these feelings are still very much with me, I feel that I am “coddiwompling” in a direction towards a more healthy measure of happiness – which includes work, play, and rest.

Being able to leave a salaried desk job with benefits to “be my boss” and explore my undefined limits as a creator and collaborator has been hugely liberating. Still, it has also been terrifying in that I have had to answer my questions of personal value, identity, and responsibility. Many times over I’ve been *almost* overwhelmed by the procrastinator syndrome and have been unsure if I would be able to cover expenses like rent and student loans.

My most recent reality check has been with this pandemic, where live events have essentially hit an abrupt stand still, and my identity as an event producer has become a big fat question mark. But you know what? I’m not alone in this. And it is EPIC to see the community support and creativity that has emerged in recent days. So yes, there will always be obstacles and challenges, but that’s a big part of the beauty of the process – and the show will continue.

Please tell us abouteji experiences.
eji experiences (pronounced /’edʒiː/ – [edg·y]) is a production company that creates immersive events in unique locations. The mission is to design experiences that invite guests to interact with innovative art, music, and cuisine in unexpected environments collectively. These exciting social experiments not only create lasting memories but contribute to a more inclusive and elevated community.

There are two channels to **eji experiences**. The first involves collaborative partnerships with local organizations and artists to test new event ideas that we think would be successful in the region, but want to explore further to understand better audience demographics, reaction, and best marketing practices. These are produced on a minimal budget with the understanding that if the concept is successful, there is room for growth in the future, and that all event partners can collectively promote each other for increased exposure.

An example of these would include the “Body Disco” event I hosted in 2019 with the Museum of Contemporary Art SB, local body positive ambassadors, performance artists, and organizations in town advocating gender/race/body inclusivity. We successfully sold tickets to over 200 guests and championed what the museum considers its most impactful event of the year. We are currently planning for a similar event with more funding in May 2020.

The second channel is working directly with clients that want to either create a new event or shift the concept of a standing event to be more creative, effective, and inclusive. These client events cover a spectrum from large scale festival programming and non-profit fundraisers to pop-up business outreach experiences and intimate private parties.

An example of these would include the City of Santa Barbara Experiment Weekend, where I was brought in to produce a two day festival in 2019 that involved road closures, an underpass art installation, and a block party involving 20+ event partners. This new event provided survey data from over 1000+ attendees for the City and downtown businesses to better understand options for reinvigorating the declining downtown retail space. and was deemed a success by guests, partners, and sponsors alike.

Through **eji experiences**, I have created a system where my artist and organizer skillsets positively coexist, with a deep understanding that creative new ideas cannot be successful unless there is a solid foundation of organization and communication. Regardless of whether I am creating a new bar crawl concept from scratch or coming in to support a non-profit committee that has been working together for decades, I feel eji experiences can effectively handle and help guide creative concepts into effective and enjoyable productions.

Unlike other event planners in town who have magnificently managed the classic and traditional event experiences in Santa Barbara, I see my creative process allowing for more experimental and interactive experiences, shaking up the quid pro quo and bringing refreshing new energy into a tried and true space.

As a young entrepreneur with an extensive and diverse network in town and beyond, I also have access to the “young professional” audience that many non-profits and creative organizations are shifting to try and target.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe that perseverance and strong communication are really important qualities for an event producer to prioritize. For all projects, I make it very clear that while I hold responsibility for the results of the production, I put a high value on feedback and input from my team, my community, and my colleagues. I believe that it doesn’t matter how much experience or years someone has in a role because you can always learn something new from a fresh perspective. I also strongly believe that artists must be valued for a cultural society to thrive and that it is important to support each other in building recognition and exposure.

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Image Credit:
Willa Kveta, Stephen Lewis

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