Today we’d like to introduce you to Tarin Wilson.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Tarin. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been following the breadcrumbs that have appeared through travel, discovery, hard work, key relationships and business opportunities. There’s been a lot of serendipity that got me to where I am today.
I started at Louis Vuitton’s NY corporate headquarters but no one, most of all me, really knew what my role was. Calling the stores for daily sales figures and getting samples for the PR agency eventually led to being the NY point person for their sponsorship of the America’s Cup, taking place in Perth, Australia. I loved being part of the global event team and got my first inkling of the power of events to a brand. When I noticed that no one was that interested in planning the annual sales meeting, I seized the opportunity for meetings in Arizona and the US Virgin Islands. From then on, I was hooked.
A few years later, I landed at Gucci as the event manager. It was not the sexy, edgy Gucci you know today rather it was the era of horsebit loafers and floral print scarves worn by traditional, moneyed customers. I learned about in-store events, fashion shows, and how to work in cities and stores throughout the U.S. Then, there was an overhaul in design direction and leadership. My boss was out, a new one was in and suddenly I was dealing with Miranda from “The Devil Wears Prada.” We didn’t last long together.
The next phase took me from profit to non-profit. With a 100-mile bike tour for the MS Society in Northern California and celebrity fundraisers for Education First!, in Los Angeles, the events took on a new dimension. No longer just about spending, events were tied to revenue and had a role in sustaining organizations.
Over the next five years, as an independent contractor, I produced fundraising dinners, golf tournaments, award shows, celebrity events and honed my organizational skills, attention to detail and ability to juggle multiple projects.
In 2000, I launched plan A and most of the clients were non-profits who had annual events so, as long as we did a good job, the business returned year after year. Client retention was almost 95% until the crash of 2008 when many non-profits couldn’t sustain. The business pivoted towards corporate clients and the realization that events didn’t operate in a vacuum but rather could, and should, be instrumental to an organization’s overall marketing and fundraising strategy continues to inform our approach to events.
In addition to working on behalf of clients, I owned and produced two high caliber consumer bridal shows, over the course of nine years, with amazing partners such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, InStyle, Sephora, Wolfgang Puck and Harry Winston. By 2014, the wedding event, Unveiled, had expanded to three cities.
At this point in the business, plan A enjoys a varied roster of clients and works often with Young Presidents Organization on some of their larger events and conferences, having recently produced events in Cuba, London and, soon, Canada. Bringing a wide range of capabilities to the table, we offer expertise on corporate retreats, destination, non-profit, and food & art focused events as well as curated private trips which the company owns and operates.
Looking towards the future, we are planning more unique access, small group trips and will continue to bring people together through shared event experiences while partnering with great clients.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road is never smooth – it’s just flat in between the potholes! It took me 16 years to find the courage to open my own business but when I finally made that decision, the transition was easier than anticipated. When I was ready to start plan A, the business owner and I, called each client and gave them the option to stay in house or come with me. Fortunately, six clients transitioned with me when I opened.
When I signed my first 3-year lease, I wasn’t sure I could make it that long and I asked the landlord if there was an escape clause. This year marks 20 years in business, but it certainly hasn’t always been easy.
Staffing an events agency is tricky. There are slow times when full-time salaries create too much overhead and busier moments where you need more hands on deck. Balancing full-time employees, short term/full-time contracts, freelancers, and interns is a challenge. Each time you have to fill a position, it’s time-consuming and requires patience and determination to find good people. Yet I have been fortunate to have had some amazing people work for me.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with plan A – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m super proud that plan A has stayed in business on a word of mouth basis for two decades!
For 20 years, high-level clients have trusted us to deliver seamless events. We bring our can-do, will-do ethos to clients who are CEO’s and leaders in the worlds of business, entertainment and non-profit. We are successful because we meet them at their level – we think strategically, communicate effectively, actualize their goals and are committed to excellence.
With our big appetite for challenge, we have managed 130 speakers over a 30 hour event, run a program for 25,000 and privatized commercial flights to Havana when charters were suddenly banned. We work nationally and internationally and are known for fearlessly and flawlessly executing while always keeping our eye on the bottom line.
Many clients would say that our obsession with detail, creative spirit and innovative ways to navigate the unique challenges of complex, multi-faceted events makes us stand apart from others. Pushing the boundaries of innovation, while maintaining fiscal responsibility ensures every client is WOWED with the results.
We love watching an event unfold as planned and seeing engaged attendees, but our proudest moment is when the client calls us for another event.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
My least favorite thing is the celebrity-obsessed nature of LA. My office is on a street where the paparazzi often gather outside the restaurants, charge in front of you to get the shot and stalk their prey to feed the Hollywood hype. Once, as I watched from my office window, a paparazzi swiped my parked car in a frenzied effort to chase a celebrity down the street. This town can show a very shallow and superficial side but, if you stand outside of the klieg lights, you will find authentic, substantive, and wonderfully interesting people to call your friends.
Having been born and raised in Manhattan, Los Angeles feels as if city and suburbs are all rolled up into one. I love that you can drive to a business meeting and go through a leafy, green, beautiful neighborhood – it just makes for a softer urban experience. I am a hot weather loving, healthy lifestyle person which is what Los Angeles is all about. My friends in NY used to say, “you should move to California, it’s more your style” so they had the vision for me long before I did.
- Website: www.planaevents.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org