Have you heard? UKAWEP has partnered with acclaimed Event Designer Sasha Souza to offer a new master course; Signature Sasha: Certified Wedding Designer Master Course. This is a first for both UKAWEP and Ms Souza but we believe it will deliver to the industry a very exciting opportunity in terms of professionals being able to take their skills even further in the area of Wedding Design.
WED The Magazine sat down with Sasha Souza recently and we are delighted that they have given us permission to share the article with our readers. In this first excerpt of three to be published on Wedding Industry Pros we will find out more about the woman behind Sasha Souza Events and learn how she chooses her staff and vendors.
Event design trendsetter, Sasha Souza grew up in San Francisco as the daughter of a flower-child. After cultivating a background in the theater, Sasha combined this approach to event design with her business acumen in her first event business, The Whole SheBang! which she opened in 1995. She is now the award winning CEO of Sasha Souza Events and is nationally recognized as one of the top event designers and educators. She shares her journey in this interview with WED.
WED: How did you get into the event industry? What inspired you?
I actually fell into the events industry by accident. 1 had always wanted to be a stage performer but because I wasn’t very good at it I was always in the back of the house doing the sets, lighting, stage management. etc. After I realized I would not be able to be paid regularly for working in theater1 I decided to go back to school and I got a job working for the University of California in their Internal Audit Department. Not a very exciting or creative field. One day I was at a book store looking at books on home based businesses and while I was reading the jobs I came across Wedding Consultant. I felt like I could do that job very successfully so I took the advice of the book and joined the Association of Bridal Consultants, received their training and literally started my own business about 6 months later. It’s been 16 years now that I’ve been in the industry.
WED: What was your first high profile/celebrity event?
My first high profile event was for Amy Acker who was formerly on TV shows (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, “Alias”, “Doll House” and in movies like, “Catch Me If You Can” and “The Cabin in the Woods”) and her husband James Carpinello, who is a successful Broadway actor and has also made many films.
WED: What mistakes did you make early on and how did you learn from them?
What mistakes didn’t I make would probably be a shorter list. I feel like I have made every single mistake in the books, and because I learn best by doing, those mistakes have all been valuable lessons. But even though some things didn’t go exactly as I had wanted or envisioned, and it was technically a mistake, many of those are more like opportunities. They have almost always turned out to be the right thing in one way or another and better in the long run.
WED: Tell us about your team – how do you choose your vendor partners? How about your staff?
My office team is just me and my long time assistant, Mellysa. She’s been with me for about 11years. My floral design team consists of the lead designer, Leah, and her staff of about 8 assistants/designers. Everybody else that works for me is a vendor for the event; however, I have a very short referral list. I refer one or two catering companies depending on the clients’ taste, one cake baker, one or two invitation companies based on clients’ needs and budget, a few officiates, a few photographers and videographers based on budget/style, a single linen vendor, a single lighting & AV company and one music/entertainment broker. This keeps a team of the same vendors together at all events and they all do the job they were paid to do and know the expectations I have and that the client has. There isn’t a huge learning curve and I know that I can trust them to make decisions that are right for the event and I don’t have to micromanage them -something no business owner/human being enjoys. The events are mostly smooth, aside from a few small hiccups, but rarely do we have any emergencies and if we do, they often fix it before I even know about it. It’s been this way for me since 1999 and I would never go back.
You can read the full interview with Sasha Souza at WED Volume 2, No. 1 and we will publish Part 2 of our excerpt over the next week.