We recently caught up Tara Fay (the original party & wedding planner!) and asked how she got started, her inspirations and how she's coping with the recession!
Tara, how did you get into the Weddings Industry? Was it deliberate or just timing?
I started XENA Productions in 1997. It was definitely deliberate. People thought I was completely mad, even people in the event industry and told me it would never catch on and no-one would pay someone to help them plan a wedding or private party.
What significant trends have you seen over the years? (One that you loved & one that you didn't like but your clients did!)
When I started there was no such thing as coloured linens, chair covers, lighting, coloured flowers etc., . I saw the chocolate fountains in the USA about 4 years before they came here, so was probably over them by the time they got here!
How many hours a week do you work?
Depends on the week! Some days I start at 7 a.m. and don't finish until 12 midnight. The day of an event I rarely finish before 2 a.m. I generally work 6-7 days a week but most days it's 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
At the outset, were you nervous of training someone "up-to-speed" only for them to leave, set up on their own and use your hard-earned contacts?
That's the risk you have to take in any business. You have to work with the motto "Imitation is the best form of flattery"....
What is your favourite type of event to plan? Do you plan exactly to the client’s request (no matter how bizarre it may be!) or guide them to what will work?
I love Weddings as you see people in a different light to a party or corporate event. I try to listen to what people want and help them achieve it if possible :)
Do most "new trends" and ideas that we see here come from the States? e.g. favours?
Not always! Flower designs tend to originate in Europe first then get changed in the US and move back.
What's the stronger brand "Tara Fay" or "Xena Productions"?
Not sure - what do you think??? (grinning!)
How did you come up with the name "Xena Productions"?
When I was working in Los Angeles for an event company, I was sent one day to an old library in Hollywood to research a cinema event. Someone thought I was the actress in Xena Warrior Princess. When I went back to the office, the head of the prop department made me promise when I went back to Ireland that I call the company Xena!
Has your industry been hugely affected by the downturn in the economy?
Yes & No. People want more private events, which possibly has worked to my advantage as I think I am known for being discreet...
Do you think Facebook has had its day?
I think people will still check out things on Facebook, but more people do look to blogs and Twitter.
How do you wind down after a big event?
If I'm staying away from home, I sit down and have a chat or tell stories with the team. Depends on the hour, sometimes we will have a quick drink but if I can get home at all, I'll go straight to bed as that's usually 5/6 A.M. at that stage.
What trends do you see coming down the tracks for 2012?
I think much more discreet and more laid back and also very relaxed so as to look like you're not trying too hard. Flowers very much "wild" looking.
Looking back at your career to date, what have been the highlights for you?
I have had the opportunity to work on some amazing events with great clients. It was great to win the Gala Award in 2010 as this was awarded by my peers. I think also having people quote or copy you is quite nice as well!
And with that she dashed off to a client meeting to arrange yet another amazing party. Wish we were invited!!