Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Grand Event - Lessons Learned!

Not long after I became a UB Fragrance Designer I received a referral from Corp for a person in Southern California that was interested in information about Urban Botanic. So, I called her and as we talked she started to describe her idea for her 50th birthday party. She wanted to have 30 friends over and she wanted to purchase a perfume for each guest and to allow them each to design their own fragrance. Perhaps I was just naive, but my mouth and my mind both said " problem". This was in April and her party would not happen until July...I should have it figured out by then! (or so I thought)

As I did parties in May and June, gained some experience and learned more about the business, I started to realize that trying to work with 30 women was going to be a bit CRAZY! I also figured out that 30 perfumes had a RSV of almost $750.00. So I was nervous but excited about the challenge! First thing I did was I asked Tracy who is our FD in Los Angeles to help me on this one...and boy was I glad she was there.

The other issue was that the hostess lives in a city that is about 2 hours from where I live. But because I am really focusing on launching Southern California, I am willing to travel in an effort to spread the word and hopefully seed the business in other places. Not sure if I would recommend it to everyone...especially on a Friday night.

I talked with the hostess several times over the months. I sent her samples and explained the process to her. She asked me if we could do it on the patio at her friend's house and we talked about having two large tables so that they could all do the activity together. I had it pictured in my head...I had the product ordered...I Map Quested my trip and was ready to go! So, we went and did the party and learned a lot. I wanted to blog about some things that I learned...both good and bad about large parties so it may help someone else in the future to learn from my experience. are the top ten things I learned from this party:

1. When I arrived, I was told that there was only 21 people attending...not 30. It was a blessing in disguise, however I did invest in 30 perfumes for this party. Lesson learned? Check, double check and verify RSVPs! I will always use the extra inventory so nothing lost. Shawna suggested that birthday parties should have a "down payment" of 50% with and agreement involving a cancellation policy etc.

2. We were supposed to start the party at 6:30. Guest started to arrive around 6:15 and continue to trickle in. We did not start until 7:30 and did not leave until mid-night. I loved Shawna's blog on being on time. Lesson Learned? Emphasize the importance of starting on time and then start no later than 15 minutes late. Have a on-time incentive.

3. When we went out onto the patio to set up, there were three tables...not two and was a little tight. problem...we would make it work. Since we had two sets of fragrances and three tables, we decided to put two scent families on each table and rotate the fragrances from table to table. This partially worked for the scent smelling, but when the blending started, it became a mess. Truly...I'm not sure how this could have been done successfully. Lesson learned? Shawna suggested that in a party situation with that many people, having a few recipes to choose from may have done the trick.

4. The ladies started drinking wine and martinis upon arrival. It was a birthday party...what do you expect and what can you do? By the time we got around to blending, there was a lot of laughing, some confusion, a bit of chaos and some wasted and spilled oils. Lesson learned? When you know it is a celebration...ask about alcohol. If there will be drinking, talk it out with the hostess ahead of time. Either agree to have selected recipes that will allow them to go through the activity but not have to think too much or see if its OK to have them put off the alcohol until after the workshop is over.

5. Remember...we were outside on the patio. After dark, they put out candles. guessed it...we were out there blending 21 perfumes by candlelight. That is one of the huge reasons we were there until midnight. Lesson learned? Get details. I never thought to ask if there would be light. If you are outside in the evening ask about lighting.

6. As I rotated around checking on guests, one of the guests had a mixing glass that was half filled with oil. She thought a drop was a dropperful. Lesson learned? Check for understanding. Make sure everyone knows what a drop is and what it isn't. The larger the party, the more it needs to be checked.

7. We arrived at the home and it was a beautiful home. We walked in and on a glass coffee table in the living room was a sea of beautiful red glass perfume bottles surrounded by red metallic mylar shred. They were stunning. The hostess purchased fancy perfume bottles for each person to be able to transfer their perfume into. She explained that she wanted them to vote on a name for their fragrance and all of their fragrances would have the same name. The fireplace mantel was lined with gift bags with tags on them that were for the perfume and bottles to go into. They would write the fragrance name on the tags after it was voted on. Everything was classy yet fun! Lesson learned? The idea that a scent can evoke a strong memory is so powerful. This hostess wanted every person to think of her 5oth birthday whenever they wore their perfume. Although they all had individual scents, she also wanted them to be connected with a single fragrance name. Awesome idea!

8. We offered to make samples of each guest's scents for the hostess. We clipped each vial onto a business card with the name of the guest on it card. My hostess loved the idea and really appreciated it. She has expressed the desire to do another party with a smaller group someday soon. Lesson learned? Sometimes a little something extra really goes a long way.

9. When I arrived home and got ready to go and deposit the check, I noticed that the check was made out to Urban Botanic. Lesson learned? Always mention to your guests who the check should be made out to and then check it before you leave the hostess' home.

10. Every experience is a learning experience! I was exhausted and am not sure given the experience to do all over again that I would jump at it. However, the many lessons that I learned are all summed up with this last adventurous...take risks...and don't limit yourself to what is simple and usual. We grow with the extraordinary experiences and to really be successful, I believe we have to think outside the box and do things that are outside the norm.

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