Alexandra Franzen // The Magic of Simplicity

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

Alexandra Franzen is a professional writer who has collaborated with over 200 clients,  taught over 1,000 students, and had work published in places like Time, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Newsweekand Lifehacker.

She’s worked with online royalty, like Danielle La Porte and Marie Forleo, worked as a promotional writer for a public radio network, has been a copywriter, is a published author and has been a ghostwriter for motivational speakers, TV personalities, physicians, psychologists, mystics, health and fitness experts, and other people doing interesting work in the world.

But with all of those incredible achievements aside, Alexandra is quite simply a gorgeous human being. With a heartfelt passion for writing and the power of words, her energy beams through whatever she writes. Even her website feels like a close friends home – warm, inviting and nurturing. 

I asked Alexandra to be this months cover girl for EHM because she runs the most delightful events that are incredibly creative and gorgeously fun!  When she came to Australia a few years ago, I went to one of her writing workshops in Melbourne and was blown away by her generous spirit, the quality of the information and the most important thing I think any event facilitator can give – her presence. 

Join us as Alexandra shares with us her journey into events and how she creates the most perfectly intimate and swoon worthy experiences with the magic of simplicity.

Alexandra Franzen Event Head

Thank you so much for your time today Alex, it is so wonderful to have you with us! You have beautiful business based around the art and skill of writing, how did you fall into this particular industry and when did it all start for you?

My mom told me I was going to be a writer when I was about 11 years old. I told her, “No way, I want to be a shark scientist!” In the end, though, mom was right. (As usual!)

I studied English Literature at uni and then I got a job working at a radio station right after graduation. Around the same time, I started experimenting with blogging and I began doing some freelance writing on the side. 

Eventually, I decided to quit my job to focus on freelancing full time—which was very scary, but ultimately it was one the best career decisions I’ve ever made. One project led to another, and little by little, one by one, more clients and opportunities arrived at my doorstep, and… here I am today!

At this point, I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years and I’ve been self-employed for about six of those years. I spend about half of my time doing writing projects for clients (that’s where most of my income comes from) and the other half of my time doing personal writing projects, leading small events, and helping my sweetheart run his new restaurant—which is a whole side-career in itself!

You hold the sweetest events - unique gatherings, gorgeous workshops, writing parties, letter and brunch dates and even a one-time only event around the celebration of love and the written word, with desserts and champagne to boot! What inspires you to put these on and what role do you believe events play in a business owners’ life?

I became a self-employed writer (a “business owner,” you could say) in 2010, back when social media was beginning to explode in a huge way, and back when many entrepreneurs were doing all kinds of smart, interesting new things with technology—like using Twitter to do Q&A parties online, and using teleconferencing platforms to lead phone-classes, and creating Facebook groups where customers could gather and meet one another, and doing live video chats, and whatnot. 

I played around with a lot of these new tools and innovations. I tried almost everything! But, somehow, nothing felt “right” for me. Nothing seemed to fit with my way of doing business.

I remember thinking to myself, “All of this online stuff is really cool... but personally, I prefer learning, connecting, and having experiences that happen offline, in an actual, physical space, not on a virtual screen. I have a hunch that lots of other people feel the same way...”

As it turned out, my hunch was correct! I started putting together small writing workshops—usually ranging from 10 to 30 participants, depending on the venue—and people responded really enthusiastically. I wound up leading workshops in 17 different cities over the course of a few years and most of them sold out very quickly. 

People seemed to appreciate that my workshops were small, intimate, and relaxed. Just a pleasant room, notebooks and pens, coffee and chocolate, tables to write on, a healthy catered lunch, and nice people! Very simple and un-complicated. 

Should every business owner host events? I don’t think so. It’s definitely a personal call. Not everyone is comfortable teaching in front of a group, for example, and not everyone enjoys playing “host” to a room full of strangers, and not everyone enjoys handling all of the logistics that come along with leading a live event. 

But if you run a business—and if there’s a part of you that yearns for more face-to-face interactions with your clients and customers—then I would say, “Go for it!” Try it out at least once.

You could start by doing one seminar or workshop in your city and see how that feels. It could be very simple—just six people gathering in your office, studio, or living room—for a relaxed evening of conversation followed by a nice meal. It’s OK to start small. In fact, “small” might be exactly what your clients are craving most of all.

Your events tend to be quite intimate and smaller in numbers. Do you personally prefer to hold events with small groups of people or would it excite you to get into a room of thousands and step on stage?

I definitely prefer intimate events. I am very introverted—huge events with hundreds of people exhaust me! I don’t want to attend them and I definitely don’t want to host them. 

There is nothing wrong with big events, of course! They can be fabulous—for the right type of person. My younger sister, for example, loves to attend these huge, wild music and yoga festivals with tons of people swarming around and lots of different activities all day long. For her, that type of event is utter paradise! But it’s just not for me.

 

After attending one of your workshops, I can truthfully say that you are a very generous, inclusive, and thoughtful person with mad writing and story-telling skills, which absolutely shines when you are up the front of the room. When you have attended other people’s events, what personality traits or skills do you appreciate in your hosts and why?

Thank you for the compliment… and that’s a great question! When I am attending an event, I definitely appreciate great lighting, great music, beautiful aesthetics. That sort of thing. The environment doesn’t have to be “fancy” in order to feel beautiful—it might be an empty yoga studio with a few flickering candles and some incense—but the environment should feel thoughtful and intentional, not haphazardly thrown together. That really makes a difference. 

Also, a pet peeve of mine is when event organizers BLAST music so loudly that it’s impossible to carry on a conversation. If it’s a dance party, sure, that’s fine, crank up the jams, but if you’re trying to inspire people to talk to one another, kindly turn the volume down a bit.

In terms of personality traits, I think it’s wonderful when a host looks and feels comfortable in her own skin. You can always tell when someone is genuinely happy to be there—and when they are not!

You have taught over 1,000 students, travelled the globe with your workshops and held events everywhere from bookstores, to your loft, to a convent, to your boyfriends new treat shop! From all of these adventures, what has been the biggest lesson you have learnt about bringing people together?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that... you just never know how a class, workshop, seminar, or some other type of experience is going to impact the people who choose to attend. By putting together an event, you might be influencing people’s lives in ways that you can’t possibly predict. It’s mysterious, beautiful, and exciting!

I’ve received emails from people who have attended my workshops—these emails often come weeks or months or even years after the event actually happened—and people have told me, “Because of something you said, I finally decided to self-publish my book” or “I finally quit my job and started my own business” or “I met someone at your workshop and we’ve become best friends and creative collaborators” or “Guess what? I met someone at your workshop and I hired her to coach me and eventually I found the courage to walk away from my relationship, which wasn’t working...” and so on. 

When you produce an event—and you pour your heart into it—you are creating a ripple of positivity that will affect everyone who walks into the room in some way. Some people will be affected more than others, of course. But everyone will be touched by that ripple that you’ve started and there’s no telling where that ripple may lead... so, prepare to be surprised! (Usually, hopefully, in a good way!)

This is one cheeky question we like to ask our cover girls, just like musicians have riders, business owners usually develop their own little list of must haves when they are at events. What can’t you live without at your events?

Ooh! Love that question.

I always have... 

- A water bottle (hydration is essential!) 

- A secret tube of anti-perspirant deodorant (haha—in case I get sweaty!) 

- A toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, or minty gum (especially if I am going to be talking to lots of people up close—I don’t want to horrify them with bad breath!) 

- Chocolate! Always. For myself and for my guests. 

- A little bag with lip gloss, translucent powder, and other things to touch up my makeup during breaks.

- Music! If I am on the road, I always bring along my JAMBOX speaker and my laptop with lots of music queued up. The JAMBOX is a very small, lightweight speaker but the sound quality is really impressive!

- Workout clothes, sneakers, my iPod and headphones, because I like to go work out right after wrapping up an event. That’s how I decompress, wind down, and process my thoughts from the day.

And finally, what has been your most favourite event to host to date and why?

Letters & Brunch, definitely! 

This is a new event that I host on the first Saturday of every month at my sweetheart’s restaurant here in Portland, Oregon, where we live. 

It’s very casual and relaxed. No tickets, no need to RSVP in advance. People just show up if they want to, and seating is first come, first serve. They order coffee and brunch. 

Then—while they are waiting for their food to arrive—I hand each person a little bundle of letter-writing supplies (paper, pens, postage stamps, stickers, and so on) so that they can write a few letters while they wait! 

People really enjoy Letters & Brunch and it’s been so much fun for me to put together. I get to play “hostess” without the added pressure of needing to “lead a seminar” or “teach” anything. It’s really “chill,” as we say here in the States!

At a recent L&B event, a woman said to me, “I just wrote a letter that I’ve been meaning to write for two years.” She was glowing and she looked so happy about it. That was an awesome moment. It reminded me that putting together a meaningful event that really enhances people’s lives doesn’t have to be “complicated.” Sometimes, all it takes is an empty room, some paper and pens, music, and a plate of eggs and bacon. 

Simplicity is a beautiful thing.

Le sigh, isn't Alexandra simply amazing?! What a gorgeous and insightful interview. If you want to keep up to date with all things Alex and find out when her next events are on, hop on over HERE and do yourself a favour and subscribe! 

 

Image credits belong too:

Headshots: Danielle CohenProduct shots: Leslie PlesserEvent shot: Thea Coughlin

EHM ATTENDS // GROW by Kate Caddle

By EHM Feature Writer Emma Newby

From time to time, I think we can all use a little self love boost. Whether we are seasoned professionals at taking care of ourselves or struggle to find time to shower (cue a house full of kids, a full time job and a penchant for people pleasing) it is so important to put on your own mask first (cue gorgeous flight attendants you are supposed to be paying attention to); but how often do we do it? 

Kate Caddle is a life coach, writer and speaker, self love expert and spirituality guru and a pretty beautiful human being. I was lucky enough to attend her very first stand alone event, GROW: Inner Expansion & Self Love, or as I like to describe it, an afternoon filled with a room of divine women. 

Walking into Boheme + Body alone, I was welcomed with a big smile, a warm hug and a personalised little gift pack. I was totally in the right place. Workbooks, candles and coconut water littered the tables and the room was about half full when I arrived, leaving the ever important “where will I sit?” question hanging in the air. I ended up at a little table with some friendly women and felt like it wouldn’t have mattered if I had chosen the other one, it would have been just as warm and inviting.

Kate ticked all the boxes for a beautiful event. Amazing (did you hear me say Ah-mazing) space, generous sponsors, lovely catering and the most beautiful attention to detail I have seen in a really long time. It was pretty much event perfection. 

All of that means nothing though if the content doesn’t ring true, that and the participation, the conversation and the interactions between attendees... lucky there were definitely no problems there! The room was inviting, the conversation between strangers was flowing and Kate’s facilitation of the self love workshop content made me think she had been doing it for years. 

Kate encourages small, meaningful inspired action on the path to self love, things you can stick to, things that light you up and actually implementing them, which, if you are anything like me can totally be the hardest part. The afternoon brought me a little closer to these three things, inspired by Kate and her story, the implementation started that very day!

If you want to feel loved, heard and have a cracking good afternoon, I can’t recommend getting along to one of Kate’s workshops enough, it was truly beautiful.

 

Photo credits belong to Anne Carolien Kohler

Meet The Maker // Violet Gray

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

Violet Gray is one of those beautiful brands that you can't even call a brand or a business - it's a movement, a collective and a beautiful intention to create something purposeful and honest. Their jewellery is created with so much passion and care that whether you are the purchaser or receiver of one of their items, you can FEEL the good energy radiating out of the delicate silver tin each unique piece is housed in.

As a supplier for some of my clients and their events, I wanted to dig even further into the Violet Gray story and learn more about how Alex and Frances see their jewellery being used at other people's events and hear about the beautifully intimate workshops they hold for their community. So, let's hear from the girls! 

TELL US ABOUT THE JOURNEY OF violet gray and the idea behind intentional jewellery?

Alex : Oh gosh... Violet Gray and her journey. Well, she was 'birthed' in Indonesia in 2012 when I was living there. I was really attached to a dream to make jewellery and so I moved there from Europe to pursue it. At this stage, there was no set plan, no set style, no set inspiration... I just began to bead. Combining crystals and sterling silver, I became really interested in the meaning behind stones and the power that they carry. So I would bead, then feel out a piece and a story or a purpose for that piece would unfold really organically. 

I'm not sure how or where the term 'intentional jewellery' evolved in relation to our brand, but each of our pieces is created and offered with an intention. In a world that moves so quickly, it is easy to become disconnected from yourself.

So much time in the head, not enough time in the present. So where intentional jewellery is magical is that it becomes a physical, tactile reminder to align you back with your focus or intention. With the power of presence, you enjoy your life more... Simple right?! 

YOU describe the brands core values to include creating something of purpose; how do your beautiful jewellery pieces centre around this value?

Frances : That value is based on not wanting to be the manufacturer of another piece of throw away junk in a world based on consumerism. What we would rather create is something that you love and treasure, that really means something to you.

Our message is not to just buy more and fill your life with spur of the moment shopping (and credit card debt). Our message is to take a step back and if something we have made really speaks to you, bring it into your life and attach a purpose to it.

Feel it, wear it, love it and one day, pass it down to your child or niece or nephew. Those are the type of tangible products that we support and believe in. Things that have a purpose in your life, things that mean something to you.

violet gray certainly has a gorgeous community spirit about it with your ambassadors and also your charity support, why is it important for you to keep a strong bond with those that support your business?

Alex : Because it is the community that makes Violet Gray even possible. We are so lucky to have collaborated with amazing Ambassadors, women that have become deeply respected friends of ours. But our community extends far beyond our Ambassadors, the charity alignment or the 'Insta-famous' - we cherish every single woman that wears a piece of our jewellery. It is this international community of diverse women that co-create the presence that is Violet Gray. 

katereneecooper@gmail.com

you hold in-person gatherings which we love to see! what kinds of events do you run and how does your jewellery play a role?

Alex : Oh boy, we love holding space. So we host sporadic Intention Circles - where we guide the attendees to connect with nature, with their own creativity and with an intimate group of other women. You create your own crystal bracelet and walk away realising how truly intuitive you actually are. 

I hold space and take bookings for Blessing ceremonies - for Mothers to be. This is a sacred, traditional celebration of one women as she transitions from Womanhood to Motherhood. Where the focus in Western cultures are often centred around the physical preparation, a Blessing ceremony prepares the woman emotionally, spiritually and mentally. These circles are incredible moving.  

And lastly, as a community initiative, we are about to start holding space for fortnightly Woman's Circles on the Gold Coast. This will be fun.... 

Violet Gray

how can other event hosts and facilitators use your products within their own workshops and events?

Frances : They are perfect for this. They work so beautifully as a gift to remind the wearer of the experience or life changing moment one has gained from a workshop or event. We really value the experiences that game-changers are out there creating and aim to support as many teachers / guides / coaches / light workers as possible. So we offer generous discounts for these types of things. Be sure to get in touch with us for more info. 

 

how does your jewellery continually serve the recipient long after that initial box is opened?

Frances : I like to think of the box as a burst of love. Our greatest hope is that the receiver feels the amount of love that goes into every package as soon as they open it. From there, the piece is made to grow with you. It can change with you and hold many different intentions throughout a lifetime; reminding the wearer of this message in a tactile way every day. 

For instance, I am the lucky custodian of one of our beautiful amethyst rings. Initially, my intention was to look beautiful as a part of my outfit on a special day. Simple. But now it has become a talisman of safety and protection in every moment.

As I approach my day, especially on days where I feel vulnerable, this ring is literally my rock, bringing with it a feeling of ease and confidence. 

2016 is well and truly here! what is on the horizon for violet gray?

Alex and Frances : We have so many big plans that it is a little overwhelming. At this present moment we have just opened our first showroom on the Gold Coast. The year is already filling up with international trips, product development and inspiring group work (oh and general life stuff - like newborn babies, fur-babies and renovations).

It seems that it is never a matter of 'what' we are going to fill the year with but 'how' are we going to fit all of our inspiration into such a short amount of time. All that we can say is 'watch this space'... Inshallah. 

Aren't they just gorgeous?! You can keep up to date with all things Violet Gray HERE and if you ever get a chance to go to one of their workshops in person then make sure you get yourself there!


All photo credits belong to Violet Gray

Take The Stress Out of Your Party Planning With This Simple Service {SP}

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

It was just before Christmas at a gorgeous Thirsty Camel Cocktail Evening that I had an epiphany. Party preparation can be SO much easier! Being an event manager, I wish I had known this earlier :/ 

Photos by @checkandspots, @thirstyblonde2, @threebeesblog and @ntjblogger

 

One of my biggest issues with party planning can be the alcohol, especially when I am working on an event where the alcohol is being outsourced and needs to be taken care of by me. While there are providers out there who provide online shopping with delivery or click and collect to make my life easier, I face two problems:

 

1. If I get my order delivered and the venue won't take it in advance and store it for me, I have to store it in my house in advance of the event. This means I have to firstly find room and then on event day, load it all into my car - usually by myself.

 

2. If I do a click and collect order, I have to go into the store, get a trolley, load it all up, steer the trolley through the car park (I'm 5 foot nothing and a complete lightweight - a windy day can make this extra ummm, adventurous!), unload it into the boot, put the trolley back and come back to the car. Some days, I've had to do this with a toddler in tow - hola to the mums who get the logistical nightmare this can be. 

 

So imagine my freaking DELIGHT when I found out Thirsty Camel do this:

 

Drive through click and collect

 

Oh. Em. Gee. You can order and pay online up to a week in advance or even just an hour out. Good for those who plan in advance or those who need a last minute run. Then off you go to pick up your order which has been all packed up for you, cold and ready to go. You don't even have to get out of the car.

Let me repeat that.

You don't even have to get out of the car!

As soon as I heard this information, I already had a list of events I could use this for. Birthdays, engagements, weddings, celebrations, grand final day, Melbourne Cup, Christmas, Australia Day, launches, dinner parties, long lunches and even family get togethers.

With a full selection, you can have anything from wine to beer to cocktails, all with ice and maybe even some groceries if you are at one of the Thirsty Camels that provide a grocery selection.  

Photos by @theeventhead (me!), @skipping.girl, @thirstycamelbottleshops, @_eatplaylovetravel

 

Meanwhile, I found out that some of the drive throughs have barista made coffee or takeaway food like burgers and pizza. Seriously, why wasn't I told about this sooner?! ;) I guess being independently owned means you can have a lot more fun!  

So now there's no more loading and unloading, no more runaway trolleys that weigh more than me, no more fussing about with waiting for delivery men and finding room for storage in the house. Amazing!

Thank you Thirsty Camel for being party friendly, high heel friendly, mum friendly, windy day friendly and female friendly. With over 400 stores in Australia, there will be one near you so make sure you find your closest one HERE and put it in your little black book for the next time you are planning a party!

The Power of Premium Experience Events

By Suzanne Chadwick

You know the feeling I’m sure – you’re heading off for the day to an event.  Not just any event, but one that you’ve invested in.  It’s at a gorgeous venue with amazing speakers.  You’ll be connecting with other EPIC women in business and entrepreneurs and you’re ready.  You’re ready to learn, take notes, collaborate, connect and more. 

This is not just a chance to hear stories, but it’s a chance for you to learn and be empowered to create real change in your business.  The excitement of what you’ll experience is at an all-time high.

As the event landscape continues to grow, there is a place for events at all levels.  There are the breakfast events, evening meetups, half day and full day workshops, large scale theatre style events with hundreds if not thousands of people and then there are higher end premium experience events.   Each one of these types of events has benefits depending on what you’re looking for. 

When putting on a premium experience event there are so many things that come into play.  Knowing your audience, who you want to attract and what is key for them.   What makes an event premium?  Different people may have different perceptions of what premium is to them.

Having attended a lot of different events, a premium event to me consists of some the following things. Exceptional speakers who can deliver unique and tailored content to the audience.  The venue is 2nd to none.  Beautiful surrounds, food, event management, flowers and overall experience of attendees on the day.  It’s little things like – no one is left standing on their own, people are actively introduced, there are opportunities for attendees to connect and get to know each other.  Beautiful gifts, potentially workbooks or programs for the day.  A spacious venue to relax, work and feel at home.

If you’ve been to an event like this then you’ll exactly what I’m talking about.  You feel special just being part of the day.  At premium events the ticket price is higher but you also know that the experience will be as well.   You could pay a lot less for an event – be shuffled through crowds, squeezed in theatre seating and provided with at times dry and heavy food options.   

 If you’re looking to create your own premium experience event then here are a few things to consider:

1. Event spaces

Take a look around the central locations you’d like to host your event.  There are so many great venues around.  When looking at spaces for EPIC Business Branding Summit I viewed some beautiful venues.  Consider things like – size, how many people will it fit comfortably as well as at a stretch.  View the stage area from every possible angle.  I hosted an event last year in a stunning space but not every table and attendee had a great view of the stage area or screen which was an issue; something that I’m more aware of now.  

Look at the different spaces in the venue.  Are the tables round which encourages more connection between everyone at the table and therefore communication.  Simple things like white table clothes make a huge difference.  Check out the bathrooms.  I found a gorgeous venue but they only had 2-3 toilets. When you’ve got 100 women, that can be an issue so you can either make sure that there are more bathrooms or make sure you have use of the men’s toilet exclusively and make sure you’re happy with it.   

One of the event partners offered to promote the event through their own social channels which I thought was amazing and supportive.  Discuss bump in and bump out times.  What is the earliest you and your guests can get there and what time do you need to be out by.  There is nothing worse than have a fantastic day and then you have to leave quickly or get booted out.  This also comes down to your running sheet or schedule for you to manage it well. 

Food at premium experience events is so important.  When you’re hosting an all-day event, attendees want to enjoy their breaks and their lunch.  It’s a time to connect and converse with others and who doesn’t love to do that over a beautiful lunch – especially women.  Once again it’s about creating special experiences with high quality products.  If you’re charging a premium price then this would be a minimum expectation as well. Speak to your venue and see what they can do.  It doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive if you are very specific about what you want and how they price it.  

 

2. Partners

Knowing what kind of event you want to put on, you’ll also need to think about what I like to call tangible and intangible partners.  For example I’ve partnered with the fabulous ladies at Babylon Flowers who will be supplying the flowers for EPIC Business Branding Summit in Melbourne in April. They have worked with us before and it made sense to work them again.   We are also partnering with Frank Body for gifts as well as other businesses and provide. Other intangible (as in, not physical products) that we’re working with is Social Concepts Consulting  for our PR Management.  The more people that know about the event the better off we are so it’s key to ensure we’re got the right partners focusing on that for us. 

Think about what you need and who you can partner with in a mutually beneficial way. Approach them and see if there is a synergy regarding what you are doing and what they do.  If you support any charities then creating partnerships with them is key as well and seeing how your event can continue to support them.

3. Tailored Experience

Whether you’re working with one person or you’re running an event for 100 people, sit down and work through the step by step experience they will have.  It helps you craft the experience you want your attendees to have but it will also mean you are 100% on top of everyone on the day. What do I mean by this?  I actually start from a week or so before the event.   As tickets close then I start to prepare for every touch point that my ticket holders will have.  

For example:

- Creating a web page with all the details of the event, parking, food, speakers and more and then email that out to everyone who has bought a ticket so that they have directions, public transport links, what to do if they haven’t provided dietary requirements then who to email etc. 

- Sending any “let’s get excited” emails to rev them up a day or two before the event

- On the day I walk through what the day looks like for attendees – they arrive, there is clear signage, there are people meeting and greeting them at the door, lanyards or name tags, coffees on arrival (we are in Melbourne after all) and anything else that they need. 

- Social information; how can they share and be part of the day.  Have it clear and accessible which is great for branding

- Getting started on time and provide a full overview of the day; people like certainty about what they will experience over the next X number of hours 

- As I MC my own events it’s key to stick to the timing of the day for yourself and for your attendees.  

- Ensure there are regular comfort breaks.  

- Create conversation and discussion so that people aren’t just sitting and listening all day.

- Having some fun giveways during the day

- We then have a cocktail event at the end of the day just wind things down and end on a high.

- There is then the after care and connection from the event.   So things like feedback forms, special communication about anything that is just for attendees.  Spaces and places for them to connect. Walk through it all so that you know how, when and where your attendees will have special experiences. 

 

4. Have a premium mindset and a premium Team

If you have a vision for your event then you have to have the right team to back you up.  As with your partners, having others to help you do the things that you can’t or don’t want to do is key.  When running an event of this size I have a VA, Social Media manager for the day, photographer, someone to support me in securing sponsorship and more.  Having people there on the day also takes the pressure off you if they are looking after registration, meet and greet, capturing social images and content.   

Pick a team that understand your brand values and what you’re trying to deliver on the day. This might sound strange but if your team don’t value the high end experience and what that looks like then they may miss things that you would like them to pick up on the day –and experience is everything!

These are just some tips on creating a premium experience event for your attendees.  These types of events ideally attract people who want to invest in themselves, in something beautiful and in quality rather than quantity.

If you’d love to experience an event like this, then we would love to see you at EPIC Business Branding Summit at Carousel on Albert Park Lake on Thursday 14th April 2016. For more information and to grab your ticket, head HERE.

Suzanne Chadwick works with both small and large businesses to develop the right business and brand strategy to ensure that the outcomes you want in your business also align with the message, image and impact that you’re putting out to your target audience.

All photo credits belong to The Connection Exchange

How to create the perfect atmosphere at your next event

By EHM Feature Writer Sarah Jensen

I hosted my first workshops last year and I learned a lot about how to make your guests feel welcome and relaxed.

While the feedback after the first workshop was amazing, during the event I was sure it was tanking because everyone was so quiet!  I was reassured with compliments, hugs and some beautiful thanks from the guests afterwards, but all night I was worried it wasn’t going well.

So I used everything I learned at the first workshop to make the atmosphere at the second one more interactive and fun.  

Here’s what I did:

1. SEND A PERSONAL EMAIL BEFORE THE EVENT

I let my guests know how much I was looking forward to meeting them, plus provided some helpful information about the venue, parking and dietary requirements. 

 

2. GET ONLINE BEFORE THE EVENT

I checked out my guests’ websites/social media accounts before the event to see what they do and what they look like.  It meant I recognised them as they arrived and allowed me to ask informed questions to get the conversation started.

 

3. PERSONALLY GREET AND INTRODUCE GUESTS TO EACH OTHER AS THEY ARRIVE

By introducing guests to each other at the start of the event (with a fun fact like, ‘Kate is a photographer’, or ‘Jess blogs about fashion’) it put everyone at ease and helped reduce that awkward feeling of being in a room full of strangers.  

It also meant my guests were more comfortable sharing their thoughts during the workshop, and some of them even arranged to catch up after the event and help each other out! Hint – if, like me, you’re not great with names, name tags can make this SO much easier.

 

4. SHARE YOU IN YOUR INTRODUCTION

At my first event, I was so nervous I actually forgot to properly introduce myself (who I am, what I do, and how I came to do it).  So at the second workshop, I started the event with a really honest share about me, what I’d been through and why I felt so passionately about empowering women to follow their dreams.  It was a really powerful, connecting moment.  

My vulnerability helped my guests feel safe to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas during the workshop.  It created a really inclusive, fun space and meant the workshop was more like catching up with a group of old friends than a paid event.

 

5. PROVIDE SOME ONE ON ONE TIME DURING THE EVENT

During my second workshop, I made sure I had spent some one on one time with each of my guests. Between each ‘presentation’ part of the workshop, I’d move around the room and talk with one or two of my guests.  This allowed me to get to know everyone better and meant they could ask me questions and talk through ideas.  

Over the course of the workshop, I was able to speak with each of my 15 guests at least twice and in the post workshop feedback, one of the most commented on elements was how much the ladies loved the personal attention.

 

6. SEND A PERSONAL EMAIL AFTER THE EVENT

Send a heartfelt thank you to each of your guests the day after the event.  Share a favourite memory from the event or a moment that made everyone laugh, and a group photograph if you have one to remind your guests of how great the event was.

 

All photo credits belong to Amy Agnew Photography

Meet the Founder // Wellineux

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

Today we chat with Amanda McMillan co-founder of  Wellineux a place that believes in inspiring and empowering individuals through 8 integrated areas; discovery, nutrition, movement, rest, mind, connection, resources and growth.  As Wellineux's Strategy and Experience Director, we loved hearing from Amanda about their approach to whole body wellness and combining these ideas with regular events and collaborations.

Thank you so much for your time today Amanda, it is so wonderful to have you with us! We’d love to know, how did you find yourself exploring health and wellness as a career and co-founding Wellineux?

I was engulfed in a role as a founder of an organization that I didn't align to.  I was giving 110% of myself to the organization and people within it at the detriment of my husband, two little girls, family and friends.  I had never dropped my girls off to school.  I had lost who I truly was and the gifts I had to give to myself and those around me. I knew that something had to change and that’s when myself and my very good friend Michelle, came up with the idea of founding a wellness collective.

Not a two dimensional collective based on purely nutrition and exercise but a holistic collective that dropped the need to tell people what to do but helped people to find their own way to be the best versions of themselves. We wanted Wellineux to inspire and empower others on their journey of me but also ourselves. Our journey to wellness is never ending, as is the case for us all, but incredibly rewarding and it is such a joy to be part of their lives of others as they make a commitment to themselves.  

You describe Wellineux as "providing wellness services that guide you to find the power within and take control of your wellbeing". Can you please tell us a little about how your Journey of Me book (or JOM as it’s affectionately known) can assist people in experiencing this?

The Journey of Me (JOM) is part daily journal, part self discovery exercises and part inspirational goodness. The book is based around the 8 areas that we believe make up holistic wellness; self-discovery, nutrition, movement, mind, rest, connection, resources and growth. Each month focuses on a different area with the opportunity to understand yourself better, set intentions based on who you are and reflect on your progress. 

So many people have told us that the JOM helps them to make small and sustainable shifts regularly. Most importantly they say that these shifts that are based in a deep knowledge of who they are and not what they or others think they should be.

Some people choose to work through the JOM on their own, others do it with a friend, partner, relative or coach and yet others do it as a group that meets regularly like a book club. What’s great is that there’s no right way to wellness and the JOM helps people to find both themselves and their way to wellness. 

Apart from the physical products that you sell such as the JOM, you also run regular events. What steps do you take to ensure that your events are unique and inspire positive change? And do you find that your products such as the JOM allow participants to continue the journey after the event is long finished? 

We love the opportunity that events provide us with to meet and connect face to face with new and longstanding members of the Wellineux community. We know that people are busy and there are so many events out there that they could attend, so we want to make each event truly inspiring and long lasting in its benefits. 

We have a breakfast series called Atelier which welcomes an inspirational speaker focusing on one of our areas of wellness, collaborate in the management of events such as The Wellness Summit and Utopia Wellness, run Personal and Corporate one day retreats and have more exciting events planned in the year ahead. 

The key for us with all of our events is to provide options, ideas and approaches for people to find out more about themselves and choose their way to move forward with their wellness rather than telling them what to do. That means inspiring speakers, lots of activities to try, helpful take aways, and heaps of opportunities to connect in a fun way with likeminded individuals. 

All of our products from the JOM to our coaching, group coaching circle (Coterie), vision board kits, mindful minutes, affirmation cards and inspirational book INQ provide inspiring ways for our community to continue their journey of me after the event and well into their future. 

We love that you collaborate with some of the most wonderfully inspiring events in the country such as the Utopia Women’s Wellness Festival. Are you big fans of collaboration and how do you find the right people to collaborate with?

Collaboration is at the heart of Wellineux, in fact when we defined our guiding philosophy, which we call heart and soul, we were really clear that no one person is the ‘expert’ for anyone’s life. In fact, we believe in creating options and opportunities for people to find their own way to wellness and to being their own expert.

No two people are the same and therefore no two paths to wellness are the same. With this in mind, we seek out people who share our heart and soul and who have a passion and commitment to helping and inspiring people on their own journey of me. We have connected and collaborated with an amazing range of inspiring individuals and brought their stories, wisdom and gifts to our community.

We have also collaborated with specific events like The Happiness and its Causes Conference, The Wellness Summit and Utopia Wellness to connect with a wider range of these individuals, bring their talents to our community and meet face to face with more and more individuals who are starting to travel along their own journey of me. The energy, inspiration and change which comes from these events is magical. 

What has been the most surprising thing you have learnt diving deep into the world of events and are there any lessons you wish you had known before you started? 

Without a doubt we’ve enjoyed each and every event. We’ve learnt that no two events are the same even if the speakers and content are the same, the audience and the individuals within it are always different. This is such a joy and aligns so well with our belief that no two people are the same.

Although we are all on our own journey, each one of us is different and therefore each audience is different. One of the great things about events is that you learn something different each time whether it’s from the speakers or the audience. We’ve learnt that as much as you plan for an event, there is always something which doesn’t go as you planned and sometimes it’s those unplanned moments that create the magic.

This realisation has prompted us to keep space within our events for the spontaneous, the magic that comes from bringing a group of wonderful people together and allowing ourselves to watch and be part of the magic as it unfolds. 

 

And finally on a more personal note, what keeps you motivated to explore more and continue to be inspired?

My children and my husband are such huge motivators in my life as is my commitment to inspire others on their own journey of me. I have a huge passion for learning more and more about myself and I believe that this is how I can best be of service to my family and the Wellineux community.

I’m continuing to learn how to walk the tightrope of focusing on myself and focusing on others and love the growth I am experiencing. I feel blessed to go to work everyday and be inspired by the people I meet and the unique and inspiring stories they have to share. I am reminded and endlessly motivated by the knowledge that we are all travelling our own journey of me. 

What an incredible journey that Amanda and the Wellineux team have been on! You can keep up to date with all of their incredible events and get your hands on a copy of their famous JOM and other gorgeous products that I've purchased for my own clients, right HERE.

The little things that guests notice, don’t forget these important to-do’s!

BY EHM Feature Writer Ainslie Young

When you’re putting together an event there’s no doubt there’s a lot to think of. Here’s a few crucial to-do’s from a guest’s point of view that you need to tick off to ensure everyone goes home beaming.

1.      You’re Here!

This may sound super obvious but it’s important to let your guests know they have arrived at the right place. There’s nothing worse than having your guests feel awkward and uneasy when they turn up to your venue and they are full of uncertainty.

Put your event guests at ease and have a simple sign informing them that this divine yoga studio, community hall or exhibition centre is exactly where they need to be to enjoy your fabulous event.

 

2.      Have a support crew

In addition to having a ‘welcome’ sign, it’s also a great idea to have someone warmly greet your guests as they arrive at your event.

You don’t necessarily have to have a huge team of staff running around greeting guests and ushering them inside. You could even do it yourself if your event is nice and intimate.  A great alterative is to ask a trusted friend or family member to be your sidekick for the day and welcome guests and provide relevant instructions to your guests.

This important ‘to-do’ helps create a professional and personal vibe for your event and helps you start off on the right foot.

3.      Think about inclusivity

If you have different groups attending your event, for example maybe your mastermind group or students from your online program, think about how you can make your other guests feel included.

Yes, your loyal followers are important and it’s understandable that you want to show them how special they are to you. But remember that you also want to connect with your newer followers and bring them into the fold rather than alienate them.

Here’s a specific example from a recent event I attended. When my friend and I arrived at the workshop we headed straight for a table full of name badges. But we were told that we wouldn’t receive a name badge as they were only for students of a specific course. Even though a name badge isn’t a huge deal, not getting one did make us feel a bit left out (and other guests in the same boat also voiced this opinion).

A simple solution could’ve been everyone got a name badge and the students of the course had a coloured sticker on theirs to identify themselves.

By considering inclusivity you’re assuring your guests that everyone is welcome and their presence is valued.

 

4.      Have an agenda

Another simple ‘to-do’ that often seems to be overlooked at events is an agenda. Even if you know exactly what you’re going to cover as a part of your event it’s important to let guests know all the awesome things that you’ll share.

Even if you have provided an event outline in your marketing and promotional materials it’s vital that you go over it again on the day. You could verbally run through the agenda as you kick off proceedings or provide the event outline in written form either on a small flyer or at the start of a workbook that you may provide.

This helps ground your guests in the experience, removes any uncertainty and again shows you’re thinking of their needs and reinforces how much value you are providing.

5.      Be generous in question time

One of the best opportunities to connect with your guests and impart all of your wonderful knowledge and wisdom is during question time.

However, a few times I’ve been a part of an audience where guests didn’t receive generous responses to their questions and it caused the event to end on a low note.

A number of audience members plucked up the courage to ask a range of questions but the responses were unfortunately far from generous. Responses included signing up to the facilitator’s newsletter or to read a specific blog post so they could learn the answer to their question.

It’s important to remember that when a guest asks a question, often the significance isn’t necessarily placed on the information that you provide but the personal connection you create when you take the time to offer a thoughtful and personal response.

 

By following these important ‘to-do’s’ you’ll help your guests walk away feeling like they’ve received so much value from your awesome event and that they had an opportunity to truly connect with you.

 

All photo credits belong to Kate Di Blasi Photography

Meet the Founder // Insta Kombi

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

Looking for a unique way of capturing your guests and memories at the next special event? Then look no further than Insta Kombi! They add a fun flair to photo booth set-ups with this gorgeous restored 1974 Volkswagon Kombi. We chatted to Insta Kombi's founders Kiefa and Jake about what makes this photo booth a little different to the rest.

how was the idea for insta kombi born?

Insta Kombi started out of a love for Kombi's and photography! When we saw the idea we did some research and found there wasn't any like this around Queensland. We already had our beautifully restored kombi, so the question was, why wouldn’t you turn your Kombi into a Photo Booth?

 

what makes insta kombi different from other photo booths? i'm guessing it's the fact that it's a kombi?

You guessed it.. we are the only VW Kombi photo booth in Queensland and Northern NSW. The instant our eye catching Kombi is set up it changes the mood of any event and people are drawn to her. She's a memory maker and ready to document all of the good times and great vibes from any event. 

why do your guests love your photobooth and choose it over traditional options?

Our guests usually choose our photobooth for its quirkiness and the experience inside the kombi. The minute you see her she catches your eye and draws you in. The kombi is a real show piece and adds that perfect classic charm to any event. Unlike other traditional photo booths our guests love the fact that the kombi also doubles as a great prop for professional photos or promotional material of their events.

 

what type of events can you be hired for?

We do it all!  Weddings, parties, corporate functions, brand launches, marketing events and even festivals. Insta Kombi is amazing for outside venues and with a bit of forward planning can be easily taken inside too. We service anywhere from The Sunshine Coast to Byron bay and everywhere in between. 

what's the funniest photo that's been taken in insta kombi?

We find sometimes the funniest photos can be when people are not ready as its gets the laughter flowing for the rest of their strip series! We have noticed everyone loves to get a photo with our pretty pink flamingo!!

Well this is definitely on kombi that looks like so much fun! You can take a look at Insta Kombi packages and events HERE.

 

All photo credits belong to Insta Kombi

How to make your event activation pop

By Kathryn Thompson

We all know that events are the best way to leave a lasting impression on your clients, and to build the all important face-to-face connection with your brand.

But with so many events and activation's going on these days, it’s hard to stand out.

So if you are putting your hard earned money and oh so valuable time in to hosting an event, it's very important that you take the time to plan and create something special. A launch or activation event should be a memorable experience and an innovative one as well.

Here are four ideas that you use to make your event POP:

1.      Gift bags

Some kind of prize or gift bag at your event activation can work to make it a more memorable experience. Having a keepsake or some type of merchandise that you can give away can help to improve your brand recognition and ensure that people are still talking about your event for days and weeks to come.

2.      A unique venue

While many companies opt to host launch events from head offices or from their shop space, you can also opt for a unique venue for your event or activation. Taking your party on the road and renting out a unique space can be a fantastic way to create an impression from the get go.

3.      Special guests

surprise guests or a celebrity guest at your event activation can really get people talking. If you have created the type of party atmosphere that draws in a sports star, high-profile investor or even a local celebrity this can increase the buzz around your event, and help you get that priceless press coverage.

 4.      Social media support

Your events MUST have social media support these days. By promoting a hashtag for your event, your guests can share pictures during the event to their networks, which will help you gain further publicity. You can mention the hashtag on the invites, signage, menus and on the back of bathroom doors. Instagram printers such as KeepSnaps can be a great addition to your event as they can print photos directly from Instagram as they are hash-tagged. This can be a great way to encourage guests to use your hashtag, and give them a take home memento from your wonderful event.

 Use any one of these top methods to really make your event pop!


Agency Director at Media Motions Kathryn Thompson has over 7 years’ experience in the media industry. With a love of tourism, digital media and events, the Media Motion team are willing to explore new territory, push the boundaries and get your business booming on Instagram

7 Books You Need to Read On Your Entrepreneurial Journey

By  Maddison Vernon

Every entrepreneur or solopreneur knows the journey on the way to success can be long and tedious. It requires inner strength, love, compassion, self-forgiveness, tenacious self-belief and I am sure a whole lot more of magic potions. 

That’s a lot to ask of anyone, but of course you would have it no other way. Yet, for days when your strength is wavering or you are asking for extra support or guidance I have created a go to list of books that every entrepreneur needs to read on their journey. 

Depending on where you are and what you need books will speak to you at different times, but trust me they are all as important as each other.

1. The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

The journey to your business that you envisioned at the beginning that sparked your desire is a long and twisting road. One that will change many times and if you don’t focus on enjoying the process and the journey it can get tiresome pretty quickly. 

The Desire Map I believe is paramount to your business success, as building your own business isn’t about the ‘one day’ it’s about living and experiencing life in the exact way you want to everyday. The Desire Map will help you uncover how to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the destination.

 

2. Turning Pro by Stephen Pressfield

Starting to feel the call to go from ‘sort of trying’ to going full into your dreams? Ready to quit playing small and step up to the game than it’s time to go pro.

Turning Pro is not all about buying bigger programs, and more important software (that can come later) but this is really about turning pro in your mind.

 

3. Get Rich, Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield Thomas

Working for yourself is exciting but you soon realize the perils of how much money you make each month is determined by you. This can become your biggest strength but when you are starting out it’s pretty scary. 

Get Rich, Lucky Bitch helps you unpack your own money stories that are holding you back from charging your worth, living a first class life and attracting the abundance you desire.

4. Spirited by Rachel MacDonald and Tara Bliss

Struggling with comparison-itis, future-tripping or feeling like the not-good-enough’s are catching up to you?

This book has it all! Depending on what I was struggling with in the early days and how I was feeling, depended on what month I reached for to calm my own inner mind and remind me of my truth, my guiding message. Perfect for those early day gremlins.

 

5. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Stuck with having to do the work constantly and feeling like you just aren’t getting anywhere? Looking around for that ‘quick fix’ but know there aren’t any shortcuts in this entrepreneurial game?

The Slight Edge is perfect for you. This book will remind you in matter of fact language the power of waking up each day and showing up. How putting in consistent effort today and everyday, even when you can’t see the results will lead to your biggest impact in the future.

 

6. The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Just landed your dream deal, signed that big contract and surpassed your expectations of the month? Quick before you pick a fight with those you love it’s time to read this book. 

The Big Leap describes how each person has their own level of success, happiness and abundance they are allowed to achieve. When you start to exceed in one, or all areas of your life, you will self-sabotage to bring yourself back to where it is comfortable. This book talks you through strategies to help you lean into more success, happiness and abundance.

 

7. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Carving out your own dreams in this world are difficult, learning to face no’s, rejections and feelings of not good enough are constant. When the sound of all of that gets too much Daring Greatly is going to be your friend. 

Daring Greatly reminds you of the truth that you are in the arena, doing what you love, putting in the work daily. It teaches you strategies and practices to best protect yourself from those moments of shame attacks.

Maddison is a passion-fuelled coach, writer and speaker who works with young women to help them finally escape their own mind jail to finally live the life they want to and reach their BIG goals. She is the creator of the 21 Days to Break Free from your Mind Jail program, helping you reprogram and let go of the stories that stop you from having a life you love and reaching your dreams. You can find her HERE