Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Estrada.
Megan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started planning events 20 years ago, in college, when I was shooting live music photography for the music industry. My friends planned and hosted special events (concerts, festivals, club nights, fashion shows) and I was involved in the planning process and production. These events sparked an interest in the event planning industry. I saw how the event production required creativity and management skills that I excelled in.
After college, I took a catering position with a hotel and began booking and planning social events. I moved up in positions and was the Director of Catering for the opening of a luxury hotel with 52,000 square feet of event space. Over the years, I helped plan hundreds of social events from the catering/venue side. That is when I developed a passion for flawless events and strong client relationships, which grew my desire to start my own event planning company in 2011.
After having two children in 2 years, I launched North Shore Weddings & Events to focus on serving the North Shore clientele with full event planning and month of coordination services. Between my children’s naps and diaper changes, I worked to build a company that rapidly grew each year. After 6 years, North Shore Weddings & Events now handles 20-30 events per year. I handle events all over Chicagoland along with destination events. My clients have excellent taste and come to me for the understated elegance and unique styling that my company is known for.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Event Planning is a tough business and never an easy road, but I’ve been blessed with a strong referral business and really amazing clients who value the services I provide them. Working with the public verses business to business is a very different marketing strategy. I fortunately had already been accustom to marketing to the public and knew how to whether the up’s and down’s of that lead process. You have to be patient and use a soft sales approach to building a clientele. Some months are incredibly busy and profitable and some are slow and without much income. You have to be prepared for the ups and downs.
As a single mother running a full time business, it was a challenge to be an entrepreneur with small children. Although it teaches you to work smarter, I would recommend to anyone starting a business, to do it before you have children or once they are older and in school. Childcare is a tremendous expense and requires a lot of planning and foresight. Luckily, those were skills that I had and I found stable wonderful care for my children that allowed me to develop the business without worry.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
North Shore Weddings & Events is a Full Service Event Planning Company that customizes services to the client’s specific needs. We primarily service events in Chicago and surrounding areas, but will also handle destination events with clients from the area. We handle all aspects of the event planning process and approach it from a creative and logical method. Events are essentially project management and need to be handled in a professional manner. We stand out from the other companies because of my years of experience in hospitality management, negotiating contracts, arranging systems for sales and management of events and managing staffing and event execution at a high level. I also come from a creative background in the arts, photography and music, which allows me to bring creativity to my events in all areas of the arts. My clients seek out my preference towards unique events that reflect the client’s specific needs and taste. An appropriate event that is well managed is always better than one that overwhelms the senses and the budget. It’s about the experience rather than the expenditure.
What were you like growing up?
I was always a creative person, but I was the last person that anyone thought would be a Wedding Planner. I was extremely focused on photography and music in my high school years and went to Columbia College for Photography. I began shooting photography in the Rave and Club industry when I was 18 years old. I reached out to promoters to give me access to events in trade for the images and by 20 years old was shooting for music magazines across the country. I traveled across the country to shoot events and to socialize with international DJ’s and performers in the electronic music industry. My focus was 100 percent on capturing that music industry and subculture at the time. Some of those images are released at www.artofparties.com
In 2001, I stopped shooting photography and devoted time to making music. I moved to New York to live out a dream of writing and recording an album of electronic pop music with a producer to full fill his publishing deal. When September 11th happened I came back to Chicago to finish my Bachelor’s degree at Columbia College and began working full time in hospitality. I continued to be surrounded by creative people in the music and arts community, but began to focus my career on the hospitality industry.
- Address: 990 Green Bay Rd, Ste. 2
Winnetka, IL 60093
*By Appointment only
- Website: www.northshoreevents.com
- Phone: 312-546-2360
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/north_shore_events/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/northshoreweddings/
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