Meet Kelley Lee Gin, Owner/Event Producer of Make A Mark in Los Angeles, California
Six years ago, I opened an event planning and design company, Picture Perfect Events. PPE designs and organizes approximately 35 weddings per year. PPE provides professional guidance, support, and a fresh approach to event planning.
Through my experience as an event planner, I now have the time and resources to produce an event that’s close to my heart, Make A Mark. Make A Mark focuses on healthy body image, self-esteem, and positive relationships between a mother and her daughter.
Growing up, I didn’t have much guidance about how to dress appropriately, how to take care of my skin, and how to boost my self confidence. And, I’m now watching my younger female cousins experience the same thing. Now that I have the resources and the know-how, I can organize an event specifically for tweens.
I dabbled in many different jobs leading up to my event-planning business and Make A Mark. I worked at a bank, an ecommerce phone accessory company, and at Sizzlers Restaurant.
I believe that everything you do in life leads to something bigger, yet you don’t always know what that “something bigger” is at the time. Eventually, the big picture comes together, and it makes sense. And suddenly, you’re hit with the realization that, “Wow all those menial jobs have led me to this!”
What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place?
I really enjoy planning and designing. What’s interesting is that I never thought of event planning as a profession until seven years ago when a family friend got married and my mother put me in charge of planning it. How did my mom know that I would be good at this? She says that as a child, the day after my birthday, I would start planning my birthday party for the following year. My mom knew I would be a good event planner before I even knew it.
In the event planning industry, there is always something new and exciting. Every event is project-based; therefore, I am always being challenged with fresh ideas.
Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why?
Heart 4 Africa – My friend Annette Biggs, an amazing photographer (from Triple Cord Photography) started a charity named Heart 4 Africa that lets children be children. Heart 4 Africa provides new homes, education, medicine, and electricity for these children and their families. It is so important for a child to laugh, play, and grow into a mature adult.
The Pajama Program provides needy children with new books and pajamas. Many of these children have been abandoned and are waiting to be adopted. The Pajama program provides these kids with the simple comfort of having a parent tuck them in at bedtime and read them a story.
I support both of these charities because we often take pajamas, books, and even electricity for granted.
What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
The first one and half years of PPE, I worked full time. I had a few clients here and there, but I really wanted to grow the business. My parents challenged me: they allowed me to live under their roof for six months in order to grow my business. I quit my day job. And, I reminded myself everyday that failure was not an option.
Another obstacle I had to overcome was “how to start a business.” I didn’t know how to apply for a fictitious name or a business license. It took many months of researching.
I was also learning to work with the different personalities of clients and vendors throughout the year. I was juggling everyone and everything– my own personal life, vendor relationships, engaged couples. Everyone and everything eventually hit me all at once, and I flatlined. To revive myself, the following year, I decided not to take on as many weddings, giving me more time to re-evaluate my business model and my business philosophy. That’s when I realized I wanted to produce a tween event. And, hence, Make A Mark was born.
From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
A lot of my inspiration derives from my surroundings. There’s always one object that will inspire me for a client’s event, and from there I am able to take that one single object and create an entire event around it.
For instance, I’ll see a vase from my favorite store, Jonathan Adler. With that vase, I can envision an entire event before stepping out of the store. My mind works pretty quickly!
People I admire:
I have a friend who is a professional DJ. I’ve known him for over 10 years. Djing was his hobby, but he turned something that he loved into his professional career. I have always admired him as a person and for never giving up on his career.
My family has been very supportive with my career choice. Most Asian families dream for their children to become a doctor or a lawyer. My parents allowed us to be individuals and choose our own path.
How is the current economic situation affecting your company/organization?
Fortunately, the current economic situation has not slowed down my business; if anything, it’s boosted business.
The economy hasn’t necessarily changed my workflow. People are still getting married, and the weddings are still happening. People are now adjusting their budgets by lowering headcount, for example. Because of this, I’ve had to be more resourceful and creative in how we create the event experience.
What’s helped me weather the current economic situation are the solid vendor relationships I’ve developed.
I’ve learned to rely on the strength of my vendor network. Two months ago, I opened a new studio in Los Angeles where I invited specific vendors to showcase their talent and product. I designed this open house purposefully for cross promotion– to showcase talent and product so that guests can touch, feel, and sample products. Everything was sponsored, and I know all the vendors will see a return within the next few months. There was a lot of positive feedback after the event. One of my clients even decided to serve the beverage that was served at the open house) as their signature drink at their wedding.
What one thing would you like to learn this year?
I would love to join Toastmasters to become a stronger speaker.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I am currently developing a few other businesses that are related to my current profession. I am crossing my fingers that I will be able to launch two other companies by next year! One of those companies is Make A Mark, which I’m hoping to take on tour throughout the United States.
Another dream I have is to design parts of a home such as the kitchen, closets, and bathrooms. I love mixing and matching hardware, appliances, and fabric.
What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment?
– Last minute vacations
– Staying active by taking classes at the gym
– Attending concerts
– Trying new restaurants
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
If you are passionate about something, you will succeed. Never allow someone to tell you that your dream isn’t possible. This is such simple advice, but it’s absolutely true.
Which, if any social networking sites do you belong to?
WEBSITE URL: www.mark-it.org