The San Antonio Fashion Society Holiday Mixer: What Really Happens When Planning an Event
Event Planning is hard, really hard. There are a ton of components to it and it can definitely get stressful. With that said, I still took it upon myself to plan and host a Holiday Fashion Industry Mixer for the San Antonio Fashion Society. I've been the Organizer of this Meetup group for about 2 years and honestly I felt that I was failing miserably at it because we hadn't done anything worth while the entire time. I was traveling so much, that I gave my time to other things and gave a million excuses for not hosting at the very least a coffee meetup with the group. I hadn't completely ignored it of course; I would invite the members to other events I had co-organized or would be invited to, or even gain access to discount codes to get the "Fashionistas" to fashion related events. And they'd showed up, sporadically, here and there, but not as many people as I would've liked. After the 4th Annual Fashion Awards, I decided to change that. All the ideas I had brewing in my brain needed to become a reality, so I started planning the Industry Mixer.
I had been e-introduced to the wonderful people behind Merkaba, a new bar/lounge on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, by my good friend Christina Olivarez of the Social Butterfly Gal and co-organizer of Hustle + Socialize. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally host a proper networking event. And so it began...
At first we played a little bit of phone and email tag with the Merkaba team. Between my work travel, vacations, planning the Fashion Awards and a general busy time for both of us, it just kept happening but I was determined to not give up and set a date to have the event. When I was finally able to meet with the team, I told them about my purpose with this event. "The SA Fashion Society is an organization that serves as a hub for professionals in Fashion in our City on the Rise. We host networking events for everyone from Fashion Designers, Stylists, Photographers, Models, Hair & Makeup Artists to Bloggers, Influencers and Digital Content Creators. Our goal is to foster valuable relationships between fashion creatives around the city so that they can create their magic to share with the rest of the world. San Antonio's Fashion Community is a growing Industry and the Annual San Antonio Fashion Awards is evidence of this phenomena." was my pitch. They were so excited about MY excitement and we decided to go full force.
The next thing to plan was food, decor, and of course inviting people. Then I remembered that most events I attend offer some kind of goody bag and even a fun raffle (the latter actually occurred to me about a week before the event, eek!). So many details, and with a full time job, that requires my full attention, time was of the essence and I had to act fast. One thing that I had in my favor was a good reputation thanks to my experience in planning major events as a Style Lush TV staffer, like the Fashion Awards, Fashion is Art and the Look Local Night. So, I sent my sponsorship pitch to all my existing and new contacts, even reaching out to businesses I had never worked with before, by just sending an email to the address on their website. The response was overwhelming! The vast majority of businesses I reached out to were ecstatic about this event and more than willing to donate their photography services, gifts for the goody bags, food and desserts for the guests and even a beautiful backdrop for the photo op. I worked specifically with all local or locally based businesses, even including a national brand that happens to be headquartered in San Antonio! I couldn't believe the amount of support I received, but gained so much confidence because I realized that my hard work during the last 5 years helped me earn this position in the industry. I was humbled by the response, and so proud at the same time!
The week leading up to the event was insane, to say the least. I was tied to an 8-5 work schedule and I had to basically run around the entire city to pick up all the gifts from the sponsors for the gift bags, and everybody had a totally different schedule. My lunch hours were occupied with quick drives to the closest locations to me, my evenings were spent stuck in rush hour traffic trying to reach the further locations. I managed to go to the barre studio ONE time that week, and it just so happens that they were sponsoring a gift card as well... 2 birds! As I received goodies from each vendor, I would pack them in the gift bags to avoid having to cram it all together the night before. Still, my stress level was rising as we received 67 RSVPs (my goal was a humble 30), and there were over 200 "Interested" on the Facebook event page. Anxiety ridden on the fact that I was planning this alone, LESSON LEARNED, I had to rely on morning and evening meditation and essential oils to reduce my stress and actually sleep at night.
The day of the event, I must have received 100 text messages from guests, sponsors, venue management and my hubby. I also still had to pick up the desserts, and the final gifts for the bags, but fortunately all 3 locations were right next to my office. Honestly, I was going a little crazy, so I had to stop, breath and remind myself that everything was going to be great. It wasn't my first rodeo, but it was definitely my first time doing it alone. Which, in hindsight, I should have recruited a small team to help me and delegate responsibility. Then the rain... It rained so hard all day and even into the night. I just had to replay my husband's voice in my head telling me to go with the flow. So, I just thought, if only 20 people arrive, then this will be a success. I arrived downtown at around 4:30 pm and started my makeup in the car, I'd have to change at the venue since I had been at work all day and a velvet romper with sparkling tights wasn't really office appropriate, lol. Arriving at the venue at 5pm, I needed to set up the dessert trays, the decor with the floral backdrop designer, and receive the caterer to direct them to our setup. Time FLEW while we were setting up. The venue staff assisted in getting the gifts to a designated area and getting rid of any boxes/bags where I had brought everything with me. The event started at 6pm, and I still hadn't gotten dressed! About 4 guests arrived early, so I just had excuse myself and get ready. By the time I got out, there were about 10 people, and I was so happy! As the evening progressed we ended up with about 45 guests! I was elated!
|Chocolates by Chocollazo|
|Donuts by The Art of Donut|
|Charcuterie Tray by Naselli Deli|
|Fruit & Cheese Tray by Naselli Deli|
I mixed and mingled, met new people and introduced so many people that would be a perfect fit to collaborate! I looked around and saw everyone networking, connecting, enjoying the food, loving the happy hour Specialty Cocktail (we renamed 2 of Merkaba's signature drinks to Faded Fashion and Distinguished Style, an ode to Saint Laurent's famous quote). Everyone was having a great time, and I could rest easy knowing that this event was more of a success than I could even dream of! I am so grateful to Merkaba's staff, to all the sponsors and of course, to the guests who braved the terrible weather to support the SA Fashion Society, who's sole purpose is supporting them in return. I am so happy with the way everything turned out. Even though I'm still recovering from this one, I already have ideas for the next one and hopefully I'll have a full team to work with on it.
All Photography by