What inspired you to launch Polar Black Events?
I come from a family of self starters, my father is a composer and my mother was a jewellery designer, so setting up a business of my own had always been an ambition. I saw a real gap in the market for a bespoke, creative and service driven events agency around 2007. I had spent years organising events in house for major companies and brands where I had to rely on external agencies for support. I always felt let down by the service level, attention to detail and quality of work I received and I just knew there had to be a better way. So I approached Xavier, the best event manager I knew (and now my business partner), we pulled together the absolute best people in our industry to create the strongest team, and together we launched Polar Black Events.
How did the name/logo come about?
We wanted a name that people would remember and we wanted to set ourselves apart from other agencies with predictable names to show our creative side. We loved the idea of keeping our brand colours simple and elegant, so black and white worked well for us. We often talk about giving our polar bear a name as we feel so fond of him… It’s on my to do list for 2013.
Describe your event management style…
‘Nothing is ever too much trouble’ is pretty much what we live and breathe by. The exclusive nature of the events we manage and the clients we work with means expectations are very high – so where there is a problem, we will always find a solution. Where there is a request, we will always try and make it happen (within reason!) We all genuinely love and care about what we are doing – it’s all about quality, creativity and putting on truly memorable events.
What are you most proud of and why?
All of our clients come via word of mouth or recommendation from others – we have yet to make a ‘cold sales call’. I think it’s a real testament to the quality of service that PB delivers and I am very proud of that. Personally, it is of course the birth of my baby boy, Charlie, with whom I am completely besotted. He makes me laugh every day.
How do you balance work and family life?
I am really lucky in that we have a fantastic team of people working at Polar Black events so I can be flexible with my hours. And I have a very supportive husband and close family nearby. You also just have to get organised. NotontheHigh Street.com do great ‘stick on blackboards’ for the kitchen where we write our weekly schedule, and I do all my admin, grocery shopping/ banking etc online. I love the My Fitness Pal App on iphone which helped lose most of the baby weight – it’s genius.
What is the most interesting/unusual event you have been asked to manage?
So tricky to choose – we get to work on so many incredible events that have been inspiring. From watching Bill Clinton give a speech at a small dinner, to being with Lewis Hamilton at a watch launch at Selfridges. But a really fun one was a VIP event for Abercrombie & Fitch and Vanity Fair magazine. I was solely in charge of choosing 10 A&F male models to swim in a roof top pool throughout the evening (tough gig)… Donald Trump came with his daughter Ivanka and was very charming, and we ended the evening with an intimate acoustic performance by Taylor Swift. It was all very glam.
What is the biggest event faux pas you have ever seen?
I did work experience for an events agency straight out of university. I was asked to help serve food at a large VIP charity event and – it sounds unbelievable even now – they ran out of food halfway through the event. The agency had tried to cut costs on catering to increase their margin and the result was disastrous. I was asked to go to the petrol station and buy some houmous and bread at 11pm while some of the guests ordered pizzas. I felt so terrible for the client and left the agency the following day.
How would you describe your personal style?
My day to day is a mix of classic pieces with statement accessories. I’m lucky to live just off Westbourne Grove, so a lot of my staple wardrobe comes from shops like Sandro and Maje. For jewellery I love the edgy, contemporary designs of Maria Black and for sparkle, anything by Lulu Frost. I live in Converse or Chanel ballet flats most days as I need to be comfy, but when I need heels I love Charlotte Olympia. For girly feminine prints there is no one better than Belle & Bunty, and when I want a little treat I love the Zoe Jordan showroom in Chelsea. I can also take Charlie with me, so it’s double the fun/ chaos!
Where’s your favourite west London venue for parties?
I love the V&A, and I always have even growing up. We managed an exclusive preview event for their Hollywood exhibition last October and it just made me fall in love with the venue all over again. Plus I got to stare at the white dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch for as long as I wanted and with no crowds around moving me along. Heaven.
Your work has taken you across the world – which has been your favourite country to work in?
Probably the States – and in particular, New York. There is something magical about the city that just makes you really feel alive, it’s hard to describe. Plus the choice of venues to host events is just so vast, from galleries on the upper west side to cool, underground bars in the lower east – it’s got everything. Selfishly, the ‘yes’ attitude and American client service also makes it much easier to do my job. So I am extremely grateful for that!
Where do you draw inspiration from when planning for events?
It depends what type of event it is, but truthfully the answer is everywhere. We need to keep on top of new venues opening up over the world/ new art exhibitions going on, films that might inspire a party theme, political and economic trends that might shape the content of a business meeting. It’s vital we keep our eyes and ears open everywhere. Our clients 100 per cent rely on us for that.
What are your aspirations for this year?
In terms of the business, we are on track to double our turn over from 2012 and we continue to grow our client base and expand our lovely team. Personally, I am due to give birth to my second child in October, which is extremely exciting.
What’s your philosophy on life?
I really believe that anyone can do anything they set their minds to. And it’s never too late to make a change for the better. That, and treat everyone kindly and with respect.
Any guilty pleasures?
Errr, yes lots! I am a big fan of awful, cheesy ’80s rock music (Journey, Poison, Guns ‘n’ Roses etc), I have a habit of watching the QVC channel when I need to wind down (much to my husband’s horror) and the other night I made my way through a pack of double stuff Oreo cookies…