Behind the Scenes - #GirlsNightOut
So I've been a bad little blogger and haven't written anything since March. I have a great excuse though, and it's called #GirlsNightOut. To make a long story short, MsIndependent is a big girl now and has grown from a simple meetup group to a legitimate business. To set MsIndependent apart and get the word out about our events I had to do something big, and #GirlsNightOut was it. Here is how #GirlsNightOut went from idea to invites.
The Ultimate Women's Expo
With no idea what I would sell or promote, way back in November of 2015, I decided that I wanted to participate in the Ultimate Women's Expo, that happened on April 9 & 10th ( Sat. and Sun.) of this year. With 21,000 ladies expected to attend I thought this would be an ideal way to promote MsIndependent. I had to book the booth far in advance before I knew what I was even booking it for, but I knew something would come to me. After meeting with a business coach in January, that "something" was a girls night out concept that I had been thinking about for ummm about 4 years. Crazy! Everything was falling into place, we had an event, t-shirts, volunteers and I was so sure we'd have more signs ups and sales than we could handle. I know any entrepreneur reading this is probably laughing. It's never that easy.
My view walking into the naked space at NRG Park to find my booth.
It gave me all kinds of feels to see my name on that sign. Booth 518, that's us!
My volunteers, assistant organizers and I, stood at our booth for 13 hours over those two days, and sold 1 ticket to #GirlsNightOut and 2 t-shirts. I invested so much money, so much time, paid for banners, signed up to be an exhibitor at this huge expo, and felt that I had walked away with nothing. To top it off I let stress get the best of me and didn't sleep, barely ate, and started having awful sinus problems. Needless to say, the whole experience was a bit of a downer. We did however get a lot of people interested in joining our newsletter which is important, especially when no one knows you. At that point #GirlsNightOut was less than 2 weeks away and I had only sold 9 tickets. My daily affirmations, prayer, and maybe a little bit of whisky here and there, kept my pity parties short, and my head in the game.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
A picture is worth a thousand words so I can summarize some of the other mishaps that occurred on my way to the big day with these pics.
Sinus infection and allergy testing. Staying positive but feeling like crap. I sounded like a chain smoker for about 2 weeks.
I cleaned and inspected the 150 shot glasses that we purchased to be added to the swag bags. Thank God I did because some of them were flawed, chipped, or misshapen. I was able to order replacements in time, but was not amused.
My room had to be converted into storage space. I did most of my work on the floor where I also fell asleep most nights. Swag bags and supplies for the event also took over my desk and coffee station. Yes I have a coffee station in my room, feet away from my bed. It's called efficiency.
It Takes a Village
I have the best girlfriends ever. I got so much help with stuffing the swag bags, getting things in order, and assistance with day of activities. I would have been screeeeeeeeeeeeewed if I didn't have the support of my girls. My assistant organizers Raya and Rubi sacrificed their time and weekends to help me at the expo, stuff swag bags, and what is quite possibly the cruelest thing ever, taste test the cocktails we were going to serve at the event.
We got some great beauty products donated from La Fresh and Shoe Dazzle, along with coupons from My Texas Market. At the last minute I was also able to get pink popcorn party favors from Sweet Dreams Gourmet, and when I say last minute I mean the day before the event. Yikes! Our MsMembership subscriber were also gifted products from Bernadette Thompson. A portion of the proceeds for this event went to Habitat for Humanity Women Build, and without these sponsors we would have had to purchase products that would have cut into our funds to be donated.
We mixed, measured, and experimented with recipes from Pinterest and my own curiosities to come up with the perfect cocktails for the event. I've never done so much math in all my life.
My transformation the day of. Hair done by Dominican Beauty Salon, makeup my Steven Merrill Studio, and Dress from Baanou. You should have seen what I looked like that morning.
Our valet service was sponsored by Momentum Mini, who also gave our guests an opportunity to win a chance to drive around in one of these babies for a week. Skyhouse required us to have valet given the large number of guests we were expecting so having the valet sponsored was a God send. Funny enough I always wanted a Mini Cooper, too bad I couldn't take this one home.
It's Just a Little Rain, Right?
On the week of the event I knew there would be rain, but none of us expected it to be as bad as it was. Massive flooding, damage, loss of home, vehicles, even lives. The week was off to a dreary start. I had been praying for beautiful weather for my event since February and I refused to believe otherwise, but with every email or text asking me if the event was off due to weather, I became concerned. We had seen ticket sales soar, things were coming together and I was getting excited, but I can't control the weather. I checked the weather report frequently and then eventually had to stop because it was stressing me out. I just had to hope for the best. I created a digital dream board just for the event, and everyday that I looked at it I thanked God for the sun, the breeze, and the perfect scene that I had been seeing in my head for months. By the way, this pic taken at the event is exactly what I had in mind.
There were other minor ( in hindsight) challenges that I faced day of. On the way to the venue two vendors canceled on me last minute. While setting up for the event I saw the news report that Prince had passed. MAJOR BUMMER. The tables for the vendors were bigger than the ones I ordered, and so we had to rearrange the layout on the fly. We ran out of cups and ice almost every 30 minutes, and our mermaid for the pool no showed. I found out the next day that she had refunded me her fee, and in a note for the funds transfer said that she felt that she might be coming down with something, so as a precaution decided not to come.....2 hours before the event. NICE! No matter what popped up, as long as my guests are having a great time and everyone is none the wiser to what troubles occurred, I consider that a success.
I'd Do It All Again...and I Will
Despite bumps in the road along the way, most days I was super excited to see things come together. For those of you new to the blog, last year I lost my job but was given a generous severance package. That severance package was my start up capital for this event, and so I had everything on the line with #GirlsNightOut. That do or die attitude slapped me out of my funks, got me off the floor, stopped my crying, and made me keep going. There is no way I was going to stand in my own way and talk myself out of making this happen. I realized that my challenges were proving to me how badly I wanted it. I started seeing solutions to problems, not just problems. I had the right people supporting me, and I learned how to manage my energy by keep the wrong people away from me. This will not be the last #GirlsNightOut, and there will be other challenges ahead, but it's all worth it for scenes like this.