niki: give me 3 words that describe you.
shonda: if i had to choose 3 that describe me professionally they would be organized, logical and efficient. on a personal note i’d choose loyal, considerate and i’m a thinker.
niki: when did you start event planning?
shonda: i’ve been event planning for about 13 years now.
niki: tell me about some of the projects you’ve worked on in recent years. which was your most fun experience? the worst?
shonda: over the past few years i’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, from corporate galas to auto show exhibits & events to luxury brand launches and most recently a high profile wedding. all of the projects bring different challenges, but i would have to say one of the most enjoyable experiences was a food & wine magazine event in aspen for remy martin’s remy vsop and louis xiii brands. we had to produce two events in the same day, which included transforming two venues in a remote locale that required us shipping most of our props and supplies in from other parts of the country. it was a tight rope situation, but one that was so well orchestrated that it went off without a hitch. well, none that we couldn’t resolve, it wouldn’t be an event if there were no glitches.
one of my worst experiences was at the 40/40 club in new york. the event turned out great, but dealing with the venue’s management and all of their last minute changes was a real headache!
niki: any new events coming up?
shonda: currently i’m a part of a team that produces monthly day parties in washington, dc called classic dayz. the parties are geared towards a more mature demographic, folks who aren’t interested in being in the clubs until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning with the younger set, but who still want to get out and enjoy great music that’s not necessarily the stuff heard nowadays on the radio in a great atmosphere. we’ve been having the parties for over a year now and they’ve been very well attended and received.
niki: what creative power do you wish you had?
shonda: hmm… this is a great question, one that i’ve been contemplating since i was a little girl and i still don’t have a definitive answer. lol! i guess if i could do anything creatively i’d be drawn to either writing because i’m an avid reader and i love the power of words. or maybe a great singer because i think being able to move people with an instrument as simple as your voice is awesome, plus, i can barely carry a tune.
shonda & idris elba at the washington auto show
niki: best music (song/artist) to get your creative juices flowing?
shonda: because i work primarily on a freelance basis, rick ross’s “hustlin’” is pretty much my theme song, the jay-z remix version of course!
sometimes when i’m juggling multiple projects or when i’m going after new work, the bridge just plays through my head: hustle real hard/hustle, hustle real hard/hustlin’ hustlin’/hustle-hustlin’ hustlin’/hustle, everyday i’m, everyday i’m/everyday i’m…
niki: any advice for new event planners?
shonda: if you’re looking to become an event planner, i think the best way to learn anything is to start to do it. volunteer to put together family birthday parties and functions, join auxiliary boards at church or at work, all of this will help you start to understand the process of putting together an event. if you’re already event planning, there are a lot of books, magazines and organizations out here geared towards our profession. read as much as you can because these folks have already encountered a lot of the pitfalls and can help you navigate around them.