Day 3: Options?

So we met our guy at 11 pm. Actually I did…Omair had unceremoniously passed out at this point.. and I was still feeling like an Energizer bunny so figured I would go ahead and keep the meeting anyway. We decided to meet at a generic coffee place…Gloria Jeans…which by the way is a really bad idea as it seems the establishment has no desire to encourage people to just hang out there and chill unless you are on your own, as a conversation there is out of the question. Music is far too loud…and screaming at someone you are trying to negotiate with is not an ideal way of doing things.

He finally showed up at 11:30 pm. Had gotten off his late shift so I just caught up with the guy who had introduced us in the first place. Was a relative through marriage as many are in Pakistan..but it was nice getting an update as to how he was placed etc.

Finally our contact arrives and what I loved was he understood exactly what I wanted and how I wanted to do it. So I gave him a sample of some of the stuff i wanted to do .. as well as my ideas on some of the recipes I wanted to develop with his chefs to give us the edge over others.

Now the numbers had to come in. He promised to get back to me the next day which he did. OH MY GOD!! Exorbitant prices. They were the kind of prices a client would pay them directly and so it didn’t make sense for him to link up with us.

Feeling down, my mind raced for other options. There had to be a cheaper way to do this. Then I remembered . There was a restaurant I had helped to relaunch but the restaurant business in Lahore at this point is not brilliant and the owner didn’t have the patience to see it through…even though he was breaking even. Long story short…he had closed down the restaurant and so the chefs were now elsewhere employed. I called on them hoping against hope that something would pan out

What a breath of fresh air. Not only did this wonderful man and chef understand exactly what I was talking about, he was excited about what we were trying to do and WANTED to join the team. Enthusiasm is always a big thing I look for. It helps keep everyone’s energy right where it needs to be even when the going is tough.

And he gave me the formula for the breakdown of how to employ the chefs and to be able to price ourselves competitively in the market!! LOVE IT!! So we had now finalized the Head Chef we wanted on our team. Next the Design team needed to be called together

So we called on our friend who had recently done a theatrical production with us. He’s a fantastic art director, creative and a wonderful person too. We spent about 2 hours first discussing our ideas with him. Then it was time for a site visit so we could see for ourselves exactly where we wanted everything. Have to say…this time of year..out in the open… its bloody hot and bloody sunny. 39*C or 102*F in the shade. But was a necessary part of the job… and now we wait for the sketches from our design team to get back to us.

Time to start turning the dream vision into reality with all our little details that we plan to add !!!! Fun times ahead…albeit…hot

Day 2: Sourcing

one of the first things an event manager needs to do is to figure out where everything is available and how much they cost. And of course is it cheaper if they purchase those items for themselves. Now that arm twisting had been done and events already coming our way… we knew it was time to start setting numbers to what we needed.

Step 1. Met with client with twisted arm to figure out what his needs were. I wanted to take his aspirations for how he wanted his event to be, and transform it into a dream come true experience. Once I got all the details I needed from him, my partner Omair and I met up and started pouring our global exposure into his event. Finally came up with a theme. Why I love working with my partner is because he has the same kind of high energy, positive , optimistic and we get each other’s ideas…. very much in sync as well as similar work ethics which is sooo difficult to find in Lahore.

Now it was time to source. Now here is where I noticed the difference between the work ethic of Karachi and Lahore businessmen. The company we first chose to visit were originally from Karachi. We were warmly invited in… greeted by the CEO of the company, asked if we wanted some kind of beverage to which we kindly refused. Then we were shown up into his office where there were samples of cloth, cutlery, carpets, linen… photographs of past events, computer presentations… WOW! I was impressed. He had all the stuff we needed.. He didn’t necessarily put them together the way we would have but I guess that’s where we make the difference in our presentations. Feeling quite pleased we got a rough figure from him and decided to move on to another vendor as its never a good idea to depend on just one.

The next vendor we went to see… well… lets just say this… this was a man who had inherited his business from his abba ji and was from Lahore. I guess we didn’t get off to a very good start. I tripped on the stair I didn’t see before entering his office and therefore did a “running/falling” entrance in. Understandably he didn’t seem impressed not made any better with me having to fight hard to control a giggle fit that came up out of nowhere. Omair and I decidedly avoided eye contact. (Easier to get over giggle fit)

This gentleman… and I use the word loosely was a rude character. First of all , he had a scrap of paper in his hand that he firmly kept looking at despite us trying to have a conversation with him. Omair handled that beautifully where he stopped talking and stared at him till the man finally put the scrap of paper down and was “forced” to look at him. At this point, both of us were considering getting up and leaving as clearly this man was NOT interested in our business. But maybe because we are starting out, and so we decided to be a bit patient and also the knowledge that in Lahore we will come across plenty of characters such as this one and its best we learn how to deal with them… that we both clenched our fists and continued on bravely.

Then the man spoke. It was as if Twilight Zone just took over our world. He started off by saying… what do you do that I don’t do? What is different between your work and my work? Omair and I were both stunned as we looked at each other trying not to look horrified at his apparent depression and trying not to laugh. I could almost see the machinery of Omair’s mind working out a way to respond to the question.

I cleared my throat and answered “Well I guess you could give the same palette of paint colours to two different artists ….but each will come up with a different painting. ” I was quite pleased with my response as I sat back and it seemed enough to placate him as he thought for a second before nodding. Whew… a tense moment gotten through. Then he proceeded to tell us how he doesn’t do decor and was kind enough to give us the direct numbers of the vendors his company works for. We couldn’t believe our luck! Guess patience finally paid off!

We rushed off to the car as soon as we could and of course started making our calls. Ok so we had other options as far as vendors were concerned. After a bit of deliberation, we both decided perhaps its better to go with a company that already has a history of work behind them and will need to maintain their reputation. Its not worth skimping on anything that will ruin one’s own credibility and its always best to minimise the risk factor.

Next big thing was sourcing chefs. Found a friend who wants to break away from the hotel industry and start his own F&B dept. met with him at 11 pm!! yes we are enthused. we chatted till about midnight… again thank you God… found another person who understood what we said.. told him we would need to sample the food before any approvals happened. He agreed.

Tomorrow is another day. more adventures…. more people to meet. This is exciting.!!!! will keep y’all posted

DAY 1: Deciding to make money

So after struggling for far too long and still nothing to show for it as such… I decided I wanted to make some real money. I mean… enough of worrying about whether we can afford a holiday once a year… or will I be able to pay for the bills next month… time had come to dig our heels in and do something that was good and paid. Event management seemed the most natural thing to do as I had already a bit of experience in that department and so my partner O and I decided to make out our calender for the year. Since we didn’t really have any clients to work with since no one really knew us or trusted us as event managers we decided to create events and take them to clients instead. We knew we wanted to target various markets  and then set ourselves apart from the usual brand of event managers out there.

I called up a friend who I knew was getting married and basically twisted his arm into giving us atleast one event to work on. This we are hoping will be the one where we impress many and will lead to other work.

Next we designed an event that targets kids off from O and A levels during the summer and putting a summer camp together that is character building and a life changing experience. Since my partner and I have both been in education this held a special place in our hearts.

A theatrical production was next in the pipeline and of course a ball early next year. Day 1 was productive. We now know what we want to do.. Castles in the air have been built and now to make them into reality 🙂 stay tuned