Small Business Success: Mint Event Coordination
(Image by Jane Johnson Photography)
What does it take to create a successful business partnership? To find out we asked our guests this week: Sara Goodrich and Kerry Bergler of Mint Event Coordination & Design.
Sara and Kerry have united their collective creative gifts, business prowess and sharp attention to detail to develop a highly successful full service event planning company based in Bend, Oregon. Today we sit down with this dynamic duo to learn how they fuse their unique strengths and skill sets together to create exquisite events and run a thriving business.
Q. Kerry and Sara, what services do you offer at Mint?
A. We mainly focus on two areas: Weddings with Central Oregon as a destination, and Corporate or Non Profit annual events. Within the scope of our consulting and planning services, we have also just added a floral division which is very exciting, as it rounds out the décor packages that we take great pride in creating for our clientele. The best thing about the Production Division and the Floral Division is that they can function as one unit, or they can be broken out to perform independently based on each client’s needs. We’re loving how this flexibility is playing out so far!
Q. What inspired you to begin Mint?
A. Seven years ago when both of our families moved to Bend, it was clear that Central Oregon was becoming a destination for spectacular weddings. The niche for coordination and design was wide open and it was obvious that if a client was coming from the East Coast or California (for example) that they would need trustworthy assistance to guide them through the process of finding quality local professionals and sourcing beautiful materials to create the weddings they had envisioned. To complicate matters, some of the brides we work with aren’t able to come to the area during planning, which makes our involvement that much more critical when it comes to making sure that the event is produced flawlessly. It really has been such a fun business to create, and equally rewarding to watch it flourish with the support of our local venues and colleagues.
(Images by Kubota Photo Design and Jane Johnson Photography)
Q. What is the most challenging element of your business?
A. Oh boy, this is a loaded question! Let’s start with time management. In a business where your product is not tangible, but solely based on your time, and how much you put into it, you have to be very diligent about protecting your business model while simultaneously delivering an end result that exceeds your clients’ expectations. We’ve become more efficient with each passing year, but this is a huge continuing challenge for us.
The second element is probably to be expected in this business; I’d say it’s having that odd chameleon personality who can morph from being the diligent, spread sheet loving, project manager who is there to produce a large event – into the caretaking personality manager who knows what the bride needs, what her mom needs, and which bridesmaid is most likely to wind up needing a taxi at the end of the night. Sometimes managing the personalities within the event is as daunting as producing the entire event altogether!
Q. What is the most rewarding part of Mint Events?
A. We have two answers to this question as well. The most obvious reward for us is celebrating some of life’s greatest moments with people whom you’ve come to have a relationship with over the course of (sometimes year-long) planning! When you know that you’ve done a great job for someone, and it comes together with a fantastic event, it’s hard to describe how rewarding those accolades are. We literally get to watch it unfold, and experience it with them – which is rare if you think about it.
The second, but equally rewarding piece for us, is the everyday challenge of successfully running a business. We have been business partners for over 6 years, and we take extraordinary care in protecting that commitment to each other. Just like a real marriage, we support each other, listen to each other’s ideas, and ultimately our strengths and weaknesses are a compliment to each other. When we started down this path, we had no idea how critical the function of this partnership would be to the health of this business, but it has turned out to be everything. We take great pride in how hard we work behind the scenes to keep the business on track and moving forward, and it turns out that we’re having fun along the way!
Q. What advice would you give to those starting their own business?
A. Study your flaws. Be realistic about your personality, and what type of business owner/manager you will be. If you can’t run a business, it doesn’t matter how proficient you are at your skill.
Then surround yourself with support, get excited, commit yourself to it, and don’t look back!
Q. What has helped you both to stay strong during the economic ebbs and flows?
A. Understanding our market niche and what it will bear. To be honest, we had close to two years where we had to work more, for less pay, in order to keep the bottom line of the business growing. Our approach has always been conservative, with an eye on paying the business first, and ourselves last. Sometimes painful, but always necessary. Right now we’re seeing our philosophy pay off as we came out of 2010 ready to grow. We’re expanding into wine and also just purchased a floral business.
Q. Is there any advice you have received that has helped you along the way?
A. “Over prepare and then go with the flow” – Sounds simple, but requires focus, dedication, understanding, resourcefulness, and confidence in all aspects of your life!
Q. What has been the most important factor for you in the success of your business?
A. The strength of our partnership, hands down. We’ve also been very patient with the business, letting it stretch and grow at a natural pace. You just can’t force it.
Q. How do you define true success, in life and in business?
A. Getting to do something that you love, and then coming home to happy, loving families at the end of the day!
Q. Is there a book, blog, quote, piece of music, etc. that consistently inspires you creatively?
A. It’s not any one thing. We are constantly observing, and soaking in everything around us. We both love to travel, and have found that even in the most obscure corners of the world, you never know what might inspire you. Sometimes it’s even getting to a place (near or far) where you can clear your mind and let the creative thoughts in!
Two books we recommend: The E-Myth by Michael Gerber and The Power of 2 (How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life) by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of this series?
A. We think it’s important to acknowledge the incredible people that we get to surround ourselves with everyday. This business is always a collaboration of people that join together to create something bigger. A lot of times it feels like we’re getting credit for something that one of our fantastic vendors has done! Something akin to being the quarterback who wins all the awards, while the team around him does the heavy lifting. At any rate, we know wholeheartedly that we have incredibly talented, professional, inspiring “teammates” and we wouldn’t have any measure of success without them helping us lift!
(Image by Ruettgers Photography)
Thank you to Mint for all of these fantastic tips! Some of the many success tools shared by Sara and Kerry include the importance of time management, a practical and methodical approach to business strategy, excellent preparation and enthusiasm. They bring a high level of organization and professionalism to all Mint Events, along with caring and attentive service to each of their clients. They also share a passion for ongoing growth and learning and agree that their partnership is the cornerstone of their business success.
What are your thoughts on the ideas shared here today? Do some of the lessons from Sara and Kerry apply to your business? Please leave a comment below and join us next week!