The women featured here have event planning and venue management down to a science. They cannot only provide you with the place for your meeting, wedding or celebration, they can coordinate the décor, menu, flowers, music and more around a central theme for an event that not only meets but exceeds your wildest dreams.
CEO, OUTSIDE THE BOX
“Making pigs fly” is the goal of Outside the Box CEO Wendy Wilson Welsh, who operates under the motto of “We make anything possible.” In fact, the company mascot is the “Notorious P.I.G.,” a large purple pig with chartreuse wings who can often be found delivering proposals, contracts and holiday gifts to Outside the Box clients. P.I.G. is just one example of how Welsh lives up to the company name and works hard to make a lasting impression. Formerly the director of game operations and promotions for the San Antonio Spurs, Welsh took her considerable talent and opened her own boutique firm in 2001. Her goal was to focus on event production, but eventually public relations and advertising found their way into the mix. “I realized there was a need for a full-service production firm,” explains the peppy blonde, who now puts together the Spurs championship parades.
Full-service production soon grew to include venue management with the addition in 2003 of the Red Berry Mansion, a 12,000-square-foot estate that sits on 80 acres. “We are in charge of operating the facility,” explains Welsh. “We take care of all of the advertising and public relations, and we handle the maintenance aspects too.” The venue allows Welsh, her seven employees and hundreds of interns to offer clients a unique setting to create an Out of the Box event. The lush property, located near the AT&T Center (where OTB handles the special event marketing) features exotic game, a double-sized Olympic swimming pool that overlooks a 17-acre lake and, of course, the mansion itself. Welsh says it is the ideal setting for both indoor and outdoor events.
“There is nothing like this in San Antonio,” she says. “It is 5 minutes from downtown, but it is worlds away.”
More than 75 percent of the events Welsh creates at the Red Berry Mansion are weddings — but don’;t ask her to put on a stuffy Martha Stewart-type affair. “These are cool and colorful events,” she laughs. Outside the Box handles only full-service weddings, and to that end, they take care of everything from the RSVP’;s to the florists to the honeymoon transportation. But perhaps the best thing Welsh and crew take care of is the creativity — especially in tough economic times. “Brides still want the day of their dreams, but maybe they have less of a budget to work with,” she says. “They need help thinking outside the box to make that happen — pun intended.” For Welsh, who is currently training for an Ironman competition, thinking outside the box is the key to any success, and creativity and fun are encouraged in both her life and her business.
“If we aren’;t having fun, then why would clients use us?” she muses. “Our clients leave our meetings pumped up, and that makes our day!”
TENURED PLANNER, CRE8AD8
How does a tenured event planner plan her own wedding? She goes to Vegas! Michelle Franco is getting married at the MGM Grand in October, and she has applied the same imaginative thinking to her own event that Cre8ad8 (create a date) clients have come to expect. “It’;s going to have a Halloween tie-in,” she explains. “Black linens with bold tangerine, fuchsia and turquoise overlays, black bridesmaids’; gowns with bold flowers and Flare bartenders.” It is just this kind of creativity that attracted Bjorn’;s as well as a few Fortune 500 companies to Cre8ad8 and also landed them the position of beverage captains for a popular Fiesta event, the King William Fair. Cre8ad8 is a full-service marketing agency that specializes in event production, marketing, public relations and advertising. Owned by local businessman Greg Palomino, the company consists of four independent branches: event production; a membership-based concierge service for the business traveler; an event brokerage branch designed to assist corporate internal marketing departments; and venue management in the form of the Wurzbach Estate, a beautiful convention and reception facility located near the Medical Center.
“We are like the general contractors of the event-planning world,” jokes Palomino. As for Franco, her greatest pleasure comes from meeting new people and helping them create extraordinary events. Nothing is impossible, and Cre8ad8 has flown in chefs from New York to make $1,000 ice cream sundaes, brought in swans and private jets, handled destination weddings and even produced weddings with a “boudoir” theme for some unique clients. “Our job is to make sure our clients get what they pay for,” says Franco. The Cre8ad8 team can often be found networking at various organizations throughout San Antonio, and Franco says that is where they get about 80 percent of their business. So how does she convince people to use a planner in tough economic times?
“Hiring a planner can actually save you money,” she explains. “The biggest problem people have is not staying on budget. A planner has a rapport with vendors that usually results in a discount that an individual may not receive otherwise.” Cre8ad8 has a reputation for coming in under budget more than 98 percent of the time — a fact their clients appreciate. “Our clients come to us and say, ‘;Here’;s my budget, here’;s my vision, make it happen,’;” she says. “We are the go-to people!”
CFO AND EVENT VENUE MANAGER
What Laura Davies and owner, psychologist Dr. Alan Boskind, provide are venues — not just any venues — but three breathtakingly beautiful ones: The idyllic waterfront setting of the Oasis at Medina Lake; the charm of the Church at King William; and the latest and most luxurious, the Penthouse at Main Plaza, which opened in December 2008. “The Penthouse is in the heart of downtown, and it is a wonderful juxtapostion of indoor and outdoor space,” exclaims Davies.
While many hotel conference rooms lack any outdoor views, the Penthouse has walls of windows that overlook the best of what downtown San Antonio has to offer. The river, the Main Plaza, the historic Courthouse and the San Fernando Cathedral can all be seen from the 2,500 square feet of rooftop space. “We have views from every angle, and I don’;t think you could find a view of the cathedral that would rival this one,” says Davies.
Dr. Boskind, through P.A.B. investments, bought the building in 2005 and began renovating the fifth-floor penthouse with the idea that it might one day be turned back into a residence. The result is an inviting, home-like environment that features roughly 1,600 square feet of indoor living space. A cozy seating area with a fireplace and a modern full kitchen that is a caterer’;s dream make up one-half of the penthouse. Two luxurious bathrooms, a large gathering space and, of course, the terrace for dancing complete this one-of-a-kind event venue. Next on the agenda, Dr. Boskind is renovating the high-end suite adjacent to the penthouse. Plans include a lavish bath and private balcony that Davies says will eventually be available for use as a bride’;s room.
“Dr. Boskind wanted to elevate this space and fix it up while leaving the historic feel,” says Davies. “It was a creative outlet for him, and it is a completely different thing than has been done before.”
Author: Bonny Osterhage