Conversation with Jenny Schneider, Founder, Jenny Schneider Events
Elegant Event Planning
February 6, 2019
1. What is your business?
Jenny Schneider Events is a boutique event planning company that creates beautifully designed and impeccably executed weddings and special events. We work closely with brides, social hosts and corporate clients to take an event from its infancy and bring it to life through meticulous planning and production.
Our process starts with a collaborative discussion about our client’s goals and objectives for the event. We take the time to understand each client’s vision, and this allows us to thoughtfully anticipate every aspect of the event and create a memorable experience for our clients and their guests.
For our corporate and non-profit clients, we develop programs that capture the audience’s attention and bring the brand to life. We pride ourselves in really taking the time to listen to their strategic objectives, thinking creatively to achieve those goals in the most impactful way, and engaging their event attendees.
With wedding planning, we may start working with clients more than a year in advance of the date or sometimes just a few months before the wedding. In either case, we form a trusting relationship as we work very closely with brides, grooms, and their families. My belief is that the greater the trust, the more my clients can confide in me their deepest wishes. Once I understand what is truly important to the client and how they want to feel, we can deliver it to them.
2. What made you decide to start your business and/or switch careers?
My background is in investment banking where I worked collaboratively with teams, focusing on client-service and project management. What is interesting is that event planning combines those skills as well. But there is also a creative and artistic element to event planning, which I love, that finance doesn’t have.
My business has roots from my own wedding years ago when I planned it myself. Then when my sister got married, I used what I learned from my wedding to plan her wedding as well. After her wedding, one of her bridesmaids asked me to plan her wedding. Subsequently, one of the bridesmaid’s parents’ friends reached out to me and said, “I have a daughter getting married, will you help plan her wedding?”
For many years my business went like that—I would get asked to plan a wedding from word of mouth, and it was very much on a part-time basis. And then in 2015, I made event planning my fulltime job.
Looking back, I think my early weddings were successful because I took care of my clients and their guests. I listened carefully to the client’s priorities and ensured we went beyond to deliver exceptional results that reflected what was important to them. I thought in advance about various scenarios and if an unexpected issue arose was able to calmly resolve it. And we always crafted an event with the guest experience top of mind. These principles hold true today.
3. Was there one moment that gave you the confidence that this was a good idea?
I have always been our family’s principal organizer for big trips or milestone events like our summer vacations oversees with extended family, retirement parties, and 60th birthday parties to name a few. But being asked to plan weddings by two different people I didn’t know well-instilled confidence in me. I started to think this could actually be a business.
As I was ramping up over the years, I had to think about what I wanted the business to be in terms of scale, target clients, type of events, and services offered. Given my corporate and banking background, it made sense to offer the full range of planned events from weddings to corporate events.
One of the differentiators for Jenny Schneider Events is that I have worked in the corporate world for years, so I understand the client’s business objectives and that perspective. I find that understanding what the business is trying to accomplish allows me to come up with thoughtful and memorable event elements throughout the program.
4. What obstacles did you face in getting started and thinking of yourself as an expert in a new setting?
Gaining traction in this space can be a challenge because there are low barriers to entry within this industry. And, new business is primarily driven by word of mouth. People are also using social media and online searches to find planners. I knew that I wanted to reach a certain type of clientele, so I really thought about who my ideal target client is and how am I going to reach them? Once I reach them, how am I going to differentiate myself within the current market space?
One of my main strategies is getting press for my events—publications and online wedding resources. Having my events included in influential publications is an important element for my business. For this kind of marketing, I work with the photographers, and we connect directly with the publications by supplying them with content about the wedding production.
Here are a couple of examples of recent publications:
An intimate wedding as seen on Martha Steward Weddings: https://www.marthastewartweddings.com/641210/backyard-wedding-sausalito-california-the-edges?slide=888277
A wedding with a bridal party of 34(!) as seen on Style Me Pretty: https://www.stylemepretty.com/2018/11/09/a-bridal-party-of-34-for-this-classic-cavallo-point-wedding/
5. Was there ever a particularly tough time that in retrospect was a priceless learning moment?
I was once told I was hired, but the client did not follow through. That’s a tough situation for me because I often don’t receive feedback on why potential clients go a different direction. But over the years, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s the nature of people, and you never know what’s going to happen until the contract is signed.
During the sales cycle, we regularly go above and beyond to demonstrate our expertise and value-add. This could be taking potential clients to site visits or producing pre-work like a design mock-up for inspiration showing how we could transform an event space. It’s always a fine balance between showing our expertise/value and spending an appropriate amount of my time on a pitch.
I’ve come to the decision that I think it is important to give clients a glimpse of what it would be like to work with us, and I think that care and attention is one of the reasons I have been selected by some clients.
6. Was outside funding/cost a challenge to getting your business off the ground?
There is not a lot of capital investment that is needed in the event planning industry. Initial capital expenditures were primarily developing a website and allocating resources for marketing.
7. What are some successes you have had with your business that make you proud?
I’m proud that we have been able to develop a wide variety of clients from social to nonprofit and corporate. We also have developed strong relationships with incredible vendors, which is critical to a successful event. Because I am a repeat client for many of these vendors, I can extend those relationships to my clients and this is one of the really valuable things about working with an event planner.
What makes us most proud is the kind feedback we receive from clients. That is truly rewarding.
8. What would be your biggest piece of advice you would give to yourself ten years ago?
Don’t give up. Believe in yourself and continue persevering even when it’s hard to believe that it will all work out. Not knowing how things will turn out is okay.
9. What are your hopes for your business for the next five years?
I hope in the next five years that both our team and our corporate event business will have grown. We are always working on developing our client pipeline as many social events are one-time events. By increasing our corporate event business, our goal is to have more reoccurring events from clients with whom we have developed trust and established a solid working relationship. And of course, we will always maintain a keen focus on planning weddings for our special couples.
Date of conversation: July 20, 2018