#SWAAYthenarrative

Drake's Go-To Event Designer Shares Her Tips On Building A Recognizable Brand

9min read
Business

If you follow popular artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Victoria Beckham or DJ Khaled, on social media then you've seen just how luxurious and extravagant their parties can be

You may have also wondered who's behind the creation of these parties that everyone wants to go to. Meet Melissa Andre, the renowned creative consultant who brings these over-the-top events to life. As the founder of Melissa Andre Events and Melissa Andre Blooms, this entrepreneur has captured the attention of A-list celebrities and global brands alike.

Known for her whimsical and other-worldly installations and products, she has become one of the most sought-after event designers in the industry. Andre recently sat down with SWAAY to discuss her work ethic and share her tips on how to create a successful brand in such a competitive industry.

How did you get started with your own business in entertainment and events?

While I was producing events in the fashion and beauty industry, I realized that I had a lot of ideas and aesthetics that I wanted to explore and bring to life. Unfortunately, those ideas weren't a great fit for the brands I was working with. I knew that having my own company with my own clientele was something I'd need to work towards. So, after about 3 years in the field working for a big fashion and beauty brand, I decided to leave my position and launch Melissa Andre Design Co. which grew pretty quickly. I was soon working with A-list celebrities like Drake, Victoria Beckham, Louis Vuitton, DJ Khaled and Deadmau5 to global brands like Google, Instagram, Reebok and Veuve Clicquot.

We all know that making a name for yourself in this industry is extremely competitive, especially in LA, how did you get your brand to stand out from the competition?

High quality work is the best business card. I said 'yes' to hundreds of projects before I ever considered saying 'no'. My work always has a dichotomy: I'm very serious about the process, my business operations and service quality, but I'm also very and playful and buoyant when it comes to design. Those traits, in combination with a lot of hard work, have served me well.

We heard that the events industry is all about who you know. How did you grow your network to include celebrities and such other influential clientele?

I have found it to be quite the opposite (for me, at least). I consistently focused on over-delivering on the projects I took on, and in turn the celebrities/influencers started hearing about my work and reaching out. The nature of my job is extremely time-consuming. It takes hundreds of hours to design, plan and execute the events I put together so I actually wish I had more time to network than I currently do. When it comes to my work, I always think, "It's great now but if I spend another 10 more hours on it, I think I can make it a little better."

You are one of the top celebrity creative consultants in the US and Canada, how do you keep improving on your skills and continuing to deliver the best events? In other words, how do you continuously ensure you're growing as a leader in this space?

I grow with each project I take on, so it's a natural progression. We don't commit to projects based on volume, instead, we do less projects every year because the scale of the projects we take on increases. Also, our work is not very repetitive. We're always learning something new, and because I like to add a magical flair to my projects, the work naturally evolves as I find new materials, references and aesthetics that I'm drawn to.

Can you name some interesting celebrities you've worked with and what you've learned from those experiences?

We worked with Victoria Beckham and Shaq this year. That was pretty great. Every client has different goals for their installations or designs and being able to identify what those are pretty early on in the process is important. I can typically tell within the first conversation what the client is looking for even if they themselves don't yet know what that is. It's also my job to push them out of their comfort zone when it comes to design because I know how to make their vision even greater than it already was.

Or even better, do you have any fun anecdotes from some of your experiences to share with our audience?

I once planned a Grammy party for 400 people that quickly turned into a party for 1200; we ran out of alcohol and everything else within the first hour. No one wanted to leave so they basically drank water all night and partied until 6am.

Melissa Andre with one of her clients, Dj Khaled

I didn't intentionally market my services in any particular way. My clients have found me through personally attending one of my events or having asked their own network for a referral.

Can you describe a day in the life of Melissa Andre?

I start my day with Pilates in Beverly Hills. I walk there and then go get an oat milk latte every morning. My home and office are both in Beverly Hills so then I walk to work as well.

My workday starts with a team meeting around 9am to set intentions and short-term goals for the day. They lay out anything they need me to sign off on, and I let them know if I need any research or sourcing finalized that day or approval from a client so we can go into production, etc. I review social media content or features and quickly flag any general inquiries in our inbox that need special attention.

From there, I typically move between in-person meetings with ease knowing that my team is keeping everything on schedule. It could be client meetings, site visits, or in-person visits to touch base on any custom projects where I want to see the status of something we've designed that is in the process of being created.

I set a few hours aside everyday to look for inspiration for future projects. Sometimes I need to push this to the end of the day after I've left the office, but if I can do it during the day, that's great.

At night I make dinner plans with friends or attend events. I love to checkout new restaurants and venue openings, a new chef, or the interior of a gallery I've been meaning to see in person. If there's nothing I'm dying to see, I love staying in. I definitely go out just to go out. If I can order Sugarfish and catch up with a girlfriend at home, I love that the most. But when something new pops up that I'm curious about, I make a point to check out the design.

You recently launched your consumer brand, Melissa Andre Blooms, tell us a bit more about that and your vision for it.

We were often sending "thank you" gifts to our clients, but there was nothing on the market that I felt right about gifting. So instead, we created these gorgeous Bloom Box vessels about 5 years ago and our clients started asking to buy them for their friends. One of our corporate clients asked to purchase 100 to use as event invitations for their gala and so we started producing them so that others could gift them as well. Our Bloom Boxes are beautifully made, they're high quality and are gorgeously polished. I love the flowers that are designed within a vessel so you're not handing someone a gift that they need to deconstruct and put into a vase they have lying around at home. You can literally receive it and place it anywhere, and it looks beautiful.

We eventually expanded to a few other cities like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Toronto, and we plan on expanding to a few more. We've also launched a few other products like our pillow talk hearts and a line of beautiful bouquets.

We often customize our Bloom Box for corporate clients in different colors and use their branded ribbons. We recently did a red acrylic bloom box for a beauty company that was gifted on Valentine's day. It was gorgeous!

People may assume that because of the nature of your business, you're living a glamorous life day-to-day planning parties, celebrating occasions with celebrities and meeting interesting people. Is that true? And what are some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome?

That is, of course, a large part of my job, but I don't think anyone can underestimate how much time, effort, energy and hard work goes into delivering all of these events. Having a "good eye" is great but you need to be able to execute your vision efficiently. When I work with anyone, not just celebrities, I'm delivering a dream that I need to seamlessly bring to life—so it takes a lot of research and preparation. But some definite perks of the job are attending events, sampling menus and experiencing really beautiful art.

How do you deal with the stresses that come with event planning? We know it's no small task!

I'm the ultimate Type A personality—organization is the most important thing to me. I make lists, I prioritize and I write absolutely everything down. Every job comes with its own type of stress, but the way you manage the project really counts. I also find that my physical health plays a big role in how I'm managing stress so I work out six days a week, do yoga a couple times a week and practice ballet. I also follow an anti-inflammatory diet and get eight hours of sleep every night.

We've heard from many young women that their dream job is to plan and produce events, what is your advice to them?

Take your job seriously. I once read a quote by Martha Stewart that said, "I think baking cookies is equal to Queen Victoria running an empire." Take your business seriously and focus on operations, then you can start working towards making your designs wondrous and other-worldly.

What is your number one tip for planning a badass event that people will talk about for months?

A great party planner always makes sure their guests' overall experience and comfort are the number one priority. You want them to feel taken care of and have all of the essentials at their fingertips. I have clients that tell me their top priority is choosing a venue that is very remote and has never been used before, but venues like that often take a long time to get to and guests can't arrive to the event with ease. So right from the start, the guest is being inconvenienced. While I personally focus more extensively on design elements, spaces and installations that are visually impressive, the guest experience should be top priority, and we do spend a lot of our time and effort ensuring that they feel this way.

Time-Saving Hacks That Will Help You Focus More on Growing Your Brand

Whether it's your child or your brand, there is nothing quite like the excitement you get when you see the fruits of your efforts grow. In the face of aversion, you must remain cool-minded and adaptable to remain effective. This can be quite stressful, and every minute counts. Alone, the responsibility can be overwhelming - wouldn't it be nice if things just ran themselves sometimes? Especially those things that we do mindlessly all the time, and seem to take up most of our time?

When you start a business, you soon come to realize that in order to grow your brand, you need to be extremely organized. And to be efficiently organized, it is imperative that you master the art of managing your time. The saying 'time is money' rings true when it comes to growth. This is why we're going to provide you with helpful tips that will allow you to save time so you can focus on growing your brand.

Use the Right Tools

Technology has changed the way we conduct our business with each other. Today, more than ever before, we have access to data which gives us clearer insight and vision, as well as better tools for productivity. However, as we all know, this is all conditional to your intent. As much as a smartphone can be a tool for productivity, it can also be a fantastic source of distraction and procrastination, which is directly detrimental to said productivity. Automation is an advantage that is available to almost everyone today when it would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.

Get Connected

When a brand is still young, the team is still close-knit and there isn't too much coordination necessary when it comes to keeping up to date and on top of work. Chat groups and video calls can do, as well as simple task-managing apps. But as you grow, your workflow becomes more complex and the volume of data generated by your company will very quickly become a logistical nightmare.

Telltale signs of data overwhelming are endless excel sheets, frantic Post-it notes all around the (real or digital) office, and relying on the consumer rather than business-oriented data storage and communications solutions. These have their limits, and investing in a holistic company-wide system will not be a waste.

Work More Effectively

Your workflow can be simplified into smaller tasks which follow each other in a sequence, which can have conditional elements to it. That's where automation comes in. If you can draw it in a flowchart, you can automate it. Tasks that would have taken days can be outsourced to a machine that will not only perform but also learn in the process.

There is now a myriad of online services for freelancers which essentially give them the productivity potential of a small firm. We're now at the point where bots at https://www.hellobonsai.com/contract-templates can generate custom templates for the documents your brand needs, replacing the need for a legal consultant to intervene. You just need to know what you want to automate, and what you want to make out of it. If you create a logical process from the inception of your brand, then the automation will be seamless, as all you will need to do is add more tasks.

Be Mobile and Flexible

Most of your coworkers and clients will probably already have a smartphone, or will soon. It is also very likely that beyond using these for leisure and social activities, they use them for work. It is now normal to switch off the heating in that apartment you've been renting out while you are on holiday because your AirBNB tenants are overusing it. Or to track the status of your latest food delivery while you are sitting on the toilet.

Consumers today are not only constantly on the move, but they are also increasingly data-focused. They will be looking for results and have the capabilities they need to research, analyze, and calculate what they deem necessary to ensure they will be making the right decision. They thus also expect the same in return, in the form of bespoke customer service that is both intelligent and responsive.

Simplify

Data is everywhere and is relatively easy to obtain. In a single click, you can generate a web analysis that will reveal more information about your blog or website than your doctor will ever tell you about your own body. Before diving into this ocean of data, take time to identify what is really important to you. Brainstorming is a great tool to really identify and prioritize what you and your team should be focusing on first. If you try to wage war on all fronts, then the chances of winning are slim.

With the right tools and the right method, you can save yourself quite a considerable amount of time. With both the agility and flexibility that data managing and automation software brings to the table, you will see an increase in your productivity. Careful planning is key, and if you focus on streamlining your workflow, you will be able to take your brand to the next level.