BASED IN: NEW YORK
What is your background? What do you do?
I've been planning events since I was 10 years old and last year I started my own event design and production firm, Pop Productions. Events can be stressful but they should also be fun to be at and to plan, so after working for years in event agencies and startups I created Pop Productions to specialize in delightful experiences for fun companies. At Pop Productions we do everything from design, production, sponsorship and promotion for clients ranging from Airbnb, Kiva, Northside Media Group and The ShopUp, Europe’s hottest independent children's boutique shopping event.
In addition to planning events for clients, I write a bi-weekly newsletter called Pop Curated, featuring the top 5-10 most unique events in NY every other week. The Pop Productions blog features articles about how to plan your own events, inspiration and highlights of events going on in New York.
Basically, I live and breathe events and Pop Productions is my way of experimenting, sharing and collaborating.
What is the best part about being an entrepreneur? What is the worst/hardest part?
The best part about being an entrepreneur is juggling every and all tasks from sales, marketing, accounting, social media, web development, account management and beyond. There’s always something to do, I’m constantly engaged, learning and I’m never bored. The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is when to turn it off, the clock is always on so even when I’m with friends or family I’m thinking of things to do or answering emails. I really find it challenging to just be present and in the moment when my to do list is scrolling through my brain.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Do you come from a family of entrepreneurs? Did it help or did that set you back?
Both of my parents run their own businesses, so I grew up never understanding the traditional 9 to 5 work day with 2 weeks of vacation but instead seeing a way of working in which you could create your own schedule. One of my parents would always be there to pick me up from school and to go on family trips; when I started working for other people I realized the value in the flexibility that comes with being an entrepreneur. Now, I work many more hours than I would at most other jobs, but I work the hours I want and can be more effective in that time, which is something my parents exposed me to my whole life without me even realizing. They have always been my cheerleaders, encouraging me to start my own company and follow my dreams, which I will always be grateful for.
How do you keep yourself motivated when you can’t keep going anymore?
When I’ve really hit a wall and can’t keep working I try to give myself breaks and accept that my break may not be standard times as when my friends are off work. Sometimes it’s a Tuesday afternoon and I’m feeling unmotivated, so I’ll go to yoga or browse a thrift shop for inspiration. Taking a step back and making to do lists really helps organize my brain and prioritize what I want to complete in a stretch of time and the act of physically crossing a task off a list is satisfying and helpful to get back in the groove. I’ll also try to set time limits on certain projects or tasks, so an hour to send emails then switch over to proposal writing then an hour of writing a blog post, helps to break up the day and make each project more manageable.
What part of your personality helped you the most with your entrepreneurial journey?
Being nice. I’d say I’m naturally a friendly, empathetic and kind person and that really goes a long way in business. My name is tricky to pronounce and I’ve started introducing myself as Mir-ray-a, like a “ray of sunshine,” always said with a smile and a wave of my hands in a beaming motion. This makes people laugh but is quite on point with my personality. I like to surround myself with other nice people, which goes both ways. Most of my clients are through word of mouth or repeat clients, which is telling of my events and also that people enjoy working with other kind people. Being nice goes a long way.
What is one (or more) piece of advice you can offer our readers and other entrepreneurs that are reading your interview? What is the most important to keep in mind?
If you don’t love what you’re doing, find something else to do. If your job is boring or not rewarding, quit and find a new one or start a side hustle. Life is too short to be miserable.
I always knew I was interested in event planning but I went through multiple jobs in different agencies where I was unhappy, overworked and uninspired and kept doubting my instinct of my career path in event planning. It finally took a few right projects for it to click and make me realize it wasn’t event planning that I didn’t like after all, but who I was working with and for that I didn’t enjoy. By starting my own event planning company I can now pick the clients and vendors I work with to create a much more enriching planning experience for us all.
It can take some trial and error to figure out what you do and do not like. If you know what you’re doing right now isn’t where you see yourself staying, then figure out where you want to be instead and set yourself up on the right course to get there by going to networking events, scheduling informational interviews, doing work on the side and getting yourself closer to a job that you’re passionate about.