We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie McAdams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, how do you think about risk?
When I started my business, I didn’t really think of failure as an option or even a possibility. I was completely sure that I could convince large Fortune 500 companies; for example, Disney, to entrust their large marketing events to me. I opened my business account with an $8,000 check, filed for my dba and started making calls and networking. It worked! Twenty years later, I have produced numerous premieres, product launch events, global trade conference activations both locally and nationally for the Walt Disney company.
At the beginning, when I didn’t have a lot to lose, I really didn’t assess risk in the same way that I do now nearly 20 years later. I still think of myself as fairly fearless but do always consider my brand. I want to make sure that I can deliver the logistically flawless, creative events that Namevents is known for in the industry. This can take the form of limiting the number of events we produce in any given time frame or making sure the event concept is logistically sound. I’m also careful to make sure I can deliver what I promise.
For example, during my first year of business, I began working with a non-profit organization called Gen Art, which launched new artists, fashion designers and musicians. I was the 5th or 6th event producer the marketing executive had interviewed. All of whom had said it can’t be done with the money you have. I was building my reputation and my clientele, so I said, “let do it.” Together, we build the suite of events that still is the mainstay of that organization – Ignite, the New Guard and Fresh Faces in Fashion. I’ll never forget our butterflies the night before the first Ignite, an event that featured many disparate elements – live nude painting, a lifeguard stand with “a lifeguard” throwing pearl necklaces, a rooftop swimwear show in a kiddie pool, and a gambling casino. It was a huge success.
Other examples of risk include serving chicken pot pies for an 800 person Gala for Heal the Bay on the Santa Monica Pier. With only a 300 sq. ft, kitchen, we had to get crafty. We cooked using hot boxes and the guests were thrilled to have a kitschy twist on usual seated dinner fare. At that same recycling themed dinner, I hired Trashion designer, Marina Debris, who crafted haute couture from beach trash, and we staged a runway show. For a City of Hope Gala, I suspending a silk trapeze artist from a hot air balloon that rose from behind the stage while Sarah McLaughlin performed “In the Arms of an Angel”. T hese are but a few examples, however; through all these risks and successes, I’ve learned to trust my gut.
Now, with the advent of the corona virus, we can’t gather in large groups. So, in the events industry, there’s a necessity to adapt. Many of my contemporaries have embraced virtual events; but to me, that’s a short-term solution to a larger issue and it doesn’t resonate with what drew me to events in the first place – connection. The dilemma is how to connect in a socially responsible way. My solution is to create small carefully curated socially distanced women’s wellness retreats. These retreats combine my passion for events, travel, women and fitness and allow for connection on a deep level. I have sold out my first eight person retreat this Fall in Colorado with plans for a February ski retreat and a Spring retreat in New Mexico. Our model is to support local businesses and garner lifestyle and wellness sponsors. Then we enjoy, post and blog about our experience. Clearly, health and safety remain paramount and we are following all the directives of local health departments. I guess to sum it up I think risk is a natural part of being an entrepreneur; and in the end, in the words of Lewis Carroll, “we only regret the risks we didn’t take.”
Please tell us more about your business. What you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I have been in business for 18 years and I think my body of work speaks for itself. While I am very proud of the beautiful and creative experiences I’ve designed, I am most proud of the relationships I’ve built with my clients, my vendors, and my employees. It’s like a family. Producing live events, with lots of moving pieces, ground-up construction, and the human element can be challenging. Often, it’s like you are in the trenches with your team and it’s a bonding experience for sure. I’m really missing this connection during the COVID pandemic.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d definitely take them to Malibu. We’d start with a late breakfast at the Carbon Beach Club, head over to El Matador State Beach to stroll and take a dip in the ocean, then I’d stop by the Malibu Country Mart for a little shopping. We would end the day with a stroll on the historic Malibu Pier and dinner at the end at Malibu Farm Cafe while the sun sets into the Pacific. It’s always fun to ride beach cruisers along the coast and over to Venice for a stroll down Abbott Kinney. This street has some of my favorite local shops, cafes and restaurants and excellent people watching. We’d definitely stop in the Butchers Daughter for a flight of juices and some avocado toast and at some point, we’d have coffee in the Tom’s store. Other favorite restaurants include Neighbor, Felix and Gjelina.
If my friend was fit, we would hike. My favorite hike. albeit strenuous, is Paseo Miramar because of the killer views spanning from the South Bay to Malibu and including Catalina. After the hike, we’d head to the new Palisades Outdoor Mall where there is always some fun afoot on the lawn. Frequently, there is live music and the Draycott serves excellent mussels and frites.
And if we had time, I’d visit DTLA, beginning with a visit to super hip Broad Museum, which for me always includes a meal at Otium, followed by a play or a musical at the Music Center. I’m a big fan of the arts and I’ve been a season ticket holder at the Ahmanson since I moved to LA over 20 years ago. If you start your day early enough, you could spend some time at the LA Flower Mart on 7th and Wall. It’s a feast for the eyes.
And of course, I’d be looking for a fun event, pop up museum, a special event or the taping of a favorite show. My good friend is the publicist for the Kelly Clarkson show and I highly recommend getting tickets to that fan favorite if you can. The possibilities are endless here in La-La Land.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My success rests on the shoulders of my daughter, my parents, my boyfriend, but most of all to my tribe of strong successful entrepreneurial women. These women are my sounding boards, mentors, and friends: Kelly Kimball @kkimballpr, Jen Egan, Lisa Price @lisapriceinteriors, Nikki Hochstein @nikkihochsteinteam, Angela Kent @sustainable_style_solutions, Amy Rose @amyroseyoga, Joan Teige @p.e.101 , Alexia Silvaggio and Beth Machado. Every one of these women is a powerhouse in business, as well as many are fabulous moms; and it’s these friendships, their honest feedback and that way that we show up for one another that has had the most profound influence on my personal and professional life.
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