We had the good fortune of connecting with Pat Frey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pat, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think that anyone who has the desire to start their own business is a “risk taker” but more importantly, someone with the desire to create a future designed to meet one’s own in-life goals. When I started my first business, over 30years ago, it was from a creative impulse to make beautiful flower arrangements and to be brave enough to do it on my own adventure. Each step along the way, from this initial impulse that grew into the full event design and planning business I have today, has been, one could say, a “risk”. It takes trust in yourself to just do it — to just take the next step and follow through with the dream and the goal. A “risk” suggests opening oneself up to a loss, a hazard etc. BUT, every time I have surveyed those negative possibilities and weighed them out against the positive, the game, the wonderful possible future creations, I have decided those are far more important and worthy of action and have knowingly taken the “risk” and acted. Honestly, there have been times when my decisions were not the best but I have always looked at that fact, learned from it and moved on to the creation of a positive future. What has been important is trust in myself to pull off my dreams and goals despite the vagaries that life can present. After all it is a game and you can overcome the obstacles.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
As they say in this day and age, I am a “creative”, and my business in every aspect of it, is driven by the fact that we are creating aesthetic products for our clients. It is easy to see a beautifully designed flower arrangement, stage set or room environment as a work of art but, one could ask, “How are planning, administration, statistics, logistics, controlled finance and all a creative product?” My answer is. “How are they not?!” A finely tuned and logistically run event with a harmonious team working in tandem to bring off a final result that really communicates what our clients have wanted to say to their guests, associates and friends is, to me, an aesthetic product. A badly run event, poorly managed and poorly designed is not this. We are really good at what we do — but so are many in our industry who are just fantastic at what they do. I am inspired by the likes of Andera Eppolito (Las Vegas) for her absolutely over the top and amazing work or Holly Gray (Anything But Gray Events) for not only her design and planning skills but her willingness to create a community to support each other in the industry. What sets me apart, one could say, is my years of experience in all aspects of design, planning and production on the national and international stage. I began as a performing artist, dancer and singer, so the stage and this world was a major part of my life. I was a floral designer from the time I was 16, I build my business from my one car garage to what it is today. I have produced and designed events turning massive parking lots into gala environments, football sized tents in England into elegant ballrooms or crafted intimate celebrity gatherings. I have drafted and constructed props, sets, backdrops. Basically, I have just had many years of experience and I bring all this to my company and what I do. But above all, I see all this as a creative undertaking and this is always where we start with any wedding, party, event — what message do you want to impart? What do you want your guests to feel and think about your special occasion?
Has it always been easy? Of course not! Have I tackled the obstacles and continued. I would say, in all honesty however, this has not at times been without varied uncomfortable emotions but I have always taken the view that I can and will create my future and that I love doing what I do and would want to continue. One of my greatest joys is the comradery of our industry and the coming together of so many talented individuals and companies to create these awsome experiences for our clients. The teamanship I find truly exhilarating.
Along the way I have learned that the physical universe will put up barriers to a creative project no matter how large or small. The bigger the project the more it says, “That won’t be delivered in time!” “Those flowers have arrived dead!” “The fabric is no longer available.” “The room was overbooked!” “The fire code says you can’t put that there.” — The stops and challenges are infinite BUT that IS the name of the event design and planning game, to create the end product regardless and make it just SING! I love what I do and all those who work with me because we are all on this same page and quite a team.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First off, I would invite them into our home and with my culinary husband’s assistance, would create a fantastic meal with the perfect wine complement, flowers on the table, just the right flatware, china and linens to augment the occasion, all followed by chatting into the wee hours of the night while seated comfortable around the firepit in our garden, with the men happily enjoying their Cuban cigars (if indeed they like cigars).
From there I would take them about 2hours north to the wonderful towns of Solvang and Los Olivos for a day of window shopping, wine tasting and fantastic food. Perhaps we would stay overnight in one of the many jewel box hotels, visit the Motorcycle Museum, feed the Ostriches and top it off by taking a lovely short hike to the waterfall at the Nojoqui Falls Park.
Locally, we would take them to one of our favorite restaurants in the North Hollywood area called “The District Pub” They have just the best hamburgers and fries with a yummy array of of aioli dipping sauces and a fantastic selection of crafted beer flights.
As you can tell, we love food and find this a major part of entertaining.
Then there are the gardens: Descanso Gardens for the seasonal camellias and roses or Huntington Library for its massive and varied gardens, museum and abundant afternoon High Tea.
And then there is Old Town Pasadena with wonderful shops, fantastic food, coffee and great ice cream!
If our friends wanted a true experience of being in the Los Angeles/Hollywood scene, I would take them to Universal Studios City Walk — a totally fun active tourist environment with lots to take in and if they wanted, we could top this off by seeing a movie of their choice.
In addition, I would find out what they are interested in and augment their itinerary accordingly but for sure would suggest doing the above.
And the wonderful thing about all of the above, is it all can be done even in this time of COVID protocols.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Considering that I am 71 years old and have been in the business for over 30 years, this list is VERY LONG as there have been many mentors and support teams along the way. But to begin with, close in, I have a wonderful Production partner Derek De Vetter of In Red We Trust who I love working with. And, my main support team Shannon Magnie my East coast lead planner), Jo Jo Zawawi – a brilliant finance and administrative guru and Ho Yun—a top pro floral designer) are just wonderful. My first real mentors were my mother, who was the essence of high class entertaining and my father who taught me how to use a hammer, paint and construct things. I had incredible mentors in New York when I was dancing there, two stand out: Mary Hinkson, Bertrum Ross of the Martha Graham Company. Then, years later a key mentor in floral design was a fabulous Japanese designer named Osamu Honjo. He taught me Ikebana and a way to look at floral arranging that has been a mainstay of my philosophy and technique all the years. I would shout out to my clients, my staff, the wonderful vendors we have worked with in so many fields: props, lighting, sound, videographers, photographers, caterers, rental companies, drapery, graphic designers, printers, fabric suppliers — the list is long and varied depending upon the project and all great at what they do. As an artist — design and planning is quite an art form — I worked with an amazing production group called “Golden Era Productions” and traveled the world with them — I learned so much from this group. I have many books that I have considered my “bible” but one in particular called “The Art Series” by the philosopher L. Ron Hubbard is one of my absolute favorites. This book has given me invaluable basics to use as an artist, planner and generally how to express myself as an individual in all areas of my life. And, last but not least, there is my husband who is always there to support me and my puppy dog who is always there to bring me joy in my daily life.
Christy Kendall Photography