I am so honored to share an interview with dynamic yet sweet Sarah Haywood, the name that needs no inroduction and most sought after Luxury Event Planner in Britain. She not only created a strong brand but also build strong relationships across the globe to bring about the best to learn and grow.
A. What inspired you to become an event planner? How long have you been in business?
I became a wedding planner by accident 15 years go! My background is in broadcast journalism, and I used to plan many of the parties we held at the TV station where I worked as a news presenter. The first big budget party I ever planned was the 10th Anniversary of the TV news program. Friends then started asking me to organize their weddings, and their parents employed me for big bash birthday and anniversary parties (I met my husband at one!). I soon realized, I had an aptitude for business, and I was better at planning weddings than I was reading the news, so I started producing more events! And when I got married, I went out to buy the definitive book on wedding planning only to discover it didn't exist, and that’s when I began writing my first book the Wedding Bible. That coincided with my going it alone with the company I now run.
B. Did you ever think that you would be the most sought after Luxury event planner especially in Britain?
If indeed I am, it is certainly not something that I planned! Although I have always been ambitious for the company, I have always understood that first and foremost, I am running a business which needs to be competent and profitable. I had some tricky years in the middle and coming out of that decided I wanted to work exclusively with high net worth families. But if you want to work with some of the wealthiest people in the world, you need to be able to demonstrate that you are competent with money and can offer the first-class service alongside the delivery of the event. So each and every event have to be the very best, my team knows and understands that we are only as good as the last event we planned.
C. what attributed to your success?
A lot of hard work and a little bit of luck! But that alone is not enough. To stay at the top of your game you have to demonstrate over and over that you are good and prove it at every event. We strive to be the very best, and I hand-on-heart believe that together with my team, we can be the best. I often use the hashtag #BestTeamInBritain. And I know the team is only as good as its weakest link. If it does not work out with a vendor then we do not hire them again; that may seem ruthless I know, but there are no second chances for me at a live event or any of us who produce live experiences. I also have an incredibly supportive husband; he believes in me, and that has been the greatest gift as his belief is so strong that I sometimes think that I really could do anything!
D. You launched an education program under the newer brand, EPIC. What EPIC is all about and how did yo think of partnering with the talented Marcy Blum?
I for some years had the ambition to develop the kind, of course, we now run; where we help grow a group of elite event professionals across the globe who meet quantifiable standards of service and delivery. Marcy and I were in a jacuzzi together and she loved the idea, and long story short! we partnered. It was Marcy Blum who came up with the name EPIC: Event Planners International Collaborative. Our aim is to offer existing event professionals an honest, authentic, intensive learning experience through sharing our expertise and also our failures.
Our first residential Certificate course was held earlier this year in London. The participants joined us from 13 countries around the world, and it was an incredible experience! Our next course is coming up in Dublin, at the end of January. We have devised a program covering everything from pitching to clients, pricing structures, marketing, branding, social media, event processes and party management and a lot in between. Marcy Blum and I also take you through how we work; from the moment we receive an inquiry to the execution of the event. We both work and price our services differently, so it is interesting to learn, how we both secure similar clients.
I am so proud of founding EPIC - possibly more so than anything else I have achieved professionally. EPIC numbers are small by design so we can all sit around a boardroom table making it interactive. There is also a full social program of events around Dublin in the evenings, arranged by our fantastic event partner, Ireland’s leading event producer Tara Fay with Xena Productions. All EPIC members, recognized by the EPIC marque, which we intend to be a benchmark for event planners internationally. For more details about joining our upcoming event, please visit: www.sarahhaywood.com/wedding-courses
Sarah Haywood, I would like to thank you for taking the time to share with all your journey and on a personal note, thanks for being there as an inspiring friend and colleague. Wishing you much success in your joint venture with Marcy Blum.