DREAM CATCHER: MEGAN POLLARD AND LAURA RITCHIE
Megan Pollard and Laura Ritchie met when they shared a desk working in the fast-paced sales and design department of a DC catering company. After months of working as competitors, they had the opportunity to collaborate on a promotional event and discovered that their creativity and energy were a perfect fit when they worked as a team. The “what ifs” began flying and became the early seeds of a business plan for a full-scale events business providing clients with a complete design experience. After many shared family dinners, a few bottles of Malbec, and a logo idea sketched out on a cocktail napkin, Events in the City was born. Since launching in 2008, they’ve earned a reputation for planning the types of signature events that get featured everywhere and have received accolades ranging from “Ones to Watch” to “50 on Fire”. They work their magic out of two metropolitan DC locations, one of which is a collaborative studio for female entrepreneurs in Georgetown called Creative Collective, and have just launched a sister company called Etc. Coordinators.
When did you know you wanted to pursue your business or venture? Laura: I knew in my senior year of college! I majored in Fashion Merchandising, which truly merges my love of design and fashion with business savvy. My senior year project was to create a company, from securing a real business loan to finding a brick and mortar space. I was the only one who created a service-based company, a wedding planning firm. Even back then I knew what I wanted to do, and got an A on the project to boot! I definitely made my dream came true.
Did your former career prepare you for running your own business? Megan: Our former career was related to our field so it certainly was a major component to our knowledge of the business. But it was not directly related to how to run a business. My dad was an entrepreneur my entire life, so I was always surrounded by the process. I was already accustomed to the long hours, dedication to the work, and times of elation and disappointment.
Did your original business plan change along the way or are you doing exactly what you set out to do? If it changed, how so? Laura: We are doing exactly what we always intended to do and have excelled far past our original dreams. But our business plan still changes frequently, as we stay flexible and open to new ideas and adventures that come our way.
What makes you different from your competition? Megan: Laura and I keep it very real. We are straightforward, relaxed, and full of energy. Many of our “competitors” in our market are in fact our friends.
“We don’t worry about capturing every client; we are more interested in capturing the client that is a perfect fit.”
What has been your biggest challenge to date? Laura: Figuring out how much to charge! We don’t have a physical item to show to potential clients so its hard to demonstrate what our time costs. I think we have a good formula now, but we always get nervous about increasing prices even though we know we deserve it and are worth every penny.
How long were you in business before you started to see real growth? What do you attribute that to? Megan: I would say that we really began to boom after about 18 months. Laura and I committed to attending every possible event, speaking to every potential partner, and utilizing social media to keep us popping up. It was sort of a “if you build it, they will come” kind of thing. We put out in the world what we wanted and in turn the clients started showing up!
How did you fund your dream? Laura: Megan and I each put $1000 into starting this company to get it up and rolling. Then we simply took every single event that came our way when we started out and used that money to fund the company. A simple start really, but we always put the company ahead by investing back in it as well as ourselves.
How do you organize your day to best optimize your time? Describe a day in your life. Megan: I carve out quiet time for myself each morning to prioritize my schedule. I get up at 5:00, about an hour and a half before my children and husband. I then work to clear out my inbox and prioritize the remaining tasks for the day.
Tell us about a time when you thought you should throw in the towel. What kept you going?Laura: We get asked all the time, “Do you ever have bridezillas?” I hate that saying mainly because planning a wedding is a high-stress time and we try to be sympathetic to people. But there have been a handful of clients and the occasional drunk guests who have treated us poorly. It’s not OK, and I have cried after being screamed at. It makes you rethink what you do and whether this job is worth that. But the good always ultimately outweighs the bad, so that is what I try to keep in mind.
The key to balancing it all is… Megan: Figure out how to throw the balls and not just catch them.
My proudest professional moment to date is… Laura: Pulling off a huge wedding where we made it snow, inside the ballroom, during the first dance. I cried like a baby!
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
The three words that best describe me are…
Megan: Protective, Creative, and Driven.
Laura: Bossy, Creative, and Positive.
While on vacation I always…
Megan: UNPLUG! The away message goes on and the computer goes away.
Laura: Bring a million magazines.
On my playlist right now…
Megan: Broken Bells, Mumford and Sons, Florence and The Machine. But Disney is never too far behind – my daughters and I really get down to some singalongs.
Laura: Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Vance Joy, The Muppets (yes, The Muppets).
My favorite type of workout is…
Megan: High intensity – running, spin, or interval training.
I rejuvenate by…
Megan: Being alone.
Laura: Getting a facial.
Being a mom and an entrepreneur means…
Megan: Multitasking at its finest! Everyone deserves your 100% attention so you have to just suck it up and feel fortunate for all of the things that require your attention. They are all things you created, so just get better instead of bitter.
Laura: Balancing time and trying very hard to do everything well from being present during playtime to making sure I have plenty of daycare time when I need to work.
A woman who inspires me is…
Megan: My business partner, Laura Ritchie.
Laura: My mom. She passed away four years ago from breast cancer and it was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. But I hear her every day and can take lessons from her even without her physically being around any longer.
Lately I’m inspired by…
Megan: Business development. I am really excited to see all of the possibilities!
Laura: Others. Instagram has become an obsession of mine but serves as an awesome inspiration for design elements in events, home, and fashion. I am constantly taking screen shots and saving them for later.