that fits your life!
Nothing about the way my business began was conventional. I’ve been the founder and CEO of Firefly Events for just over ten years now, but when I think back to the way it all started, I almost can’t believe it. Sometimes I wish I could give the girl I was back then a hug and assure her that it’s all going to be okay! Because that girl certainly didn’t know what she was getting into when she jumped into the event market a decade ago.
I sort of just hopped into this career of wedding and social event planning. My very first wedding was my best friend’s wedding, and of course, I didn’t charge him a thing for the work! It was a project I wanted to take on for fun, and as it turned out, I really liked it.
I decided I wanted to keep going and figure out if I could make this event planning thing a full-time gig. So I went where any novice entrepreneur would go for clients: Craigslist. That’s right, I went straight to the Internet to find people who wanted help planning their wedding. And lo and behold, I found someone—a sweet couple from San Diego. I worked with them a whole year, driving back and forth from LA to San Diego to keep the ball rolling with their wedding.
This sort of thing happened to me a lot in the early years of business. I took on a lot of random gigs, and I barely made any money. Of course, I learned pretty quickly that this wasn’t sustainable. If I wanted to make a real go at this business, I had to develop some pretty consistent pricing…. and fast!
Two years in I made the move across the country to New York City, which became a huge turning point in my career. The cost of living is higher in the city, so I needed to make more money just to get by. Plus, I was entering a totally new market here—a much higher end market with more luxury clients. What I was offering didn’t match the market, and that had to change if I wanted to be taken seriously.
I met a girl here that I brought on the team pretty quickly. Sure, it cost money, but she was a huge catalyst to growing the business and pushing me to raise my pricing. We did a styled shoot with several vendors to help market our brand. That alone cost us a lot of money (and time!) to put together, and we didn’t know if the risk would be worth the reward.
Slowly but surely, we saw that it was. Making small changes to our brand and the way we marketed ourselves allowed us to increase our pricing steadily over time.
But the goal was still to grow. I wanted to re-open the LA office again—where I had originally started Firefly—and move into the six-figure bracket most of the luxury clients in our market were operating in, but I wasn’t sure we could do it. I wasn’t sure we could take that risk. But then, something crazy happened!
We sent a proposal out to a potential client who we really wanted to land. She called us right away to tell us that she wanted to hire us. She loved our proposal and the work we did, but there was a problem: our pricing. Too high? Not at all! In her mind, it wasn’t nearly enough! The other proposals she’d seen included pricing that was more than double what we charged. Because of that, she didn’t think her fiancée would take us seriously, so she was calling to ask if we could charge her more!
Of course I thought it was a joke, but she insisted. So we took the proposal, changed only the pricing, and just like that, she signed the contract.
That interaction changed the way I viewed our business. I realized that if we wanted to make the jump to a luxury market, we had to have pricing that matched that market.
If that was where we wanted to be, we needed to make the change in our pricing to get there.
Today, our pricing starts at around $75,000, but we usually end up with clients in a higher range. We run offices in NY, CA and WY to plan high-end events for luxury clients. We took the leap, and over time, it actually worked!
So if you’re looking to make that same leap into the luxury market in your own business, here are three things to keep in mind.
We took a real look at the services we offered our clients to make sure that they were getting what they paid for with this price increase. We packaged them in a way that made it really easy to see that it was worth the price. We didn’t necessarily change our services, but we did fine-tune them to make sure we were offering high-end client service for a high-end price.
I fully believe that our services are worth the money we’re charging. I’m confident in that. And because of that, I speak with confidence about our pricing. We work so hard for our clients, and I am confident of that. So when I talk to potential customers about our pricing, I do it with full confidence in what we’re asking them to pay.
I was five years into business when this leap finally happened for me. I’d spent years building up a solid portfolio and good track record in the industry. And as I did, I was building my worth.
You have to play the long game to get here, but just know that it’s one worth playing in the end!
*Headshot photo credit: Jana Williams
→ finally making money doing what you love!
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