Today’s guest is Cemone Glinton and she is the founder of Out of Box Weddings. Not only does she plan weddings, she plans destination weddings — she plans your wedding in the Caribbean, or she plans your wedding in Antigua, or any exotic destination you can think of, and she has a lot of connections with people in those areas. She’s managed to create a business for herself that allows her to plan parties, which is her passion, and travel the world. It sounds like a pretty good deal. In our interview today, we talk about how she got her business started and the best recommendations she can give to somebody who wants to start a similar business.
Meredith: So, Cemone, you help people plan amazing weddings in fabulous locations. How did you decide to get into that business? Tell us the story a little bit about how you got started.
Cemone: Okay, so basically how I got started and what I did, it was actually two other friends of mine. We were in college together. We would plan like little events, networking events within our school and outside of school. We did poetry shows, all kinds of little stuff, fashion shows and I had a really good time doing it. After graduation, one of my friends decided to become a nurse, the other decided to become a teacher, and I was the one left standing. I didn’t want to do any of those things and so I decided to step on my own and go for it. I wanted to be an event wedding planner. I had such a good time doing it previously, even though I was with a group, you know, I thought that I could handle it and so I said, “Why not?”
Meredith: And how long have you been in business?
Cemone: Independently, it’s been three years but I’ve been in the industry, you know, just doing the different little events. I’ve worked for a couple of companies for about eight years.
Meredith: Okay, so when did you decide it was time to step out and become independent?
Cemone: Truthfully, I always knew that’s what I wanted to do, but I knew that I had to gain the experience. I was planning little events in school, but no one really knew who I was or what I was doing or anything like that. It was three years ago that I officially, I had no choice, I got laid off from a job that I was doing events and weddings for and so my option was go and find another job or just go out on my own, “You’ve gained all of this experience, you know a lot about the business, why don’t you try and do it on your own?”
Jasper: But there’s a big leap, isn’t there, Cemone, in terms of starting a business, because it’s not just doing the thing you know how to do there’s all the business. . .
The business processes associated with it so how did you get that down?
Cemone: I called it the school of hard knocks, so. . .
I mean I’m not a business major or anything like that so I did a lot of research, talked to a lot, and also when I was working, the company that I worked with a start-up, so I saw a lot of the process that they went through. I took little notes from there, I paid close attention but it was lot of research and just talking to different people who had small businesses and honestly making my own mistakes. You know, I did that a lot and learning from it. That’s, you know, how the whole business side of it, because no one really tells you about that, not intentionally, I don’t think but it’s just something you’ve got to, kind of, like learn as you go about your business journey. It’s like it’s not just about the product, that you have a great product, but you’re going to need to know, understand how to balance your books and how to market correctly and who’s your target market and all that different type of stuff. You can have the best product in the world, but if your checkbook is off, I mean . . .
Meredith: Right, and I would guess that having experience as a wedding planner probably actually helped you with some of the beginning business stuff because you do have to manage a budget and you have to, you know, do all of those different things so can you elaborate a little bit on that?
Cemone: Well, yeah. I mean, as a wedding planner, it’s a part of our business, you know, that it’s one of the first things that I actually do with my clients when they bring us on as the full wedding planner is, “How much is it that you’re looking to spend on your wedding?” I look at it as a production. “How much are you looking to spend overall?” Basically breaking it down for them detail by detail, “If this is your budget, then this is what your photographer, your DJ, your this, your that, is more than likely going to cost you or if that’s the type of the budget that you should stay within in order to maintain an overall budget.” In my personal business, you know, I, as a part of business plan, I had an outline of my budget and just different things that I initially wanted to try as far as marketing and, you know, places that I would like to collaborate with and this is going to cost me these bridal shows. I try to stay within it as much as I could, I honestly didn’t. I spent more but yeah, initially, I did have a budget outline for my business.
Jasper: So, Cemone, how do you differentiate your business in respect of other wedding planners in the area?
Cemone: So basically, a lot of the wedding and event planners here in south Florida, they just handle events and weddings. What I pose to my clients is, “Yes, we handle the events and weddings, but we also, if you’re looking to do destination wedding, we can take that on for you. We have connections in a lot of places in the Caribbean as well as if you are looking for someone to help you coordinate your honeymoon, we can do that as well.” That’s just one of the starting phases, starting things that’s differentiating us, right now, from, you know, other wedding planners in the business.
Meredith: And so how did you find your first customers?
Cemone: Well, the first customer was actually a referral, but from there it was just someone, a friend of a friend who just said, “Oh, I know someone, she’s just starting out.” The person, they gave me a shot. Aside from that, I attended a lot of bridal shows. That’s what I’ve done and I still do. It gives me the ability to be in front of a lot of people at one time to get my information out there and also to follow up with them after the event.
Meredith: Right and so if you were to give some advice to somebody who wanted to start your particular kind of business, so an event planning or a wedding planning business, what would you tell them that the very first step for them should be?
Cemone: I would say to get some experience so I recommend volunteering at different places to kind of, you know, whether it’s a non-profit, they always have events and socials going on so it’s a good way to get yourself out there and kind of get your feet wet. It’s one of the things that I did also, you know, I worked in the business, I had a job, but I also volunteered at several places as their events and wedding coordinator or assistant to one and that helped me as well. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience so I recommend that being, you know, kind of like becoming an apprentice of someone. There are classes that you can take for events and wedding planning and those are great as well. I teach a class at Miami Dade College for events and wedding planning and so those are great as well but it’s a hands-on business, so the best way I recommend is to, kind of, like volunteer.
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Guest – Cemone Glinton – founder of Out of Box Events and Weddings
Cemone Glinton has over eight years of experience in the industry of weddings and destination weddings. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Hospitality studies from the Florida International University. She was recently featured in the prestigious MDC alumni network for successful graduates and she is currently the Events and Wedding Planning instructor at the Miami Dade College Homestead campus. Cemone started Out of Box Events and Weddings three years ago, she attributes her success thus far to consistency, wanting the best for herself and clients and staying focused on her “Why”. As an Accredited wedding planner from the Wedding Planning Institute, and after executing her first event in 2007 she knew she had found her passion. Cemone feels each wedding is special and she believes that to be successful you must really listen, always treat people with respect, and always stay positive. She believes that for success, attitude is equally as important as ability.
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