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Meet Jennifer Iovino of JMI Branding Forward

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Iovino.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jennifer. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I basically begged to work in my Grandfather’s friend’s bakery the minute I turned 16. I loved every aspect of that bakery. The food prep, the customers and the craziness of the holidays. That experience hooked me into the world of hospitality. I have always worked-and worked crazy long hours. It seems natural to me. Those expressions that describe who people are at their core, “work to live” or “live to work” are true. My personality is absolutely “live to work” which I think is true of most of us in the hospitality world. My first restaurant position was as a hostess which basically had me managing the closing of the restaurant within the first week-keys and all and I was barely 17. Having those types of responsibilities thrown at me at a young age gave me the confidence to handle myself in many situations.

I moved to Boston briefly after my first semester of college to figure out what direction I wanted to head in. While taking classes in finance & marketing at UMASS for two semesters, I continued to work in restaurants and clubs. Early on I worked for a restaurant group that gave me incredible experience and appreciation for systems & procedures. Their training program schooled me in areas of the restaurant business that I had no previous experience in. What I learned in this environment has helped me immensely in my career. The attention to detail and the focus on the philosophical aspects of service is what interested me the most and helped carve out the course of my career. I decided to finish my studies at the University of Vermont where I completed a Self-Designed Major in Small Business Management & Entrepreneurial Studies.

I had wonderful opportunities during my time in Vermont to work with some extremely talented chefs and included a stint at The Inn at Shelburne Farms. The time spent at this property working in their dining room and on private events gave me a great appreciation of locally grown and produced products along with the fine dining details of event planning. Upon my return to Boston, my experiences allowed me to land at some of the top restaurants here in the city. I assisted in the management of Jody Adam’s acclaimed Rialto, as General Manager of Lydia Shire’s award-winning Biba & Pignoli and management of Jamie Mammano’s celebrated Mistral where in addition to the management of day-to-day operations I also managed all special events & marketing of the restaurant.

After leaving Mistral, I started an event management and consulting company. Isis Partners Events not only planned & executed both corporate & social events but also consulted with hotels, nightclubs & restaurants on the development of their special event business. During this time I was approached by Peterson Party Center to manage the re-brand of New England’s largest tent & event rental company. As Director of Sales & Marketing, I focused on the development of the new website, assisted in the design of showroom & customer service spaces, creation of marketing collateral, advertising campaigns & social media presence, along with purchasing & development of new products. This rebranding along with other areas of improvements, resulted in Peterson Party Center being purchased by a private equity firm and in conjunction with acquiring its main competitors, is now considered one of the largest, single-location party and event rental businesses (now Peak Event Services) in the country.

The 20+ years of experience in all these areas of hospitality and event management lead me to start a boutique branding company, JMI Branding Forward in May of 2015.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There are always struggles in life, but overall, my experiences have all been positive. The long hours and pressure of always having to be “on” can take a toll, especially in your personal life, but over the years I have learned how to manage the stress and to be kinder to myself in so far as the expectations I have of myself as well as those around me. I have had amazing mentors in my life who have supported me and guided me through the more challenging times. My management style has morphed into one that embraces what people are good at and what they struggle with. I have learned to find what makes them “tick” and use this to help keep them engaged and inspired with their work and professional development.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
JMI Branding Forward works with wedding & event professionals and lifestyle brands to assist in the development of their brand, ensure consistency of their brand throughout all social media platforms as well as the development of marketing & public relation strategies. There was a definite need in the industry for this service. The Boston wedding and event market is filled with incredibly talented people, but I was finding that they were being stretched thin in all the tasks that are now required of them, especially in the area of marketing.

Their online brand presence was not an accurate portrayal of the amazing work they were doing. Leaving those marketing tasks to an intern or new hire just was not working-they needed a partner, someone that understands who their clients are and who their partners are in the industry. There are many marketing companies in the Boston area, however, they do not know this industry as I know it. I am a part of the industry which gives me great insight into how my clients work and what drives them and what their needs are.

What were you like growing up?
I am sure my parents would have some choice words to say about this! Definitely independent and industrious.

Traits that now serve me well, but I am sure were quite challenging for my parents. I have always been quite social, perhaps a bit too talkative is what my teachers might say. Competitive-I grew up competitively swimming and I believe that sport taught me not only mental toughness but also great organizational skills. You practice a lot, so you have to organize your time wisely concerning school and, of course, your social life!

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Image Credit:
Johnson Photography, Binita Patel Photography, Katii Tornick Photography

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