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Meet Renee Sabo MacDonald of Urban Soiree Boston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Renee Sabo MacDonald.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Renee. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a Midwest gal that moved to Boston 7 years ago to pursue my career in event planning. My love for event planning developed at an early age. While I was in high school, my mother hired a wedding planner to help with her second wedding in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was instantly drawn to the details that go into designing and managing someone’s special day. Since then, I have ruthlessly searched for opportunities within the event industry. My previous positions have allowed me to gain expertise in planning fundraisers, banquets, festivals, weddings and luxury event decor. Within each experience, I have expanded my creative ability and passion for event design and I truly love helping clients create their perfect event!

During college, I gained experience in event planning through special event internships, followed by my first full-time job out of college at a local party rental company in Columbus, OH. In 2011, I moved to Boston to obtain my Masters in Business Administration from Suffolk University, focusing on Entrepreneurship studies in order to prepare for opening business one day. During my graduate studies, I worked as an Event Management Intern for a luxury wedding planner, Unique Weddings by Alexis. After graduate school, I had an amazing experience working as a Senior Event Producer with another luxury wedding planning firm, SD Events, for nearly 3 1/2 years. Prior to starting my company, I also obtained experience in the hospitality and catering field, as an Event Sales Manager at the Hyatt Regency Boston and as a Social Catering Manager at the New England Aquarium.

Each of my career experiences have allowed me to gain vast experience in planning and executing a wide range of weddings and events located throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.

When it came to opening my company a year ago, my main goal was to provide a simplified approach to event planning to my clients through cloud-based planning resources and straightforward planning phases. My services are offered for solely Weddings and Social Celebrations and I offer three packages that include full service, partial service and ‘day of’ coordination (which begins 2-3 months out). I have loved every second of building my brand in the past year and cultivating new relationships through industry peers and my clientele.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have found that Entrepreneurship is quite the roller coaster, but it is the most rewarding experience. There are highs and lows and as a business owner, and you have to learn how to handle all of those experiences.

My initial struggles as a small business were figuring out how to position myself in a highly saturated market. The other struggle for any small business is getting on your feet financially and going from a full-time job to self-employment. During my first year in business, I worked part-time in order to provide a bit more financial security while I invested in growing my company. I did not take out any small business loans, I simply started promoting myself and selling my services. It was a tough year, working nearly 7 days a week between my part-time job and managing my company — but it was also rewarding to work so hard towards your passion and dream. I am excited to say that I am officially going full-time with my company this year!

Our successes were not been built overnight, but our growth over the past year has surpassed even my wildest dreams. It makes all of the fear and struggles of starting a small business truly worth it.

Urban Soiree Boston – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My philosophy is that event planning should be enjoyable, stress-free, and most of all, a representation of my client’s vision and style. Each wedding or event is thoughtfully planned and executed with a strong team of vendors that is hand-picked for our clients! We truly have their best interests in mind and strive to provide them with exceptional customer service, so that they can sit back, relax and enjoy this special time in their lives.

The planning process can become very stressful to our clients with all the moving parts to a wedding or event, I take pride in being able to break down that huge to-do list and keep them focused on a few areas at a time. I do this by breaking up the planning process into four phases from planning to design to coordination and execution. In addition, I use a cloud-based online management system, that allows my couples and event clients to have an interactive experience with planning and design throughout the entire process.

From an internal perspective, I am most proud that I have been able to grow my business and surpass my sales goals within my first couple of years in business. I am also proud that the majority of my sales come from social media marketing and I do not pay to advertise in any large publications at this time. I have a background in Strategic Communications and Marketing has always been a passion of mine. When it came to opening my business, I wanted to promote my brand aesthetic and attract the clients that best fit with my services. Roughly 50% of my sales are from referrals from industry peers and the other 50% are derived from my Instagram feed!

I am most proud that in my first year in business, my team and I successfully executed our first season of weddings & events with five-star reviews. I am heading into our 2018 season nearly booked out for the year and that is also a wonderful feeling! I love working with each of my clients – they make it truly rewarding and I love getting to know them and their families throughout the entire process and staying in touch after their event.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Starting this little company and seeing my brand grown over the past year is my proudest moment so far. I have worked harder than I ever thought possible in order to make sure every part of my business works seamlessly. I juggle all of the areas that a small business owner has to manage — from making sure my client’s planning stays on track, as well as manage our sales leads so that each inquiry and client gets undivided attention. At the same time, I work hard to make connections and build lasting relationships with vendors and my industry peers, while also focusing on the content and needs of building my brand through social media and our website.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Allegro Photography, Angelina Rose Photography, Carly Michelle Photography, Lynne Reznick Photography

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