Graduate Feature: Savanna Wharton-Lake
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m from Trinidad and Tobago, a small island in the Caribbean. I have lived here my entire life, except for the four years I spent in Deland, Florida, at Stetson University. I love everything about my country, and I’m so happy I returned here to start my adult life and career!
I currently own my own business, Lake Management Concepts, which specializes in event planning, as well as planning for small business star-ups. Entrepreneurial life is quite demanding, and at times, super stressful. But the rewards gained are definitely worth it all!
In my spare time I enjoy trying new foods, travelling, and reading.
Why did you decide to become a professional event and wedding planner?
I started doing event management for one of my social media clients, back in December of 2017. I already had prior knowledge of the industry because of my father. Upon my return from University, with a double major in finance and accounting, I’d actually vowed never to venture into the event industry!
But life had a different plan for me! After that one event, I enjoyed it so much that I started getting my name out there, and pursuing it as a career. Now I have a full-fledged professional event business!
You’ve graduated from QC’s Event & Wedding Planning Course, and are also currently taking our Event Decor Course. Would you say you’ve caught the attention of more clients because of your additional training?
Definitely! In fact, I recently posted my certificate and I was amazed by the amount of calls and messages I got about the course! I also had quite a couple of new clients reach out to me about weddings and event planning.
Your business, Lake Management Concepts, specializes in event management and small business start-ups. What is it about corporate planning that draws you to this area of the industry?
Corporate planning usually has a larger budget, which provides opportunities to explore more out-of-the-box ideas. Corporate events are also great networking events, in which you get to meet very influential people within the corporate world. If you network correctly, you can build many great working relationships!
How did you break out into the professional world of planning? Any tips for aspiring planners, regarding how to find work when first starting out?
Networking is a key element of breaking into the world of event planning!
Meeting new people and putting yourself out there is the only way to really become known, and to get experience. For the first year and a half, I barely utilized social media. But I continued to network and build my portfolio on the sideline. Those small networking ventures went a long way, and that has definitely helped me to get where I am now!
Also, I would recommend trying to get as much experience as you can before you venture out onto your own. At times, I wished I had more hands-on experience before I had started my own business. Not doing so meant that I was forced to learn along the way. Gaining prior experience first will help you avoid some common rookie mistakes!
How would you describe your style of planning?
I would describe my style of planning as situational. Each client is different, and therefore requires different planning styles.
I always start with a consultation, in order to best understand the wants and needs of my clients. Then I follow up with a mood board. I discuss the mood board with my clients, and they tell me their likes and dislikes. Only upon final approval do I even begin to plan!
I tend to gravitate towards planning the hardest items first, and then usually leave the easier stuff for last.
You plan to branch out into wedding planning in the near future. In your opinion, what’s the most appealing part about incorporating this additional service into your business?
I love seeing people happy, and a weddings is one of the happiest moments in a couple’s life! An opportunity to ensure that I make this a reality for them is probably the most appealing part. I enjoy seeing things unfold from conceptualization to execution.
I also think the wedding industry is the hardest area of the event industry, and I am up for the challenge it poses!
What was the most challenging part of earning your online event planning certification, and what was the most rewarding?
I think the most challenging AND the most rewarding aspect of my online learning experience with QC was how extensive and thorough the course was! It was situational, so it definitely had me putting myself in the shoes of the professional planner I was working to become. I had to learn how to execute the right decisions.
It was challenging at times, because each situation is different and there’s no one real answer. However, it also forced me to get super creative and think outside the box. It was a fun and exciting challenge!
Why do you feel it’s important for event and wedding planners to also have decor training?
I think as a planner, you need to have an idea of every aspect of the event industry. You need to be able to suggest to your clients what would work and what wouldn’t.
I actually started doing event decor within the last year. It’s definitely is a huge help to understand and have the eye for decor when planning. It gives you a more complete idea of the event itself! You can suggest and recommend decor ideas, based on your experience, and help take your client’s special occasion to a whole new level!
What made you want to get your online event planning certification, and why did you choose QC Event School?
During COVID-19, the event industry was shut down to the bare minimum. All the events were cancelled. I actually had 5 weddings booked within the first 3 months of COVID-19 that had to be postponed!
So, I thought to myself: You know what, I’ve never had the time to get my certification before. So, why not give it a try now and see what I may learn?
I did so much research looking at the best courses to enroll in. After 3 days of searching, I finally decided that QC Event School was the number one choice. I enrolled, and the knowledge I’ve since gained has been impeccable. It was an amazing course! I would 100% recommend it to anyone wanting to go into the event and wedding planning field.
View this post on Instagram
Family doesn't always mean blood relatives — it can be friends and their extended relatives or sometimes it can even be co-workers. Last night, Lake Management Concepts had the pleasure of hosting the Ramps Logistics Management Family @rampslogistics which consisted of persons both locally and internationally. As they say a family that eats together stays together — we decided to put together a beautiful dinner setting in the heart of the Savannah. So much light, love and laughter in the heart beat of Port-of-Spain!
What’s proven to be the most challenging part of starting (and then running) your very own business?
I think the initial process of starting up a business is always the hardest part. Physically and mentally gearing up to do something that’s unknown, and not knowing if it’ll be successful or not, is the most challenging hurdle to get over.
However, I believe that once you put your mind to it, anything is possible! Before, I always had this mindset that the market is so saturated, it would be impossible for me to get business. However, through experience, I’ve learned that there’s room for everyone!
Beyond that, I will admit that running your own business is a very demanding job. It requires sleepless nights, and missing out on many important events in your personal life. But I consider it a small sacrifice for long-term happiness.
To date, what’s been your proudest moment so far as a professional event planner?
Back in 2018, when I was first starting up, I was hired as an assistant to a professional planner. Our client was one of the largest conglomerates in the country. My role as the assistant sometimes felt as though I was the actual planner. This was because the actual event planner was so busy with so many other aspects of the project. Due to this, I quickly became the main liaison with the client.
They saw how hardworking and dedicated I was throughout the project. After the event, I kept in touch with them. A year later, they decided to do the event again – but instead of hiring the original planner, they gave me the role of lead planner! It was an extremely proud moment for me because I went from being an assistant, to being the lady in charge.
I always tell this story, not for bragging rights, but to remind everyone: don’t ever let a position discourage you into thinking you aren’t good enough. Work hard and keep showing up, and one day, you too will have the opportunity to shine!
What else is in store for Lake Management Concepts this year?
2020 was meant to be a year of breakthroughs for my business, as I had over 5 weddings planned over the COVID-19 period. However, I know now that everything happens for a reason. Enrolling with QC, and earning my online event planning certification, was needed before I actually did those weddings.
On the event industry side, I plan to delve into more decor and more weddings. I’m excited for the rest of the year, and I know that the knowledge I gained from my QC course will be super beneficial as my career enhances!