QC Event School graduate Carisa Lockery Feature Image

About the School, Featured, Graduate Features, Student/Graduate Features

Meet QC Event School Graduate, Carisa Lockery!

QC Event School graduate Carisa Lockery Headshot

Meet QC Event School graduate, Carisa Lockery! When (and why) did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the events/weddings industry, Carisa?

It was a wild ride, for sure! I’d graduated with my Bachelors Degree in 2004, and I decided to go back and pursue my Masters Degree in 2007. In those 3 years, I was trying to find a job that I really thought I would be happy doing. My dream was always to work for an advertising agency in New York City!

However, when I met my (eventual) husband in 2005, I decided this was no longer the path I wanted to take. I hated every job I had that required me to be stuck in an office from 9am – 5pm every day. I just knew I wasn’t cut out for that. So, I gave some thought as to what really made me happy…

I loved talking to people, getting to know new people, being on the go, and just interacting with as many people as I could. I’ve always been a bit of a social butterfly, LOL! I gave some thought as to what I could be good at, and I remembered working part-time with my cousin a few years earlier. They were a wedding photographer and I’d assisted the lead photographers on the wedding days. We’d started with the bride getting ready in the morning, and worked through to almost the end of the reception.

I thought it was so cool seeing how a wedding day unfolded like that, and everything just seemed to come together. I’ve always been the organized, Type A. So, I thought, “Hey, I could plan weddings! I would love that!”

And thus, Pink Olive Events was born!

(Actually, at the time, it was CR Socials Event Planning. I rebranded in 2018.)

Why did you decide to pursue your certification training online (rather than in-person) – and how did you hear of QC Event School?

I loved the convenience of being able to do it online. At the time, I was also pursuing a Masters Degree. So, the flexibility fit into my life perfectly. It was also perfect because shortly after, I had my first child!

Why did you choose to enroll with QC Event School? (E.g., What was it about our school that won you over, compared to other online event/wedding planning schools out there?)

Again, I really loved the convenience of the online classes. Back then, there weren’t too many options like that. Plus, the coursework seemed to be exactly what I was looking for to start my business!

RELATED: Dream of starting your OWN business in the events/weddings industry? Here’s everything you need to start a business from scratch (even if you’ve never been a businessowner before)!

How would you describe your style as an event and wedding planner?

I like to think we are more laid back than most. While we still have a “get stuff done” attitude, we try to be as flexible as possible with clients’ needs. We don’t like to be the stuffy, stereotypical wedding planner that gives the rest of us a bad rep.

Rather, we like to have fun with our clients – while still getting the job done that we were hired to do!

What made you decide to take the leap and open up a business of your very own?

After graduating college and having many jobs I didn’t feel passionate about, I felt it was time to become my own boss. I wanted to do something I loved. It was scary, and it didn’t happen all at once, but it was definitely worth it!

Where did the name of your business, Pink Olive Events, come from?

My original company name was CR Socials Event Planning, which I had for 11 years. After taking a step back for a bit, I reevaluated my business and the types of clients I wanted to work with. I thought the best way to do this was to rebrand.

I wanted to keep similar colors and imagery in the logo. My brother is my graphic designer and web designer. So, after tossing around some ideas and wording, Pink Olive Events was born. Plus, they are my two favorite colors (pink and olive green!).

RELATED: Not sure how to brand your business? Our How-To Guide has you covered!

QC Event School graduate Carisa Lockery in-post image 1

Photographer: Elizabeth Grant Photography.

What were the most challenging parts about launching a business, and how did you overcome these challenges?

In the beginning, it was difficult to get clients. I was new and didn’t have much to show for events I’ve done. I do think it helped that when I first started, I was just planning smaller events and not weddings (until after my own wedding in 2008).

In order to connect with brides, I networked, networked, networked… And the networked some more! I went to every networking event I could, as well as introduced myself to others in the business that I wanted to work with. This is still my biggest piece of advice for those newer to the industry.

In your opinion, what are the most rewarding aspects of owning/operating your own business?

Being able to make my own hours, which allowed me to stay home with my babies when they were born. That, to me, is priceless!

Tell us about the wedding and event planning services you currently offers clients!

Currently, we offer Full Planning and Wedding Day Management. Additionally, we also have an a la carte planning list that we can use to build a custom proposal for couples who may be between those two services.

We can also help with elopements and micro weddings. These particular services were born during COVID.

Often times, prospective clients are hesitant to hire a professional event/wedding planner because they’re not fully convinced it’s worth the money. Can you tell us, in your own words, why you believe hiring a professional planner is worth the cost?

The saying, “time is money”, is a saying for a reason. There are so many things a planner can take off your plate, thus saving you time!

We do the legwork when searching for venues and vendors. We can seamlessly put decor ideas together. Furthermore, we know the right way AND the wrong way to do things.

In addition, we have relationships with vendors. So, we can easily match the couple with those in their budget and that match their style.

Do you remember what your very first event or wedding with a legit client was like? Tell us about it! What did you learn from it, what went well, what didn’t go as planned, etc.?

My first event was a surprise 40th birthday party. A wife was planning it for her husband. I was super nervous and had my husband (then fiancé) helping me with decor setup. We hired the caterer, bartender, and photographer. It was actually a really great first event!

PRO TIP: Discover 6 of the most effective strategies for landing clients as a professional event planner!

What are your business strategies when it comes to: finding/attracting clients, marketing/getting your name out there, networking, etc.?

Currently, we are not doing any paid advertising. Our business is mainly built on referrals and word-of-mouth. Social media has been a game-changer!

I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve booked from Instagram (mostly) and even Facebook. Past couples refer us to their friends, and vendors tag us in posts to spread the word about us. Then, all of a sudden, a bride is booking us because she likes the fact that we’ve worked with her photographer before.

Pink Olive Events has received awards from both Wedding Wire and The Knot, which is SUPER impressive! Tell us more about that!

Yes! We’re honored that our clients take the time to tell others about us! Currently, all of our business comes from word-of-mouth and referrals. So, these reviews are extremely important in getting future potential clients to hear about us.

You’re located in Cheshire, Connecticut. How much competition are you facing in and around your area? Furthermore, what are you doing to (1) make your business stand out, and (2) attract your target demographic successfully?

I don’t technically consider anyone “competition”, as we all bring something different to the table. But there are some others who offer full planning services like we do. Currently, I’d say the biggest issue in my area is that there are a lot of new “day-of coordinators” that are starting businesses and undercutting the experienced planners.

We now call our “day-of coordination” service “wedding day management” because we think it gives a better description of the service (we don’t just show up on the day of). One thing that we are doing to stand out is that I purchased a mobile bridal suite 2 years ago. This is something that no one else in CT is doing – and this will definitely help us target more of a luxury market!

QC Event grad Carisa Lockery in-post image 2

Photographer: Vicki + Erik Photographers.

What do you love MOST about working in the event and wedding planning industry?

I love meeting new people and how EVERY couple is different. This means that every event is different. This definitely keeps things interesting – or else this job would be very boring if everyone was the same!

What’s your favorite kind of event and/or wedding to put together and why?

As much as we love other types of events (because we believe you should celebrate everything), our favorite events are weddings. We love – and I mean LOVE – them, and I just adore hearing all the proposal stories and bringing an idea to life.

In terms of event styling/decor, what’s your (personal) favorite style?

I think styles such as rustic and boho are trendy and thus, not always going to be popular. I love clean, sleek looks that can be considered timeless. In 10 years, you don’t want to look back at your photos and hate the use of Pampas grass and mason jars.

What advice would you give to aspiring event and wedding planners who dream of starting their own business?

Do it! There’s nothing more satisfying than a happy client and knowing that YOU did that. Also, do your research in your area to figure out the appropriate pricing and network like crazy!

PRO TIP: Learn how to network and find event/wedding planner jobs like a seasoned pro!

Why do you feel it’s important for event and wedding planners to have professional certification training?

While I’m a big advocate for getting your feet wet and getting the real life experience, I feel the certification is something you can physically show clients to show them your qualifications.

As a QC Event School graduate, why would you recommend QC’s self-paced, online certification training?

The coursework was pertinent to the industry and it was super convenient doing it online!

RELATED: Want to learn more about QC Event School’s online certification courses? Here’s the full list!

To date, what do you consider to be your proudest moment so far?

I think hitting the milestone last year of being in business for 15 years was my proudest moment so far. We celebrated with a party (obviously). The guest list consisted of past couples, vendors I’ve worked with, and family and friends. It was a very special night!

What about your favorite event or wedding to date? Tell us a bit about that!

There have been SO MANY wonderful events over the years – but I think one of my favorites was right before COVID. A couple had hired us for full planning. It was both of their second weddings, but the groom had a huge wedding the first time, whereas the bride had a very small one. So, they compromised on a 150 person guest count.

They felt they didn’t have much control over their first weddings, so they pretty much knew exactly what they wanted this time around. They just didn’t have the time to plan and execute it themselves. It was one of my favorites because the theme was based around a song that the groom had written for the bride right after they met, called, “Stuff of Stars”.

Of course, he surprised her and sang it to her at the reception. The design came together beautifully and I loved how the theme was so personal.

What’s in store for Pink Olive Events the rest of this year and beyond?

We have a few things up our sleeve! As I get older, I’m hoping to step back from the day-of duties and let my staff handle things. Eventually, I’d love to run a venue. Oh, and I may have started writing a book… 😉

Well we, for one, can’t wait to read it, Carisa! Are YOU inspired by Carisa’s story and want to start writing your very own? Begin the next exciting chapter of your life TODAY by enrolling with QC and becoming a QC Event School graduate in as little as 3-6 short months!

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