LAURA RITCHIE & MEGAN POLLARD // EVENTS IN THE CITY
Events In The City is a coordination and design firm with a passion for creating unique, memorable, and stress-free events. With a team mentality, their clients experience endless inspiration and consistent attention. They have been featured in Southern Weddings, Washingtonian Bride & Groom, The Washington Post, Style Me Pretty and more.
I’m getting the scoop on how these ladies GSD (get shit done) working full-time (and lots of weekends), with kids, and full-time working husbands.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Laura: Up at 7am, shower, get dressed, get my 3-year-old son dressed, breakfast for both of us, drop him off at daycare and then head to our offices in Leesburg or Georgetown. I try to get urgent emails or quotes for vendors sent out in the morning. Then I will typically have a meeting or two scheduled throughout the day. This can mean a Skype call with a client in Australia, a tasting at a caterer for an upcoming event, or site visits for clients searching for the perfect space. I’ll also spend a lot of time researching or shopping for clients for linens, chargers, or props specific to their particular event.
I end the day around 5pm and pick up the munchkin from daycare. We get home and play for a while and then I make dinner for our family of three. After dinner, we do bath time for our son and put him to bed with story time. I’ll then hop into bed myself with my computer or phone near by. I’ll track emails and even answer more pressing matters. I religiously watch Bravo shows and read magazines ripping inspiration out. I’ll go to bed around 10pm or 11pm depending on when my shows are over.
Megan: I do my best to get up at 6am but am a constant offender of the snooze button. My brain is very active at night which makes early mornings tough. If I can get a run in before starting the day I am off to a good start. I start by preparing breakfast and getting my two daughters (Maryn is 6, Grey is 4) ready for the day. We will usually use this time in the morning to work on reading or any other skills we are trying to tackle at that time.
When it is time for me to get ready I have developed a habit which I am sort of obsessed with. When I am putting on my makeup I will turn on a TED talk. Having a new inspiring thought first thing in the morning is like drinking a pot of coffee for me! Then depending on the day and schedule I am either off to the local Leesburg or Georgetown studio or hitting the road for a variety of appointments. My work day ends at different points, if I am able to make it a short day and be at the bus stop at 3pm to pick my daughter up from the bus, I will. I do my best to be with my kids as much as I possibly can. I typically do dinner for my kids, baths, and tuck them into bed. My husband doesn’t get home until later so it allows us to enjoy some wine, eat our own dinner, and catch up on the day.
What parts of your work do you love?
Laura: I love designing and finding the perfect item for a client’s event that takes it to another level. I do a lot of research and try to say ahead of trends in our industry. I love finding inspiration on social media, in magazines, art, and floral design. When I have that aha moment and share the idea with the client, and then they too fall in love, it’s like crack to me!
Megan: I am a sucker for the moment or the feeling of a flawlessly, fluid event. I tend to paint with broad strokes and like to create moments for my clients and guests. Music is a huge medium for me. I love taking my guests on a ride of emotion — it’s a total thrill!
What parts of your work/business do you dislike?
Laura: I don’t like breaking clients hearts when I know they want something really badly but it’s not going to work for logistics or budget reasons. However I enjoy finding a solution that can bridge that gap.
Megan: Mine is a double-edged sword, I hate doing the books and the important day-to-day tasks but I also feel a huge sense of accomplishment when its completed!
I would say that all of the taxes and business fees were a bit of a surprise to us. Just in case any one of note is reading we are paying and are on time.
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of Events In The City?
Laura: It’s a huge collaborative process and everyone on our team knows about every event. We are always brainstorming and helping each other out. Christie might be the main event designer for a specific event, but Megan might help her come up with invitation wording, Laura might design the escort card display, and Brittany might book all of her contracts for her.
Megan: We also have nicknames for our clients. They are all kind and endearing but we are a personal group and we prefer for our clients to be more familiar rather then just a folder that we are reviewing once a week.
What type of calendar do you keep?
We use Google Calendar that we can easily share so we know when and where people are. We invite each other to meetings whether they are internal or not to be sure that everyone blocks the time as needed.
How do you plan out your calendar?
Laura: As soon as I book a meeting, whether its definite or tentative, I put it in the calendar immediately. That way I am never questioning if something is actually happening or not. I also try to give myself at least one or two days a week for some me time. It’s an important lesson to have free time to sleep in or get my nails done. Since I work on Saturdays this has increasingly become more important to my life. I also reserve all Sundays for family. Period. No meetings, client calls or conferences.
How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?
Laura: I use reminders in my iPhone to remember things on the go. Details for client welcome bags, thoughts regarding logistics, etc. all go in there for me to remember for later on.
Megan: I am a list maker, so I write out all of the things that I need to do and then number them by priority. I will group like things together and number one after the other so that I can cruise through them. Creating points in the day that feel easy breezy helps me keep my chin up and stay motivated. If there is something I am really putting off I will create a two-hour block in my day to devote to just that so that I can GSD (get shit done). I do this for both personal and work-related tasks. You can ask my husband and business partners — they joke me and my Beautiful Mind notebook.
How do you attack your never-ending email? Do you have a certain strategy you use?
Laura: I use my email as a to do list and things sitting in there are things that need to get done. I save everything, so as soon as I have completed the task or responded, I file each email away into separate folders. Client folders are sorted by date of their event that way they float to the top of the folders since it’s by number. Then after that it’s alphabetical with folders like Marketing, Submissions, Washingtonian, Website, etc.
What is your process and/or work strategy? Anything that you have found that works for you?
Laura: I get through my to-do emails as much as possible first thing, otherwise I feel like I constantly have things to look at. I then sort projects by deadline. It’s also helpful for us when we are in the office to say, “At 2:30 we are putting together welcome bags until the 3:30 meeting to go over the books.”
Megan: I am big into setting certain times for things. I can get flustered and overwhelmed if I am looking at my email/phone all day. This is why I use the notebook, because it allows me to stay on task and not have an ADD moment when a quick email comes in that I can respond to. Staying on task has made me far more efficient and a better decision maker then when I was responding like rapid fire to my emails. I used to get them out of my inbox as soon as they came in, but if I restrain from responding on my phone and wait until I get to the computer, my responses are far better and I am servicing my clients much better then just being quick-draw McGraw.
Do you have any rituals or routines you do?
Laura: We have a SWIFT meeting on Monday mornings at 10:30. SWIFT stands for “So What If Theyyyyyy…..” Which is actually a saying that we say a lot around here when we come up with an idea. It’s our production meeting for the week and we go over what everyone is doing, who needs help, and what events are happening on Saturday. We also have a production meeting on Friday mornings with our team to go over the event for the weekend in greater detail and run through each piece of the day ahead. It’s so helpful because then someone else’s eyes and ears might catch something that the main event designer didn’t.
How do you GSD (get shit done) at home?
Laura: I GSD at home by being a leader and the point person. I do feel as though I can be the one in charge a lot when it comes to big decisions, however I am so lucky to have a supportive husband that shares in the work around the house. GSD is all about group effort in our place. I handle the cooking, decorating, and schedules and my husband helps with the cleaning and outdoors. These roles just kind of emerged but I’m glad they did. I also hired a cleaning company to come once a month and that has saved our lives. I am all about hiring the right person for the right job and to get it done well and fast. There isn’t a lot of DIY at my house.
Megan: We have a busy house with first grade homework, preschool routines, soccer practice, swim lessons, play dates, etc. My husband leaves shortly after the girls get up and comes home just before they go to bed. So during the day I have to and want to GSD. It’s important to understand that keeping up with a house, kids, and friends is a blessing. While it can be overwhelming sometimes, I am grateful that I am in a position to do everything that I do.
My tricks of the trade:
1. No matter how small the load is I try to do laundry every day to avoid the big mountain. I personally hate putting clothes away so if it’s small and I can do it in 15 minutes I am happier.
2. I don’t let my little ones down stairs before they are dressed, teeth brushed, hair done, and beds made. We lose so much time in the up and down.
3. Tuesday and Thursday are typically shorter work days for me so I use the time between 3-5pm to do housework unless I can plan something fun for the girls and I to do. I try to be more flexible during the summer so their break really feels like summer.
4. When hubby and I get to eat and catch up there is no TV. This is new for us but I love it. We do music. We dabbled with it in the past but it has been a more noticed change. TV makes us stare and not talk about the day which builds up more things mentally for me to fix and solve. If I can talk to my main squeeze about them I feel so much better and our family is more productive and connected. The weekends are mostly run by my husband. He does soccer games, snack schedules, lawn work, and car stuff.
Nuggets of advice you’ve been given that have stuck?
Think and work smarter, not harder. If you find yourself running like a chicken with your head cut off — stop and reset.
Prioritize, delegate, and no procrastinating.
Megan and I are the quickest movers when it comes to pulling the trigger on making shit happen. Within a 24-hour period we will have rearranged the office, booked two clients, haggled with vendors, and kept all the kids fed and bathed. Multitasking at its finest!
We’ve also perfected our emergency kit which comes in handy when it comes to measuring tape, shots of tequila for scared grooms, glue guns, safety pins, sewing kits, extra pens, etc. (pictured above)
Instagram — for showing clients and industry folk our work
Twitter — for sharing updates, thoughts and shout outs
Facebook — for more personal correspondence and following along with what our clients are up to!
Dropbox — sharing files, organizing contracts, budgets and timeline internally, on the go and with clients
Social Tables — for creating floorplans and organizing seating charts
PROGRAMS & GADGETS
Apple across the board — iPhones, iPads, Mac computers
Photos by Abby Jiu
GSD (get shit done): A weekly column featuring busy business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and CEOs and how they get shit done. Meg also writes articles with helpful ways to get shit done. Tell us how you GSD on twitter by tagging #GSD and @megbiram.