"I love working with down to earth people and I don't like people who mistreat their employees. My life vision is to work with people who are grateful, spiritual, holistic and who always give their 100% in everything they do. People who collaborate and believe in community. I believe in genuine relationships and loyalty in business and in life". - Zahira Domenech.
Ever wonder if your BFF could be your wedding planner but then remember she's too busy being your Maid of Honor? Or maybe you thought you could produce your whole wedding on your own but then remember all your family drama and thought you'd be better off with a wedding planner (insert raising hand Emoji here). Yup, all of these things (and many, many more) come to your mind right after someone puts a ring on your finger. But luckily for me, I've always found the wedding business quite interesting. Not for the clichés, but because I've always wanted to meet a wedding planner and ask her if her career is just crazy as I think it must be. Just imagine the pressure of producing the day that has to be, for most people, one of the most important days of their lives.
So luckily for me, I've been in contact with Zahira Domenech, the founder of Eventus by Zahira, because I just love how she markets herself online and I knew I had to interview her for you guys. You can take a look at her websites here, here and here. And don't even get me started on her social media skills. Her Instagram account is a wedding fairytale! "My website was custom designed in order to be an extension of me... I'm very girly and sparkly.. but I wanted it to be very inspirational. I want it to look like a luxury magazine", she expressed when I told her how fabulous her websites are.
She has ben recognized as one of the best wedding planners in the world by JuneBug Weddings, as an A+ Wedding Planner by Destination Wedding Magazine and winner of Wedding Wire's Bridal Choice Awards for several years in a row (seriously, look at her reviews), among many other recognitions.
If you thought she had enough in her hands already, Zahíra is engaged to the talented photographer Jose Ruiz and as a response to her fans, she now has a blog were she narrates the excitement of how a Wedding Planner plans her own wedding.
So the fact that I interviewed her one week before I got engaged was kind of crazy. Specially since my now fiancé took the photos during the interview. Crazy huh?! Oh I can only imagine his nerves. LOL. To be honest, being with Zahira felt like talking with an old friend and there is no wonder why she's now my wedding planner.
So without further due, here's one of the funnest interviews I've ever done:
ME: When did you know you wanted to be a wedding planner?
ZD: I used to work at a very prestigious Public Relations agency in Puerto Rico and my job was to do corporate events, product launches, social events, galas, etc. That's how I fell in love with this world because I did everything from designing the event to creating the experience. I loved it.
But one day one of my good friends called me because she wanted to get married in The Plaza in New York City and asked me to plan her wedding. She couldn't trust anybody else and I really didn't know anything about it... but I said I'll do it!
When I came back to Puerto Rico after her wedding, I was definitely not ready to work for anybody else. So I started taking courses and educating myself for the big leap that I knew had to happen.
ME: So how exactly did you make the big leap to the wedding business?
ZD: Eventus has been both a blessing and a challenge. I come from a very humble family and I believe that all my success is thanks to my dad. Since I was 5 years old he always took the time to tell me how important and valuable I was and that I could be anyone I wanted to be. He used to tell me so many wonderful things that I started to believe them! That's why I believe I'm the person that I am today. A person who will just go for it in any situation, no matter what. I'm not scared of failure, because I believe that failure is the only thing that will guide you through the right path. They are the way that God lets you know that you are off track.
So Eventus is basically that. It was a risk that I took while having a secure position at a Public Relations firm. In a matter of three months I basically quitted my job and founded Eventus by Zahira.
ME: But did you have a backup plan? Like a savings account or something?
ZD: I had nothing. Just my last paycheck. If you wait for the perfect moment you'll never get anything done. If you really want something just go for it with whatever you have at the time and you can start building something from the ground up.
I used my last paycheck to design my logo, put an ad out there, create a website and that was it!
My first client was my friend's wedding in NYC, and since she was Asian, the ceremony and the protocol was so much different than what I was used to. It was a great challenge! It was in New York and I had no contacts for vendors or anything. So I took a week of vacations from my current job to travel with her and help her start looking for vendors and just like that I planned the wedding! I basically did her wedding, quitted my full time job and started my own business in 2004. That was it!
ME: How do you have so much engagement in your social media platforms? You have so many comments!
ZD: I think it's due to my openness. I don't let what other people think affect me. Being authentic and expressing my fears even though it makes me feel a little uncomfortable, it's my way to connect with people. Many people think that Eventus is so huge, but I'm just like any other girl! I am dreaming big and building something for me and my family to enjoy. I think it has to do with the fact that when I write something people feel relieved to know that it happens to other people too, and that in some way, it makes it ok for them.
ME: I definitely agree! I remember you once posted an Instagram picture were you shared a very intimate but inspiring story and I thought that was the coolest thing ever!
ZD: Thank you! Just remember, if your dreams and goals don't scare you, they're not challenging enough and you will not grow!
ME: Tell me about #TuesdaysTogether?
ZD: This is part of The Rising Tide Society in which I talk about community vs competition in the small business owner world. Tuesdays Together is a reunion with creative business owners that takes place the second Tuesday of each month. We talk about different topics that help small business owners grow by knowing the difference between community vs competition. This is a beautiful project that I enjoy so much! I love giving back and helping others so this is a great fit for me and what I stand for in my life and in business. If you want to know more you can join our Facebook group or search our hashtag: #tuesdaystogetherpr.
ME: What about Zahira Domenech Signature Brands? How did it all started?
ZD: Cancer was the biggest blessing of my life. It changed my life perspective in every way. And Sebastian, my son, was my biggest rock during chemo. So even though I was cancer free in 2012, I started life coaching in 2011. People really wanted to know how I created what I have now, so I ended up creating what Zahira Domenech Signature Brands is today: our women entrepreneurs coaching branch.
It wasn't until last year that I decided that I was at a spiritual and mental level in which I felt it was the time to launch everything for the public.
ME: So Sparkle and Bliss is inside your Signature Brands umbrella?
ZD: Sparkle and Bliss is our live workshop that started successfully last year in which I give training to small business owners on how to use Instagram, gain followers, create branding and a profit plan. One of the things that differentiate us from other workshops is that we challenge all our attendees to grow in a personal level too. We challenge them to work from the inside out by facing fears. I'm firm believer that if you don't grow as a person, you can't grow your business. As small business owners, our businesses are the reflection of us, so it's so important to grow as a human being by challenging ourselves so we can grow stronger in business too.
And as an extension of these workshops, one of the things that we created this year was our online course were you can learn more about things like how Instagram works, how to get published in media, how to market yourself, how to establish your prices and much more.
Sparkle and Bliss is one of the most amazing things I have professionally right now. Eventus is super special for me, because it's my baby you know? But this workshop is something else for me. It gives me the opportunity to give back what I've been blessed with over these years. It's my way of healing and letting other people heal and grow. This is the area of my life that I wish to develop in the years to come in order to help create awareness that us women have a huge role in society. Our women instinct makes us want to take care, educate and make sacrifices for others. This is why I have made it my mission to make women search for their value within without comparing themselves to others.
ME: What do you think helped you be in the position you're in right now?
ZD: Perseverance is key! My dad had 0 tolerance whenever I spoke badly about myself or others and that is the way you should live. I mean, you should have your moments to cry and complain, but having that mind set has helped me with my spirituality and understanding that everything that happens to you has a deeper meaning. Some moments make you learn and grow and some of them are made to enjoy what you worked so hard on.
But most importantly, I think my success is thanks to my love for everyone, doing good no matter to whom and that I have no fear of failure. If I fall, I pick myself up and keep going. If I was wrong I ask for forgiveness. This is the way that I try to make everyday better.
ME: What do you love most about the wedding industry?
ZD: Being a wedding planner has opened many doors to my creativity. I love working with so many talented and creative people. It helps me to stay challenged and on track.
Also, I love being a Destination Wedding Planner. Not only am I able to promote my beautiful Island, but I get to know so many amazing cultures. It has opened so many doors into bringing more tourism to Puerto Rico and it makes me extremely proud to know that my clients enjoy our service and accommodations. It makes all those challenging hours of hard work feel like I'm not working at all. Because I love what I do.
ME: What do you love most about the coaching industry?
ZD: Being able to help other people. Specially people who didn't have the opportunities I did when I was starting. When they call to tell me that they booked 10 new clients thanks to the services we provided is amazing!
The thing is I feel great when I hear about other people's successes. When I started out people used to tell me that I was creating a "wedding planner factory". But to me the only competition is myself... The only way I look at my business is by how many people I gave service to, rather than how many weddings I did. When you see life this way you don't feel you have competition. You should be paying attention to yourself and what you should do to improve!
ME: Every career profile I've made so far, has one thing in common: the person always has some type of vision board. Do you have one?
ZD: OMG this is the first time I talk about this! How embarrassing... I have a gratitude journal that I use as my own little magazine. I create these journals from magazine cut outs and I even create my own editor's letter with all the things that I want to accomplish and have accomplished.
I write everything good that is happening in my life as a way to program my brain to focus on positive things. This is the way I count my blessings. If you focus on these things you create more of the good things without even trying.
ME: What has been the most challenging situation you've had so far?
ZD: Keeping the right balance between being a mom and an entrepreneur. Since I love working so much, it makes it really hard, specially when he calls me out on it! When you're a mom it's like you automatically feel guilty for everything.
Even though society is so much more advanced now in which women work and accomplish their dreams, we have a huge pressure to be super moms!
ME: How do you find time to do everything you do: Wedding Planning, Life Coaching, Social Media and Blogging?
ZD: The key to success is being organized. In order to be a multi-tasker you need to be organized. I use the app gTasks, which is my life saver because it helps me prioritize my to-do lists. I try to go step by step. For example, instead of adding "Create a workshop" to my to-do list I just write "print out promotional items". That way I don't get overwhelmed.
There are no excuses... You have 24 hours a day, just like Beyoncé and JLo!
ME: What are your normal duties as a Wedding Planner?
ZD: First of all, we create a budget. Then we get to meet our clients before we start looking for vendors according to the size, look and feel. We specially love to know how they met in order to incorporate it in the wedding. It's very important for me to make weddings that are personalized and unique. Nothing cookie cutter or copy pasted.
ME: What has been the most significant moment in your career so far?
ZD: Actually, it's happening right now: Eventus is expanding outside of Puerto Rico! But I can't say where yet... Stay tuned!
ME: What advice would you give someone trying to make it as an event planner?
ZD: First of all, you need good branding. You will need to have the guts to be genuine and not copy others. Also don't compare your beginning with someone who has had many years of experience in the industry! Being authentic will be the key to your success.
ME: What are the rules of etiquette to work with your wedding planner?
ZD: Know that your wedding planner is a professional. There can only be one planner, not your mom and not you. You have to let it go and let us do our job without stress because we do weddings almost every weekend. And also be grateful! We'll be there with you for the entire process... Our job is very complex and some people can't see it... we can even be therapists and seamstresses!
Random Facts about Zahira:
- Favorite Scent: Gardenias
- Favorite Music: 80's and pop music
- Favorite Book: The Secret
- Favorite Way to Unwind: Daily Yoga
- Favorite Restaurant: East
- Favorite Social Media: Instagram
- Favorite Coffee Shop: Le Macaroon
- Favorite Drink: Addicted to Pepsi, but I'm in recovery!
- Favorite Home Decor Piece: Much more than a decor piece, it's having a good terrace. I need it for my daily 5:30AM yoga.
- Favorite Fashion Accessory: Shoes and big jewelry!
- What are you most proud of: My son
- Necessary Luxury: Traveling and doing my hair at the salon
- What's next on your bucket list: That Eventus continues to grow, to indulge in a 2 week vacation and to help more and more women feel empowered.
- Best Place you've ever visited: Madrid. I have great memories in Madrid dancing with my Flamenco team when I was a little girl.
So there you go! A little glimpse inside a (fabulous) wedding planner's life. If you are engaged and would love to receive advice right to your inbox, you can subscribe to Zahira's wedding newsletter here. But if you're a Creative Small Business Owner or you have or are planning on having a business in the Wedding Industry you can get tips on how to grow your business by subscribing to her newsletter here.
Hope you enjoyed!