Toronto’s Alicia Jenelle Events launched in 2012 and continues to be an event production and creative design firm focused on constructing unique memories for local brands and businesses. On March 8, 2019 –International Women’s Day (IWD) – we’re excited to share a Q&A with Alicia Jenelle, Creative Director and Lead Events Manager, in connection with the company’s second annual IWD style shoot.
On February 15, 2019, an all women team of event producers and vendors came together to foster an empowering experience for five diverse women-identifying creators and business-owners in Toronto, commemorating IWD’s 2019 theme –#BalanceforBettter.
#BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the globe, encouraging everyone to acknowledge the part we play in enhancing intersectional feminism and celebrating the presence of stability, while also recognizing the necessary improvements, as well as current gaps in gender equity. In other words: We’ve accomplished so much, but we’re not done!
A press release sharing news of Alicia Jenelle Events’ second annual style shoot states:
“According to theWorld Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, it will take over 200-years to achieve equal pay. Statistics Canada reports that women are paid 87 cents for every dollar a man makes, for the same job. Thus, it is critical to talk about and celebrate the work women do, while also challenging politicians and senior leadership teams in all industries to eliminate the gender pay gap, working to ultimately achieve gender balance.”
Read our full interview with Alicia, now, and learn more about her journey as a business owner and storyteller, as well as what the lead up to style shoot number two was like:
1. You work on lifestyle events, weddings, corporate events and even a podcast. Was event production and curation something you always wanted to explore?
I always wanted to be in a field where purposeful creativity is at the forefront, because this ensures an opportunity to bring about important messaging in a subtle, yet fun manner. After I graduated from Seneca College at York University’sCommunication Arts, Associate’s Degree program in 2011, I developed a strong love for events and the impact they have on bringing people together.
2. In 2018, your podcast, Creative Chaos, launched into the airwaves. This marks your first time producing and hosting something like this. What has been the most exhilarating, while also, perhaps, nerve-wracking, component of this venture?
Hearing myself talk. It’s the weirdest thing. My goal with Creative Chaos is to share knowledge – knowledge that isn’t always easily attainable in the creative world, like the hardships around owning a small business or creating art. You know, the things we don’t see often enough on Instagram. Still, as much as it is weird to hear myself, I’m excited that the podcast is answering questions many creatives, like me, about the ebbs and flows of making something.
3. Before Alicia Jenelle Events launched, who, or what, did you consult to gain insight into the world of creative entrepreneurialism?
The Communications Arts program via Seneca at York really led me to gain a wholesome view of working as a creative. I’m also a big advocate for mutual mentoring. I recently had the opportunity to meet and chat with one of my favourite women-identifying brand leaders –Melissa Andre, a luxury wedding and event planner based in Toronto and Los Angeles. Connecting with her was an amazing experience. I encourage everyone reading this to reach out to at least one person who empowers them this month and ask to connect.
4. How have you grown, personally and professionally, since you began your journey?
I’ve become more self-aware, and as such, my understanding of my individual impact, and how it impacts those around me, or those who follow me, has also grown. Secondly, I act with so much more intention than I used to. I take more time to analyze the long-term impact of an action before I motion something into practice.
5. March 8, 2019 is a remarkable day in many cases. For you, it marks the second annual Alicia Jenelle Events IWD style shoot. Congratulations! What is the significance of the photos and stories that have been shared in connection with IWD and the #BalanceforBetter theme?
The photos, and the experiences, we produced and curated for IWD 2019 are representations of diverse, successful women-identifying people in Toronto. All the women who united at our style shoot, in the name of #BalanceforBetter, are uniquely successful – and it’s important to highlight that each participant has a different definition of that term.
My goal was to empower fellow creatives and entrepreneurs, to encourage us to reduce the amount of times we second guess ourselves and limit access to our credible and valued expertise. I wanted this style shoot to also be an opportunity for us to analyze why we aren’t taking critical risks that could advance our career – and take control of our part of that equation. We may not be able to control how others act, but we can take hold of how we do and educate partners and colleagues. Tough conversations are needed, and so are tough actions!
My hope is that by seeing other strong women who’ve taken risks, learned and succeeded, other women will feel empowered to take risks, too, and share their experiences with people in their networks and social circles.
6. Who are the people you’ve chosen to commemorate through photography this year? Why is it important to share their stories and amplify their voices?
Sasha Exeter, lifestyle influencer and founder of blog So Sasha, featuring daily musings alongside fashion, beauty, fitness, food, art, design, health and wellness tips.
Toronto Shay, lifestyle influencer providing inspiration for city moms and their children, as seen in InStyle Magazine and Who What Wear.
Danielle Andrews, President and Co-Founder of The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, an organization offering the most comprehensive, respected and modern wedding planner course available, with over 8,000 alumni.
Meghan Yuri Young, Founder of The Sad Collective, Breakfast Television Toronto Correspondent and Committee Member with the Art Gallery of Ontario and Apathy is Boring.
Jacyln Genovese, CEO at Jacflash, a full-scope luxury firm, offering architectural planning, merchandising and interior design.
I remain captivated by the opportunity I had to work with these women and support content curation that represented their stories, as defined by them. Each story shared and captivated through our 2019 style shoot will resonate with many audiences – and representation is critical.
7. After you finalized the guest list for your style shoot, what were your next steps to ensure everyone involved has a positive, rewarding experience?
In addition to bringing awareness to the #BalanceforBetter theme, I also wanted everyone to have fun in a safe and positive environment. I made sure we had some delicious treats byM.PIRE Designs and a bomb women empowerment playlist. Each participant had the opportunity to select the clothes and jewelry with which they most identified. They also had their hair and makeup done by local women-identifying professionals.
The most empowering part is that participants shared experiences and insights with one another, throughout. This knowledge-sharing component of the style shoot is always extremely powerful.
We honestly had a blast and everyone had the chance to celebrate what it means to be a woman – however they choose to describe and identify with that term.
8. What do you hope your IWD style shoot teaches other creative small businesses? What has it taught you?
I hope the shoot reminds fellow creatives that they have a voice! This experience has taught me the importance of leveraging my own network and platform for a cause, bigger than me, with extensive, positive impact.
9. In 2018, you produced an IWD style shoot for the very first time. How did the lead up and execution change or enhance, the second time around?
We enhanced this experience by keeping it in line with IWD’s official 2019 theme, #BalanceforBetter, and changing the design (the look and feel) of the products (images). Nothing good stays the same.
Also in 2019, we donated outfits post-event toDress for Success Toronto.
10. Why is it important for you to ensure Alicia Jenelle Events is working with local, diverse organizations?
It’s important because that’s who we are. We wouldn’t be successful without our diverse collaborators, vendors, partners and supporters. We’re not diverse to tick a box!
11. Will there be a third annual IWD style shoot in 2020? If yes, what do you hope to implement to enhance experiences and further incorporate inclusion and diversity?
You bet there will be! I want to go bigger. You’ll just have to stay tuned to see what we create.
12. What is an example of a piece of advice you were given about the IWD style shoot that you didn’t take? Why didn’t you take it?
Have more than five women partake. As much as I would love to do that, I think it’s important to focus on key, attainable goals that support Alicia Jenelle Events’ mandate, and the visions of style shoot participants. Each woman has a story to share, and I don’t want to take away from the strength of that quality, by focusing on quantity.
Yes, all people have an important story and I endorse that with every part of me, but I also respect the need for logistical limits, and the understanding of continuous opportunities for growth.
13. Where did you host the 2019 style shoot? How did the space further support your mission and vision?
We hosted the shoot atThe Globe and Mail Event Centre. A stunning location with floor to ceiling city views. They donated their time and space to the cause, too. Thank you, Globe and Mail.
14. Who are the key partners you’ve collaborated with for the 2019 style shoot?
Everyone involved in the shoot played a vital part of its success. Here’s a list of everyone who helped make our second annual IWD style shoot happen:
Balloon Designer: We Balloonz; Creative Director: Alicia Jenelle Events; Catering: M.PIRE Designs; Designers: Hilary MacMillan, Lovesland, Shelli Oh, Stylish Apparel Co., Narces and Valencienne; Fashion Stylist: Renna Reddie; Fashion Stylist for Danielle Andrews: Annika Reid and Renna Reddie; Floral Designer: BLUUMBLVD; Graphics and Stationery Designer: Castlefield Design; Hair Stylist: Covet Co.; Jewellery Designers: The Loved One and Marie Copps; Makeup Artists: Cassandra Campbell Beauty ;Makeup Artist for Toronto Shay: Sher Beauty; Photographer: Alicia Campbell Photography; Venue: The Globe and Mail Centre; and Videographer:SDE Weddings.
15. For aspiring, or current, event professionals reading this interview, what advice do you have for them about the industry, based on your expertise?
Network, network, network. You’d be surprised how supportive people are. You will never lose when you develop key partnerships and someone good has your back!
16. Alicia Jenelle Events is very active on social media, Instagram specifically. How has Instagram helped elevate your brand and connect you with other like-minded people, and even potential customers?
Instagram has helped me build several quality relationships. I’ve met many industry friends from the platform and I don’t know what I’d do without it.
I do my best to reply to comments and have meaningful interactions with people.
It’s easy to get caught up and waist a bunch of time on the ‘gram, I know, so I now use the Instagram activity tracker timer, which advises users when they have hit their predetermined time limit. It’s like an alarm, with boundaries, for social media.
17. What are you looking forward to most about the remainder of 2019?
New projects, and relaxation time. I’ve made it a point to spend a lot of time with myself and my family this year. There’s nothing more important.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Alicia, and for commemorating IWD by sharing experiences of five women-identifying creators through photography, emphasizing the importance of #BalanceforBetter.
When sharing your IWD experiences, use the hashtag, #BalanceforBetter, to join the conversation on social media. But, don’t stop there! Together, we can enhance standards for inclusion and engagement, throughout all environments, and not just for 24-hours.
Equity cannot be achieved through a sparkly hashtag. Consistently ask tough questions, demand equal access to opportunity for all genders and amplify voices in a way you find most comfortable.
The feature photo is by Rhythm Photography.