"The biggest lesson I've learned while running my business is that you've got to trust your lucky stars," states Marian Fletcher, 55, who provides complete party-planning and catering services in the Baltimore area. "When you keep working hard toward making your dream come true, things have a special way of coming together when you least expect them to."
Fletcher speaks from experience. When she was first contacted to take part in this column, she figured it was all a joke--that nobody was really going to do a story about her business. All that changed the day one of our photographers showed up to complete a photo shoot, a day that Fletcher recalls as having been magical. "With help from my daughter, I prepared tons of food for the shoot," she says. "I wanted the photographer to get a true sense of the scope and level of preparation involved with an actual event. When it was over, we didn't know what to do with all the food, so that's the day I introduced my business to my community in a major way."
Following the photo shoot, Fletcher and her daughter spontaneously decided to hold an "open house" for influential members of their community. They contacted everyone they could think of who held prestigious positions in local businesses and community organizations and invited them to drop by between noon and 6 p.m. that day. The goal was to get them to sample Fletcher's food and learn all about her business, in the hope that they would become future clients.
"The event was a huge success. It was the first real opportunity for a range of people to find out what I was doing, and how well I was capable of doing it," Fletcher recalls. "I got a good deal of business as a result of that open house, which we'd organized primarily because we needed to do something with all that leftover food."
That day held more surprises in store for Fletcher. "It's also the day that I secured affordable rental space in a commercial cooking facility," she explains, "which I needed in order to operate my business on a more widespread basis." When the open house was over, Fletcher still had plenty of food remaining, so she called the local firehouse and offered to deliver it. Instead, two firefighters came to pick it up from her. "One of the firemen told me about a friend he knew who was looking to rent out some space, which was fully licensed by the Health Department and contained all of the equipment that I needed to operate my business on a grander scale," she says. "That very special day, my dream just started taking off faster than I ever thought it would."
Since then, Fletcher has planned and catered a myriad of important events in her community. Her favorite to date, however, was an awards ceremony recognizing the accomplishments of minorities. "Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, and a lot of other celebrities were there," Fletcher recalls, "and I had the chance to come into direct contact with each of them. I take pride in knowing that I was one of the key players who made that event such a success."
Let's Go Party LLC, 4531 Manorview Rd., Baltimore, MD 21229, (410) 624-0584.
Meg-A-Nut Inc., 1574 Buttitta Dr., Streamwood, IL 60107, (630) 837-2551.
Proudfoot Wearable Art, 1402 Bridgeport Ln., Alexandria, MN 56308, (320) 763-4904.