This is not fair,” I thought to myself as I put my phone off. It was a customer. A dissatisfied customer. I felt bad. Little did I know that my boss had heard the exchange.
“I can’t afford to have you treat our customers like royalty,” he said angrily. “The customer is not always right.” I have watched you for some time, and I can’t work with you. You are more interested in pleasing the customer than being loyal to me. “You are fired!” Those three words shook me to my core. I felt completely downcast. I could not imagine that doing the right thing would end up this way.
Perhaps it was my youth, perhaps my naiveté, but I didn’t understand workplace politics and how to please my boss. I had just finished my National Service. Or maybe it was just that my zeal to explore and express myself creatively wasn’t being properly harnessed. I was the creative type, and there was so much I wanted to do that I couldn’t do working with someone, as they had their own set of philosophies and rules. It was frustrating.
Bryan Tachie-Menson, CEO, WHITECHALK Events Planning Company; tall, dark, with well-groomed hair and a beard; smiled appreciatively as he narrated to “The Birthday Journal” how he came to be in the event planning space, his experiences, skills, and lessons that have helped catapult him to the pinnacle of the industry.
When I lost the job, it made me wonder whether I was done with the industry, whether it was the end. However, I put myself together and got another job. I also took on side hustles in event planning. As time went on, I realised that I made more money from the side hustles than I did at my regular job. Moreover, I felt free to explore my creativity when I did my side jobs. It was this zeal to explore and express myself in what I call the “big world” that led me to establish “WHITECHALK Events Management Company.”
The task was herculean. The industry was competitive. It was very easy to give up on it. One not only had to be ambitious, creative, and innovative, but passion is also a necessary ingredient in the event planning space.
In trying to put myself back in the industry, the first thing I learnt was that indeed, “the customer is always right.”
In view of this, right from conceptualization to the execution of their events, WHITECHALK never underestimates or takes its clients for granted, whether they are big or small. We work with the client’s consent. If there is a need to add some touches to what they want in order to make their event more beautiful, we don’t hesitate to inform them. In fact, effective communication drives our business here at WHITECHALK; we are constantly updating clients with what we want to do and achieve to ensure it falls in line with their expectations.
Secondly, one cannot thrive in this industry if they are not conscientious and pay attention to details.
In view of this, we always ensure that we have clearly understood the client’s request. We always have our ears open to our clients by listening and communicating in a language they understand, even if we have to pay an interpreter to achieve this. And when there are limited resources or limited funds on the part of the customer to get a job done, we still find ways to communicate alternative options in order to get the job done. “At the end of the day, we need to get the work done.”
Another thing we have done is stay courageous in the face of our competitors, especially with regard to building our brand.
Brand identity is one of the things that has driven us to the top. Brand identity includes your style and creativity. This gives you an identity. From the beginning, be sure of what you seek to achieve and where you want to be, then brand yourself as such. This is how I incorporate our brand’s identity into my event styling.
Yet another tip for staying relevant in this industry is flexibility.
Be willing to adapt to changes. Learn and practise new things constantly. Event planning takes a lot of time and creativity, so there must be constant learning and practising of the talent. There must be a constant search for inspiration and a quest to outdo ourselves every day.
One lesson we learned in flexibility was learning to incorporate cultural elements when required.
Cultural elements are vital when it comes to event planning. WHITECHALK believes the best way to incorporate such elements into your designs is to learn about them and relate to them. There is no need to overlook or downplay certain cultural elements, for they are in line with the client’s beliefs, which are paramount to the event at hand. The best way to deal with it is to do research, network, and get to know people and their cultures. This helps a lot.”
Another thing that has shot us to the top of this industry is our fearlessness when it comes to setting trends.
When it comes to trends, WHITECHALK is a pacesetter. I recall setting a mania four years ago that swept the country. Never be afraid to set trends on your own; do not downplay your ability to create. Be bold and believe in your craft; that is the only thing that will help you make a difference.
Fear NOT! Don’t be afraid to teach your workers the trade. Be willing to give them room to explore themselves.
Don’t be afraid to share knowledge with your competitors and your vendors. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with others in the industry. It goes a long way towards growing your business. Be humble to ask for help if you want to do well in the event planning space.
Resilience is another necessary attribute in his industry. The industry is fraught with challenges.
Always anticipate and make provisions for last-minute challenges. You can’t give up on your client at the last minute. We have had to learn the hard way with all the obstacles coming our way in the event planning industry. Planning and executing events are never void of “last minute” issues, even with the best planning and time management. “Always communicate with clients to make them understand whether you can meet the deadline or not, and be honest with them.”
Also, you must be willing to learn from your mistakes.
I recall an incident where the Kempinski Hotel almost caught fire during an elaborate setup. This one incident made us re-evaluate our standard operating procedures to include and adopt stringent safety practices.
Lastly, be persistent and disciplined if you want to be one of the drivers of this industry.
Make provisions for general challenges. Persist! Persist! And persist! Challenges are inevitable when it comes to event planning. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are facing challenges and cannot fathom a design. Do not feel too big to ask for what you do not know. Moreover, pay people and collaborate with them to get the job. Don’t give up when the challenges come.
In concluding the discourse, Bryan says, “So you see, ten years ago, I was down and almost out of the industry.” It was kind of dark and gloomy. However, in the past decade, through God’s grace, hard work, and not giving up, we have exerted a formidable presence in Ghana’s events planning space and have achieved an amazing feat of productivity and accomplishment therein. We have won top international awards in the process and are on the Power List of DWP’s “100 sought-after wedding planners in the world.”
Born into a family of seven and bred in Accra, Bryan is a proud and devoted Christian. A product of Mfantsipim School, he earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Ghana.
Bryan is not only the Chief Executive Officer of WHITECHALK, but he also owns and manages a production company known as MAGIC HOUSE.