L+A: What would you say is your favorite project that you've worked on?
As a director my team and I work together to create events and fun activities for the members to be apart of My favorite event is the black tie charity event themed " A Night in Paris'. We have live music, beautiful decorations, great food, and of course the members coming together to celebrate a good cause..
L+A: Where do you go for inspiration?
Social media and pinterest are a few of the avenues I utilize for inspiration. There are so many things that can be turned into fun ideas and themes. Another inspiration for me is my vision board where I pin all my ideas and inspirational pictures that I turn into real life events, also things I dreamt about once upon a time...
L+A: What would you say is the most challenging part of your career?
Managing and working with people. In this business, like many others, you're dealing with many personalities and types of people - i've had to learn how to effectively work around that and utilize their strengths.
“When you believe in YOURSELF and all that you are. Know that there is something inside of you GREATER than any obstacle.”
L+A: Name a difficult situation you've been in and how did you deal with it.
It was at my previous country club, we were doing an event around the holiday time, and the members were saying Merry Christmas to everyone and once they came to me they said “Happy Kwanza”. I was livid, but I had to keep my composure and let that fly because at the end of the day this was my job and I had to be professional.
“You really have to trust that an ending is followed by a beginning”
Also at this country club, that was established in 1961 - I was the first African American in management. I had another incident around the time that Donald trump was campaigning - a majority of the memebers would walk around with "make america great again" caps. I over heard one of the members say "so what are we going to do with Shonda? She's good to look at but shes black" that of course, was also very challenging to deal with because I needed my job and the anxiety of coming to work because I didn't know if it would be my last day. Being a woman in the hospitality industry it's very male dominated, especially at the management level, so you have to be very strong. I truly believe that when you're confident in your capabilites things begin to roll off your back easier because people will say things, or treat you a certain way to try an break you based on their insecurities within themselves.
L+A: In a male dominanted industry how do you stay focused and driven.
What keeps me focused and driven is when I put together an event that has exceeded my clients expectations and they are happy. To me that makes everything worthwhile and fuels me to keep going.
L+A: What would be a dream project?
My dream project would be to have my personal business 4 Any Occasion Catering 100% off the ground and thriving. I do something everyday towards building my brand. You can always find me networking, spreading the word about my company and what we do.
“Create a vision for yourself. You become what you believe”
L+A: Do you have specific events that you'd personally love to work on?
I would absolutely love to do more black tie and charity events. That's the direction I would like to take my business in the future. There is nothing better than seeing individuals come together and/or helping a cause.
L+A: What's the hardest decision you've made over the years?
To stop my career as a nurse and follow my passion, because that was stability for me and my family, but it wasn’t my passion - I felt as though I wasn’t working in my purpose. Working as a nurse helped me build my self confidence in working with others but I knew I couldnt stay in this field. Once I took that leap of faith and left my steady income to follow my dream everything took off for me - although it was tough it was well worth taking that chance. I haven't looked back.
L+A: What would you tell your 15 year old self?
Whatever dream you have brewing inside of you - stay focus and don't let anyone deter you from your dreams. Take time for yourself and let everything fall into place.
“To be successful you have to chase your passion not a paycheck”
L+A: What's the best advice you've recieved from a woman?
To never give up - believe in yourself. What's for you will be for you, no one can take that away from you. Words that I live by.