Updated: Nov 2, 2020
Kim Steward is the founder of Norma Eve Creations. Norma Eve Creations is a different event planning business based in Taunton, Massachusetts. They specialize in helping the creative Do-It-Yourself person when they are missing that final step to make their visions and creativity into reality. Norma Eve provides decorations, if needed, creative concepts to someone in need of ideas, some rental items and day of event planning. Kim has been helping friends and family with event ideas and decorations for years, transforming both indoor and outdoor venues with customized flair. To enhance her natural, raw talents, Kim has taken a variety of courses. The official business was started in 2019, after friends finally convinced Kim that the business was something she should pursue. I’m so glad they did! Norma Eve Creations is a Queen’s Day partner and an ongoing small business affiliate of Nilanjo Fashion Ent.
Kim, Tell me your story:
How did you get started? And what is your “Why”?
KS: I don’t know if every mother gets to this point… In 2008 I felt stuck. My son was growing up and wanted to spend less time with me and my husband had his work and hobbies. (My husband is Alfred Steward, one of Nilanjo’s favorite DJs.) I needed something to do. I started taking cake decorating courses at the local craft store. At the time I worked as a preschool teacher. One day a parent came to the school to pick up her child. She was talking all week about the Princess Tiana birthday party she was having for her daughter and how she made all the decorations by herself. That day, she seemed a little quiet. As all teachers do, I started the usual small talk. “How were the party preparations going?” Since she was so eager to discuss them before. She looked at me and started in on the cake. How it just wasn’t coming out how she planned, and it was too late to order one. I asked her if she would like some help. She agreed and the next morning she bought EVERYTHING she had for the cake. She politely said, “thank you and if it doesn’t work out it would be ok at least you tried.” Two days later I brought the cake to the school and placed it on top of her daughter’s cubby. She loved it so much she cried. The parents of my students saw the cake and that school year I made cakes for most of my students.
I started getting less cake requests and more decorating request. My friends and family started to come up with non -traditional ideas for events and I loved every idea. With friends and family like mine, they have friends and family that are equally creative. By word of mouth, that’s how I got started.
What is your level of training?
KS: I am one of those people that if I see it or draw it, I can most likely make it. I always had that creative gene in me, it runs in my family. I went to Massasoit Community College and have an Event Planning Certificate in 2018. The same year I went to Quincy College and received my Wedding Planning Certificate. Last year I wanted to add another skill to my list and went to Rittners School of Floral Design where I received a certificate in Floral Design and Floral Business Skills.
Event planning is a high-pressure job that requires a level-head and the ability to stay client centric during stressful situations. What do you do when you are feeling stressed?
There’s many instances where an event planner will get stressed. Whether it’s trying to figure out what a client wants, a decoration that does not come out right, or time tasking. I usually take my time. Clients know what they want. Taking my time to try to figure out their vision or coming up with some type of compromise helps reduce the stress between the both of us. When a decoration is giving me trouble, I walk away from it. I set it aside and work on something else. My stressfulness will only make things worse.
How do you prioritize your time? What organizational tools do you use? Do you have a team to which you delegate tasks?
KS: Personally, I feel this is my biggest problem. Juggling a full- time career, family, friends and starting a business that constantly keeps you busy, even after the events takes up a lot of time. I try to schedule an hour or two every day to focus on my business. I use the calendar on my cellphone where I set deadlines to get things finished. The notifications keep me on target. If I get a task done earlier than expected I treat myself with things like watching a good movie or reading a book. My son helps me a lot with decorations. I love the time we spend together. He is creative, has good decoration ideas and always willing to help. He helps me with making decorations, setting up and breaking down and reminds me to be silly at times. My husband also helps when he can. As he puts it, He’s the muscle and I’m the brains. They are my support team more than they know.
How do you incorporate social media in your marketing, planning and promotion plan? Do you find it to be effective? Are there limitations?
KS: I use social media more for promotional purposes. My main focus is to get my brand out there. In event planning it is hard to stand out. When it comes to planning, I use social media for my private events. I enjoy producing events where guests can come and enjoy thinking and being out of the box. I enjoy cosplay and social media helps my guests plan their costumes and prepare for the activities during the events. Social media helps connect to other event outlets such as Eventbrite to help broaden your clientele. I have a few issues with social media. One is keeping your brand as your brand. Many people steal ideas and pictures of your work and claim it as their own. Another issue are types of social medias and what they post and how they share other people’s posts.
What are your strategies for dealing with irate or difficult clients? Please share an example and what was the result?
KS: My major strategy for dealing with clients is to try to get as much information from them as possible and keeping them within their budget. One social media outlet is Pinterest. Clients will go on Pinterest and will have beautiful pictures of what they want. Here’s the problem with Pinterest, most of the time the original designer is not posting their designs on Pinterest and therefore there’s no price. It’s hard to tell them how much their design is actually going to cost when they are on a budget. They say the same thing, “but I saw it on Pinterest.” Yes, and there’s no price for the items needed. I, then, will have to break the price down for each item, which is time consuming. The next part of the conversation is all about what I can do without to give them what they want and keep the price down. I will ask them to keep looking and see if there are other decorations that are similar. I give them the websites that I use to order my items from and tell them to keep in mind the sizes they are looking for.
Spur of the moment changes and unexpected circumstances happen, like inclement weather, changes to guest lists, venue complications. How do you deal with a last-minute change or unexpected situation?
KS: I believe in being proactive rather than reactive. Anything can happen, I always carry back-ups to back-ups. I have a case where I keep everything I will need to help, like a designer first aid kit. I keep in constant contact with venues or ask my clients to keep contact with the venue in case of any last-minute changes.
Describe an experience that didn’t have the results you aimed for. What happened and what did you learn?
KS: Last year, I threw a private event to launch my business. I made all the decorations, double checked everything and was ready. I have decorated this venue for other events before, so I thought I knew the area I was working with. Setting up for my event I realized that the venue was bigger than I thought. My decorations were nice, but they got lost in the size of the room. I decided to work on smaller size events to give them a personal touch.
How do you stay motivated when things don’t go as planned?
KS: My family plays a major role in motivating me when things don’t go as planned. They remind me that there’s a reason for everything and how you rise to the challenge is what really matters most.
What are some of the ways you measure event success? Describe your most successful event planning experience. What did you do that made it so successful?
KS: I never measure my success. If the client is happy and their guests had a good time that is the only thing that matters to me. I measure my talents. I try to challenge myself with my designs and when I see it all come together and the support that got me through, its unmeasurable
To learn more or for bookings, you can contact Kim and Norma Eve Creations:
FACEBOOK PAGE: Facebook.com/Norma Eves