When a pandemic threatens your livelihood, what’s an event production company to do? In one business’s case, you enlist your core values and your community to help you figure out how to survive and adapt.
The Good Party Creative Planning + Production is an event planning and design company based in Victoria, B.C. As a company that hosts in-person, often large-scale events – upwards of 75 per year – Founder Emma McCormick had some major pivoting to do through COVID-19. That involved looking inward – drawing upon her years of experience to create memorable and exciting celebrations for her customers who still needed her talent – and outward, to how she could support the community that supports her.
We spoke with Emma about how The Good Party has adapted throughout the pandemic and her thoughts on the experience.
Q & A with Emma, Founder of the Good Party
What made you decide to start The Good Party?
I started this company just over five years ago when I was working as a youth counselor at a local secondary school. With a background in social work and child & youth care, I had been working in the human services field from the time I left high school and truly was just ready for a break. I was pretty burnt out from almost 10 years in the human services field and was starting to realize that my summer passion project of party planning and crafting was morphing into something that I might be able to make a living out of.
What kind of impact has The Good Party had on the community?
We love local and have a local first motto when working with our event hosts, clients, and couples. There are so many amazing suppliers and gifted vendors on Vancouver Island and because of this, we always encourage our clients to choose to support local business whenever possible when planning their event. Because of this focus and philosophy, we have had the opportunity to work with and support many many local businesses, suppliers, and vendors over the past five years. By supporting local companies, we help keep business here on the island for Vancouver Island based vendors and in turn, our often recommended by these local suppliers when they are asked who they recommend for event planning, design, and production services. It’s a win-win and something we are very proud of!
What has changed for your business because of COVID-19?
Covid-19 brought our business to a stand-still almost immediately. Being in the business of gathering people together for celebrations and gatherings has proved incredibly challenging, and sometimes simply impossible, during this time. Back in March, we watched almost all of our corporate clients for the spring of 2020 cancel completely. These were mostly conferences, galas, creative installations, and launches. By the end of March, we were already well into postponing almost all of our spring and summer 2020 wedding clients. In the end, we have helped more than 40 of our 65 clients postpone their weddings to 2021 (in the hope that gatherings will look a lot different by then).
There have been lots of tears and a feeling that it will be impossible to come back from this, however what we are starting to see is that no matter what, people still want to celebrate. As our event projects ground to a halt in March, our balloon installations picked up in a way they never had before. Many businesses and individuals ordered balloon installations from us to surprise their loved ones and these orders kept a few of our team members busy throughout April and May. As restrictions were lifted in May and June, our clients and customers continued to support our balloon installations while also bringing us on board to plan and design smaller backyard celebrations like birthdays, drive by bridal showers, and graduations. It’s work that typically we never would have been asked to be involved in, but because of it, it’s felt that we’ve become more connected to our community than before!
How did you pivot your business?
The weddings and events we are working on now are unique for us in their intimate sizes. Over the past two and a half months we’ve been a part of elopements of just two people, intimate birthday celebrations, and micro weddings of less than 15 guests. We’ve pushed ourselves to be creative in how we work with clients who still want to go ahead and have found ourselves in some pretty unique places and situations; from a mountain top witnessing a marriage to organizing a drive-in style wedding ceremony at the Saanich Fairgrounds. Over the next two months, we will be a part of over a dozen celebrations, ranging from micro ceremonies to larger social distanced wedding celebrations of just under 50 guests.
We’ve also taken on some larger corporate projects we would have never had the opportunity to be a part of before and that has opened my eyes, and the eyes of our team members, to how we can utilize and market our transferable skills in the months ahead while we wait for gatherings and celebrations to start to look more like they used to.
What has kept you inspired and motivated through the pandemic?
Our community. The wedding and event community on Vancouver Island is proving to be incredibly resilient and in the darkest days of staying home, it still felt as though we were all connected. We cheered our peers on as we watched florists switch from event-based projects to weekly home flower subscriptions, favourite catering teams flip over to to-go meals, and a craft cocktail company start bottling their delicious syrups to bring their signature sips curbside. It was inspiring to see our friends and colleagues figure out how to get creative to keep their staff on and continue to keep their products in their customers hands.
I don’t think the struggles of our industry are over by any means and I know the already incredibly quiet “off-season” is going to be challenging for many of us. I’m hopeful that the creativity and ability to shift services will continue over the fall and winter months and that together our industry can continue to inspire and motivate each other.
What would you love to tell all of your customers right now?
We are so grateful for the support, kindness, grace, and empathy that our couples and clients have shown our team and the company this year. Being an event planner during a pandemic is not ideal and our clients have been so supportive and trusting of our team throughout this entire process. With the changing restrictions around gatherings, in some cases, we’ve had the opportunity to be one of the few people who gets to spend the most important days of our couple’s lives with them. We are so grateful to be trusted and included in helping execute their wedding days, even when it’s not what we all imagined when we started planning months ago.
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