Event Lab, a Minneapolis-based event company, is celebrating 25 years of planning and managing successful events. From weddings and galas to corporate events and conferences, they’ve seen it all and made every occasion memorable. And things are only looking up.
Founder and Vice President Becky Harris shares her experience of growing from a startup in a relatively new industry to the successful endeavor Event Lab has become, how the industry has changed, and the company’s vision for the future.
The Start of Something Big
Q: How did Event Lab get started?
A: I started Event Lab from my home office in 1994. Back then, very little was known about hiring an event professional to produce events, but I saw a real need and wanted to help fill a gap I saw in the market.
When the company grew to where seven people were coming to my house each day working in a cramped office and a spare bedroom, it was time to move into a business office.
Q: Did you continue to run any aspects of the business out of your home as the company grew?
A: Yes, actually. I used my home for storage. With each event, you have leftover inventory that has to be stored. But when we couldn’t fit the family cars in the garage anymore, it was time to get a warehouse as well!
Q: How has the company grown from its humble beginnings to the present?
A: We now have a big office/warehouse with 20+ full-time employees and a long list of part-time event staff.
In the early days, everyone in the office did everything from writing proposals, to loading and unloading trucks, to setting up and taking down events at all hours of the night. Now we have event specialists who propose and plan, coordinators that project manage, a warehouse crew and staffing coordinator, and event staff.
In 2006, Jack Noble purchased majority ownership of the company and is leading us into the future as president. Our sales continue to grow year after year, and the future looks great with the growth of the Twin Cities.
An Evolving Industry
Q: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in this industry since Event Lab started?
A: When Event Lab started there were only a couple of event planning professionals in the Twin Cities. Now, the profession is recognized; event professionals are no longer referred to as “party planners” (the dreaded moniker).
Q: How has Event Lab evolved as the industry has grown?
A: Event design and planning is an ever-evolving industry as a whole, and it’s important to stay current with the trends.
The best sources for ideas used to be from catalogs that sold décor for proms. Now we look at many industries for inspiration, from home décor to Pantone (color of the year), travel, magazines, and more.
When Event Lab first started, the internet was still in its infancy. Now we have immediate access to images from events from all over the world. Our inspiration is cast in a wider net.
Q: How else did the explosion of the internet help Event Lab to grow?
A: It helped in a multitude of ways. You can find anything you need on the internet.
Back then décor was limited as well as resources. Wholesale florists were the only place to find party supplies. Rental houses only had polyester linens in a few colors.
Today, we purchase furniture (unheard of before), containers from world-wide sources, linens from myriad wholesalers in a variety of fabrics from poly to woven to sequin. We now custom build anything we want specifically for a client.
Plans for the Future
Q: What are the biggest goals for Event Lab going forward?
A: First and foremost, it’s to give the best value and service to each and every client. That’s always been our number one goal, and it won’t ever change.
We want to be the creative source for events in the Twin Cities, bringing fresh ideas and individualized experiences that are on-trend or ahead of the trend.
As part of our strategy to reach these goals, we’ve set a goal to steadily grow our inventory and staff so we can continue to meet demand.
Q: What do you love most about this industry?
A: I love the industry because it’s a creative industry, and it’s never the same day twice; it engages all your senses. I love working at Event Lab specifically because over the years I’ve had the good fortune of working with great people in my office, whom I consider my second family, and with wonderful vendors and clients.
Q: Any parting thoughts?
A: The future of this industry and Event Lab both look bright, and we’re all excited on the Event Lab team to see where it takes us next.