Posted by TFOCB Studios on May 24, 2022 8:00:00 AM
On our inaugural episode, Tionna Van Gundy joins us to share her journey into the event planning industry and how she, at the time it was held, produced the largest event in the midwest - during the pandemic of 2020. The Founder and CEO of a wedding planning company [Wedicity] and corporate and non-profit events planning business [Fueled Events], she discusses leaving the comforts of corporate life to pursue her own business - and the lessons learned along the way.
Right out of high school, as most kids are struggling to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives, it was Tionna’s mom who’d encourage her to pursue a career in Event Management. Not knowing one could make a career out of planning events, Tionna’s passion for planning parties started at a time when most kids are still playing with toys.
“I made business cards on word or whatever and they had a Mickey mouse logo. He was holding balloons and it had my name and it was like ‘Party Time Planners.’ It was just printed on basic paper, but I put them on all my neighbors' doors and I thought I was going to be the next biggest party planner in the neighborhood for all the kids' parties.”
Eager to learn the wedding industry, Tionna started reaching out to different wedding planners where she lived, at the time, in Columbus, Ohio. Already certified as a wedding planner, she was fortunate to connect with a woman, who owned various businesses in the same industry, that would become her mentor. Leveraging her experience, she accepted a position with Marriott that would take her to Chicago.
After five years with Marriott, Tionna admits feeling hindered by the amount of red tape she needed to go through to make any type of change. It was then she made the decision to work for a smaller hospitality group in the heart of downtown Chicago.
“I went to a small restaurant group, Kinzie Chophouse and worked with that company for quite a while. It was an amazing role for me, as well. I worked for someone who also became a good mentor to me. She was a great business owner. I learned a lot, from that role and that job, and was able to really move up quickly. Because it was a small company, she let me really run within my positions.”
With a newfound appreciation for small business culture, made the leap from employee to employer and started Wedicity. Yet, what she, and others in the industry, could never anticipate would be the pandemic that’d forever change the face of events globally.
Tune in to hear how Tionna found a way to not only throw the largest, in-person event in the midwest, during the pandemic; but also created an entirely new business out of it.