Christine Brower is the president & CEO of C. Brower & Co Creative Events, an award winning event design & production company based in New York City that specializes in corporate and social events. Christine has been a dear friend and colleague for over four years. She is extremely talented, truly genuine and the event designer extraordinaire.
Q: What is the C. Brower & Co. definition of event design?
For me personally, event design is very much like art. Often when I’m designing it’s like an artist with a blank canvas. You can take the smallest and most ordinary thought or idea, develop it, nurture it, and translate that idea into something very extraordinary and quite spectacular.
Design has been an extremely special and important part of my life, so when I’m designing an event for a client, I take it very seriously. I’ve been blessed with a gift that allows me the ability to translate the client’s vision and conceptualize it. There is nothing more gratifying than bringing an idea to life, and watching that client be WOW’d by it.
Q: What do you like best about creating design elements?
I definitely like the process itself best. I like the brainstorming of a small idea, allowing it to grow, and then running with it – developing that idea into something big and unexpected. And best of all, the challenge to now physically create that idea, and the process that’s involved in that.
Q: You have a production team to help build your designs, what do you look for in a production coordinator?
In a production coordinator, I look for the characteristics of someone who is detail oriented, highly organized, not afraid to take charge when needed, and someone who carries themselves calmly, and listens and evaluates a situation before they react. And most importantly, someone who can “see the forest for the trees.” In this business, you have to pay a lot of attention to the details, but you need to be able to still see the big picture.
Q:What is one rule of thumb when it comes to executing any type of design for an event?
I’ll actually give you three because I think these are very critical.
Rule #1 – Never let the client see you sweat! In the event world, anything that can go wrong will (like exploding vases –yes, that really happened on one event!), and you need to remain the picture of calm and composure in the face of adversity, think quick on your feet, be a problem solver and trouble shooter.
Rule #2 – No man stands alone! You can’t execute your designs for an event without a solid team of professionals behind you, and I’ve been very blessed to have amazing, talented and creative individuals be a part of the “Brower Power Design Team”! I can’t make the magic happen without my team.
Rule #3 – Communication is key! I saved the best for last. Communication is highly critical when executive design & production for an event. You need to make sure you are providing the proper information to your team in order for things to run smoothly, efficiently, and on-time. It’s important to share every last detail of the event, as well as what your and the client’s expectations are, so that your team has a true understanding of what their individual responsibilities are.
Q: We are moving into a social media and tech-centered era, how does this come into play with C. Brower & Co.?
I think social media is becoming a big part of marketing a business these days. We are part of generation of people who are always in a hurry, and want to hear what are the latest and greatest happenings, in 140 characters or less! People don’t have as much time as they used to, to hear a “pitch”, so social media can be used as a great tool, as you can instantly post pictures of an event you are working on, to facebook, twitter, linked-in and other social media platforms. People can see your latest work instantly, as opposed to having to wait for an email or until you post on your website or blog. We are also involved in a lot of group discussion pages on social media, and it’s really a great tool to gain more business, as oftentimes, colleagues posting in these platforms are looking for other vendors to work with.
Q: What was the most complicated design your team had to pull off?
I’d have to say the most complicated design we had was an event we had that was held in two locations on the same grounds area (the equivalent of three full city blocks away from each other), and décor was needed on both locations, as well as a showpiece made completely out of flowers (850 to be exact), that had to be moved from location 1 to location 2, all within a short window of time. Our team was broken into two groups, with half to set up décor on location 1 and the other half at location 2. We had a separate group of people to move the showpiece on a rolling cart as it weighed over 125 pounds. The showpiece needed to be assembled onsite at the first location, then disassembled and brought back to the second location, and reassembled onsite there, all within a 45 minute period of time. This was where Rule of Thumb #2 came in!
Q: I notice that you use a lot of hydrangeas for your events – which are my favorite, what are some of the other florals you like to use?
I do love hydrangeas because they are such a hearty, beautiful flower, but some of my favorite flowers to use in events are roses –there are so many different varieties and types of roses, and they each bloom out so differently from one another that they can create a really unique look. I also love to use orchids, again for the same reason just stated, there are so many beautiful and unusual varieties – there really is so much you can do with them. The possibilities are endless.
Q: What are three quick tips you can provide to create a simple and elegant table top on a tight budget?
Tip #1 – Props are your friend!
If you’re on a very tight budget, but still want to be able to impress your guests with a beautiful table top, there’s nothing more fun than having an interesting prop piece to use as your centerpiece. Designers have access to a lot of interesting specialty items and props that the average consumer can’t always purchase at a retail store –oftentimes these prop rentals are less expensive than purchasing a full floral arrangement from the designer. If you don’t have the budget to hire a designer, head over to your local Home Goods and find a unique lamp with a funky lampshade, or a candelabra. Accent with some votive candles or a table runner, and voila…you have an elegant tabletop.
Tip #2 – Don’t buy fake flowers!
There’s nothing that screams “I have a tight budget” more than using fake flowers. Many people don’t realize that they are actually spending more time and money putting together centerpieces using fake flowers than it would cost them to go to the corner store and buy a bouquet of real flowers. Head over to Michael’s Craft Store, (and don’t forget to bring your 50% off coupon), get yourself a cylinder vase for $10, head to the corner store and pick up a bouquet of mixed flowers for $20, pop them in the vase, and there you have a beautiful mixed floral arranged bouquet. Surround the bottom of the vase with groupings of votive candles and you just brought the arrangement to an even more elegant level.
Tip #3 – Never underestimate the power of fresh fruit!
I love, love, love the smell of a fresh cut lemon and I’m often inspired by its ever so bright and beautiful color. An easy and inexpensive way to create a great tabletop arrangement is to fill assorted size cylinder vases with a mixture of whole lemons, limes and oranges, or each vase with a single type of fruit. Set these vases atop a beautiful bright colored table runner. Accent with small glass bowls or small cube vases, filled with that same fruit cut into small slices. This way guests can taste the fruit it if they like. The bright colors, sweet aroma, and taste of the fresh cut fruit will surely stimulate all the senses!
To learn more about C. Brower & Co. Creative Events – visit http://cbrowerandco.com/.