Everyone loves a good party, but honestly, who has the time (or the inspiration) to put one together? Enter CeCe Smith, whose event planning service, Ideas by CeCe, promises to take any party from ordinary to extraordinary.
Adventures in Entrepreneurship
CeCe’s friends and family members were constantly coming to her for help with party favors and games. She realized she has a real talent for party planning and began to scheme about how to monetize her skills. She had a dream but didn’t quite know where to start, so she began taking courses at Ventures, where she learned how to create a business plan and how to price her services. “I finally understood that people can’t come to me for help with their parties without paying me for what I was doing,” CeCe says, “I needed to understand my worth.”
The business started out in 2016 as a storefront in Rainier Beach, but CeCe quickly learned that a brick and mortar shop wasn’t working for the type of services she was offering. She closed her storefront, but the business continued to grow through word of mouth and bookings on her website. “The business evolved over time,” she says. “Each year I learned something new. You always need to learn new things, especially new skills.”
The Power of Community
CeCe’s community and support system in the Seattle area have helped her make new business connections to support her growth. “The community is the whole reason I do parties,” she says. “People do a really good job at making sure I’m connected to opportunities that are available. A lot of my networking comes from these people.”
One of these communities is her “sorority”—a group of Black women she’s incredibly close to that have been invaluable for her to evaluate new ideas. “Recently I ran a personalized Jeopardy game for my sorority. After I ran it, I tweaked the game and tried it again. It worked much better after that. Testing things in this way has been a big help to the business.”
New Skills As Self-Care
CeCe has a rule for herself: “Each year I try to take 2-3 courses, to either refine a skill I already have or to learn a new skill.” Last year CeCe learned how to make balloon centerpieces that she could showcase at graduations, weddings, and birthday parties. However, with the arrival of COVID, many events were cancelled. This left CeCe on the hunt for new ideas. “I’ve been showing people how to have COVID-safe parties with Zoom and drive-thrus. I’ve made personalized hand sanitizers, masks, t-shirts, and candies to hand-out to party guests.”
CeCe considers these classes to be part of her self-care regimen. “I was supposed to learn how to become a ‘blingologist’ in Charlotte, NC when COVID hit, so I took the class online and picked up the skill very well. I learned how to bling cups and have become a member of the Bling and Sip community. I’m now preparing to teach people how to bling their own objects as part of my party services. It’s very fun.”
Recommendations from CeCe
"The workouts to rap music get people motivated and moving! Available outdoors."
"They do their research on what is natural and focus on skin and hair. The purity of products is important to them. Great experienced team, they are a triple threat!"
"I am their number one fan. The work they do in the community is real and they give youth an opportunity to become entrepreneurs. They teach these kids that they are worth something. So great!"
"Mother and daughter team that makes amazing Soul food! Excellent food and excellent service. Located right in the heart of Columbia City."
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