Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Victtoria Howland.
Alex, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
About seven years ago, I landed my dream job as an event coordinator at a publishing group in Little Rock, Arkansas. I knew from that moment on that I would be planning events in some capacity for the foreseeable future. I loved every moment of that job.
I started out as a coordinator, the lowest rung on the ladder. And quickly rose to management. I was dedicated and strategic and developed some amazing negotiating tactics from my male mentors. This was critical at the time because I knew that if I wanted a leadership role I had to learn how to negotiate and I felt that I had an advantage as a woman because I was so much more intuitive than most of my male counterparts.
I left my dream job a few years after moving to Fayetteville, Arkansas with my life partner and biggest supporter. I held on to my position with the publishing company as long as possible (Hey, they let me work remotely before it was ‘cool’ and years prior to Covid). But, I realized I thrived in an office environment and even more so when I could collaborate and network with like-minded individuals. After a brief stint with another nonprofit, I landed another ‘dream’ gig with a local nonprofit. I got the opportunity to run one of the longest-standing and largest women’s leadership events in the state! It was my calling.
Like all great things, that came to an end after feeling burned out from being in a constant state of playing catch up. I loved my co-workers, my job, and all the women I was able to make an impact on. I kept feeling this calling that I needed ‘more’. I set into motion the biggest change of my life. I told my therapist back in the Spring of 2021 that I wanted to be my own boss and run my own business. I had no idea that just saying those simple words would have such an impact on the next six months of my life.
Fast forward to August of 2021, I put in my ‘month’ notice. And committed to staying with the nonprofit organization until we could wrap up our flagship event. I legalized my business by filing for an LLC and just like that, I was a real business. The domino effect of making my business official was one I have never imagined would happen so quickly.
Within a month of being a business owner, I secured two major contracts and had three pending. May 2022 event years were off to a magical start! I only told a few trusted friends and colleagues about my move, out of respect for my employer at the time. But, things were in motion and I was not able to slow them down.
By the end of 2021, I had already completed two large-scale events and my 2022 year was in full motion. I couldn’t believe the progress that I was able to make in just a few short months.
Now, it’s 2022 and I’m already looking to expand my reach by hiring an event coordinator and assistant to help me make an even bigger impact on the Northwest Arkansas event community. We have so many incredible and fruitful events in the region that I feel there will be no shortage of event planning needs in the foreseeable future.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
A smooth road is usually a boring road!
I am grateful that the road wasn’t smooth. Of course, like any other human, I had already made mistakes in just a few short months. But I view those ‘mistakes’ as learning moments. I use them to be better every single day for the organizations I’m serving.
Making sure my business was legal was the most important thing when I started out. I knew I had to be held accountable if I was going to be successful on my business journey. One of the biggest struggles I’ve had is the accounting and tax-related questions and requirements. It’s a lot to keep up with on top of being my own boss and managing multiple client accounts. I have plans to hire someone who understands it much better than I do.
I believe the best thing I can do for my mental health and business is to hire people to do the things I’m not good at. Another struggle has been managing my daily tasks… not having anyone holding me accountable on a daily basis is something I believe I will always struggle with until I can grow my team.
As you know, we’re big fans of Alex Victtoria Events, LLC. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Alex Victtoria Events specializes in women-focused, DEI, nonprofit, and educational events.
We offer a holistic approach to event planning, ensuring our clients are ingrained into every aspect of the process. We can help with any part of the event planning process from crafting a vision to full execution. We are a small woman-owned business and making sure we’re the right fit for our clients is the most important focus. Once we know the client is a great fit, we craft a communication plan and timeline to make sure we’re meeting all the client’s needs.
What sets us apart from other event planners is that we are there every step of the way and make sure the client is included in every detail, but that they don’t have to worry about the details being managed. We want our clients to walk into their event and realize that it is everything they had hoped for and all they have to do is sit back and enjoy the unfolding.
We’re so proud of the impact we’ve been able to make on the local community. We work with local nonprofits to make sure their events can happen on time and on budget. We have built relationships with many local vendors to get our clients the best pricing available on event needs such as rentals and venues. We’re grateful for the connections we’ve been able to make in the community and look forward to giving back whenever possible.
In 2023, we are already looking to expand our services and by making some key hires, that vision will come to life.
If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
My tenacity and business model. I’ve been told “no” hundreds of times and I know I will be told “no” a million times more, but that doesn’t stop me or hurt my ego. After having so many sh*tty bosses over the years, I learned the most important thing when running a business is the people. Making sure the people you are serving or employees are happy and trust you is essential to surviving in this business climate.
I always have and always will serve people first and I gain their trust by being my most authentic self. I don’t lie or try to cover up the truth when meeting. This can make people uncomfortable, but it’s so necessary to survive these days. And having that trust and a little tenacity to go farther than others are willing to – that is the key to not just surviving but THRIVING in a post-Covid event world.
I know a lot of people look at me and think ‘oh well that was lucky’ or ‘she got a good break’, but that’s simply not true. I worked really hard day and night and took a lot of scary risks – and they paid off.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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