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Work It Wednesday - Gregory Fast

Welcome to another week of Work It Social, where we interact with some incredible influencers from across the GTA. This week we profiled Lead Creative Designer and Planner for Gregory Fast Events and Design! You can follow this trailblazer on Instagram, but first, are you ready for this?

1. First off, share a little about YOU. Who IS Gregory Fast?

I am the lead creative designer and planner for Gregory Fast Events and Designs, working, designing and residing in Hamilton, Ontario - the city of young professionals and opportunity. Although most of our events take place anywhere from Toronto to Niagara, we have also worked nationally and internationally. We produce original event designs and experiences for clients and their guests. I have a bad habit of turning clients into friends and friends also become my clients. We rarely say no to an opportunity, work very hard and are passionate about taking things to the next level.

2. What led you to start your own event and design company?

Photo: Chris Stewart I come from a long line of entertainers, you could almost say it is in my blood. Being the oldest of four kids, my parents would throw us the most amazing birthday parties - I'm talking Britney Spears impersonators level of amazing. It is just something that I have always known and I love the feelings those parties gave me and our family/friends. It was never about one kids birthday, my parents always made sure everyone who attended felt like it was their birthday too. The underlying message that I always revert back to when putting an event together is "what is the experience we are trying to create and how will it make someone feel". I started this company to give people a unique experience, making sure that every guest feels appreciated and special.

3. You have the most amazing style! Who are your design inspirations?

Photo: Chris Stewart Design inspiration comes from everywhere - travel, an interesting building, the entree presentation at a restaurant, a unique cocktail, it is all around you. I am excited to see what Ferris Rafauli has in store for Drake's mansion on the Bridal Path. Jackie Kennedy lighting candles and touring in the white house. Hermes has a playful look with a traditional twist that we love. Bob Bob Ricard restaurant in London (UK) has taken the experience and ambiance of fine dining to another level. It is all around us, you just need to pay attention.

4. When planning large-scale events, what's one thing that's likely to go wrong but most people don't plan for?

On the large scale, I would say guest management which directly relates to staffing. Many inexperienced planners will assume that large venues who can host large scale events are familiar with the amount of staff required to make a guests experience enjoyable. Never assume they will have enough staff because at the end of the day, it never is enough. For our events, we usually ask for a 10%-20% increase in the amount of staff at all levels of the event. Coat check needs to be quick and painless. During cocktail hour if someone is looking for a napkin someone should be within range at all times having a tray and napkins ready to go. There should never be a line up for a bar. Dinner service can never have enough staff - how embarrassing for five out of eight people at a table to receive their meals and then wait another few minutes for the remaining guests to receive theirs. Sufficient staffing also comes into play for set up and dismantle, you never want to take away from a design because you didn't have the time or resources to finish it.

5. What's the best event you've ever attended as a guest? And why does it stand out for you?

This is difficult to pinpoint - many events come to mind but all for different reasons. It comes down to who you are sharing the event with and what kind of impression a certain detail left on you. I can't say that I have attended a bad event because I always take away some small detail that has been done differently.

6. How do you ensure your events are unique and stand out from everyone else?

Having an idea for something isn't good enough - you need to play all the options and angles to make it a great idea. It's all about a spark that turns into a fire, once you hit a certain heat level that fire just takes over and engulfs the whole event. Never stop developing and never settle, drive yourself to make it the best idea you have ever had and sell your client on it.

7. What's been the most challenging part of growing your brand?

We have been fortunate with brand growth. Social media can be difficult to keep on top of at times and this is definitely an important thing to keep up with but in terms of creating client traction, most of our work is referral based. We have been very fortunate to work with some of Hamilton and the GTA's high profile individuals and families who have been very good to us. Each event is a showcase of your work for guests attending - we work hard to provide an experience that is referral worthy.

8. Any advice for someone starting out in the industry?

Take your time to get to know the industry. Before starting Gregory Fast Events & Designs I took courses, read books - but needed the field experience as well. I would volunteer to set up at events with local florists and planners. From there, I spent four years working for international award winning planner and designer. She was and still is an amazing mentor who has taught me the skill-set I needed not just for designing and producing events but how to work with clients, sell ideas, approach uncomfortable topics and really build lasting relationships (to name a few). I have also spent time on the events team for a wedding venue and have spent time in an event rental company. It takes a lot to really get to know all the different sides of the business. Taking on these roles really helped me understand that it's not just about showing up and doing whatever you want. You need to take into consideration things like the service staff, who is going to move equipment, what time is first course served, what angle will the sun be at when they say "I Do", etc. Take time to get to know the different sectors of the event industry.

9. What's next for Gregory Fast Events & Design?

We have several high-end events for the fall and winter months, we can't wait to share those with everyone! We are also working on putting together some workshops to teach some basics in floral and holiday decor, looking to continue this for each season. We have a website overhaul in the works which will also allow clients to shop some of our Gregory Fast signature items that we use at our events.

10. How do you #workit everyday?

I #workit everyday with a great attitude, I surround myself with only supportive and positive influences and have the mindset that anything is possible.

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