(5) Tips to Avoid Distractions in Your Business with COVID-19 | Shaune Hayes

Our Speaker’s care and want to extend their support to you during this time of uncertainty. As we were all affected by COVID-19, The Signature CEO Conference was postponed and with the support of our Speakers they still want to extend a reach to each of you and share advice on how you can pivot through this temporary disruption of our businesses.

We had the opportunity to do a LIVE Facebook Interview with Speaker, SHAUNÈ HAYES of RED CARPET READY MAKE UP.  Shauné is a makeup artist, beauty expert, entrepreneur and beauty business coach based in Washington, D.C. She is the owner and principal makeup artist of Red Carpet Ready Makeup with Shauné Hayes and have worked in the beauty industry for over 15 years. 

During our conversation he highlighted, “(5) Tips to Avoid Distractions in Your Business with COVID-19”:

  1. Identify what your distractions are. I think this is important so you know what keeps you unfocused and can specifically address it.
  2. Plan/Go over your daily routine the night before. Identify 2 or 3 main tasks you want to get done.
  3. Turn off notifications. Limit texting and emailing.
  4. Take mental breaks. After an hour or 90 minutes of focused work, take a break.
  5. Keep it clean. If my work area is disorganized and cluttered it affects my energy and productivity.

View our video to get full details.

Top 5 COVID-19 Contractual Tips | Ticora Davis of The Creator’s Law Firm

Our Speaker’s care and want to extend their support to you during this time of uncertainty. As we were all affected by COVID-19, The Signature CEO Conference was postponed and with the support of our Speakers they still want to extend a reach to each of you and share advice on how you can pivot through this temporary disruption of our businesses.

We had the opportunity to do a LIVE Facebook Interview with Speaker, TICORA DAVIS of The Creator’s Law Firm.  Ticora helps entrepreneurs protect their smarts so they can grow their business with peace of mind. The Creator’s Law Firm has helped hundreds of business owners secure their brand and proudly boasts a 97% success rate for trademark registrations.  During our conversation she highlighted, “Top 5 COVID-19 Contractual Tips”:

  1. Get everything in writing! (I just spoke with a seasoned event planner who paid a friend $15K to record his conference. He paid in full – no contract. Now his event cannot happen due to COVID, no contract, and videographer is not trying to provide a refund…only a credit). Ensure contracts are drafted w/your best interest in mind.
  2. Force majeure clauses are needed
  3. Commercial impracticability/impossibility of performance clauses are rarely included (this could’ve saved tons of businesses from covid)
  4. Anticipate having to move venues/cancellations, etc. – have clauses where you reserve the right to transition an in-person event (i.e., conference) to virtual event to reschedule
  5. Payment plans with unique terms tied to every payment are a MUST. This will minimize the justification for refunds and a court will most likely be on your side more.

Click on the video below to hear the details of the (5) tips!

My Personal Highlights…The Signature CEO Conference 2018

AUTHOR:  Teaira Abston of Dreamcatcher Stationery

Several, if not all, of my fellow creative bosses would agree that one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your business is to consistently seek educational opportunities to learn and expand your knowledge base. Whether the focus is on the newest trends or techniques of your creative niche or discovering new tools and systems to implement in your business, finding a workshop or conference to attend quarterly or annually can prove to be worth the investment.

Every year creatives plan to attend various conferences and workshops in search of the ultimate educational and networking experience. With so many promising to offer just that, it can be overwhelming trying to find the right conference for you and your business. One conference I have attended that has proven to be well worth the investment, is the Signature CEO Conference, organized by Tara Melvin of Perfectly Planned Events. Tara thoughtfully curates the best of the best in the creative industry to present attendees with valuable information and tools to immediately implement and take their businesses to the next level.

The inaugural conference was held in 2015, but my first time attending was the 2017 conference. I had such a positive experience that I knew I could never miss another. What I appreciated so much was the intimacy of this conference. The speakers were so engage, and they even stayed after their own presentations to learn from other industry leaders and interact with attendees. I didn’t feel lost in a sea of professionals fighting for a handshake or “usie.” Instead it felt rather inclusive and personal, especially when we were able to mix and mingle during lunch and speed networking.

I loved that each speaker presented on his or her own area of expertise, covering a broad range of topics that applied to us all regardless of our creative niche. They spoke about practical things we could apply to our business the very next day versus fluff that is only “instagram” worthy. LoL The Signature CEO Conference 2018 was simply amazing!

This year’s speaker line-up included industry gurus like the amazing Kathy Romero, Kellie Daab, Jacqueline Nwobu, and Dan Simons to name a few. The jewels that were dropped were truly invaluable.  I ended each session with pages of notes and was fired up to get back to my home office to make the necessary adjustments in my business.

Monique Melton’s presentation about creating passive income definitely resonated with me. She specifically spoke about the importance of creating something that doesn’t compete with our core service/product. Instead, she implored us to study our target market to find the gaps and areas that can be improved by understanding the frustrations of our audience. It got my wheels turning, and I’m already considering adding a new service/product that will compliment what I currently do.

Patrick Teague dived deep into the basics of copyrighting and how to recognize copyright infringement. He also gave steps on how to obtain copyrights for things such as pictures, videos, and other digital products online. He also touched on social media since that’s how the majority of us share our work with the world.

The panel discussion focused on the grit and grace of being an entrepreneur also resonated with me. They discussed the sacrifices made in order to get ahead, the hardest lessons they’ve learned, and shared so many examples of ways to practice self care while being an entrepreneur. Each panelist was very transparent about their journey and their struggles, giving examples of challenges they had overcome to get where they are today. Their candid responses were heartfelt and relatable.

 Although each speaker focused on very specific topics, there were a few points that were consistent among them…

~Outsource and get help in areas where you know you are not the expert…Abby Grace touched a lot on this.

~Utilize tools that will help you stay organized and on top of things, such as processes and systems to help you streamline. Nicole Peck of Bizbash and Jacqueline Nwobu, CEO of  Munaluchi Bride gave us some amazing apps we can use.

~Be ready to pivot and change often because there’s no one size fit all model. Adjust with the industry and determine ways to stand out as a brand! Kellie Dabb talked about becoming known for one thing (niching down), and creating a smooth client experience unlike the rest by starting with a clear message and delivering the luxury to your client by providing the VALUE.

~Authenticity goes a LONG way, especially on social media and when building lasting relationships with people. Network = your net worth!

The Signature CEO Conference is perfect for established and newbie creative professionals. I would recommend this conference to anyone who is looking to learn from some of the best in the industry. At this conference, you get so many practical steps you can take and apply immediately. The speakers are experts in the areas they present, and they provide great information on ways to improve on what you’ve already established.

In addition to the amazing educational opportunity, you can expect to laugh and catch up with old business buddies. Expand your business network by meeting new people and laying a foundation for cultivating new relationships. You will learn so much from others who ask questions and share their thoughts on different topics.

You’ll find yourself opening up to fresh new perspectives that may allow you to see things in your business that you’ve never seen before. You are guaranteed to walk away with the motivation you need to finish the year off strong and plan for the next year. At the end of each conference, I’ve left with a feeling of  “I CAN DO THIS!”…Just knowing I have people there that will genuinely cheer me on means the world.

Oh, and I forgot to mention how fabulous the welcome party was! It’s a great time to let your hair down and be a guest at an event when we are usually on the other end.

So…are you sold??

Great news! Early registration is now open for Signature CEO Conference 2019.  I’ll see you there!

Guest Blogger • Markel Insurance • How to Cultivate Vendor Relationships

In the event planning business, you will be working with a variety of vendors. It is important to have good working relationships so you can be successful. Here are some tips to help you establish these essential relationships.

5 tips to better vendor relationships

  1. Expect to pay fair market value

Yes you want to give your clients a deal, but not at the expense of another vendor losing out. It is important to understand pricing in the event industry, so that you can negotiate fair pricing for both your client and the vendor you are partnering with. Do not expect special deals beyond what is reasonable. The vendor will be much easier to work with if you see their side of the business too.

  1. Refer other business to them

You already have your finger on the pulse of the event industry and most likely know other local event planners. If you like working with a particular vendor, reach out to your other industry contacts and recommend your preferred vendor to them. The vendor will appreciate the business and may give you better discounts in the future. They may also return the favor.

  1. Write glowing reviews

In addition to personally referring business to great vendors, take the time to write a favorable review for them on popular sites like Google and Yelp. This will make you appear more favorable in their eyes and they may in turn write a review for you too.

  1. Respect their opinion

You know a lot about event planning and have many opinions on vendors and their services. It’s important to let other vendors in the industry have a voice too. They are in their respective businesses because they have an expertise. When you are open to their views and vision for their part of the event, you will cultivate a great working relationship. This doesn’t mean giving in to ideas that won’t work for your client, but there might be some value in their thoughts that you hadn’t considered.

  1. Give thanks and praise

You both have jobs to do, but it’s always nice to be thanked for services even if the service is expected.  A “thank you” can go a long way, especially when it comes to establishing mutual respect and trust. In addition, it’s a nice gesture to praise a vendor for an excellent job in front of your client or potential clients. This could lead to more business for them.

We hope these tips help you foster great relationships with vendors.  When you cultivate relationships, you also start sharing best practices. Consider informing them about event insurance. They will thank you.

Markel offers event liability insurance to hosts and honorees, protecting from incidents such as property damage to the venue or injury to a guest. Up to $2 million in event liability insurance can be purchased by your client from Markel any time at least 1 day before the event. Policies start as low as $75.

By offering Markel Event Insurance, it will not only protect your clients, but it can also protect you by potentially decreasing your own business liability risk for accidents due to negligence of the event host or honoree. Markel Event Insurance is an easy and affordable solution for your clients – a free quote takes only a few minutes online or on the phone – turning you into a one-stop-shop for your clients.

Have a website? You can receive a $25 gift card simply by placing a Markel Event Insurance link on your website.  Email maicmarketing@markelcorp.com to learn more!

If you don’t have a website, Markel can also provide you with brochures to help raise your clients’ awareness of the benefits of event liability insurance.

To learn more, please visit http://www.markeleventinsurance.com/wedding-and-event-professionals or call 1-855-480-9757.

Writer, Lauren Hernandez, Markel Insurance

2016 Highlights | Day Two | The Signature C.E.O. Conference 2016


After a very energized and fruitful day of knowledge from day one of The Signature CEO Conference, the attendees were ignited to continue on with day two to engage with their colleagues to learn more of the behind the scenes business acumen to make them stronger leaders and business owners.


To get the crowd motivated early in the morning, industry mogul, Maya Warburton Holihan of House of Maya boutiques, led the crowd with a dance move to the song of Justin Timberlake’s, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”  After a few moments of everyone grooving to the beat, Maya, settled everyone down and led them on the journey of the challenges of an entrepreneur with her lecture on, “Leading Through Crisis, Change, and Growth.”  We journeyed through every type of scenario from personnel to environmental to political to social.  After an analysis of each of these types of crisis, Maya coached the attendees on how to manage crisis identifying successful leadership characterstics, and how to lead with integrity.


Our Featured Keynote Speakers, Ginger Johnson & Liz Pickett of Ginger+Liz Colour Collection, addressed the group on How to Build a Product or Service that your Target Audience will Love!  This dynamic duo is not only fierce in the beauty industry but leaders across the board for entrepreneurs.  Ginger and Liz focused on profitability, benefits your brand offers, need vs demand, and so much more.  Their lecture embodied the cycle of product or service development to inspire your customers to work with you.


Legal eagle, Stephen Marshall of Franklin & Prokopik, PC, had everyone mesmerized with the language of contract law discerning Contractor vs. Employee!!!  Talk about engagement, the attendees were hanging on to his every word and taking note.  Attendees were informed about the proactive steps to protect their business from contractors and employees, the unique difference between contractor and employee, and the risks for their business based on the actions of independent contractors and employees.


“How To Become a Person of Influence with your Industry” was coached by Marilyn Crouther, Senior Vice President and General Manager, of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services U.S. Public Sector.  An Executive with endless accolades and years of experience in leadership, was the right person to lead a lecture on this subject (if you saw her resume, you’d understand why).  Marilyn outlined and perfectly narrated the power and vision of action, merging passion and authenticity, and understanding the importance of one’s influence.  Attendees left inspired and fully committed to become not only better business owners but business leaders.


After lunch, attendees were had the opportunity to learn about SEO, the evolution of the website and what it means to establish a digital brand, and new insight of having a web presence.  This was all under the direction of Myrna P. Daramy, CEO of Mezzohead and NewlyBride.  Attendees walked away with an empowerment of knowing that they were equipped with the tools to make better decisions for the growth of their business online.


Being prepared to master your dreams through finding your purpose was the platform of Dr. Antwain Goode’s lecture on day two.  Dr. Goode, founder of Tate Consulting, led the group down the path of personal development by redefining your purpose, positioning, attracting mentors, knowing your true north, reflection and how to take the next step of action.  Another inspiring lecture to take your business to the next level.


To complete our two days of valuable knowledge and growth, Chef Dana Eugene Herbert, of Desserts by Dana, took the stage to lead with our final lesson of business intelligence, “6 Things Every Business Owner Must Have in Place”.   Dana circled the spectrum from personal appearance, to friends in business, to developing a strong team, to developing definitive company goals, to having a checks and balance system, and more.


The Signature C.E.O Conference is an educational platform to empower wedding and event professionals to be the best of the best in their professions.  The foundation is built upon solid business intelligence to stimulate and strengthen the mindset of leadership and entrepreneurship, and to build the character of one’s intelligence to dominate in their field and build and bridge their network of professionals to thrive in this diverse industry.  The core competencies focus on:

  • Branding & Marketing
  • Business Financial Planning
  • Business Technology
  • Legal & Contracts
  • Business Best Practices
  • Productivity & Business Management
  • Business Innovations
  • Small Business Entrepreneurship

We enjoyed connecting with new and old friends, and most importantly valued the time and education that was conveyed by each of our speakers.  Thank you to our dynamic Speakers and our supportive cast of Sponsors that helped to make The Signature CEO Conference 2016 a SUCCESS!!!!


Special thanks to all of our collaborative Sponsors that helped to make the the conference a success:

Caribbean Caterers | Edge Floral Event Designers | AllSeated | Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center | Tony Craddock & Cold Front Music | Memories of Bliss Photography | Chew Entertainment | A-list Photobooths | Couture Cakes by Sabrina | CV Linens | Famous Dave’s Catering  | Fingers in Ink | 5-12 Desserts | DC Sweet Potato Cake | Fluffness | Norman’s Popcorn | Papered Wonders Inc | Sweet Pearlz Cheesecakes | Sugar Shack Donuts | Ten23 Designs | Tierra Floral Design | Blackwall Hitch | The Day Designer | Lebanese Taverna | Marriott Westfield’s Dulles | Ruth Chris Steakhouse Arlington | The Lara Casey Shop | Virtue Feed & Grain | Aisle Always Love | Calligraphette & Co | Shea Radiance | Tracy’s Gourmet 

Photography Credit:  Memories of Bliss Photography

Conference Founder & Producer:  Tara Melvin of Perfect Planning Events



Speaker, Maya Warburton Holihan, Owner of House of Maya bridal boutiques


The attendees dancing to a little Justin Timberlake!


The attendees in a dance off!


Speaker, Ginger Johnson of Ginger+Liz Colour Collection


Speaker, Liz Picket of Ginger+Liz Colour Colleciton


Break Sponsor, Sugar Shack Donuts


Break Sponsor, Sugar Shack Donuts


Sponsor, Gillian DeSouza of Caribbean Caterers


Speaker, Stephen Marshall of Franklin & Prokopik, P.C.


We love our Speakers!


We’re dancing again…Speaker, Tiffany Chalk, has moves!


Sponsor, Flufness, opened up the kid in everyone serving their delicious cotton candy!


Sponsor, Flufness, opened up the kid in everyone serving their delicious cotton candy!


Speaker gifts courtesy of our Sponsor, Papered Wonders.


Speaker gifts courtesy of our Sponsor, Papered Wonders.


Speaker, Dr. Antwain Goode of Tate Consulting.


Loving our Speakers!


Sponsor, DC Sweet Potato Cake had us all licking our fingers!


Giving love to our speaker, Chef Dana Eugene Herbert.


Speakers, Ginger Johnson (left) and Liz Pickett (right) of Ginger+Liz Colour Collection.


Speaker, Marilyn Crouther, Senior Vice President of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services US Public Sector.


Julie Moran accepting on behalf of Speaker, Maya Warburton Holihan.


Speaker, Myrna P. Daramy of Mezzohead and NewlyBride.


Speaker, Dr. Antwain Goode of Tate Consulting.

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2016 Highlights | The Signature C.E.O. Conference | Day One


The Signature C.E.O. Conference this  year was held on the beautiful grounds of The University of Maryland campus at The Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center on October 31st and November 1st of this year.  The stage was set to bring together event professionals near and far of diverse professions with one goal in mind – to enhance their business acumen and to excel at business leadership.


On Day One, the energy level was high!  Event Pros arrived totally engaged to learn new business techniques and to network with new and old friends.  Speaker, Jocelyn Delk Adams, award winning author and food blogger of Grandbaby Cakes, led the morning with an impactful lecture on key objectives such as following your curiosity to find purpose, developing growth and engagement, diversifying your reach and much more.  Her vibrant personality and wealth of knowledge definitely set the tone for the start of the conference.


Our second speaker, Myleik Teele, not only is a social media expert but she is a successful business owner, strategist, and innovator.  She is the founder of curlBOX, an exclusive monthly subscription box full of amazing products for the stylish entrepreneur.  Her lecture engaged the audience on “Taking your business to the next level with Social Media”.  She gave an indepth conversation on the explanation of the different social media platforms, how to drive lead generation, increase traffic to your website, incorporating brand personality and voice, embracing the visual, and much more.  Attendees were ready to take on social media at the end of her talk.


Speaker, Funlayo Alabi, (Co-Founder & CEO of Shea Radiance) addressed the audience on “How to Dare to be Different.”  One of her most stimulating points during her lecture stated, “The only asset that you have that is truly unique and cannot be duplicated or reverse engineered is you”.  Taking that one phrase and having it as a your mantra for anything you will help you to succeed and not worry about the competition.  You are your greatest asset.


Right before lunch, Dominique Broadway, guided the attendees on a step by step plan to set and reach revenue goals.  Dominique, is an award-winning Financial Planner, Personal Finance Coach, Speaker, Finance Expert, Entrepreneur and the Founder of Finances De•mys•ti•fied & The Social Money Tour.  Dominique stressed the fact that life is unpredictable and it is important to prepare, especially as an entrepreneur.  From budgeting with inconsistent income to creating a retirement plan to the best ways to separate business and personal finances; she covered an array of financial key initiatives for smart business owners to stay on track and to prepare for financial success.


The day continued with more of our dynamic speakers.  Tiffany Chalk of Tiffany Chalk Events touched on that very important question that we all have circling in our minds every day – are we pricing correctly and are we pricing based on our value.  Tiffany dove straight in…optimizing the pricing strategy, charging your worth – pricing to win, pricing to perform.  After her engaging talk, everyone was able to define strategies to identify their ideal client, how to value their time, and how to sell their service and not their price.


AllSeated Co-Founder, Sandy Hammer, addressed having an effective technology tool kit.  She identified business apps that will help business leaders to be more efficient managing their business and also save money.  She stressed that technology is our friend and that without it a business will not survive.  Don’t be behind the technology curve, be in front of it.


Meryl Snow of Meryl Snow Consultants definitely had the crowds attention with her infectious personality and a topic that everyone wants to perfect in their business – prospecting and closing deals!  Meryl stressed 5 easy rules to follow when closing the sale – treat closing as a process, set appropriate closing objectives, let close emerge from conversation, wait for the right moment, and celebrate your success.  When you are in front of your clients, always close for the sale.


To round out the end of day one, Brian Wendroff, led a discussion on the benefits of having an accounting system to manage and grow your business.  Brian is the founder of the accounting firm, Wendroff & Associates and is a certified professional QuickBooks instructor.  From keeping track of revenue expenses to monitoring cash flow and budgeting, to tax preparation and planning.  A wealth of financial information to keep wedding pros on track and having the ability to manage their finances with an effective accounting platform.



To round out the evening, we had a wonderful celebration hosting all of the attendees, speakers, and sponsors.  The evening cuisine was catered by Caribbean Caterers, dessert provided by Couture Cakes by Sabrina, floral decor by Edge Floral Event Designers, chair and tableware by Select Event Group, linens by CV Linens, and live entertainment by Tony Craddock Jr. and Cold Front Music.


Special thanks to all of our collaborative Sponsors that helped to make the the conference a success:

Caribbean Caterers | Edge Floral Event Designers | AllSeated | Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center | Tony Craddock & Cold Front Music | Memories of Bliss Photography | Chew Entertainment | A-list Photobooths | Couture Cakes by Sabrina | CV Linens | Famous Dave’s Catering  | Fingers in Ink | 5-12 Desserts | DC Sweet Potato Cake | Fluffness | Norman’s Popcorn | Papered Wonders Inc | Sweet Pearlz Cheesecakes | Sugar Shack Donuts | Ten23 Designs | Tierra Floral Design | Blackwall Hitch | The Day Designer | Lebanese Taverna | Marriott Westfield’s Dulles | Ruth Chris Steakhouse Arlington | The Lara Casey Shop | Virtue Feed & Grain | Aisle Always Love | Calligraphette & Co | Shea Radiance | Tracy’s Gourmet 

Photography Credit:  Memories of Bliss Photography

Conference Founder & Producer:  Tara Melvin of Perfect Planning Events




The Venue - The Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center

The Venue – The Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center

Conference signage by Ten23 Designs.

Conference signage by Ten23 Designs.


Conference brochures by Perfect Planning Events

Conference brochures by Perfect Planning Events

Linens sponsored by CV linens; Chairs sponsored by Tierra Floral Event Designs.

Linens sponsored by CV linens; Chairs sponsored by Tierra Floral Event Designs.


Signage by Fingers in Ink.

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Break Sponsor - Norman's Popcorn

Break Sponsor – Norman’s Popcorn


Monogram cookies by 5-12 Desserts.

Monogram cookies by 5-12 Desserts.

Signage by Fingers in Ink.

Signage by Fingers in Ink.

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Lunch. Linens sponsored by CV Linens. Florals by Edge Floral Event Design. Swag by Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center.

Lunch. Linens sponsored by CV Linens. Florals by Edge Floral Event Design. Swag by Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center.

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Lunch sponsored by Caribbean Caterers.

Lunch sponsored by Caribbean Caterers.

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Break Sponsor, Sweet Pearlz Cheesecakes.

Break Sponsor, Sweet Pearlz Cheesecakes.

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Speaker gifts sponsored by Papered Wonders Inc.

Speaker gifts sponsored by Papered Wonders Inc.

We love our Speakers!

We love our Speakers!

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Florals by Edge Floral Event Design.

Florals by Edge Floral Event Design.


Hashtag signs by Ten23 Designs. Photo booth by A-list Photo Booths.

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